When it is Tough to Stay Focused… How to Motivate Myself

It can be tough to stay focused when learning or working at home. What can you do to keep yourself motivated?  This is not an easy problem. All of us from young to very old have to do stuff sometimes that we would prefer not to do. How many of us get excited about cleaning? About grocery shopping?  About doing taxes? About reading a very boring, uninteresting Ukrainian novel for a class or a book club. Or about reading history, chemistry, physics, or nutrition textbooks? Some reading has engaging, enjoying, interesting ideas, characters and plots; others don’t.  Some of our writing assignments can be really tough to get started on and then to do. For teachers, reading essay after essay after essay can vary from uplifting to stimulating to discouraging.     So how…
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Thrust into Online Learning Overnight? Changing Your Mindset to Thrive

Are you overwhelmed with the idea of teaching online?  Is this something that you believe that you simply can’t do? Have you said things like, “I don’t believe in online learning.”  Or “I don’t think online learning can be effective.” Or “I don’t think I can do it.”   Now, in the flash of a virus, you are an online teacher and your students are online learners.   You have not had any time to redesign your lessons or your course.  What do you do?  If you are thinking this way, you will want to change your mindset. First of all, what is a mindset? Your mindset is the sum of your thoughts and beliefs, in this case, about online teaching and learning. These thoughts and beliefs affect your attitude and your motivation for teaching.  So,…
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Four Habits for Sanity and Productivity when Teaching and Learning at Home

It is easy to lose track of time when teaching and learning at home. Before you know it, it is lunch time, and then time for getting outside and moving around and soon the sun is setting, and you have accomplished almost nothing! Here are four quick suggestions for everyone — age 7 to 75. This is really quick, so please comment and make suggestions. Absolutely first task of the day — Create a combined schedule and to do list for yourself. Be as specific as possible. If you are a student, you might write down that you will watch a video at 10:30 a.m. But more than that. You want to remember something from the video, so write a task that includes watching the video and taking notes. Write down…
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Help in Quickly Moving Online

Transitioning from teaching face-to-face to online teaching usually takes time, planning and ideally, help from instructional designers. Depending on faculty experience with course management systems and discussion forums and video conferencing tools, it is not unusual for preparation to take from 20 to 60 hours. Faculty being directed to move online spontaneously can experience a great deal of stress, anxiety and trepidation. To help with this unanticipated transition, cancelling other types of faculty responsibilities for a few weeks can help. For getting started, this tip on Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online might be helpful. Also check out other tips in the Library of eCoaching Tips or the The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips that organizes and updates all the tips. It is also available at…
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Developing Metacognition: “Tea for Teaching” Audio Episode

Many students new to college have relatively little understanding of how they learn or what good reading or study skills are. In this "Tea for Teaching" episode, I join John Kane and Rebecca Mushtare from SUNY-Oswego in discussing how well structured project-based or problem-based learning activities can help students develop their metacognitive skills so that they become more successful learners. We begin with answering the question, "Just what is metacognition?" and then go on to discuss how we might coach and teach metacognitive skills — a skill we probably should be teaching at all grade levels. Here is the link for this episode — Tea for Teaching 98. It is about 45 minutes and an easy listen while you are walking or driving. You may want to explore the references…
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Four Types of Discussion Forums in Online Courses

A key component of any online course is the discussion board.  As online courses have matured, we  realize that not all discussion forums are or should be the same.  Some discussions are for building community; other discussions are for exploring new ideas; others are for applying core concepts; and others are for gathering evidence of understanding.  If the purposes of discussion boards differ, then how we structure, monitor, and evaluate the discussion boards should also differ.  Many purposes for asynchronous discussions have been identified (Painter, Coffin, & Hewings, 2003; Grogan, 2005), but in the interests of simplicity, this posting focuses on four types.  It is worth noting that these discussion types build in consistent, regular and substantive dialogue and interaction between faculty and students and between students.  Regular and substantive dialogue is one of the requirements…
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Choice Points in Online Courses

While "guesting" at a course, one of the students asked for more examples of how to build in choice in learning.  Here is a listing and description of nine choice points that you might consider using in your online courses.   (more…)
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