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Jan 18
Take a Seat!

Mix and match the students, give them materials and time, add some glue and fasteners, and what do you have? An innovative end-of-term activity that engages students in trade-specific hands-on learning.

It's the brainchild of Cabinetry & Woodworking Instructors Vern Bergen, Aubrey Doerksen and Frank Jess, and it took place on the last day of term before the holiday break. 

The activity required three different groups of students at different stages in their Cabinetry programs to work together in small groups. Their task was to design and then build a chair using only two 8-foot-long spruce 2x4s – in just three and a half hours! The only rules were to be safe, creative and willing to adapt to the team's best ideas.Aubrey's Chair Activity.jpg

Civilian judges, including Christine Watson, judged the chairs for strength, comfort, appearance, and creativity. Every judge awarded points in each category for their top chairs, and the three chairs with the highest overall points were the winners. The winning teams were rewarded with a selection of tools related to their trade.

“The activity is a great way for students to wrap up the term and flex their design, build, and team skills all in one," said Aubrey. “They can see what they have actually learned throughout their time in the program and apply it in a situation that has minimal restrictions to creativity.  I love seeing them get creative and practice working together with other students who have different competencies – their strengths really shine as they problem-solve cooperatively toward a common goal."

Teaching for learning doesn't get better than that, does it!


How are you able to bring hands-on learning into your teaching in the classroom or shop? Sign in above, then comment below to join the conversation.

Jan 11
Office Hours in the 21st Century

Q. When is an hour not an hour at all?

A. When it's an office hour! badhon-ebrahim-1169302-unsplash.jpg

As Instructors, we have a responsibility to be reasonably available to students outside of class. What does that look like in your teaching practice?

In my area, the course outline includes a spot where I can insert my specific office hours. I state that I am available “by appointment only", so that students know I'm accessible to them outside of class time, but they must book time with me in advance. In addition, I tell students they are welcome to email me with questions or concerns about class work or assignments.

In Janine's department, where multiple instructors teach many different sections of the same course each term, the course outlines include neither instructor name nor office hours. Instead, those details are posted on LEARN, and/or instructions about office hours are posted outside instructor offices.

How does it work in your area?

  • Do you hold regular office hours, during which your students can drop in for one-on-one time with you?
  • Do you offer office hours through booked appointments?
  • Do you offer virtual one-on-one time (via email or WebEx, for example) instead of offering face-to-face time in your office?
  • Do your students take you up on your offer, regardless of its format?
  • Or are office hours a thing of the past in your teaching world?


Sign in above, then comment below to join the conversation!

Image source: Photo by Badhon Ebrahim on Unsplash

Jan 04
New Year's Resolutions for Teaching

Happy New Year! We sincerely hope you each enjoyed a lovely holiday season.

Now, it's a brand new year and the days ahead are filled with endless possibilities for us, our teaching and our students.

From Amanda

While I don't usually make resolutions (they can be so very hard to keep!), this year I have resolved to try two things that relate to my teaching: 

  • I will ask more questions of my students as I roll out the course and plan my lessons, because I want my teaching to respond to the students' evolving needs. Their answers to the question, 'What was most useful (or interesting or puzzling or challenging) in today's class for you?' or 'What do you want to know more about in our next class to help you with the current assignment?' will help me prepare my next class more productively and effectively.
  • I will take more than just the mid-term pulse of the class; I will check in every month to assess where things are at for the students - in relation to their learning, their comfort in the classroom, and their confidence to ask for help.

From Janine

January Wishes.pdf.jpgMy parents recently moved into a condo and I received “the box". You know the one with all the report cards, artwork and special memories from my childhood that no longer fits in their smaller home.

I stumbled across this: It was my January wishes when I was in Grade 4.

I was delighted to see #5. Apparently in Grade 4 I wanted to be a teacher. And a doctor, and an accountant... I'm proud to say I accomplished #4 – I can definitely get along with my brother for one week without fighting!

Perhaps resolutions do work!?!  


How about you? Are you a New Year's resolution kind of person? Do you have any plans to enhance your teaching for learning in 2019? Sign in above and then comment below to join the conversation! 

Dec 14
Happy Holidays from Janine & Amanda!

One of my daughters' favorite Christmas books is called “Pete the Cat Saves Christmas".

It's a lovely story about how Pete the Cat comes to the rescue to save Christmas after Santa got ill from a cold winter chill. As Pete the Cat makes his rounds he sings, “Give it your all! Give it your all! At Christmas we give, so give it your all!"

Teaching for learning is the same: It requires us to give our all too, and it's hard work. We hope you're able to reflect on the past year and remind yourself of all you did to support student learning. Perhaps it was the development of solid lesson plans? Perhaps it was the extra effort you put in to find current and relevant examples to explain a concept? Perhaps it was the lesson you “flipped" to allow students to engage more with the material? Perhaps it was the late night providing quality feedback? And so on. 

FF pic Dec 14 2018.jpgTeaching for learning is also incredibly rewarding. There is nothing quite like the sincere appreciation from a student for the learning you helped them achieve.

As two of your peer Instructors, we thank you for your commitment to teaching for learning.

Thank you for “giving it your all".

Enjoy a restful holiday.

Janine & Amanda

Dec 07
Happy Holidays from Paul!


By Paul Vogt, President

As we prepare for the upcoming holiday season, I wanted to thank you all for your hard work this fall.

It has been a busy and exciting academic year, with not only the usual crop of new students but several new programs, a new building (STTC) and some new ways of doing things.

I look forward to seeing you at next week’s holiday receptions here at NDC or at PGI.

If I don’t have a chance to see you, please enjoy your time away, rest and recharge and we will see you in the New Year!  



Nov 30
Working Smarter, Not Harder

Light at end of tunnel.jpgLast week a colleague told me there are three constants for an Instructor: death, taxes… and marking.

We can't help with the first two, but today we'd like to gather some end of term survival strategies for that mound of marking.  

From Janine

Here's an innovation that my colleagues and I developed:

We teach Marketing Research where students learn the entire marketing research process including data analysis using industry-grade software.

Three years ago, the final assignment on data analysis was done in a group. It was also an assignment that they had to physically hand in. The students would run various analyses and then write up their interpretation. That didn't feel quite right – it only proved that one student in the group knew how to use the software.

The next year, our teaching team agreed to make the assignment individual. However, that one assignment alone took me 12 hours to mark for two sections of students.

We needed another option.

Last year, we tried something new. We utilized LEARN to recreate the assignment as a quiz and called it a Skill Check. During an already scheduled lab, students individually complete the Skill Check. We ask them to complete various analyses in the software and then copy and paste their output into an open ended question format. Then we ask a follow up question to ensure they can correctly interpret the output. About half of it is autograded. The other half I can mark within an hour for all students.

For Instructors, this innovation saves time and allows us to assess each students' competency with the software. Students like the focus on proficiency versus all the details that come with submitting a written assignment and they get feedback much faster.

From Amanda

My love of reflective writing assignments is very apparent in my mound of end-of-term marking! But I've become smarter over the years by providing students with a detailed rubric. For example, rather than asking simply for a reflection on their learning about X concepts over the term, I now ask them something like this:

  • List three concepts (3 x 1 mark) related to the practice of supervisory management that you found interesting
  • Show your understanding of these concepts by explaining why each one is interesting to you (3 x 5 marks)
  • Provide an example for each (3 x 5 marks) of how you could apply this understanding to your role as a supervisor in the Class Company we created
  • Note: Marks will be deducted for language errors (grammar, spelling, punctuation) and poor formatting of your document.

This approach doesn't reduce the mound of marking, but it does help systematize my evaluation of the students' work. And I count that as a win at this time of the term!


How do you survive the busyness of the end of term? Do you have any encouragement? Any tips to work smarter, not harder?

Nov 23
Meet Gary van der Zweep

This fall one of our RRC own, Gary van der Zweep, won the Apprenticeship Manitoba Award of Distinction for Instructor of the Year.

Gary Van Der Zweek.jpgGary van der Zweep teaches Aircraft Maintenance at the Stevenson Campus.

We connected with Gary to learn more about the perspective and practices that are important to his career in education.

Gary noted that his students often have experience in the trade before coming to RRC. As such, a major priority for him is to include examples of the specific equipment the students have worked on in the past. For example, when teaching basic turbine engine theory, he researches how the theory applies to the aircraft that his students are familiar with. It’s more work, but Gary says it’s worth it to engage his students and keep his own skills current.

He also leverages his students’ practical experience by creating lots of opportunities for students to learn from each other.

Please join us in extending congratulations to our colleague!

Photo: Gary van der Zweep receiving his award from Colleen Kachulak, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Post-Secondary Education and Workforce Development, Manitoba Education and Training.

Nov 16
Advice to New Instructors
Can you believe it's the middle of November already? If you're a new Instructor teaching your first term, perhaps you're wondering, “Is it the middle of November yet?"

Hang in there. The end of the term is in sight.

Today we want to crowdsource just what new Instructors need: support and encouragement.

If you've been at this for a while, how did you make it through your first term? What do you wish you had known when you were just starting out? What constructive advice would you offer?    

Please sign in above and share positive suggestions with our new colleagues.

And to the newbies: Thank you. Thank you for the work you are doing to teach for learning.

Nov 09
Introducing the Centre for Learning and Program Excellence

By Nadine Ogborn - Director, Centre for Learning and Program Excellence

The Centre for Learning and Program Excellence exists to advance teaching and learning excellence at RRC to build our communities.

The Centre is still a new entity – established in 2018, we haven't even celebrated our first anniversary. The Centre for Learning and Program Excellence is located at NDC in FM28 (with eTV just a quick walk down the hall in GM32). In the three months since I arrived at RRC, I've gotten to know the current units that make up the Centre:

  • CLPE.jpgProgram and Curriculum Development
  • Teaching Learning Technology Centre
  • eTV
  • Recognition of Prior Learning
  • Staff Learning and Development

The varied skills, passions and investment the individuals in the Centre bring to their work is inspiring. Based on this, I was very excited for the Centre to come together for a full day in October to define our purpose that will help us move forward with greater integration and alignment of our units and services to support academic transformation at Red River College.

A few takeaways from the day:

  • It is DIFFICULT to get everyone in the same room on the same day. :)
  • We are continuing to learn more about each other and how we can integrate what we do.
  • Despite varied roles within the College and diverse experience and backgrounds, we were able to agree on the idea for our purpose quite easily:

The Centre for Learning and Program Excellence exists to advance teaching and learning excellence at RRC to build our communities.

This purpose is a first step in defining the Centre's vision, values and strategies to serve RRC faculty, staff, leaders and (OF COURSE) students. We will be providing support and working closely with instructors, staff, programs, chairs, and deans to develop, design and deliver high quality, innovative academic courses and programs that keep pace with the changing needs of our students, an evolving work-force and an ever changing economy.

Faculty Fridays is a great initiative to engage faculty across RRC's campuses (keep it up Amanda and Janine!). Please sign in above, then post a comment to share what you would like to see the Centre offer to support teaching for learning.

Nov 02
Introducing Nadine Ogborn

This summer Nadine Ogborn joined RRC as the Director of the new Centre for Learning and Program Excellence.

Next week Nadine will share a guest post in Faculty Fridays to introduce the Centre, but today we'd like to introduce her.

Nadine Ogborn.jpgBefore joining RRC, Nadine was the Manager of Teaching and Learning at Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT). She returned home three years ago to Winnipeg from Hamilton, Ontario, where she worked at Mohawk College for eight years. She started at Mohawk as an Instructional Technologist and online instructor before moving into the role of Manager of the Centre for Teaching and Learning. 

Nadine holds a Master of Education in Administration and Leadership in Education (Brock University), Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration (U of Winnipeg), and a Certificate in Adult and Continuing Education (U of Manitoba).

Nadine's interests include blended and online learning, work-integrated learning, 21st century skills, instructor development and lifelong learning opportunities. These dovetail nicely with the focus of the Centre, which is to support the current and future learning needs of staff, faculty and students.

Nadine is married with two kids and two dogs that never run in the same direction. She enjoys cooking, watching HGTV and spending time with her family.


Please sign in above, then post a comment to share what you would like to see the Centre offer to support teaching for learning.

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Faculty Fridays is a blog to celebrate and nurture good teaching. Together, we'll put a face on teaching for learning at RRC. ​

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