All posts by Joanne Dolan

Jesse Stommel on Campus

Not Just Digital

For me this tweet pretty much summed up Jesse Stommel’s visit to campus last week.

Stommel is Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at University of Wisconsin-Madison and his work focuses on lifelong learning and the public digital humanities. He is also the Founder, Director, and CEO of Hybrid Pedagogy: a digital journal of learning, teaching, and technology. Jess was invited to campus by faculty members Chuck Rybak and Caroline Boswell, and sponsored by CATL, to talk about a range of topics including social media in the classroom, digital assignments, digital humanities, and collaborative student research. But for me, the day had one central theme – pedagogy.

Jesse calls himself a pedagogue and all of his talks focused on how best to support deeper student learning and engagement. The moniker of “digital” and “technology” was almost misleading. Had we bleeped out all of the references to technology, the points would still have been significant and relevant. His guide for Digital Assignment Design could be applied to all assignment design, his discussion on Collaborative Student Research in the Digital Humanities had takeaways for all student research mentors, and even his workshop on using Social Media in the Classroom became a discussion on how the small choices we make in class define our teaching philosophies. Despite my role on campus as a techno-guide for faculty, my passion is teaching and learning, and Jesse’s insistence that technology should enhance and focus learning rather than direct it, spoke to me

While I know we are all busy, if you can spare few hours of your time, I strongly recommend that you watch one or more of our recordings of these sessions, particularly on a day when you might be in a difficult place with your teaching. There is little more inspiring than a teacher who is passionate about his practice, and that is what Jesse brought to campus.

(Featured Photo above courtesy of Charnae LaLuzerne)

Joanne DolanJoanne Dolan
Instructional Design Coordinator,


The Freshman Five

Over 25 staff, faculty and students met recently to talk about the Rebekah Nathan’s ethnographical book My Freshman Year, the CATL Book Club selection for Spring 2014. With discussions led by Professor Denise Bartell of the GPS program, participants talked about Nathan’s insights into the Freshman experience. While the discussion and the reading led to many considerations, here are were my top takeaways! Continue reading


Don’t be the 71%

By the time you are standing in front of a classroom of students, ready to teach for the first time, you have probably spent at least 20 years on the other side of the lectern. You have sat through years of wonderful, inspired teaching, and probably an equal amount of less than exhilarating lectures. You have taken hundreds of tests, submitted literally tons of homework and skipped months of classes. You stand there with the benefit of an ‘Apprenticeship of Observation’[1] having become an expert in teaching through exposure.

Did you feel as prepared the first time you taught an online class?

Continue reading

Are You My Mother?

Are you my Mentor?

For most of my life, I was the one being mentored – by my parents, friends, faculty. It all began to change when I entered the job market. I had two monumental transitions in my life – getting my first university job and becoming a parent. As I gave my research presentation during the on-campus interview, I could feel my son kicking, but my journey of teaching self-examination and change has only just began. In retrospect, as I was learning to be a parent, I was also learning to be a teacher, and, ultimately a mentor. Continue reading


Focus on the Positive

I just finished my first semester as an assistant professor here at UWGB. I’ve been told that the first year in an academic position is the most challenging. There are so many demands—new course preps, getting familiar with students, meetings, maintaining an active research agenda…the list goes on and on. One of the things that I think is a primary concern for many new faculty members like myself is the question of what students think of you and your courses. One of things that I was most looking forward to during winter break (of course, the chance to catch my breath from the hectic first semester was at the top of my list) was the opportunity to see what students thought of me on my teaching evaluations. Did students find me to be an effective teacher? Did they like my teaching style? Were the group activities that I planned useful to students? Continue reading

Lamu, Kenya: Electricity Corporation Suggestion Box by Flickr user Lindsay Bremner

Mid-Semester Surveys

One of the most frequent comments I hear about teaching online is how hard it is to know how it’s going. Without those physical cues of light-bulb smiles, slouching students or confused faces, it can feel that you’re teaching into a vacuum for 14 weeks. And whatever your opinion of online CCQs, the results arrive too late to impact the students in front of you now. If you’ve shared this frustration, consider offering your students an informal mid-semester survey. Continue reading