Where Are Your Students?

It is that time of year. Today is Halloween. Veteran’s Day and Fall Break are around the corner and students are disappearing. Some of them are sick, others are traveling for school or fun, and others may be homesick. Gazing out into a half-full classroom usually fills me with anxiety on a few levels. I’m wondering how the class is going to go, and I’m also dreading the deluge of emails about making up missed work and class time. 

One remedy to this annual tradition is to consider an alternative format for your classes. Hyflex classes, where a variety of modalities might be implemented, allow students to have more flexible learning experiences. In a recent episode of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast thought leader David Rhoads and Bonni Stachowiak made the point that flexible teaching front-loads instructional work and often saves you as the instructor time in the long run because you deal with far fewer edge-cases where students are not in class. 

You might have tried this during the pandemic and had a terrible experience, or maybe you tried it and loved it, but it seemed like the momentum on campus was back towards traditional face-to-face teaching. Regardless, we have the tools, experience, and now the research on what works and what does not. Join us for a workshop on Wednesday to explore the ChicoFlex modality and why it might be a good fit for you moving forward. 

Why you should attend this workshop and consider ChicoFlex:

  • Expand enrollment in your program by offering flexible arrangements. 
  • Utilize technology that is already available and in rooms all over campus. No need to write a grant to get what you need. 
  • Lower your workload by preemptively building flexibility for students who are sick or traveling. 
  • Research from our campus and around the country indicates flex arrangements maintain or even expand student success.

November 1, 12-1 p.m.
MLIB 045 or Zoom
Led by: Katie Mercurio, Tina Lewis, Kathy Fernandes, and Zach Justus

Professor leading a classroom of students with a chalkboard and computer resources

Figure 1: Professor leading a classroom of students with a chalkboard and computer resources

Zach Justus
Interim Director of Faculty Development
Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences
Google Voice/Text: 530-487-4150

Listen to a Voicemail from Your E-mail

It is now possible to receive voicemail in your e-mail inbox. Chico State just launched a new technology called “Unified Messaging” (UM) that automatically e-mails you an audio file of a voicemail left on your office line. The e-mail will include either an attached audio file or a play button right in the text (see screenshot below). Once you listen to the voicemail in your e-mail inbox, the red light on your phone will stop blinking since the voicemail is no longer considered new. If you delete the e-mail, it automatically deletes the voicemail from the message center.  This feature is particularly useful if you want your voicemail and e-mail communications in the same place, if you share an office phone with colleagues, or if you just rarely notice that blinking voicemail light on your landline. You can still retrieve voicemails the usual way by dialing 898-4400.

If you’re interested in setting up Unified Messaging, click here to open the UM page and then click on “Request Service.”

Mobile Devices in Class?

Should students be allowed to use smartphones and laptops in class? If so, they might get distracted and check e-mail or browse Facebook, although they could just as easily doodle on paper or daydream if mobile devices weren’t allowed. Technology is rarely the sole cause for students being disengaged. In fact, laptops and smartphones can increase student engagement and enhance the learning environment if leveraged properly. Here are five reasons to allow (and even encourage) mobile devices in your class…

  • Using iClickers Cloud, students can engage with you and their peers by responding electronically to questions (TLP can help you set this up).
  • Students can supplement lecture by following along with Blackboard content or searching the web to learn more about concepts presented in class.
  • Some students have illegible handwriting and laptops can create typed, well-organized, and searchable notes. Microsoft OneNote is a good example of this which also facilitates in-class collaboration.
  • Students with accessibility needs often rely on laptops and don’t want to be singled out by a classroom ban on mobile devices.
  • If you approve students to record lectures, they can replay them while driving or working out if that’s their preferred method of learning.

If you allow laptops but not cell phones, the Pocket Points app might benefit both you and your students. When a student locks up and puts away their phone during class, they earn rewards that are redeemable at local stores.

Whatever your policy, there is real value in educating students about mobile device etiquette both in and out of the classroom.


As a reminder, please complete the 8-minute survey about the professional development programming you want from the FDEV office. Thank-you!

Zoom Us

Faculty consultants in the Technology and Learning Program (TLP) have expanded their services to assist you in the most convenient and efficient way possible with Zoom, a web conferencing tool that enables audio, video, and screen sharing. It’s like a video chat with TLP staff to assist you with instructional technology needs including Blackboard, clickers, curriculum design, online learning, Google apps for education, social networking, media support, and special projects for your classroom.

If you need help with technology-related pedagogy and prefer to receive help from the comfort of your own desk, contact an Instructional Technology Consultant to schedule a Zoom session. You may also find Zoom to be a useful way to meet with your students if you are off-campus. Zoom works with PC and Mac computers as well as Android and iOS devices.

As always, if you prefer to meet with TLP staff in person, come by the Faculty Drop-in Lab in MLIB 457 from 9-5 Mon-Fri (closed Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break).

The Technology and Learning Program is Moving

Today’s Tuesday Teaching Tip is brought to you by TLP Manager Laura Sederberg.

The Technology and Learning Program (TLP) is moving up in the world! Our location in the basement of Meriam Library has served us well for 20 years now. But as we have joined efforts with the Faculty Development Center (previously CELT). Their home in MLIB 458/459 has become a destination for faculty, and now we have the opportunity to join them and better serve the faculty of CSU, Chico.

Our Instructional Design/Technology Consultants (ITCs) are moving upstairs on Thursday, April 13. The Walk-in TLP Lab will follow soon. In this move there are some changes.

  1. We will be close to Faculty Development allowing for better collaboration.
  2. We will be seeing more of you! The more visible location means we will be in a position to serve you and your students even more effectively, and we look forward to seeing you.
  3. We are transitioning our technology lending program. If you have a problem and need a piece of technology for a class we can still accommodate you, but please try and work with your home department and/or the Meriam Library lending program while we are transitioning.
  4. We will no longer have access to our training lab, but we will still be offering trainings.

There is no doubt this move will result in some disruption, but we are excited that in the long term this will be the right move for us and the campus.

If you have any concerns or questions about this change, please contact TLP manager, Laura Sederberg x4326 or lsederberg@csuchico.edu.

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Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Our newest episode is out now! Mary, Tracy, and I take on seven topics in 30 minutes! Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.


How did they know that?

Last year an accomplished professor came by the office for some grading help with a midterm which our students are sometimes able to provide (so long as we stay FERPA compliant). He noticed many students were getting the same answer wrong in the same particular way over and over. Perplexed, he wondered aloud what could be happening until one of the student staff members in the office remarked that the exam and/or study guide was probably on Quizlet. We both responded “What is Quizlet?”Image result for quizlet

Quizlet is one of a suite of websites leveraging crowdsourced content for study help for students. Study Blue is also popular and there are probably dozens of others I am not aware of. In most cases these sites offer study guides students have uploaded that can be turned into flash cards or practice exams. On the whole, the sort of thing we all hope students do. Of course there are also less than exemplary practices. In the case referenced earlier, someone had uploaded nearly an entire exam. Even further on the spectrum, there are many pay-for-essay sites online offering products of dubious origin. We have come a long way from file folders of essays and exams passed from friend-to-friend over years and are likely to go even further in the coming years.

We have tools at our disposal to help with academic honesty including digital products like turnitin and personnel with expertise in Student Judicial Affairs. These can be extremely useful, but I also want to direct you to the most valuable resource at your disposal: your students. Asking current and former students what tools they or their peers used in your classes can give you a baseline. You may like what you hear and decide to help curate the collections on Quizlet yourself or direct future students to especially valuable guides. You may find your students are utilizing out-of-date, incorrect, or unethical resources. Then it may be up to you to change your exams or teaching practices to accommodate. If you do talk to your students and find something interesting, especially a web service or a network, don’t keep it a secret, pass it along and let us know.

Dr. Sara Cooper has provided additional Book in Common Material. Check out this section of the CELT page for regular synopsis updates, discussion questions, and other resources.

Got feedback on this tip? Got an idea for a tip? Send it along. Check out our new and improved wordpress site here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Our second episode of the Fall is out now! Mary, Tracy, and I explore Chico traditions. Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

Who Are these People?

Image result for large lecture hallTwo years ago was an exciting time in my life. My wife was pregnant with our first child, I had turned in my dossier for tenure and promotion a month earlier and everything seemed to be happening at once. Much of the semester was a fog for me, but I do distinctly remember going to my public speaking course at this time in the semester, looking at the faces, and asking myself “who are these people?” The format of the class did not lend itself well to developing relationships with the students so I had never made it a priority, but in Fall 2014 I was especially distant. It was impossible to get to know 500 students, most of which watched online and I would never meet, so I made the mistake of not getting to know any of them. The problem with that thinking was, I ended up missing out and in turn, so did they. Getting to know your students is a frequent refrain of mine, but a recent Inside Higher Ed article highlighted a few things for me that really resonated. I highly recommend reading the linked article as it offers practical advice for establishing classroom rapport rather than just encouragement to do so. As a tease, I do want to highlight one of their suggestions and the connection to a growing trend on our campus.

Drawing on the work of bell hooks in Teaching to Transgress, the authors suggest we model the same vulnerability we expect from our students. One increasingly popular tool for letting your students get to know you is “Digital Storytelling.” Celeste Jones and Seema Sehrawat have been promoting this tool and featured it at the recent CELT Conference as well as Academy-e Learning over the summer. The technology tools are simple and free, and the payoff is tremendous. There are a variety of tools, but one popular one is Adobe Spark. Digital Storytelling gives you a controlled environment to introduce yourself and a topic to your students with the aid of visuals. If you have questions or ideas about Digital Storytelling please contact Faculty Development. We are happy to provide help and put you in contact with people and resources.

Dr. Sara Cooper has provided additional Book in Common Material. Check out this section of the CELT page for regular synopsis updates, discussion questions, and other resources.

Got feedback on this tip? Got an idea for a tip? Send it along. Check out our new and improved wordpress site here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Our second episode of the Fall is out now! Mary, Tracy, and I explore Chico traditions just in time for Halloween! Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

New Developments

Teaching with video has been important for a long time, but we have come a long way from wheeling a TV cart or projector into the classroom to the sound of cheers from students. In recent years many professors have shifted from videos produced by others to self-recorded segments in support of a flipped classroom model or other alternative teaching formats reliant on students viewing content outside the classroom. This process can be time consuming and frustrating.

Two new developments on our campus are having a positive impact on video and are attractive enough they may convert even the most technically challenged faculty member.

  • Kaltura for uploading and/or recording videos.
  • Video Captioning is available now for all faculty members at no cost.

Kaltura for uploading and/or recording videos

Kaltura has been part of the suite of campus programs for seveHomepage New Logo.pngral years, but a recent renegotiation is providing us with increased functionality that makes using video in your courses easier. It is a Blackboard integrated hosting space for your video content, meaning you can upload a video and share it to as many classes as you would like. It is advertisement free and you have maximum control over the privacy settings. There are also analytical capacities to let you track video views and usage far exceeding our abilities with YouTube or Vimeo. Overall it is an easier way to manage your video content for your courses and make sure you have access in future semesters without publishing it on the open internet. Kaltura also has a feature which transitions to the second development, auto-caption.

 Video Captioning is available now for all faculty members at no cost

AutomaticSync is a new program for our campus and it works with Kaltura beautifully. AutomaticSync allows the Office of Accessible Technology and Services to provide you with captions for any video; it works especially well with Kaltura, but they can make almost any video work. The service is free of charge to you and brings accessibility to your courses in a way that benefits all students, not just those with audio impairments. The turnaround time is quick at 72 hours and the reliability is very high. A new video player which should roll out to campus soon will provide even more features including searchable transcripts that sync with video. There is no excuse not to get captions done.

Individually these are marvelous developments that open up different options in your courses. Together, they make high quality accessible videos a reality for the first time on our campus.

The CELT Conference preliminary program and registration link are now available. See you on October 6-7!

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Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! Link to it on soundclouditunesovercast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

Share your ideas!

My favorite part about Faculty Development has been learning about the innovations and great work going on across campus. I get to hear about new developments all the time, but I want you to share with the whole campus and region at the 2016 CELT conference. Don’t keep your idea a secret. Today’s tip is an encouragement to share your innovations.  The submission deadline is on Friday, but submitting is easy. To get you started, I have a list of things I have heard about the past few years I would love to see at the conference.

  • Team teaching including interdisciplinary education is something we talk about at meetings, but very few of us know how to do it well. Teach us!
  • Are you utilizing a new technology? Faculty across campus are experimenting with Zoom video and finding their own open source software. Tell us about it!
  • Who has had a great idea go bad? I once participated in a redesign that went almost nowhere and many of us have good ideas that don’t work. Share your failure with the group (I promise it is therapeutic)!
  • Who is already working with the new University priorities on Civic Engagement and Diversity in their classroom? Enlighten us with your vision!
  • Are you struggling with how to manage political conversations in your classroom? Put together a panel on teaching in a divisive election season!
  • Got something to say on national controversies? Put together a few people with opposing ideas on affirmative action, campus speech codes, or reconciling institutional history with contemporary goals!
  • Textbooks are getting more expensive every year. Tell us about how you found open source material or pieced together course readings out of available research!
  • Do you work with graduate students or mentors? Share best practices with us!
  • Is your classroom a dimly lit dungeon with chairs bolted to the floor? Put together a group on teaching in difficult spaces and places!
  • Are you collaborating with Advising or Student Life and Leadership to improve learning? Tell us about how you are building bridges!

CELT Conference

The CELT conference is a free opportunity to share your innovations and thoughts on critical campus and national issues. In 2015 we averaged 15 attendees per session and we are looking for even broader exposure this year. Last year I learned things about personal productivity from Dustin Bakkie and what it takes for students to turn around their education after struggling from Josh Whittinghill and students in EOP that have changed my behavior this year. Don’t miss your opportunity to make your voice heard. Submission takes a few minutes, but the lessons learned can last a lifetime.

Got feedback on this tip? Leave a comment or email it to us. Got an idea for a tip? Send it along.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Caffeinated Cats podcast! The newest episode is on the strike that wasn’t. Link to it on soundclouditunes, overcast, or follow the podcast on facebook.

PowerPoint. Love it? Hate it? Hate it but use it anyway?

The topic today is PowerPoint. Love it? Hate it? Hate it but use it anyway?  I’ve heard students disparage both that rare instructor who “doesn’t even have a PowerPoint,” as well as the one who “does nothing but read from the PowerPoint.” I won’t weigh in for or against, but will share a few quick highlights from the growing body of literature (who knew?) around uses and abuses of PowerPoint that I poked around in recently. I discovered many Haiku-style rules vying for our allegiance: for instance, the 7/7/25 rule (7 lines max, 7 words per line max, 25 total words per slide max), the 1/1/5 rule (one image per slide, use each image only once in the deck, 5 words per slide max), and the 10/20/30 rule (10 slides max, 20 minutes max, 30-point font).

There’s a common theme here and in most of what I read. PowerPoint is most effective when we arresting with words and when we take advantage of its visual potential. While some students say they like a class in which all the information they need is bullet-pointed on the slides, there’s research that suggests that they don’t actually learn best that way. A text-heavy PowerPoint encourages students to copy all that text, which means they are transcribing, not listening or otherwise engaging. It also makes that giant slide—not the professor or the other students, or what might be happening between and among them—the focus of attention and the source of authority. When, instead, the slide features a single phrase, or a provocative image or graph, or a quote or a simple question, then students have to engage to get the payoff.  And you get to be the teacher again.

Some instructors opt for alternatives to PowerPoint that add additional dimensions to the presentation (Prezi, PowToon) or radically simplify it (Haiku Deck); you may find these tools useful for student presentation assignments as well. But whatever presentation tools we use, it’s good to remember to include a variety of content—embedding quick-write prompts, break-out discussion assignments, video clips, etc.—and to give students time to engage it.  And a final tip I wish I’d learned years ago? Be careful not to stand in front of the projector—you look better without text on your face, even if it’s only 5 words.

Using Video to Enhance Learning and Teaching: A Hands-On Workshop.

Wednesday, October 22, 12:00-1:30 PM

MLIB 002 TLP Training Lab

Description: The current generation coming through Chico State are visual learners, used to turning to YouTube videos and Video Blogs for entertainment, personal edification, and self-expression. Come and hear how one faculty member has successfully incorporated video introductions as well as video assignments into her class, then start learning how to use our free tools to enhance your own courses with video.

*Authored by Dr. Katherine McCarthy.