Innovations in Teaching: Lessons Learned from the President’s Technology Initiative

NAU boasts an amazing faculty, many of whom are innovating in their teaching in exciting and effective ways. Come and engage in a conversation with your colleagues about what they are doing to bring new life into teaching and learning with strategic use of technology. Presenters will share their sessions from recent national conferences as well as their experience redesigning courses as part of NAU's President's Technology Initiative (PTI) over the last four years. Join us for a productive day focused on the kind of innovative teaching that makes NAU a national leader in this area.

Friday, October 23, 2015 

Location: Health & Learning Center, Second Floor Multipurpose rooms

Coffee & Registration: 8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

Pre-conference sessions: 8:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Leveraging Cognitive Science and Instructional Technology to Build Thinking Skills 
Presented by: Michelle Miller

Session description

There is wide consensus that a college education should equip students with thinking skills such as critical reasoning, problem solving, and logical analysis. Yet these abilities can be surprisingly difficult to build, sometimes eluding even the most expert instructors. And without explicit focus on higher thought processes, the learning experience can easily devolve into memorization and regurgitation.

Fortunately, the research literature in cognitive science offers insights that teachers can use to deliberately strengthen thinking skills. In this interactive session, participants will learn techniques for promoting higher thought processes, particularly through the use of instructional technology and online teaching tools. The session will also incorporate major theoretical concepts including formal and analogical reasoning, insight and non-insight problem-solving, and structural elements of problems, expertise and transfer — all contextualized within teaching and learning.

Learning goals:

  • Explain how thinking skills develop through practice across varied problems and contexts.
  • Generate strategies for eliciting effective practice using commonly available instructional technologies.
  • Address your students’ gaps in specific thinking skills, particularly critical thinking.
  • Use online peer-to-peer interactions (e.g., discussion boards) to reinforce thinking skills.
  • Correctly structure analogies to facilitate transfer across problems and contexts.


Getting Started with Tools and Technology That Foster Meaningful Engagement 
Presented by: John J. Doherty & Flower Darby

Session description
This nontechnical session will cut through the ‘tech-talk’ to enable those of us unfamiliar with using technology resources in our teaching to get experience, confidence and support for doing so. Bring a laptop or tablet for a hands-on work session, exploring pedagogically appropriate technology tools to actively engage students in learning in your class.

11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Lunch will be available

12:30 – 1:50 p.m. 

Welcome and Opening Plenary with Panel: The Future of Higher Education

Don Carter, Director, e-Learning

Provost Jim Coleman

Faculty Senate President Bruce Fox

President Emeritus John Haeger

Panel Members Flower Darby, John Doherty, Bruce Fox, Eva Putzova 

Session 1: 2:00 – 2:40 p.m.

Attention Matters! An Open Resource for Students
Presented by: John J. Doherty & Michelle Miller 

Session description

The best-designed lesson in the world won’t work if students don’t focus on it. This session presents Attention Matters!—a new shareable resource for faculty to integrate into courses or practices. It uses a combination of linked online media and original interactive learning activities to teach students about the limits of attention and the impact of multitasking on learning. Explore how Attention Matters! specifically targets behaviors, such as texting during class, with the aim of building student awareness and changing attitudes about them.

Learning Goals: 

  • Describe the science behind Attention Matters!
  • Evaluate the relevance of Attention Matters! to your own instructional contexts.
  • Discover how to employ the Attention Matters! module in your own courses.

NAUTalk: Assessing a Blended Approach to Learning in Introduction to Sociology 
Presented by: Yvonne Luna

NAUTalk: Comparison of Hybrid & Traditional Lecture Formats in Introductory Microbiology 
Presented by: Alison Adams

Session description

NAUTalk: Assessing a Blended Approach to Learning in Introduction to Sociology

Are you considering a blended-redesign of your course? Does blended-learning work? In this session, I discuss the redesign of SOC101 and share the results of my study comparing the effectiveness of lecture and blended approaches to learning. I further examine how the outcomes of the study lead to additional changes in the redesign process. This session ends with an exploration of the implications of blended-learning.

Learning Goals: 

  • Clarify your intent for course redesign.
  • Create strategies for effective implementation of blended learning.

NAUTalk: Comparison of Hybrid & Traditional Lecture Formats in Introductory Microbiology 
Hybrid classes in the sciences.  Does it work?  Can students cope with coming to class just once, instead of twice, a week?  Is it worth the effort required to generate a hybrid class?  Data from an experiment to compare outcomes of students in a traditional versus hybrid section will be presented, and a personal perspective will be shared.


Session 2: 2:50 – 3:30 p.m.

From Our Passion to Their Practice: Engaged Learning Using the Students' Own Devices
Presented by: John J. Doherty & Kevin Ketchner

Session description

Are students checking their text messages on smartphones instead of listening to your passionate presentation? What went wrong? In this session we will explore the opportunities presented by integrating our students’ own devices into our classroom pedagogy. We will demonstrate how doing so engages students with our own passion for our subject. We will share lessons in which we had students create presentations on the fly on a variety of timely topics. BYOD! Bring your own device, as we will model our practice.

Learning Goals: 
  • Discuss the value of using students’ own technology in your learning context.
  • Create a lesson based on shared examples that leverage students’ use of their own devices.
  • Reflect on best practices for when to use (and when not to use) technology in the classroom. 

Why is My Class Going so Badly? Using Tech Well to Support Effective Course Design 
Presented by: Wally Nolan & Flower Darby

Session description

We’ve all experienced failed learning activities in our classes: painful class sessions that did not go the way we expected them to; group projects that everyone, including us, hated; or online tasks that blew up spectacularly. What went wrong? These failures often point to a larger problem with the foundational course design. We’ll consider big-picture questions around student learning, examine backward design and Quality Matters principles, and explore the intersection between teaching and intentional design. We’ll acquire practical strategies to plan well-aligned classes that effectively use technology to promote successful teaching and learning.

Learning Goals:

  • Clarify your course learning goals. 
  • Align your course’s goals, assessments, and learning activities with appropriate technology tools. 
  • Begin to create an effective technology-facilitated learning activity for your course. 

Panel Discussion: 3:40 – 4:40 p.m.  

All Innovators Panel Discussion – Our Takeaways from the Teaching Professor Technology Conference 
Facilitated by: Larry Gallagher

Session description
The Innovations in Teaching presenters recently attended the 2015 Teaching Professor Technology Conference. During this panel conversation they will share some of what they learned at the conference and discuss potential applications at NAU.

Wrap Up: 4:40 – 5:00 p.m. 

What Does the Future Hold? 
Presented by: Don Carter