Month: January 2016

Planning Ahead for Canceled Classes, Jan. 2016

High Impact Teaching: Flexible alternatives to traditional lectures

With last weekend’s storm, we’re all reminded of how the weather can impact our teaching.  While developing an entirely online course or transforming an existing course from face-to-face to hybrid/blended can take months of careful planning, often we are faced with the need to improvise in the moment.  The following techniques and links to services can help you experiment with a new approach or to add creativity to your curriculum.

High-impact teaching ideas:

  • Offer a case study for analysis and reflection.
  • Assign out-of-class group projects.
  • Have students watch and reflect on a TED Talk.
  • Assign students to attend and then respond to a relevant lecture, speaker or event, or invite speakers to come to your class.
  • Use Course Blogs:  Assign a reading and ask students to each start a discussion thread and respond to their classmate’s threads. Give clear direction as to the content and how many threads to respond to.
  • Utilize your students’ creativity:  Solicit their suggestions for a new and creative platform for learning (you will be surprised by their input).
  • Opt to discontinue lectures on topics that are adequately explained in the text, and focus lecture instead on concepts that are difficult for students to grasp.  Use the extra class time for active-learning techniques
  • Incorporate a service learning component into your course, making the work students do more relevant and meaningful
  • Create quizzes or other forms of assessment to be administered and graded via HuskyCT—for students to self-check major concepts illustrated in class.
  • Create a discussion board forum in place of the discussion topic you would have facilitated for the day. Be sure to give clear directions regarding your expectations for student participation and the quality of the posts. Prepare a grading rubric with explicit and descriptive criteria aligned with your learning objectives so students fully understand what they need to produce in the discussion board to be successful.

Lecture Capture:

  •  Mediasite is one of the University’s solutions for lecture capture and streaming. Whether you are teaching online or face to face, reinforcing a difficult topic or making up a missed class, Mediasite can provide an appropriate and effective solution.  This tool can be accessed through two recording studios in the Rowe Center for Undergraduate Education or conveniently used from home, making it an excellent choice for offering a virtual lecture in case of a last-minute cancelled class due to weather.
  • UConn’s lightboard offers another, more sophisticated form of lecture capture.  This new technology allows faculty to integrate PowerPoint while discussing key concepts, illustrate lessons with a diagram, or explain a formula without blocking the written content with their bodies and without turning their backs to their students.  UConn’s Lightboard is located at the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning in the Rowe Building 

Helpful Ideas

Test all flipped class materials from home.  Please note that testing video capture software on your laptop in your University office with high-speed internet connectivity is not a good idea if you will be using your laptop in your home office with a slower DSL connection.  For more information, see Mediasite Tips and Examples or contact the iTV group at (860-486-6540).

Make this experience a professional development opportunity:   All of the techniques and technology discussed here can be used for online, flipped, hybrid/blended, and in-person courses at UConn. Many of your colleagues are already using these methods to increase effectiveness in and out of the classroom. Once you have used these techniques initially, we encourage you to continue exploring them as possible first steps in further bolstering the effectiveness of your courses through the use of educational technology.  Follow these links to connect with appropriate staff and resources as you further explore these opportunities:



Preparing for your first class, Jan. 2016

Fight First-Day Anxiety with a Plan

Are first-day jitters leaving you feeling anxious and under-prepared?  Have you been waking with a jolt at night after dreaming of being locked out of your classroom, unable to turn on the overhead projector, or incapable of getting your students’ attention?

The first day of class is important on many levels:  It affords you the opportunity to introduce yourself and the course, get a sense of your students, and set the tone for the semester.  It also gives students a chance to try the course out—to get a sense of who you are and what your course will be like.  Carefully plan the first class session, so you are sure to cover everything intended.

Use these guidelines to avoid the kinds of last-minute surprises that can ruin even the best teacher’s confidence.

Before you step into the classroom…

  • Know the rules
  • View your class roster
  • Request a HuskyCT site
  • Order your text books and other course materials
  • Order library reserves
  • Visit your classroom

On the first day…

  • Set a goal
  • Introduce yourself
  • Show an interest in getting to know your students
  • Introduce your course
  • Ask questions
  • Save time for student questions

Visit CETL’s web pages on Preparing for Your First Class and Interacting with Students During Your First Class for UConn-specific suggestions on how to achieve these goals and other helpful details.

If you are new at teaching and unsure about how to establish your identity in the classroom, take a look at the Faculty Focus article Six Myths about Teaching Personas.  Faculty Focus also recommends a variety of First Day Class Activities.

For more information, contact: the Institute for Teaching and Learning at