Innovations in Teaching Series

Have you wondered about the range of innovative teaching happening at the University and how it might enliven your own practice?  During the 2015-2016 academic year, the Center for Educational Innovation sponsored the Innovations in Teaching discussion series.  Session recordings for some of the discussions are available below. 


Design Thinking for Innovation

Virajita Singh, Assistant Vice Provost for Equity and Diversity, UMTC

Design Thinking is an emerging field that draws from the design disciplines and offers tools used to solve complex challenges.  How can Design Thinking principles be applied to a variety of teaching contexts?  How does Design Thinking promote creative problem solving and teamwork as students address real life projects? Learn about it, see examples and take away tips for your teaching from ‘Design Thinking for Innovation,’ a core course in the Liberal Studies and Innovation Studies programs. Session recording.

Gamification With Moodle

Laure Charleux, Assistant Professor (Geography, Urban, Environment and Sustainability Studies), UMD

This session explores how gamification can support student learning in an undergrad class, Applied Statistics in GIS.  The course was staged as a quest with pass/fail levels (assignments), some of which required “elements of wisdom” (lessons) to be passed.  Gaming tricks were borrowed from the gaming universe to increase student motivation. The presenter will report on how the game dynamics have “changed the game” in terms of student learning in this class, and will demonstrate how this can be implemented in Moodle.

A Cross-Institutional Ethnographic Project: Mapping Play in the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood

Akosua Addo, Associate Professor (Music), UMTC; Eric Castle, Associate Professor (Horticulture), UMC

This session explores the collaborative effort of two classes on different campuses to research and map play in the culturally diverse Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. Using technology to create geospatially situated digital visual stories about play was an effective mechanism for facilitating interdisciplinary learning, ethics, learner autonomy, and dialogue. Cross-institutional pedagogical strategies shifted as we adjusted to the realities of physical space, weather conditions, ethical, and intercultural considerations. Read the research article about this collaboration. View this presentation.

The importance of space and place for learning: How a wandering seminar gave students ownership of their university

David Matthes, Teaching Associate Professor (Biology Teaching and Learning), UMTC

If you’ve ever been assigned to a classroom that’s less than optimal — think an irregularly shaped, windowless basement classroom with poor temperature control, acoustics, and sight lines — hear how one instructor turned this problem into an opportunity for his students.  The first meeting of his Genome seminar compelled David Matthes to look for another classroom, so after some planning and phone calls to departments and units across campus, his class met instead at the Weisman Art Museum, the Armory library, and the Arthur Epson reading room, among other places for the rest of the semester. Hear how this wandering seminar affected his students, as well as how you could apply what he learned to your own course.

Visual Thinking Strategies: Learning through direct observation

Brad Hokanson, Professor (Design, Housing, and Apparel), UMTC

Visual thinking strategies are a collection of methods developed to deepen the experience of understanding visual images in fine art museums. This methodology for examining visual information has been expanded beyond the arts and has proven valuable for many disciplines, such as linguistics, medicine and urban design.  Dr. Hokanson will describe the process of using visual thinking strategies in teaching and demonstrate how the method works by involving the audience. He will also show examples of student work from a recent Honors course in Visual and Critical Thinking, where students were highly engaged in discussion and presenting ideas. Presentation recording.

Adaptive Learning in a Flipped Hybrid Class

Don Liu, Professor (Applied Economics), UMTC

One way to actively engage students is the now well-known flipped-class approach. The flipped hybrid class to be discussed in this presentation takes the flipped approach one step further; students are held accountable for their at-home learning by completing formative assessments before coming to class. These assessments are adaptive, adjusting the level of the questions to meet students’ individual learning needs so that they can all be successful in reaching the learning objectives. When students come to the class session, they hear a 20-minute lecture designed to synthesize the learning material at a higher conceptual level. The majority of the class time is then spent on hands-on collaborative problem solving, facilitated by the professor and the TAs. As a result of this approach, students come to class ready to apply their learning, they are actively engaged in the learning process, and they have the opportunity to learn from one another and from their teachers. The effectiveness of this teaching method will be discussed. Presentation recording.