February 24, 2021
Volume 5, Number 3
8 Ways to Improve Group Work Online
In a recent survey of more than 3,000 undergraduates taking courses online during the COVID-19 pandemic, Vikki Katz, associate professor in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University, along with her team of collaborators, found students were unhappy doing large-scale group projects. Students in the study found such projects online so frustrating that Katz and her colleagues recommended, “Group projects: just don’t do it.”

Katz and her colleagues emphasize that collaborative projects are important. They advocate assigning short-term group projects, managing them with care and making them low stakes. Since students now are contending with such things as illness and even death, unreliable bandwidth, and inadequate work and study environments, it is unfair to burden them with interdependence. They suggest that it is particularly difficult online to manage students who fall away, “ghost” the class for a period of time or fail to contribute, leaving their peers to shoulder the responsibilities for the group. Katz writes, “It serves neither you nor students to spend the semester managing group work dynamics that increase students’ anxiety instead of building community.”

While many of those suggestions are helpful, we would like to push back at the notion that managing group dynamics doesn’t serve students. It is complicated -- almost too complicated. However, guiding students in effective collaboration is one of the best ways to mentor them in this crisis.

We recognize that every instructor now is, like ourselves, facing the fraught and stressful conditions our students face -- and so is everyone else outside academe who is lucky enough to still have the kind of job that can be done remotely. As we write this piece “together” using collaborative writing tools (mostly email and Google Docs) and conferring by Zoom, one of us (Cathy) in Manhattan and the other (Christina) in Brooklyn, we each are hearing our partners in adjacent rooms, also on group video calls. One partner works in finance, the other in publishing. Both are on Zoom constantly, doing exactly the kind of work the students object to: group projects, under harrowing conditions, with stressed-out colleagues, 24-7.

As difficult as it is, now is exactly the time to be helping students learn how to collaborate online. Ditching group projects now, as the world increasingly depends on them, does not prepare our students for life beyond college.

We suggest, instead, that we need to show students why collaboration is important. In most workplace settings, collaboration is necessary so that we can succeed at tasks that no one person could begin to manage alone. Collaboration online is difficult yet essential. That’s the message we need to send students early and often, at the beginning of a semester, at the beginning of every class. We also need to reassure students that, as instructors, we have taken on the responsibility of ensuring that the process is equitable and each member of the group will be held accountable for completing work.

Key Recommendations for Course Collaborations
To that end, we offer the following tips for managing online course collaborations. (NB: These also work face-to-face.) Like all participatory, equitable, active learning, the goal of successful collaboration is to help students achieve a sense of agency, even within the strict parameters of a group project.

No. 1: Structure group projects around real-world problems. Not surprisingly, ample educational technology research across many fields shows that students have more positive learning outcomes when they tackle meaningful projects with actual consequences. As Stanford University professor emerita Andrea Lunsford and her team of researchers have found, students’ writing improves when they write to communicate beyond the classroom and not simply to the professor for a grade.

We suggest instructors take advantage of the online experience and the complexity of the current crisis. Many are doing this already through service learning. The faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences and the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University offer examples of digital service learning that connect students to others through meaningful interactions such as developing a social media strategy for a community action group, designing marketing materials for a local nonprofit and gathering data for a community grant application.

No. 2: Create an equitable distribution of labor and assure students that you, not they, are responsible for this aspect of the collaboration. One key difference between student online collaborative projects and those in the workplace is accountability. In a class, too often the most dutiful students are so worried that an irresponsible classmate will bring down their grade that they often jump in and assume the supervisor role. That’s unfair to everyone in different ways.

Supplementing students’ group meetings with one-on-one meetings with you allows you to ask, “How is group work going? Have you heard from all your peers this week?” You can offer to nudge a missing student, for example, with an email. To tame your own scheduling, give students a spreadsheet, Calendly or another way to set up time for one-on-one meetings with you.

Here are eight innovative ways to improve group work online.

To continue reading this article click here

by Cathy N. Davidson and Christina Katopodis, Inside Higher Ed.

Hello MSU Educators,

Morehead State University is now part of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC)!

What is the OLC?

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research, and expert guidance.

What this means to you and your fellow MSU educators is another venue for information, advice, guidance and resources related to online teaching and learning! Now you are wondering how you can access these fine resources. You just need to go to: https://onlinelearningconsortium.org/

Click "LOGIN" and then fill out the form.

After creating your account you will have access to the many resources of the OLC. One of these resources is the "Faculty Playbook" that was used as the guiding document for our Online Teaching Workshops that occurred in the Summer and Fall. Webinars are also offered and here are a few titles that may be of interest:
  • Instructional Design & Course Planning for OER
  • Supporting Your Child With Online Learning: A Webinar for Parents
  • Effective Facilitation of Online Discussions with Students
  • How Can I Teach Anatomy and Physiology Online Using Lab Kits?

After exploring the OLC site, let us know if there are any questions fctl@moreheadstate.edu. We are looking forward to exploring and utilizing this resource.
What I Love About Teaching Campaign
Hello Educators,
We are looking for your response to the question "What I love about teaching?"

Take a few moments to share your response by clicking the link below:
Events on Campus
Become a Pro at Virtual Career Fairs & Interviews:
  • Get ready for the upcoming, major-specific Career & Internship Fairs as well as potential virtual interviews by attending this workshop. Hear pro tips on how to prepare, how to present yourself, and how to interact with potential employers in order to set yourself up for success!
  • When: March 2, 2021 2:00PM - 4:00PM
  • Where: https://morehead-csm.symplicity.com/events/BECOMEAPROVCFSP2
Present at the 2021 QM ConnectLX Online Conference

From the growth of online programs to a focus on micro-credentialing, there are a lot of predictions about the future of online learning. But no matter what the future holds, we know you are prepared. Each day, you are looking forward and transforming — already incorporating forward-thinking ideas into every aspect of your online courses and programs.
Bring your work to the 2021 QM ConnectLX Online Conference. Showcase the ideas, data-driven policies, research, and experiences that are transforming your quality assurance efforts at every level, from administration to frontline faculty. Let the QM community know:
  • What’s working and what isn’t
  • How you are tackling issues around equity
  • What you are doing to create and grow a culture of quality
  • How you’re addressing today’s pressing topics through research
  • And so much more! 
Choose from seven concentrations and a selection of six formats!
Ready to get started? Just follow these simple steps:

Early submissions get rewarded! If you submit by April 23, 2021, you will receive personalized feedback and have the opportunity to revise your proposal before the final review. Additionally, if your proposal is accepted, you’ll get a $50 discount on the conference registration fee.
Need Inspiration? Check out recordings of some highly-rated QM ConnectLX presentations from 2020. Questions? Contact the events team.

If you would like to discuss a submission to the QM conference send an email to fctl@moreheadstate.edu

Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM (TIDES) Institute

Registration Deadline: March 15, 2021

Institute I: June 7-10, 2021
Institute II: June 27-June 30, 2021
Virtual Professional Development Experience

The AAC&U TIDES Institute builds individual and team capacity and efficacy in exploring the root sources, unwritten codes, and systemic origins of the underrepresentation of minoritized groups in STEM. This Institute honors and adapts to the uniqueness of any institutional context, preparing participants to leave with expertise in confronting the systems and structures of oppression that are ingrained in their institutional histories, missions, traditions, and practices. 
During the AAC&U TIDES Institute, participants can expect
  • an expert-guided, intensive review of the literature that interrogates the culture of STEM and the assumptions that are held about who belongs in STEM;
  • institution and/or individual executive coaching from noted experts in organizational change theory, institutional transformation, and broadening participation;
  • deep immersion into self-reflection on and introspection of the ways in which we, as STEM faculty of all backgrounds and social identities, have been complicit in perpetuating dominant STEM cultures that often exclude diverse STEM talent; and
  • an introduction to the application of mindfulness as an instrument for implementing meaningful, culturally responsive policies, practices, and pedagogical strategies.
AAC&U Virtual Professional Development Opportunities for STEM Faculty and Administrators

Application Deadline: March 16, 2021
The PKAL STEM Leadership Institute is designed for both early- and mid-career STEM faculty, principal investigators, and administrators who are engaged in leading initiatives and interventions aimed at reforming undergraduate STEM education in their classrooms, departments, and institutions. This Institute empowers individuals to navigate the politics of change by developing the capacity to confront intra- and inter-personal conflicts, re-structure traditional institutional systems, and balance power and privilege in ways that serve all STEM students and faculty.

By attending the PKAL STEM Leadership Institute, participants can expect to
  • learn, develop, and experience the art of deep contemplation and self-reflection as mechanisms for leading national and local efforts to confront the root causes of racism in STEM higher education;
  • explore both practical and tactical leadership skills for directing campus and national undergraduate STEM reform projects and initiatives;
  • gain access to professional diversity trainers and experienced academic coaches and mentors, who have been trained in evidence-based coaching and the Courageous Conversations® framework; and
  • be guided through the development of a powerful leadership prospectus that outlines and sets a clear course of action for lifelong professional and personal growth.
Teaching and Learning Innovation Conference

University of Tennessee, Knoxville announces registration is open for its Innovative Teaching and Learning Conference that will be held on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 from 8am - 5:30pm.  

The theme this year is "Lighting the Way to Deeper Learning". The goal is to highlight the importance of good teaching in higher education settings by featuring the innovative teaching practices that occur in this context. The keynote speaker for both breakfast and lunch is Claire Major, a world-renowned teacher, consultant, and scholar.

She is the author or co-author of several books in the field of instructional development that include: Learning Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty; Online Learning: A guide to theory, research, and practice; Teaching for Learning: 101 Intentionally Designed Learning Activities to put Students on the Path to Success, and Collaborative Learning Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty.
The conference is free and virtual. You can now register to attend by clicking here
Registration for the conference closes on March 12, 2021 @5:00pm.
If you have any questions, please contact Ferlin McGaskey at fmcgaske@utk.edu. Feel free to forward this information to your colleagues and friends.

After attending the webinar feel free to let me know your thoughts and take-aways.
"Agile Teaching & Learning"
Sponsored by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE)

Hosted by: Noel Studio for Academic Creativity and Faculty Center for Teaching & Learning, Eastern Kentucky University

When: May 14, 2021 - Virtually

The conference theme, “Agile Teaching & Learning,” encourages us to examine and promote responsive strategies for teaching and learning that encourage resilient, engaged, and dynamic approaches within and across online, hybrid, flexible higher-education environments.

For more information on the conference: 2021 Pedagogicon
Magna (Online) Webinars
24/7 Educator/Professional Development for Faculty
Featured Webinar:

How Do I Design Courses to Enhance Student Veterans' Success?
Military service is a formidable educational experience. Learn how to use course design to help student veterans make the most of it. In the process, you’ll also learn how to enhance learning for all students.

This webinar explores:
  • Situational factors
  • Assessment
  • Universal Design

Benefits of Magna Webinars:

  • Each webinar takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.
  • All webinars are available on your schedule since they are online and easily accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Webinars include supplemental materials such as bibliographies and handouts.
  • Certificates of completion are available for professional portfolios and Faculty 180.

Accessing Webinars:

These licensed Magna resources are available through a password-protected website. For access, educators need to:
  • Log into MSU’s employee portal;
  • Look under the My Classes (Blackboard) section for the Magna Training Site;
  • If Magna isn't showing up in your list of courses, please send a request to be added to msuonline@moreheadstate.edu.
  • When you click on the Magna Training Site, the Blackboard shell will open. Select Magna Campus and then launch the LTI link, select 20-Minute Mentor Commons. After selecting 20-Minute Mentor Commons, choose Teaching Face-to-Face then Specific Student Populations. Choose the featured title.
Ambassadors for Excellence in Teaching
Morehead State University