The Best Holiday 'Card' That You'll Get This Year -- Really

In place of a traditional holiday card, we’ve written twelve insightful articles. This is our 3rd annual 12 Days of Learning, and each year we keep making it better and better. Feel free to share this resource out with your faculty and staff. These quick reads cover a variety of topics and are perfect for personal professional development!

To view the articles by clicking the image below or visit: http://www2.atomiclearning.com/twelve-days-of-learning.

12 Ways to Make Your 2017 Epic - Personally & Professionally

Life can get hectic, that is for sure. But by dedicating just a little time each day, week, or month, you can make a big difference all year long. As 2017 hits nearly the half way mark, be sure to incorporate time for you to learn and grow.

Not sure where to start? Check out these twelve ideas:

PROFESSIONALLY

  1. Join a PLC (Professional Learning Community)
    PLC’s are an excellent opportunity for educators to create their own professional development, hone their skills and improve student outcomes through action research. Check out this resource on Atomic Learning to find out more.
     
  2. Learn New Instructional Strategies
    As a professional development opportunity, give yourself some time to explore different instructional strategies like the ones we have listed here:

         - Reciprocal Teaching 
         - Pass/Send a Problem
         - Think-Pair-Share
     
  3. Apply That to Your Course
    It’s easy to consume content, but not always so easy to apply what you’ve learned. Sometimes, it can just be a matter of dedicating the time to doing it. Dedicate time this coming year to bring what you’ve learned into your course.
     
  4. Attend an Education Conference
    Network with educators and thought leaders in person at a national or regional Higher Education conference. If getting away isn't in the plan, some conferences offer a virtual attendee option, including EDUCAUSE and NASPA.
     
  5. Watch and/or Participate in a Twitter Chat
    A twitter chat can be a great learning opportunity, and there's one for nearly every education topic you can think of! You can check out this education twitter chat calendar, and we’d also like to suggest @JaimeDonally’s chat on Wednesdays at 8pm CST focused on augmented and virtual reality—check it out at #ARVRinEDU.
     
  6. Find a Blog – and Keep Up with It
    Lots of education thought leaders, like George Couros, regularly write though-provoking posts that are well worth a read. Pick a few from the 10 Higher Ed Blogs Worth the Quick Read article from eCampus News, and be sure to swing by THIS blog often for posts just like this one!

 

PERSONALLY

  1. Go Somewhere New
    Whether you want to take a long weekend off or just an afternoon, pack up the car and go somewhere you haven’t before. Take in new experiences by seeing new sights and learning new things. For a few ideas, check out this article The Huffington Post did on The Best Tourist Attraction in Every State. Have you been to the one they mention in your own state?

11 Strategies to Support Students with Disabilities


This article is based on the upcoming Helping Students with Disabilities Succeed in College course soon to be released on Atomic Learning by Dr. Theresa Kiley, a former Associate Professor at Argosy University and Western Illinois University, published author, and education conference keynote speaker.  (More about Dr. Kiley.)

Working with students with disabilities can be rewarding, yet challenging. In many situations, a student’s disability is not easily observed. To add to the difficulty, there are a variety of disabilities that college professors can often encounter. Regardless, preparing to teach students with disabilities and diverse characteristics is essential for faculty as instructors must provide academic and career opportunities that are equivalent to those provided for their nondisabled peers.

To help, here are eleven strategies to help faculty members support students with disabilities:
 

ADD/ADHD

As the number of individuals being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD continues to rise, the need for instructors who can plan a course that is more accessible for all students is also increasing. We invite you to consider these suggestions developed by Universal Design:

  1. Provide important information in both oral and written formats.
     
  2. Provide printed materials early in the course to allow students time to read the texts and reference any available software.
     
  3. Avoid last-minute assignment or additional assignments after distributing the course syllabus.
     

Memory Loss

Memory problems associated with learning disabilities can interfere with storage of new information, as well as the ability to retrieve that information at a later time. In order to assist students with memory issues, here are a few suggested strategies:

  1. Allow students to access memory devices, such as lists of background information (e.g., formulas or dates) to be used in problem solving or essay writing.
     
  2. Have students create realistic timelines when studying for tests. Test dates should be listed on a large wall calendar, and specific dates and times reserved for studying should be clearly visible. 

10 Ways to Energize Learning [Infographic]

Student engagement is always on the minds of instructors, and, while it can feel overwhelming with all the moving parts—student retention, test scores, and more—you must start somewhere!

To help, we’ve pulled together a list of ten ways you can shake up and energize learning with tried and true instructional strategies.

Ready to dive deeper into one (or all!) of these topics? Atomic Learning is here to help with professional online courses on each.

If you’re already a subscriber, simply log in using your institution’s method of access to get started.

Not a subscriber? No problem. Drop us a note to learn how to access these courses and hundreds of others!

 

9 Ways to Improve Your Online Instruction

This article is based off of the course Teaching Online and Hybrid created by STARLINK Training Network, an agency of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, and available on Atomic Learning.

Whether you are a novice just starting out or an experienced online instructor looking to enhance your skills, these nine suggestions may help you to improve your online instruction.

Let’s jump right in:

  1. Identify your Teaching Style
    When it comes to teaching, try to figure out what you do best and what you feel most passionate about in a face-to-face environment. You can then try to adapt that into an online course.
     
  2. Know Your LMS (Learning Management System)
    Whether your campus uses Blackboard, Brightspace, Canvas or others, get comfortable with the learning management system you have access to. Knowing what your LMS is capable of and what you can do with it can help make the most of your time.
     
  3. Utilize a Mentor
    Find a fellow faculty member that is already familiar with creating courses online. They may be able to give you tips and tricks that they learned along the way, as well as ideas on how to get started or improve your current courses. There is no need to reinvent the wheel every time.
     
  4. Be Consistent
    Ensure your online course covers all of the same learning objectives that would be covered in a face-to-face course. Meaning, some of your projects or assignments may have to be adjusted. If you would, in a face-to-face setting, typically have students watch a video and encourage open discussion afterword’s, use that same method by posting a video and starting a discussion thread online to better emulate the face-to-face environment.
     
  5. Create a Welcoming Online Environment
    Consider using message boards, discussion threads, and instructor news areas to help students feel welcome and comfortable in your course. When developing your course, ensure that course materials are easy to find and easy to access to help students navigate the course successfully.
     
  6. Convey Expectations
    Be sure to clearly define your expectations to your students, beyond a list of “do this, this, and this.” Try outlining them in a way that explains how to be successful in the course. Encouraging time management and critical reading can help limit distractions, which can be common issue for students in the online setting.

8 Ideas for Unlocking Students' Potential

This blog post is based off of the Unlocking Potential: The Impact of Mindset on Success course that was created for Atomic Learning by Dr. Matthew Arau. Dr. Arau is an Assistant Professor of Music at Lawrence University. (More about Dr. Arau

In a recent article titled “Helping Students Reach the Mountaintop” (also available in the course mention above), Dr. Arau explains shares ideas on how students can reach their full potential using a specific focus on how both students and adults can be grouped into two categories: Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.

“Someone with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence, talent, and ability are fixed or static. If you are talented, things come easily to you; if you have to put effort into an endeavor, you must not be talented.

Those with a growth mindset believe that intelligence, talent, and ability can be developed through process, strategies, time, and effort. Growth-mindset students embrace challenges and are excited by the process of learning, whereas fixed-mindset students shy away from challenge because "failure" could expose them as not being smart or talented.”

Knowing that, here are eight ideas for encouraging a growth mindset in your course and unlocking students’ full potential:

  1. Sharing Stories
    To help teach the idea of a growth mindset to your students, share stories of people shattering goals set by limitations. For example, in the early ‘50s there was a limitation, or fixed mindset, on how fast humans could run the mile. Roger Bannister was determined to break the 4-minute mile goal, and he did so in May of 1954. He broke the barrier of what was considered an unattainable goal because he used a growth mindset. His achievement inspired others to do the same, and just 46 days later an Australian runner beat Bannisters time, and now it is quite common for runners to finish the mile in under 4 minutes. 
     
  2. Learning How We Learn
    Our brain has the ability to retrain and rewire itself. When we learn something new, we are carving a new pathway that connects neurons in our brain. The more we do that task or challenge, the stronger that connection gets.  Think of the brain as a muscle—the more exercise it gets, the stronger it becomes. With this knowledge, students can physically understand how and why growth mindset is important.
     
  3. Errors are Growth Opportunities
    To ensure that your course is promoting a growth mindset, students need to know that trust has been established, that they can feel safe taking risks and discovering new things, and that errors are viewed as an opportunity to learn.

7 Learning Styles: Which One Are You?

Whether they recognize it or not, most people have a preferred way of learning. While some learn best by listening (think of all those lecture classes), others may have to see a concept in action to learn the material (this is where lab work comes in), and the list goes on.

The trick is figuring out your individual learning style and then utilizing your strengths while being aware of your weaker areas.  To help, we’ve worked with Dan Kuemmel, a specialist in Learning Technology, Data Visualization, and Pedagogy, on an in-depth course on Learning Styles. As a preview, we’ve provided a quick peek at each of the seven types of learners below:

  1. Visual Learners
    These learners turn words into pictures to retain information, and tend to excel with writing assignments and textbook readings. However, they can struggle with information that is only audio-based, such as a lectures or audio-recordings.
     
  2. Logical Learners
    Logical learners thrive on processes, statistics, and making connections between ideas. Puzzles, riddles, and word games engage them, as well as charts and diagrams.
     
  3. Aural/Auditory Learners
    These learners have great recall when hearing information be it a lecture, podcast, spoken directions, or even music.
     
  4. Verbal Learners
    Verbal learners are most easily identified as those that need to ‘talk through’ a problem, either through verbal or written communication. They excel at writing essays and class discussions or debates, but can struggle with math and science concepts.

6 Tips First Year Students Need to Know

Tip #1: Balancing it All
Not only are students trying to balance classes, study time, group work, and tests, but there is also the social aspect of college life. On- and off-campus activities, including everything from hanging out with friends to intermural sports, make up a big part of the college experience. While all these aspects make managing time tricky, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming.

Students can try using an agenda or planner. There are plenty of apps out there, or you can utilize the calendar on your smart phone. (There is nothing wrong with using good ol’ fashion pen and paper planners either.) Utilizing such tools can help students better manage their time and keep it all straight.

Additional Resources:

Tip #2: Where and How Long to Study
Students know themselves best. Whether they study better in their dorm room with headphones and their favorite music or in a quite space in the library, they need to find something that works for them. Once students find their sweet spot, encourage them to break up studying into timeblocks—study for 30-50 minutes at a time, then taking a quick break before starting again. This approach can help students stay energized and focused.

Additional resources:

5 Education Technologies to Watch

It’s no secret that technologies come and go. In fact, the ever-changing technological landscape makes it incredibly difficult to keep up with the latest and greatest tech trends, let alone plan how new tools can be used to enhance course instruction and student engagement.

The recent 2016 Teaching with Technology Survey, asked participants at educational institutions across the country to predict which new technologies they saw having the greatest impact on education in the next decade. (as well as

Interested in which tools made the cut? Here’s a few of their top choices.

  1. Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality
    Topping the list were augmented and virtual reality, one of the fastest growing trends in educational technology today. Beyond the cool factor, much of the appeal for education is the ability to go farther and dive deeper into a topic by not just telling students about it, but letting them experience it.

    One of the questions that comes up for those new to virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is the difference between the two. The short answer is that VR allows you to completely immerse yourself as if you were magically teleported to an alternate location. AR, on the other hand, adds a layer on top of real life—for example viewing a 3D beating heart layered over an Anatomy textbook.

Related Resources:
Go Anywhere with Virtual Reality
Getting Started with Augmented Reality

4 Tips to Encourage Your Students to be Critical Thinkers


This blog post is based off of an online course called “Critical Thinking” that was created for Atomic Learning by Valeria Becker. She is a Learning Specialist/Tutor Coordinator at the University of North Dakota. Learn more about her. 

Critical thinking is a valuable skill for college, career, and beyond. Whether you are a faculty member or student, being able to showcase your abilities as a critical thinker is important.

If you are wondering, "What exactly does 'critical thinking' mean?" Don’t worry. Commonly referred to as 'problem-solving', critical thinking involves not being content with the first solution to a problem, but instead thinking more deeply to determine if it is the best solution to the problem. Knowing, understanding, analyzing, synthesizing, applying, and evaluating an idea or problem are all activities that occur during critical thinking.

To encourage these activities and get your students thinking critically, here are four characteristics of a critical thinking to consider:

  1. See Problems as Challenges
    If you think about it, everything around us started out as a problem. One person (or a group) decided to look at something considered status quo as a challenge, and then invented or discovered something new to change things. Inventions such as phones, light fixtures, computers, and machines of all kinds were created to solve a problem most people didn't realize they had. Inventors of the past did this all the time with physical issues. Even non-physical problems, like the desire to connect with others and needing to be more active, can be viewed as a challenge and solved. Social media has taken off like crazy to help people connect with others, and technologies like Fitbits are being created to keep people motivated and healthy.
     
  2. Use Evidence to Make Judgements
    When listening to other people’s ideas, keeping an open mind and open ear will help you gain a wealth of knowledge to make future decisions. With that in mind, never stop asking questions. Even if you don't ask them outloud, be sure to write them down so you can find the answers to your questions later. Learning starts with questions.
     
  3. Observing, Thinking, and Asking Questions
    The next time you are approached to sign a petition or join a cause of some sort, take a minute before jumping into action. Ask yourself (or them) questions before signing, joining, or doing anything. For example: What if someone came up to you and asked you to join them in banning Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO)? It sounds like a terrible chemical, right? Based on an assumptiong, you may agree with them at first glance. However, when you stop, observe, and think about the name DHMO for a minute, and ask the right questions, you'd likely have a different reation. Dihydrogen monoxide is also known as H2O... meaning water.
     
  4. Make Educated Decisions
    Asking the right questions can help you to making educated decisions. These are the decisions that we make that are based on facts, but even facts need to viewed with a skeptical eye. Always try to get a good understanding of the facts at hand, at look at various perspectives of the issue at hand. Educated decisions come about from having knowledge in a variety of areas and making use of available resources.

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