Second Online Teaching Forum Proceedings Available

The second Online Teaching Forum, hosted by the College of Professional Studies, was held October 20, 2011. These proceedings are available as follow-up guides.

Session 1: Thinking Critically about Online Learning

Professor Steven A. Meyers shared his ideas on “Civic Engagement and Social Justice in Online Teaching.” Meyers discussed that this means moving beyond simply creating student awareness of issues and toward calling them to action and activism. Meyers offered several examples, such as registering to vote, reaching out to elected officials, and promoting public awareness.

Professor Carolyn Wiley offered a framework for creating online courses, which included 1) creating a friendly and energetic learning community, 2) planning the entire design upfront, and 3) including regular and meaningful assessments. She also shared her inclusion of lectures via audacity. Wiley also requires students to take a Blackboard training course with RU Online.

Associate Professor Michael A. Bryson detailed his experiences “From the City to the Farm: Pedagogy and Logistics of Field Trips in Online Courses.” Fields trips enrich student learning by building community and providing hands-on experiences to complement online or in-class discussion. Bryson also offered ideas on alternate virtual field trips, for those who cannot attend in-person.

Session 2: Practical Ideas for Innovative Teaching

RU Online Distance Learning Specialist Lynette Washington and Director Kristin Broadwell shared the newest features of Blackboard 9.1, which Roosevelt will be upgrading to in the Spring 2012 semester. Washington also shared that training–both online and in-person on each campus–is available prior to the start of the semester.

Associate Professor Amanda Putnam presented information on online peer review, which can help improve the quality of student papers. While reviewing the work of another student, students find themselves reflecting on the quality of their own work.

Within Blackboard, rather than using formal groups or discussion board forums for peer review, Professor Putnam uses the PeerMark feature within TurnItIn. PeerMark helps to automate and control the process: instructors can assign pairs or have PeerMark distribute pairs randomly. To learn more about PeerMark, Professor Putnam recommends that instructors take the free, recorded training webinars available from TurnItIn. Access the webinars and then scroll down to the PeerMark group.

Librarian Geoff Greenberg shared his experiences in the Embedded Librarian program, which is available for all online courses. Despite the best intentions of everyone concerned—instructors and librarians– students enrolled in online courses with embedded librarians rarely took advantage of the help available to them, until the Research Guides and guided worksheets were introduced. As shown in the accompanying figure, research guides provide students with a path to locating and evaluating pertinent research. He would like to add an assessment or feedback portion to assure that the Research Guides are achieving their goals. Other ways in which embedded librarians have contributed to online courses:

  • Online, instant-message chats with students
  • Conducting research/writing forums within online courses

For more information about incorporating embedded librarians in your course, please contact Geoff Greenberg at

Associate Professor Vince Cyboran also shares his ideas on enhancing online teaching with easy-to-use technologies. This is a bonus presentation!


Online Teaching Forum Offers Innovative Ideas

Professor Steven Meyers shared ideas on connecting course material to the social justice mission more actively via civic engagement.

RU’s second Online Teaching Forum was held by the College of Professional Studies this past Thursday, and it created, once again, many excellent discussions on innovative teaching. About 25 faculty and staff members attended the event. There were two panel sessions, in which faculty members from several colleges presented material on encouraging civic engagement, planning class field trips, and utilizing resources, such as an embedded RU librarian, and Blackboard 9.1’s newest features. The day ended with two roundtable discussions on social media and communication issues within the classroom.

Attendees listen to Professor Carolyn Wiley's presentation about frameworks for creating online courses.

Associate Professor Carl Zimring introduces Kristin Broadwell and Lynette Washington (from RU Online) for their presentation of Blackboard 9.1's newest features.

Specifics of each session will be posted soon via an online proceedings so that those unable to attend can also benefit.

Wolfe and Strahan Podcast with Ursula Le Guin

Professor Gary Wolfe’s podcasts (with good friend Jonathan Strahan) have been nominated for several Science Fiction awards, and this week, they hit a new high point when they shared their podcast with Ursula Le Guin.  Le Guin, an author whose work spans decades, has been honored with many awards, including the 2010 Locus Award for Nonfiction and the 2009 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Wolfe, Strahan, and Le Guin discussed another science fiction author, Margaret Atwood (most well known for The Handmaid’s Tale).

Ursula Le Guin. Photo by Marian Wood Kolisch.

Putnam Publishes Article on Female Violence in Morrison Novels

Associate Professor Amanda Putnam published an article this month in Black Women, Gender, and Families entitled “Mothering Violence: Ferocious Female Resistance in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Sula, Beloved, and A Mercy.” The article follows several female characters within these four novels who choose violence as a means of escaping victimization. Putnam argues that these choices “transform” these characters from simply victims into “compellingly dominant women.”

Did you visit Healthy Campus 2011?

During the past week, both the Schaumburg and Chicago have hosted a Healthy Campus event. Students, faculty, administrators, and staff members pitched bean bags, got massages, and learned about various ways to improve emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing. Additionally, vendors shared samples of “healthy chocolate”–a form of dark chocolate that is not baked, but sun-dried.

HR Specialist Clara Gong speaks to a new faculty member about TIAA-CREF options.

Students and employees sampled "healthy chocolate."

Associate Professor (and Wellbeing Champion) Amanda Putnam shares information with students about student insurance options.