Category Archives: In The Classroom

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,

Books on a shelf

You Don’t Know How To Read

“You don’t know how to read,” I’ve fantasized about saying to my students. Then, I realize that they would quite rightly be offended. Of course my students are literate: some of them are even very skilled readers. However, many of them lose this skill when reading theoretical or philosophical arguments. Beyond tried and true methods of insuring that reading “compliance” occurs (quizzes, online quizzes, literature circles,discussion…), I wanted to know how to help my students learn to read like a political theorist. Continue reading

Woman holding a red colored heart that is torn down the middle

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Before I became a professor, I utilized PowerPoint a great deal in my professional life. In fact, I prided myself in my ability to use the software and create dynamic presentations that interested whatever audience to whom I was speaking. In fact, when I first became a professor at UWGB, I felt as though my ability to use PowerPoint would be a strength to my teaching career. Boy, was I wrong! Continue reading

Vintage picture of female school teachers sitting in classroom

Myth of the Gender Neutral Classroom

Many of my female faculty colleagues probably experienced being addressed as Mrs. or Ms. at least once every semester and not just by incoming freshmen. Or they read comments about shoes in their end-of-semester evaluations. But are those isolated incidents or does gender matter in how students perceive the knowledge and expertise of an instructor? Do they see differences in pedagogies? Types of course work that male and female faculty assign? Do students find female instructors more relatable? Do they themselves behave differently in the classrooms of male and female instructors? Last academic year, I finally got a chance to collect data on several of these research questions as part of our Teaching Scholars Program. Continue reading


Innovative Strategies For General Education

I was given the opportunity to attend and participate in the Baccalaureate Program Directors (BPD) Conference in Louisville, KY in March 2014 under the auspices of a teaching enhancement grant.  My goal was to learn innovative strategies that could be implemented in the general education course I teach (American Social Welfare, soon to be called Foundation of Social Policy) both in the face-to-face offering and in the development of an on-line version of the course to be taught in summer.  Continue reading


A Reflection of The Peer Observation Process

One “assignment” in the Teaching Scholars program is to conduct a formative peer observation with a Teaching Scholar colleague.  My initial reaction to this process was one of insecurity, i.e., questioning my own teaching style and concern over selecting the “right” class session to be observed.  I was determined to select a class session with significant theoretical content, with an obvious beginning and end to allow for a complete assessment, and a session that was presented primarily by me (versus the students).  That plan put me in a quandary.  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


Observing In The Classroom

As a part of my responsibilities as Faculty Consultant for CATL, I was required to observe and conduct a peer evaluation of our new faculty members.  Truly this was the best experience of this position!  For the uninitiated, the instructor fills out a detailed pre-observation form detailing class objectives and the activities to attain those objectives.  Space for the goals of the course as well as current concerns is also provided. Continue reading