Small chalkboard that says "TIme for Change" on it

By Elspeth McCulloch, EDC Manager of eLearning

The longer I work in higher education, the more attracted I am to those small things we can do to make teaching and learning more effective. Recently, an article came into my Twitter feed that had some useful and timely ideas I wanted to share with you. Small Changes in Teaching by James Lang in the Chronicle of Higher Education talks about ways to shift students’ focus in the first five minutes of class.

There are surely hundreds of classroom assessment techniques and tools that come across my Twitter feed each day, but these timely ideas resonated deeply because they are simple and refreshing.

Consider employing some of these techniques into the classroom in 2018:

  1. Open with a question or two. Your questions can be rhetorical or otherwise, but either way allow students to explore preliminary answers on their own or in teams. You may wish to revisit your questions at the end of class to connect back to the initial ideas you raised.
  2. Ask students, “What did we learn last class?” Have students tell you what they’ve learned to summarize and formulate their knowledge.
  3. Reactivate what they learned in previous courses Getting students to tell you what they already know about a topic informs your teaching and increases student learning.
  4. Ask students to write what they know. I love this one. You might call it a reflection, a One-Minute Paper, Think-Pair-Share or a Pro-Con list, but writing provides students with an opportunity to formulate and focus. As an extra benefit, writing can also make engaged discussion so much easier.

The full article is available here.

If you want more great ideas for your classroom, register for our upcoming EDC workshops.

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Your online classroom is another place that you can shine. Online classrooms are just as important as a physical space and can make an incredible impact on your class in their own way. Getting it set up early is such a benefit to both you and your students.

There are so many organizational and logistical benefits to using cuLearn, beyond the educational benefits. Here are some tips to help you get your cuLearn course page set up and organized:

  1. Merge two or more sections of a course
  2. Copy content from past courses
  3. Add your files
  4. Add your reading list through an ARES block in your course
  5. Make your course visible
  6. Add your TA
  7. Set up groups to sort assignments and gradebook by TA
  8. Set up your Gradebook

For more information, please visit our cuLearn support site.

If you would like help from an educational technologist, we are available by email, phone or in person. Please email us at to let us know what you need.