May 29, 2009

New Blog Location

We have been posting on two blogs as we worked through the transition to the relatively new BGSU blogs system. Now that we’re all set and to reduce confusion or redundancy, here is a link to the new blog site for all future postings:

May 12, 2009

Wikipedia Final Exam: Passed (Journalists Failed)

Below is an excerpt from the article about a college student's inquiry into Wikipedia and journalism in the digital age. What he found out might surprise some of you or even cause a reconsideration of using Wikipedia in the classroom. Read the full article here.

Here are some highlights (quoted here, not "lifted") ;-)
Irish student hoaxes world's media with fake quote 

When Dublin university student Shane Fitzgerald posted a poetic but phony quote onWikipedia, he said he was testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news.

His report card: Wikipedia passed. Journalism flunked.

The sociology major's made-up quote — which he added to the Wikipedia page of Maurice Jarre hoursafter the French composer's death March 28 — flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper Web sites in Britain, Australia and India.

A full month went by and nobody noticed the editorial fraud. So Fitzgerald told several media outlets in an e-mail and the corrections began.

"The moral of this story is not that journalists should avoid Wikipedia, but that they shouldn't use information they find there if it can't be traced back to a reliable primary source," said the readers' editor at the Guardian, Siobhain Butterworth, in the May 4 column that revealed Fitzgerald as the quote author.

Walsh said this was the first time to his knowledge that an academic researcher had placed false information on a Wikipedia listing specifically to test how the media would handle it.

How do you handle the use of Wikipedia in your courses and/or your own research?

May 11, 2009

Close the Book. Recall. Write it Down.

Teaching and LearningA recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses the importance of using recall to learn new concepts and ideas. According to the article, two psychology journals just published papers showing that the strategy of recall works. 

According to the author David Glenn, recall is when students put down the text or notes that they are studying and recall everything they can. Students can either write down everything they remember or day it out loud. This active recall, such as using flashcards and other self-quizzing, is the most effective may to add something to your long-term memory.

These recall techniques, according to Dr. McDaniel, a researcher in the field of biology and teaching techniques, “If you ask people to free-recall, you can generate a better mental model of a subject area, and in turn that can lead to better problem-solving.”

This idea of free-recall has also generated some critiques from educators. Some professors have voiced concerns that recall is simply teaching students how to memorize instead of increases levels of higher learning and thinking. Dr. McDaniel argues that although these techniques may aid students in the often-required tasks of memorization, the free-recall tasks actually help to give students the skills needed apply their knowledge.

Read more by clicking here.

More strategies for effective learning can be found at the University of Memphis Department of Psychology's Principles of Learning page. Topics include
All of these topics provide concrete strategies for faculty and students to use to increase learning. Give them a try!

How do you encourage your students to use free-recall techniques or practice retrieval?

April 28, 2009

The One Stop for Conferences All Over the World

Teaching and LearningA faculty member recently asked us if we could work with her in finding a resource for conferences concerning higher education. During our search, we cam across, which we thought could be helpful for many faculty members and TAs. is a huge website dedicated to marketing higher education conferences across all disciplines and topics. The site also has a database that helps you find a conference, add an event, or promote their event with email. Users can find professional conferences for everything from Islamic Studies to Teaching and Learning. Moreover, the workshops that are advertised on the are from all over the world.

Here's a little more information from their website:

"Conference Alerts brings together two groups of people - conference organizers, and academics who need to stay informed about conferences. We work with both small first-time conference organizers and established professional societies to ensure that notification of their conferences reach specifically interested parties. Both individual academics and a wide range of 'knowledge brokers' - such as journal editors, web site administrators and discussion list moderators - rely on our searchable online database and on Conference Alerts Monthly to remain informed about upcoming academic and professional events."

Take a visit to and see if you can find a conference somewhere in the world that you would like to attend or inquire about.

April 15, 2009

Sara Kubik: Let's Get Serious About Online Research

Teaching and LearningTechnologyWe have written a few postings that mentioned some of the debate behind the academic use (or non-use) of online websites for research or as a teaching resource in higher education. While many academics openly discourage the use of websites like Wikipedia or the process of "Google'ing" a topic for research, there are some scholars who are saying that researchers should take the idea of online research seriously. Sara Kubik is an associate faculty member at University-Purdue University Fort Wayne who thinks that it could be time for Academia to take online research more seriously. According to Kubik, instead of simply forbidding the use of the Internet as a credible research tool it might be time for scholars to participate in improving the validity of online resources.

Read Kubik's article for yourself and learn about her ideas. She makes some interesting points and offers some nice insight that we think are worth reading. Here are just a couple excerpts from the piece:

"Since groundbreaking information may be delivered from a grassroots level, academics should not dismiss this type of content creation."

"While it once made sense to equate print with quality, it’s time to embrace newer forms of communication as valid. If they need academically sound forms of verification and procedures for citation, let’s get to work."

April 13, 2009

Why All Professors Should Blog

David Albrecht, associate professor of Accounting and Management Information Systems, presented last week on "Why All Professors Should Blog." He provided examples and led discussion about: 
  1. Why you should blog, 
  2. What you should blog about, and 
  3. How to get started. 
A blog post he wrote a few months ago nicely summarizes his main arguments. 

Now it's your turn... if you have a blog and are a BGSU faculty member, leave your URL and name in the comments below. If you are thinking about a blog, what are you waiting for? As David mentioned, blogging "is like adding Miracle Grow to your research"! 


April 7, 2009

Latest "Communicating for Learners" Newsletter (Spring 2009, #2)

The newest CTL “Communicating for Learners” newsletter has just been released. In the latest newsletter you can find the interesting "What If..." article concerning the University Learning Outcomes and how they can apply in classrooms here at BGSU. There is also a thought-provoking article titled, "Brain Rules for Learning" that describes John Medina's twelve famous Brain Rules. In addition, the newsletter features five new websites that we find helpful and beneficial to educators and students. Our Visionary Status in this newsletter is John Tagg, who is a well-known writer and researcher in the education field. Finally, you can also look at the different dates and times of workshops and discussions available here at the CTL.

To read a copy of the latest newsletter click here.

April 3, 2009

Team-Based Learning

Teaching and LearningInstructors can have a less than easy time trying to implement teaching strategies that are outside of certain methods, like lecturing. There are other effective alternatives to lecturing, however. One of these alternatives is group learning, which has its merits. Team-Based Learning is also one of these alternatives that is growing in momentum and offers significant opportunities for student learning. Recenetly, the Center hosted a workshop facilitated by Dr. Karen Sirum (Biological Sciences) to introduce TBL to BGSU faculty.

Team-Based Learning is a systematic method for helping students work in groups and learn together. Its supporters believe that the benefits attached to TBL are well worth the time it takes to learn how to implement the method. Moreover, TBL’s proponents are saying that it is an excellent way of supplementing their other methods for teaching that have been helpful for their students’ learning.

According to its supporters, TBL has been structured to help student learning in group settings and, almost as importantly, has accountability built into it. Before trying this method with students plans need to be made, which include partitioning the course content into macro-units, identifying the instructional goals and objectives, and designing a grading system. Later, in class, there are more methodical instructions on correctly implementing TBL. Please see Introduction to Team-Based Learning and Getting Started with Team-Based Learning to read why and how you can try TBL for yourself.

There is an entire website dedicated to TBL that we invite you to visit. The site has video examples, professional testimonies from people who have tried it and a number of other resources. Please take a look at the site to learn about the “buzz” surrounding Team-Based Learning.

March 24, 2009

The Ten Commandments of Lecturing

Teaching and LearningWe found this list of ten "commandments of lecturing" by Rob Weir interesting. Weir generated a list of ten policies for instructors to follow when they lecture. Please read the list and feel free to share your own ideas.

I. Thou shalt connect new lectures to previous ones.

II. Thou shalt move beyond chalk and talk.

III. Thou shalt not lecture like caffeinated hummingbird or a tree sloth.

IV. Thou shalt not assume too much.

V. Thou shalt link known to unknown.

VI. Thou shalt be enthusiastic.

VII. Thou shalt not be a pompous ass.

VIII. Thou shalt not tolerate disruptive or disrespectful students.

IX. Thou shalt not lecture outdoors.

X. Thou shalt seize learning moments.

This is just a list of Weir's commandments. The Inside Higher Education website has more elaborates concerning each of the suggestions that he has for instructors.

March 20, 2009

Can Wikipedia be Used to Teach Writing?

Teaching and LearningTechnologyThe use of Wikipedia for class assignments or as a citation source has been an ongoing debate. Some professors accept the website's use, usually after encouraging their students to caution what they take from the website. Other professors absolutely abhor the use of the website by their students. Robert E. Cummings says that he has found a new way to incorporate the use of Wikipedia into his classrooms and makes a strong case for using it in higher education, particularly as a writing tool.

According to Cummings, detractors of Wikipedia's use in higher education assignments have reasons to be concerned. Wikipedia, indeed, is an open source where essentially anyone can edit or create information concerning almost any subject. With this in mind, people who use the website do expose themselves to getting inaccurate information or are subject to relying on information that is unfounded.

On the other hand, Cummings believes that Wikipedia offers several advantages for students. He believes the major advantage to helping student essay writing with the use of Wikipedia is that students have audiences that are real and can provide plenty of immediate feedback to their writing. In his classes Cummings literally has his students post their work to the website for people all over the Internet to provide them with comments concerning their work. More importantly for the students, Cummings believes that students are writing and having more exposure to having having to write formally. According to Cummings,

"Composition assignments in Wikipedia frame writing as a collaborative practice hosted within a network. This arrangement seems much more predictive of the environment our students will find themselves writing in after they leave the composition classroom, both in later college courses (as they collaborate across networks with fellow students in coursework) or in the workplace (as they collaborate with co-workers to prepare reports, proposals, or Web pages)."

We invite you to read Cummings' article and see if what he has to say can be beneficial in any of your classes.

March 13, 2009

Choosing Technological Tools

With all the encouragement to integrate active learning techniques into your teaching, it's easy to get confused about what to use when. Specifically, deciding which technological tools to use can seem overwhelming. Three of the most common tools instructors use in their classes are blogs, wikis, and dicussion boards. To guide you in the process of choosing which tool to use, we have collected information and dveloped a chart.

It is important that you consider the answer to some important questions as you make your choice:

  • What is the purpose of using the tools?

  • What features are most important for you?

  • What level of privacy do you need?

The answers to these questions and others can be found by looking at the chart. Make sure to use the left-most colomn labeled "Topic" to guide your selection.

You can download the document here.

And don't forget that you can always schedule a consultation at the Center for help on how to use your tool in class by calling the Center at 372-6898 or emailing the Center at