Category Archives: Uncategorized

Visual Notes October 24, 2014 – Horror Stories from the Classroom

If you missed out on the great stories told at the last Talking About Teaching, you can catch up on what happened by checking out the visual notes linked up below.

Jeff Meadows

Jeff Meadows (cartoon illustration) - Teaching Centre

Click here to view the visual notes.

Harold Jansen

Harold Jansen - Talking About Teaching - October 24, 2014 - Horror Stories from the Classroom

Click here to view the visual notes.

Sheila McManus
Sheila McManus - Talking About Teaching - October 24, 2014 - Horror Stories from the Classroom

Click here to view the visual notes.

Jan Newberry
Jan Newberry - Talking About Teaching - October 24, 2014 - Horror Stories from the Classroom

Click here to view the visual notes.

Google Classroom Demo Video

The new Google Classroom is here, and Edudemic was kind enough to post a video of the demo. It doesn’t seem to be as robust as Moodle, but I do have to admit that from the video, creating and editing assignments, seems like a breeze.

Take a look a this video and see if any features catch your attention.
Let us know what you think –

Tony Bates retires from the online learning world

Back before the Teaching Centre in the days of the CRDC, even before CAETL, we held an ADETA conference here at the UofL. Our keynote speaker at the time was Tony Bates. He did a fantastic job, and went on to do wonders for the online learning world. A post on his blog today states he is retiring after 45 years of work in this field. Thank you Tony for all your research and contributions. You definitely made an impact.

Check out Tony’s blog post about his retirment.

Talking About Teaching – Visual Notes- How has Teaching Changed in Higher Education in the Last 20 Years?

On March 14th the Teaching Centre held a Talking About Teaching event called “How has Teaching in Higher Education Changed Over Twenty Years ” . The session was hosted in conjunction with activities for Respect and Diversity week here at the University of Lethbridge

If you were unable to attend, we have a visual version for you below. Click on the links or the thumbnails to view the full size PDF.


Heather Ladd

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Sameer Deshpande

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Hilary Rodrigues

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Death of the Lecture?

Criticisms of the much-maligned lecture are often summarized by the anonymous quote (usually misattributed to Mark Twain), that;

 “College is a place where a professor’s lecture notes go straight to the students’ lecture notes, without passing through the brains of either.”

Certainly diatribes directed at the perceived defects of lecture instruction abound ( Is the lecture merely an antiquated instructional method from medieval days when scholars read manuscripts to students so they could copy into their notebooks germane content from original sources? Or, is the lecture truly a valuable tool in the repertoire of the skilled instructor? The producers of “Ted Talks” ( have clearly identified a community of  enthusiastic “students” eager to “attend” lectures on a wide variety of topics. What is the place of the lecture in the academy of the 21st century? Assuredly a superior lecture far out-weighs a substandard webpage, a dispirited discussion, or an execrable podcast. A quality lecture presentation provides

  • focus on essential content, knowledge, and understanding
  • expert insight and explanation of subject matter
  • shared learning experiences with a cohort of peers
  • discourse with discipline experts
  • interpretation of content based on research and expertise
  • modelling of a disciplinary approach and perspective
  • critical framework and overview of a topic or subject
  • familiarization with the language and discourse of a discipline
  • personalization of learning through note-taking
  • foundation concepts, precepts, and paradigms


But, the critics will iterate, students may attend but will not pay attention to a 50 minute lecture. Not so! Watch and listen to Naomi Wolf, speaking on “The End of America” at the University of Lethbridge, hold an audience of over 200 enrapt for 58 minutes without any PowerPoint slides, video, group discussion, or other distractions:

Does the lecture live? Undoubtedly! Is it the only teaching tool available to post-secondary instructors? Certainly not! Are there “bad” lectures? Yes. But there are unquestionably also abominable class discussions, online assignments, discussion forums, group projects, laboratory activities, and tutorials. A well-planned, well-structured, and well-delivered lecture can be an essential component of the design and delivery of an exemplary university course.

Fact vs. Opinion… what is the difference?

A recent article by Nick Clairmont on addresses the big question of what is fact and what is opinion. As students enter into classes and participate in activities and discussions, they are often asked to support their stance or arguments with facts. After reading the article, it seems that fact is often viewed as socially or culturally accepted opinion.
Take a look at the article, and decide if you think of fact and opinion in the same way. As you read, try to imagine yourself as a student struggling with this same question. If your students came across this article, and asked you about it, what would you like to tell them?

Of Course I’m “Just Teaching to the Test”

Post by Doug Orr – Teaching Development Facilitator – Teaching Centre

A commonly voiced concern is that if students know what questions are on an assessment (assignment, quiz, test, exam) ahead of time, they will simply learn the content they are going to be assessed on. And, even worse, the instructor might simply teach them what they need to know to successfully complete the assessments. As horrific as this seems, let’s look at this idea from the perspective of course objectives, student outcomes, evidence of learning, and teaching and learning.

Consider …

  • What are your course objectives? What important knowledge, skills and understanding do you expect students to take away from your course?
  • What student outcomes derive from these objectives? How will students be expected to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and understanding intrinsic to your course objectives?
  • What evidence will confirm students’ achievement of the outcomes which will demonstrate accomplishment of the course objectives?
  • What instructional activities and learning experiences will provide students with the skills and knowledge to produce this evidence?

What might instructional and assessment planning look like from this perspective? According to some theorists, students are able to demonstrate “deep” (rather than “surface”) understanding” of a subject when they can move beyond factual knowledge and skills (identifying, recalling, describing, calculating, etc) to relational and extended engagement (such as explaining, analysing, interpreting, applying, creating, criticizing, theorizing, generalizing, hypothesizing, and reflecting). Who teaches students these higher order attributes? Who shows students where and how they can demonstrate acquisition of these attributes?

One instructional construct suggests that an instructor could clearly explain to students exactly what knowledge, skills, and attributes they will be expected to demonstrate on specific assessments – based on the stated course objectives and learning outcomes for the course. Then one could structure instructional activities and experiences to explicitly and purposefully teach students the knowledge, skills, and attributes they need to successfully complete the course assessments (including tests and exams).

This would mean that an instructor would tell students what they were going to be required to do on an exam, and teach them how to do it. And students would clearly know what they were expected to learn and demonstrate on an exam, and then (hopefully) learn it and demonstrate it. That is – the course objectives would be met and the learning outcomes achieved.

Your Classroom, Do You Love it or Hate It?

Posted by Bernie Wirzba – Educational Facilitator (Research/Digital Media) – Teaching Centre

Does the type of space in which you teach your class affect how you teach that class or affect how students learn in your class? That is one of the questions that LEE, the Learning Environment Evaluation project, is examining.

LEE is a working group comprised of Faculty members, Facilities – Capital Projects staff, Information Technology Services (ITS) staff, Teaching Centre staff and Graduate Student – Research Assistants. LEE’s stated purpose is to champion the cause of improving teaching and learning spaces on campus and to inform and influence the planning process of future classroom, both newly constructed and renovated.

It became clear from the beginning that what we needed to do before we could affect positive change was to gauge faculty and students perceptions of the current state of our classrooms. The working group has been hard at work for over one year now meeting and planning and consulting various stakeholders to get a good sense of how faculty and students feel about our classrooms on campus. In the Fall of 2012 we began conducting research in classrooms to investigate student and faculty perceptions of the effect of environmental factors on teaching and learning. We have selected two classrooms, L1050 and L1060 as our project classrooms and using student surveys, student focus groups, faculty interviews, faculty focus groups and in class observations, we are gathering data on how things like lighting, sightlines, classroom configuration, space, color, furniture type, instructional technology, etc. affect faculty and students perception on teaching and learning.

That research is continuing in both classrooms through the Spring 2013 semester. Based on some very preliminary findings from the Fall 2012 research, we decided to do some renovations in L1050 during Reading Week in February 2013. This would enable us to query the same group of students and faculty on the environmental effects of the classroom before and after the renovations and collect data on their perceptions of the classroom pre and post renovation. Our hope is that this will provide useful information on whether changes made during renovations have improved the teaching space or did it make things worse.

One of the things that we are also trying to investigate / achieve with the LEE project is to model a process of how to affect change that takes into account the needs and constraints of all the various stakeholders. One of the most rewarding things about this project so far has been how with very little time and a shoestring budget we have been able to get the enthusiastic cooperation and efforts of many different people from carpenters and painters, housekeeping staff and ITS to pull together and within a week transform a classroom that we can be proud of. Our thanks go to all the people involved from Facilities and ITS as well as Faculty and Teaching Centre staff that made this happen.

To learn more about (and to see) how we changed the L1050 Classroom in a week, join us on March 15 for a Talking about Teaching session in L1050 @ 2:00 PM for A Discussion About Your Classroom.

The Teaching Centre. It’s official now.

Posted by Dave Hinger – Director – Teaching Centre

On March 4th 2013, the Centre for the Advancement of Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CAETL) as well as the Curriculum Re-Development Centre (CRDC) will merge to become the University of Lethbridge Teaching Centre. CAETL and CRDC have been critical to the U of L’s commitment to excellence in teaching and learning in both our undergraduate and graduate programs. The combination of CRDC and CAETL into a single Teaching Centre department will meet the growing teaching development needs of the University, and supports our U of L Strategic and Academic Plans.

Through its commitment to scholarship, research, and best practice in teaching and learning, the Teaching Centre will promote and enhance the professional development of university level instructors. The Teaching Centre will also advance creativity, originality, and discovery in teaching. A commitment to excellence in teaching will ensure that, in a rapidly changing educational environment, the U of L will provide outstanding learning experiences for its students and faculty that are founded on the principles:

  • Teaching and learning are fundamental to the purpose of the university, and the university community is committed to excellence in teaching.
  • All students must be provided opportunities to learn in ways consistent with most effective instructional practices.
  • Effective university teaching can be defined, learned, demonstrated, and continually enhanced.
  • Scholarly inquiry is fundamental to the enhancement of teaching effectiveness.
  • Teaching development is most likely to occur in a collaborative community characterized by trust and mutual respect.

Teaching Centre Goals:

  1. Foster a culture of excellence in teaching and learning inside and outside the classroom.
  2. Coordinate and facilitate professional development opportunities for the teaching community.
  3. Develop, identify, and support innovative teaching practices.
  4. Deepen the University’s commitment to a scholarship of teaching and learning.
  5. Investigate innovative educational practices, strategies, technologies and processes.

To Learn more about the Teaching Centre and how we can support your teaching, we invite you to explore our website ( or visit our offices on the top floor of the Library L1126.