Monday, November 2, 2009


Well, as I was putting together resources for my adjuncts, I discovered that I am basically coordinating the teaching of sixteen instructors between our campus and online western and world civ sequences. That, of course, means that on our campus, adjuncts are responsible for probably between eighty and ninety percent of the students being taught.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Small class v Large class

Well, while I don't know the education literature, it has long been a taken-for-granted assumption that faculty preferred teaching small classes (under 20) to large classes (50 and over). While Jennifer and I were working on the second edition of of our Project Pedagogy: Some Ideas for Better Teaching (available online), we really try and give faculty some alternatives to the standard lecture course. But when we give presentations or hold discussions with faculty, we encounter all kinds of resistance to our advice to downplay lecturing. That has bothered me, ut then my experience this semester with my small class (15 students) reminded me why faculty default into lecturing--it is much easier. With the small class, I see up close the different learning styles of the students, and I can also see pretty quickly the study skills that the individual students possess (or lack). I have to work hard to engage all the students in the class while keeping in mind their varied skills and styles. It would be much easier for me to just enter class and deliver information for 75 minutes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Budget crunch time and Enrollments

Economy or not, we have had a gigantic increase in enrollments in our HIS 101-102 courses, both on campus and online, and I have been hard-pressed to keep up with that surge. It is not easy finding qualified adjuncts willing to work for what the state pays (plus you get paid a lot more if you teach for George Mason as an adjunct that what NVCC pays) and then fitting them into a schedule. Plus they also need some mentoring, ans staying in touch (and guidance through the bureaucratic tangle that is a state school). My online enrollments are enormous this semester as I didn't have enough adjuncts ready to go to help out with the online courses, and students just kept enrolling in the courses. I've got little time to really develop any content this semester as I just try and stay ahead of grading--there is a lot of writing in the courses, and a lot of students take advantage of the opportunity to submit drafts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer Downtime 2

How could I forget! I digitized all my old audio clips and video clips from my HIS 101 and HIS 102 courses from about ten years ago and put them all on ItunesU for the current students. Not sure if anything there is very useful, but some students like to listen to things.

Summer Downtime

Well, I don't blog every day, and it is summer, but it is certainly not downtime. Despite running kids around to camps and swimming, I have managed to finish up work on a second edition of the teaching manual with Jennifer Lerner (Project Pedagogy). Most of our revisions focused on technology, and we still probably haven't ended up covering most of the new web 2.0 tools and their uses in teaching. The manual is intended to give encouragement and ideas to the hundreds of adjunct instructors that teach at the Loudoun campus.

I am also far along with the Achieving the Dream (ATD) project that looks at student success in our HIS 101 courses, both online and on campus. I've got in hand some grade data, and also some more detailed data from our office of institutional research, and now I've got to look through it all and see if I can discover any patterns. Part of the ATD thing will be setting up a central BB--and everyone knows how much I love Blackboard--site with resources for all of my HIS 101 adjuncts. I think that at the moment I am supervising something like between 10 and 12 adjuncts, both on campus and online!

There was something else that I finished up this summer for my HIS courses, but at the moment it escapes me.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Students Love Blackboard

Informal polling of those students using Blackboard at our college reveals that almost 50% of those students "love" Blackboard. Maybe BB 10.1 will be better.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

ATD means Achieving Whose Dream

An Achieving the Dream project has swept into our college, but it looks like we are dallying around with actually implementing anything because implementing the kind of support structure that we will need to help out students who need help to work towards achieving proficiency in the skills needed to eventually graduate (reading, writing, thinking, communicating); well, that costs money. It has been difficult just to try and gather data that would help us in the process.
For example, since we are an open enrollment institution, that means that anyone can sign up for our HIS 101 course, which happens to require quite a bit of college-level writing. It should be relatively easy to correlate student success in the course (A, B or C) with the grade a student has received in English composition, or with the score that a student took on the English placement test, or with a student not having taken English, or not having taken the test. Nada, no progress.