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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
Before 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.
Those motivated by teaching for learning want to help students be successful learners. But sometimes the process of doing that can be tricky. At least, that's how it felt recently to us. We have both been giving some thought to the amount of advance feedback we give to students on work that will be graded. We are feeling a bit confused about responsibilities and advantages.
Janine: I had a student email me his assignment to review before the deadline, but he had skipped my class that day. I decided to provide some high level feedback, but did tell him that in the future I would expect him to attend class to receive extra assistance. Is providing advance feedback a benefit to students who are done early or is it an unfair advantage? Should there be conditions to get extra support on graded work?
Amanda: A student asked me recently to proof their resume. I'm not sure they always know what proofreading really entails (Hint: It means finding all the errors and correcting them!). Regardless, how much feedback is fair and how little is shirking my responsibilities as an instructor?
Now we're turning to our RRC network of support and asking you for input and advice: Can we sort this out together?
Thanks for helping us out!
Please sign in on the top right, and then add your comments to the discussion.
Bloom’s Taxonomy graphically illustrates how learning
increases in complexity as we demand more intensive work from our students. One
of my favourite assignment types is reflective writing, which fits into the
category second from the top. It is, arguably, more challenging learning, but
that challenge comes with deep rewards – for both the students and the
For example, in an assignment about their resume, I ask
students not only to revise their document but also to write one paragraph
about what changes they made and, importantly, why they made those changes.
This causes them to justify their changes and, automatically, requires them to
think critically and be reflective about their own work: “evaluate” on Bloom’s
When I incorporate this activity into a course, I require
that students use a claim + evidence pattern in their written response to
demonstrate their critical thinking and their self-reflection. For example:
I’ve used this technique successfully with students in a
variety of programs and generally the feedback is positive. They appreciate
that they are not simply completing a task for marks, but also reflecting on their
learning and then describing it in a structured way. A bonus for me when facing
a stack of documents to grade is that the assignments are much more interesting
One important caveat: I give marks not for what the
student says, but for their consistent use of the claim + evidence pattern in
their statements. I’m not judging their thinking; I’m evaluating its rigour.
How about you? How do you incorporate higher levels of
learning in your lesson plans? Do you have a specific assignment that others
could use in their classes? Please sign in above and then post your comment
below to share in the conversation.
Image Source: Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching
Last week Amanda and I initiated a conversation about the future of classrooms and teaching.
So, this week we wanted to circle back to an existing classroom challenge that will only become more embedded in the classroom of the future – technology.
Today we are keen to crowdsource your perspective and practices on cell phones in the classroom/shop/lab.
This fall Red River College opened the new Skilled
Trades and Technology Centre (STTC). Click on this picture to take a photo tour
of the new facility.
Mark Blackner, Chair of Electrical, Mechanical and Manufacturing, shared with us examples of how the new building will contribute to teaching for learning - our focus in Faculty Fridays:
We're so happy for students and staff that get to learn together in a state of the art facility like the STTC. The conversation about classrooms of the future will continue as the college begins building the Innovation Centre downtown. What are your priorities for a classroom of the future? Equally important, what do you think the future of teaching might look like? How can we prepare, individually and as an institution, for the future of teaching?
My favorite session from RED Forum 2018 was PechaKucha.
If you're like me, perhaps you said PechaKucha, what?
PechaKucha is a presentation format devised by architecture firm Klein Dytham in Japan in 2003, where presenters prepare 20 slides that automatically advance every 20 seconds. So, each PechaKucha is 6 minutes and 40 seconds in total. Each speaker obviously has to be very concise.
It was my favorite session because I got to watch 7 colleagues – 7 Instructors – step out of their comfort zone and use a new technique to share a best practice from their teaching practice. It was awesome.
One of those who presented was Oliver Oike. He teaches graphic design and has been with the college for over 6 years. He is also the former City Host of PechaKucha Winnipeg, a position he occupied on and off since the first PechaKucha Night in Winnipeg in February 2009.
“PechaKucha describes the format as “the art of concise presentations," which goes a long way toward pinpointing what makes the format so fun and unexpected. There is an art to delivering a presentation; it's a mix of compelling imagery, carefully chosen words, and a bit of performance."
It has some pretty cool applications for education, too.
“I use PechaKucha in my second year Editorial Design class. Students work on a semester-long editorial design project in three phases. The first phase is the presentation of their concept and plan for the remainder of the semester. The PechaKucha format is useful in two ways: practically, it ensures the presentations move forward in an efficient manner, but more importantly, the constraints of the format encourage the students to carefully consider what they want to say, which in turn encourages them to dig for a more nuanced understanding of their chosen subject matter."
The other colleagues who participated in the RED Forum session were: Teresa Menzies, Amanda Le Rougetel, Craig Dyer, Aubrey Doerksen, Darren Stebeleski, and Michael Whalen.
Thanks Oliver for introducing this new technique to our teaching community!
How could you use this technique in your classroom? Would you give it a try? Could it be a model for student presentations? Please sign in and share your thoughts below.
The next PKN (Vol.36) is on Thursday, November 22nd at The Park Theatre, and everyone is invited!
The weather was wild that late-August day at our cottage on Lake Winnipeg, and by 7pm the power was out – and stayed out for almost 24 hours.
We quickly found the candles and opened the refrigerator only sparingly – but how to boil water for coffee or cook our dinner? Fortunately, we had a backup plan that involved a 3-burner propane-powered cook top that we had stashed away on the top shelf in the old shed. We would neither starve nor be caffeine deprived. Phew!
Pulling that backup plan together was fun, and it made me think of the times in my classroom when my oh-so-well-thought-out teaching plan…Did. Not. Go. Well. At. All. Teaching is all about the plan – the one that unrolls seamlessly, and also the one you have in your back pocket in case – for whatever reason – your plan falls apart in the execution. For example:
For me, the other day it was paper that saved my teaching butt. I arrived in the EDC classroom to discover that I simply could not retrieve the files from my laptop that I had created from which to teach. Fortunately, I had printed the PowerPoint to paper and, along with my always-to-hand whiteboard markers, I was able to teach my planned lesson using old-style tools. And it worked well; I don't think the students had a clue that I was pinch hitting with a backup plan. Phew!
How about you? Do you have a backup plan story to share? Please sign in above and then post your comment below to share in the conversation.
When I was about 13, I said to my father, “I wonder how sugar cubes are made? Is it through pressure, or maybe it's through moisture?"
I don't remember his specific answer, but I do remember – very clearly – that his response shut down my curiosity about the question. Instead of wanting to embark on a line of enquiry – going to the library, looking things up and wondering about sugar cubes, I cut my curiosity short and moved on to something else.
I was reminded of this anecdote this summer when I heard someone on a podcast say that arousing curiosity is a more powerful way to encourage learning than simply providing information. And I began to wonder how this might apply in my teaching.
In the classroom, instructors are guided in our work by course objectives, learning outcomes, and assessment requirements. When well designed and up-to-date, these building blocks of college teaching describe expectations and map a path for us and our students through the term.
But I know that I sometimes rely too heavily on those building blocks, instead of focusing on piquing students' interest. I need to nurture their innate curiosity not bury them in information.
Here are three techniques I'm going to give a try:
Faculty Fridays is a blog to celebrate and nurture good teaching. Together, we'll put a face on teaching for learning at RRC.