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2014 Winter Institute Responses

We have been having so many conversations about Student Success and many refer back to making sure that the basic needs are met. Something as simple as having a "Start Here" post or video for the students to watch as they first open BB. I must admit that I do not have this post but will for the Spring semester! I just completed the class with Thatcher showing us the updates for YouTube and will be making my video (probably with his help) very soon. I enjoy these Institutes greatly as they help us to be better which ultimately leads to the student's success.
Lori Riden

How to better encourage students to participate in community service opportunities.
Nancy Mitchell

G Flash+ Flashcards App:
I was sitting in Suzanne Waldenberger's session on using Blackboard to create badges and I was amazed. She did a tremendous amount of work to find a workaround in Blackboard using "adaptive release" and the grade-book function to create a way in which badges were manually assigned to her students upon completing certain assignments. The amount of time and effort she spent to figure out how to do that was really amazing to me. She has often told me that she likes solving challenges and puzzles like this one, so she got lost in it. Suzanne got me thinking about ways in which I can get my students to get lost in what they are doing, in the learning of my content, to the point that they don't even realize that they are spending hours doing it, because they are having so much fun. I I have always wondered how to make this happen with my students, so as Suzanne's session wound down, I started playing around with an old idea that I had for my classes--digital flashcards. I've tried it before, but I've never got it to work well, so I figured, if Suky can do it in Blackboard, I can figure out how to make this digital flashcard app work! The app is for Android and (supposedly) for Apple that allows you to create your own flashcard terms using Google Docs (spreadsheets), upload them to the app's server and then it allows students to download them onto their devices. Teaching Spanish, we have a lot of vocabulary terms and flashcards are key, so I uploaded a batch of terms from a particular topic that I already had loaded in a spreadsheet and really quickly and easily, the app searched for them and now I have a fun, interactive way for my students to study my vocabulary terms that will take them only a few seconds to get set-up on their devices. It was so easy, and now, I hope, students will get lost in my content because it will be more accessible and more fun. Students used to bug me to provide flashcards for them. I thought this was laziness, but I get it; in today's busy world, who has time to create flashcards? Now all of my students will have access to these cards for semesters to come! Teaching is about lowering obstacles for students to access the content and be successful. I just lowered one huge obstacle today. That's what I love about these Institutes. I enjoyed Dr. W's presentation, but what I liked more is the ways in which her session got me thinking of new things. I didn't use Dr. W's presentation directly, but it helped me to finally get up the gumption to use something else that is pretty cool in its own right and make it work. And that's what it's all about!

Curtis Kleinman

I drew some lessons from our keynote session on FYE 103, our orientation-transition-starting assistance course for students. I am glad we took this step at Yavapai College. We have front-loaded, and institutionalized, more encouragement for the students. Possibly, and may I estimate likely, this has relieved some of the personal pressures on individuals transitioning into their versions of the college student role. So now that the course is here, what do we professors do? perhaps we can complement the gains made by FYE 103 by continuing our efforts to guide and encourage students, and watch out for those times when we have those finest hours - when we need to pause and listen - or online, read and reply - to a student who feels discouraged and needs our support. Such times are not in the syllabi, but they are real and recurring nonetheless.

David Alegre

2014 Summer Institute Responses

My review for summer 2014:

I went to the Salt keynote: Very enlightening info. glad to see a program like this as it is so comprehensive for students and faculty. From what I gleamed from the presenter was that, the program is user friendly and there is much support for learning and using this program. Students need all the knowledge and support about money matters and even the career information in this program.

I really enjoyed the presenters enthusiastic approach and was knowledge about Salt. She answered questions eagerly, provided interaction activities with participants, and shared material about the program.



I was excited to learn that YC will be subscribing to Quality Matters! It is so important that our students have consistency of quality and support in their online courses, and QM will be a great place to develop that consistency. We want our students concerned about learning the content of a course, not concerned about what how a course works or what might be missing in a course that they'll need to supplement in order to learn material. We also don't want students to be concerned about the consistency of the quality of online courses as they work through a course sequence. Excited to get started! -Marissa Wolfe

OK the Zumba rocked it!

I enjoyed Melody Buckner from U of A on Quality Matters. The questions she asked were quite thought-provoking; especially if I'm helping students achieve learning outcomes, not just giving them assignments and the learning outcomes. I definitely think YC needs to get on board - we already do a lot of these things in our classes now. This session made me think about my process.

I also liked the SALT presentation. I hear students talk in hallways all the time about money. If nothing else, just to show students the SALT website would beneficial. Chris Heyer

The one thing I learned and why it will help was the SALT presentation and what this package has to offer. It is amazing the lack of financial literacy among our learners. It behooves us all to have open and honest conversations about financial responsibility throughout our lifetimes – Selina Bliss

I hate to be a broken record, but I have been seeing the advertisements for on the marquee for a year and I had no idea what it was. I think that I will take the suggestion from the audience to put a blurb about SALT on my syllabus, and I might even incorporate one of the modules or use it for extra credit. I teach developmental English online and I know that I lose a number of students each semester because of personal circumstances that impact their ability to focus on course work. I am always looking for tools to incorporate in the class to support them, and this is one! -Laura Cline

On Tuesday, I went to Mike Davis' class "Stressed Out?" and was surprised to hear a few new things. He stated, "You are not your brain" and then we did an activity and thought to ourselves, "I wonder what my next thought will be?" and then we were to wait for it to arrive. After the activity, I found I was asking myself "Who" really asked that and "Who" was I waiting on to reply as I sat with no thoughts in my mind. Okay, if you are confused from reading this, then you are in the same spot I was in? But, I did leave the session much more relaxed. Lori Riden

2013 Winter Institute Responses

Moving from Remembering to Creating: I was reminded of the importance of what we also term "triple-loop learning" in our approach to a class: to move upwards from remembering all the way up the chart to creating. To do so follows the philosophy of teaching our adults how to think instead of what to think, which is an important distinction in their eyes as well as ours. As far as the loops go, that descriptive also aligns with what we want. Single loop learning is thinking. Double loop learning is thinking about what we think. Triple loop thinking is that most advanced step where we think about how we think about thinking - necessary if we are to create something or otherwise remain at peace about what we do and why we do it. Dr. David Alegre

Exploring What's Really Helpful in Windows 8 session with Joan Baum: I wish I could have had this one hour with Joan about 3 months ago when I became the proud owner of a Windows 8 computer. I use the word "proud" loosely. I have been struggling with locating programs and downloaded files this entire time. In fact, I lost more than a few hours of my life trying to figure it out on my own. Her tips and tricks for Windows 8 will not only save me a lot of time in the future, but I inevitably will end up passing along this information to students and other faculty from time to time as well. Thank you Joan! My only wish was to have more time with her and her vast knowledge of this operating system! ~ Nichole Stubbe-Wilson

Fred Kester:
The one thing I learned is that reviewing course tools is important. I do not get assigned a class every semester so I forget some of the great resources available to me. Yesterday, I reviewed the PowerPoint presentation that Iian did. I think it is important to make class materials readily available to student so that is how I plan on using this material.

Digital Narcotics: Student Use of Technology
I learned that technology offers many useful tools for education, but may become an addictive force on one's life. As an educator I have consistently tried to make use of technology in my everyday life and in the courses I teach. The use of tech has changed over the past few years to allow it to become a detriment to our daily lives rather than a benefit. As much as I use tech daily this outlook has made me think twice about how much tech is necessary. How much time is wasted? What am I not getting done that would be more beneficial in my life? Thanks Dr. S. for this insight! --Mark Luffman
Connect for Learning
This might be what I have been looking for--a adaptive management plan for me and my students. I had been confused by what the textbook reps had said and my own research. Thank you, Marie for simplifying it for me. There is so much flexibility, and it think it will serve my students well. Marie is a super-helpful colleague! Thanks!
Why Good Students Get Bad Grades
In Trisha Travis' session on "Why Good Students Get Bad Grades," I learned that students coming in from high schools are used to having 80% of the work done for them by the teacher and only 20% on their own. In college, these students come in with high expectations, but fail to realize that only 20% of the work is done by the instructor, and they are responsible for 80% of their own learning, mostly in the form of reading and doing homework outside of class. Yes, we know this, but do we think about it much and do anything to help our students make the transition?
One way we can help them make the transition is by helping students define their learning goals. Students need to consider what knowledge they bring to the assessment. Are they focusing on facts rather than in connections? In high school most of the testing is based on lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy" Remembering and Understanding. In college, faculty expect students to process material at higher levels: Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating.
For this reason, the second way we can help students make the transition is to help students learn how to make this transition as well. When students test poorly, we can ask them to examine HOW they study, not just HOW LONG they study. Perhaps they are merely memorizing facts. Maybe they need to get together with other classmates to discuss concepts, topics, and reasoning.
If you are interested in learning more about what we learned in this session, I am sure that Trisha would be glad to talk with you and to share the materials she gave us in the session. Thanks, Trisha!Tina Luffman

2013 Summer Institute Responses

Matt Pearcy's - Getting off on the Right Foot - I appreciate his 4 tips to connect with students - it's really important to me to connect with students. I appreciated his samples and really looking at ourselves in how we do this early and often with students. Make it positive, positive and positive with a little friendly included. Also, having a willingness to reach out and let students know I am approachable and willing to help them be successful.
Chris Heyer

I have learned to reserve several minutes at the beginning of each class in which students describe how they have connected with course content since our last meeting. Sometimes the responses include statements about how new understanding of previously mysterious concepts enriched their life in a big or small way. Students speaking or listening may have opportunities to reinforce reasons they seek higher education or opportunities to recognize relevance of the course to their lives. Giving this time to students also forges their role as members of the learning community of our class.

Nancy Schafer and Mark Shelley--We sometimes put students into a box that impedes learning. As an instructor I need to continually see if there is a better way to teach a particular concept. I need to work toward being an educator rather than a teacher/lecturer. Students need us to be flexible and to consider their needs. As an instructor, I need to make connections with students and be sure I don't isolate myself in an office. As a member of the college community, I need to encourage flexibility with course offerings, delivery methods, and be willing to teach according to the needs of students, not according to my personal preference. --Tina Luffman

Map and Compass-
I learned what declination is and why it is different throughout the world. I also learned how to triangulate my position with a compass and a map. Talk about a skill that is useful! I would love to take students out on a solar flare day and give them a compass and map and see what they would do when their GPS doesn't work. I will never be able to look at a map the same way after learning how to read contour lines and their meanings. Great job Josh!-Robert Smith

I learned a bunch from the session by Roy Breiling on using an iPad. I had no idea how many different apps I could be using right now. One of the better ones I want to try is the pdfpen where I could write on a pdf and send it back to a student or colleague. We are planning on bringing iPads to class for the students to use. I see now various uses. After this session I learned that I have alot more to learn about using my iPad! - Selina Bliss

From learning about the First Year Experience course and the Getting off on the Right Foot session I have learned the importance of starting early with my students. Simple things like sending a welcome letter before the semester begins, rewording the syllabus so students know they can ask me questions whenever, and giving them an early alert when their performance is sub-par so that they still have time to make changes can help students relax and persist through the course. I teach math and many students come in fearing every lesson. If I can catch them at the beginning and let them know how the YC resources and I can help them, they may just take advantage of the help and enjoy the class. - Bill Swenson

Not being new to teaching, but new to Yavapai College and Northern Arizona area, the EDU-150A session did give me a better insight on how to better serve our students. The syllabus is one of the first introductions between the instructor and the students. Making sure that the first impression is a positive impression is a major step in insuring that the student will be engaged and motivated in the class and contributes to their success in the class. The examples and check list provided during this session is making me re-think my current documents and I will be making changes to my syllabus that will make the student experience an experience that can result in their success while here at Yavapai College. I think that the biggest take-away is that a syllabus can be informative, entertaining, and setting a standard that students need to reach. Most of the syllabi I have come across have been “institutional” in content, sterile, and dry which has an outcome of students not reading, thus, not understanding their obligation in learning process.
Jim Voska

Cindy DeCecco's session on creativity taught me the importance of creativity development in myself as an instructor. Specifically, she talked about the power of daydreaming and sleep-dreaming. She also provided examples of great discoveries that occurred as a result of the person paying attention to his/her dreams. I found the example of Buckminster Fuller to be especially intriguing. Additionally, she discussed a book entitled Creative Dreaming by Patricia Garfield which will be great for summer reading and contemplating. -- Mary Verbout

Prescott Cyber Salon with Todd Conaway - Get together with educators to discuss teaching and learning in a great environment around drinks, food and good conversation about things that you have found to be successful and learn about what works for others. New ideas are shared and explored around the table and discussed. Internet connectivity is usually available for everyone's gadgets to try out new things to make your teaching more effective. The Salon expands your horizons and builds friendships that go far. Why will it help my students you ask. By making me a better educator with more ideas and ideals to share with and through! --Mark Luffman

Camtasia 8. There is so much one can do with Camtasia! It is exciting to have so many options to make your videos informative and entertaining. I am hoping to use the basics for now, and continue to learn. Videos in general will definitely help in my online classes. Thank you, Thatcher! Gail Spivey

Blackboard: Beyond the Basics with Ruth Alsobrook-Hurick – Learning how the Journal feature works in Blackboard may be just what I have been looking for in order to keep track of online students. Previously I’ve been using an Excel Spreadsheet to keep track of students and their “background” as they emailed me their different questions and comments. NOW, hopefully not only will my emails will be lessened, but I will be able to more quickly relate to the students and their questions (without having to refer back to the Excel spreadsheet), while also knowing that a good portion of our communications will be kept WITH the class info in Blackboard! Yippee! Joan Baum

Grading with Macros
I spent an hour and half with Sukie learning about how macros can semi-automate grading repetitious activities. I teach a basic Business English class that has a number of proofreading assignments. I find my students have many of the same types of errors. The first few times I see that error in that particular grading session, I do a great job giving direction and feedback. The more assignments I grade, the more times I see that same error, the more spare the comments I leave. As a result, I feel the students who come later don't get as much benefit as the earlier. Using macros to help automate the comments I leave will help me give more complete and helpful feedback to my students; the last as well as the first... Thanks for listening! Lindsay Henning

Grading with Macros
I also had the chance to Grade with Macros with Suky and it was the bomb! I am constantly saying the same things as I grade compositions, like, "you need an accent mark here", or "you need to conjugate this verb here" or "you need to switch languages because, to be honest, you're never going to get this". Recording your macros means that you can give better feedback, because and here's the kicker, you are only writing that feedback one time. After that one time, you just click a button and then the feedback appears on the screen for students. I always find myself giving the most and best feedback to the first few papers that I grade. This session is going to make me a better and more consistent instructor because with macros, I'll be able to give all students the same quantity and quality of feedback. Plus, I won't be an embittered old man by the end of grading my students' stuff. I needed this session five years ago. I'm very grateful Suky shared it. More interestingly however, during the session stuff that Suky said, "I still don't know how to do this yet" other people in the session knew how to do, so, by working together, we came up to solutions to problems that even the presenter had and the session was much better for everyone and the presenter even went home edified by the experience. That's what sharing is all about! -- Curtis Kleinman

Lori Riden's review of "A Review of Speeding Up Your Grading with Macros" by Dr. Suzanne Waldenberger
When I left this training session, I felt very empowered to be able to use the macros immediately. A few years ago I dabbled into macros and never really went very far with the process, but now is the time to really use this time saving process. We ask our students to write several APA papers during their courses in the Nursing program. The majority of the instructors, including myself, take painstaking time in hand grading these papers only to rewrite the same comments many times over. I have felt that so much of my grading time has been spent on correcting the APA process of the paper that at times I do not get to the content of their thoughts. This grading process with macros will allow me to speed up the grading and allow me more time for their actual thought process. Thank-you, Suzanne for presenting this is such a simplistic manner. I really do think that you had control of the training session at all times. I even enjoyed your “rants”.

Sukey Waldenberger's review of Getting Off on the Right Foot. Matt Percy's session was a great way to rethink my syllabus. One thing I learned and that will help my students is to review all the language in my syllabus and make sure it is as welcoming and friendly as possible. Simple changes that shift perception from "You have to do this" or "This will happen" to "Here's what we'll do" can only serve to make those students who are nervous or unsure of themselves feel more comfortable.