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Nov 16, 2011

Enhance Student Collaboration with Online Tools: Google Apps

NYIT faculty members care about effective teaching and student engagement. Sometimes in conversation, faculty members voice concerns about student collaboration. Let’s consider two of the most common:

  • Accountability: How do I hold all students in the team accountable for doing their share of the work? How do members of a team hold each other accountable?
  • Time constraints: How do I engage students in meaningful collaborative work when it takes so much class time?  
Some of the emerging educational technologies might be able to address these prevalent concerns in an easy and user-friendly manner. This summer NYIT has adopted Google Apps for Education. We now have access to a suite of tools that allow students to collaborate – from any location and at any time – and that keep track of individuals’ contributions to the work.
This week, we’ll look at how to access the tools and a brief description of the ways you might use some of them. The next few Weekly Teaching Notes will highlight some of the ways you can use Google Apps to support make student collaboration, making it even more effective. In the spring semester, join your colleagues for some workshops at the Center for Teaching and Learning, in which faculty members will demonstrate the ways they have put Google Apps to use.
First, how do you access Google Apps? Log into the portal at, and look at the menu on the left side of the screen. At the bottom of the list, you will find links to “NYIT Apps Calendar,” “NYIT Apps Docs,” and “NYIT Apps Sites.” Each of these tools can be used publicly, so the world can see them, or privately, with access restricted to whomever you designate. You can give people view-only access, or you can grant them editing privileges. For a brief screencast, created and shared by Dan Quigley (Associate Dean, Arts and Sciences), that demonstrates how to access the tools, please follow this link:
Google Calendar
Google Calendar lets you create multiple calendars. You can create one for each course you teach, and put class meetings, readings, and assignment due dates on it. Students can subscribe to the calendars for each of their courses—when you make a change to the course calendar, it will automatically appear in the students’ accounts. Since student email at NYIT is hosted by Gmail, students can access the Google Apps calendar whenever they check their email.
Google Docs
Google Docs actually includes several different tools: a word processor, a spreadsheet, presentation software, a forms/survey generator that deposits data directly into a spreadsheet, and a drawing tool. You can create a “collection” of various documents and share the collection with a class. Any document added to that collection is also shared, automatically. Google docs have some special Web 2.0 features students already might be using outside school: students working on a document or a presentation can edit simultaneously and can use a chat window on one side of the screen to talk about what they’re doing. If they need to work asynchronously, they can leave comments for one another in a Facebook-style threaded display. 
Google Sites
Google Sites provides a simple interface to build a web site, and has a large number of templates to get you and your students started. Sites can be used to organize information for a course, a project, or anything in between. They can be used as repositories for documents, links to resources, or as a collaborative creative space in which students build a project. As with Google Docs, you can track changes to the site, and hold students accountable for their individual contributions.
All Google Apps include comprehensive help pages. At the top right corner of the window, click the gear-shaped icon. The menu will allow you to change your settings (preferences), and will also direct you to the help pages, which are both indexed and searchable. For additional technical support, please contact Service Central at
In the coming weeks, we will go into more detail about how you can use each of these tools to enhance student engagement and learning in your courses. To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at

Author: francine_glazer

Nov 09, 2011

Guide Your Students Toward More Effective Study Habits

Research on learning suggests that students who think about the process of learning are likely to learn more deeply andretain information longer, but students with poor study habits are less likely to reflect on and change their study habits (Fu and Gray, 2004; National Research Council, 2001, p.78). Since your students may not necessarily havegood study habits, it helps to make them aware of what works and what doesn’t. Here’s one easy way to do just that.

When you return exams, give each student an index card. Ask them to write, anonymously, the grade they received on the exam along with the ways they prepared for it, and return the card to you as they leave class that day. Specifically, what techniques did they use: re-reading their notes, reviewing flash cards, drawing diagrams, solving problem sets? Did they spread their studying out over several days, or cram it all in the daybefore the test? Did they study alone or in groups?

Sort the index cards into piles by grades. Then type up the study strategies. At the next class, give your students the list, so they can see what the “A” students did, the “B” students, and so on. Grouping study habits by ‘grade earned on the exam’ will help students realize which study habits are more effective, and which are less so.

  • Ambrose, S.A., Bridges, M.W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M.C., and Norman, M.K. (2010). How Learning Works: 7 research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
  • Fu, W.T., and Gray, W.D. (2004). Resolving the paradox of the active user: Stable suboptimal performance in interactive tasks. Cognitive Science, 28(6), 901-935.
  • National Research Council. (2001). Knowing what students know: The science and design of educational assessment. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

Molly Baker
Director, Teaching and Learning Center
Black Hawk College

Author: francine_glazer

Nov 01, 2011

Communicate High Expectations

“Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three.”  ~ Confucius

A good course is designed with two layers of expectations. First are the expectations of the program, course, or assignment. Letting students know exactly what you expect gives them a roadmap for the program, course, or assignment, and helps them to succeed. This can be accomplished through the syllabus, through assignment guidelines and rubrics, and with oral or written feedback. My best advice for helping students to succeed in your course is to give them clear guidelines as to what constitutes good performance, preferably at the same time that you make the assignment. This can be done with a rubric or by sharing exemplars of excellent, good, and sub-standard work.

The second layer is that of motivating the students to do their best work. With guidance, encouragement, and constructive feedback, we can help our students to realize their potential and, potentially, limitless possibilities. Go beyond just providing additional resources or suggestions for further study, and challenge your students to stretch themselves. 
‚óŹ      Tinto, V. (2011). Taking Student Success Seriously in the College Classroom. White paper presented at the Spring Plenary Session 2011 of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. Retrieved 10/18/2011 from

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.
Penny Lorenzo
Assistant Dean of Faculty, School of Legal Studies
Kaplan University/Kaplan Legal Education

Author: francine_glazer

Oct 26, 2011

Storytelling, Creativity, and Classroom Management

A perennial problem faced by many faculty members is students who arrive late to class. I’ve found a way to encourage students to arrive on time, while exercising their creativity.

As one of the preliminary exercises in creating an animation, I ask the students to first read a series of short stories and then write a factual account of something that they have experienced that has made an impact on them. They are then instructed to set their written story aside and "perform" the story as a storyteller. This is a standard exercise commonly used in many classes that involve creative expression.

Based on this idea, I have developed a storytelling assignment in dealing with students that come to class late. When a student comes in after the class starts, all class activity stops and the tardy student is required to tell the story of why he or she is late. They cannot, however, tell the truth! Instead, they must invent and deliver a story on the spot that makes the class respond as an audience. The story must be entertaining, fantastic, emotional, or in any other way, engaging. The class then votes by showing a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. If the vote goes in the student's favor, then they will simply be marked late.

If they do not succeed in their efforts then they are marked as unprepared. This exercise has forced all the students to be prepared with at least one good story and has completely eliminated the issue of lateness.

The exercise gets even better if I am ever late to class, since the rule also applies to me. The first time that I announced this policy, the inevitable happened. Heavy traffic made me late to the next class but I had my story ready to go and thankfully did get a thumbs-up.

Prof. Peter Voci
MFA Director/Fine Arts Chair

Author: francine_glazer

Oct 19, 2011

Glogster and Audio Essays

Here’s a link to an online tool called “Glogster” ( ). I use this tool as part of a writing assignment that challenges students to find their writing voices through a “no-writing” writing assignment. The students must use heavy description and narration to pull this one off, because in this case, the audience will listen to (not read) the essay. Of course, all “drafts” are audio drafts, and they’re shared with others in the class—as listeners who provide audio feedback to their trio of writers. Once they’ve received audio feedback, they then must incorporate active listening (using their peers’ comments and critiques) to improve their essay. They must submit their final draft to the instructor (in both written form and in a polished audio form). This exercise causes students to become attuned to their own voices, literally—as well as to make the connection between the writer’s voice and the necessity to become comfortable with having new thoughts and ideas that no one else has possibly thought of before.

To assist with this process, I ask students to decide on an item of technology (new or old) that they’d be seriously lost without, and after great deliberation, they’re required to design and voice their thoughts in descriptive statements and phrases, to create an audio essay of the item, as well as their relationship to it. Theonly limitation of this assignment is that they cannot call the item by itsname. Instead, they have to create a nickname for it. That nickname is the title of the audio essay.

For example, students who have described their relationships to their smart phones have titled their essays thusly: “Noki-Doki” (reminiscent of the Nokia phone); “i2-phone-home” (for an essay about a text-driven student’s addictive relationship to texting on his iPhone, and his parents’ surprise when he stopped texting for a day, using the phone for real conversation, for a change). In another essay entitled “Cupped, Not Sipped” (which focused on a student’s relationship with a favorite coffee cup, and his real love of COLD coffee beverages), the student revealed his vast knowledge of Starbucks coffee and his significant relationships created with others through “the fruit of the bean.”

To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.

LaNita Kirby, Dept. of English
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

Author: francine_glazer

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Cecilia Dong Ziqian (Cecilia) Dong, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Campus: Manhattan
Peter C. Kinney III Peter C. Kinney III
Chief of Staff
Office: President
Campus: Old Westbury
Petra Dilling Petra Dilling
Associate Dean and Assistant Professor
Department: Management
Campus: Vancouver