Recent Posts

Why and When to Use PowerPoint in Online Courses

While PowerPoint is a very effective tool for creating visual aids when used properly (or artistically, or satirically), it can be harmful when misused. Suggestions for appropriate use of PowerPoint have been documented in various blog posts on the Distance Learning website. For the Summer 2019 course development period, extra emphasis is being placed on on using PowerPoint in ways that go beyond its most convenient form: bulleted lists. Structured, bulleted lists may work well for quickly organizing your own thoughts, but there are other (trendier?) ways of doing that without using PowerPoint. PowerPoint can continue to be a useful


5 Ways to Group Adult Students for Teamwork Online

Introduction In the School of Professional Studies (SPS), group projects are our bread and butter. That means team case studies, small group discussions, peer review, and other collaborative assignments. One question I’ve heard faculty members frequently ask their peers in course presentations is, “How do you group your students?” Everyone has a technique for doing it differently, based on any number of factors. How many students are in your class? How many students should be in each group? What if you have students “left over”? Should I group them with teammates they know? Teammates they don’t know? Teammates they choose?


Submit a Proposal to TEACHx 2019!

Have you experimented with a new approach in one of your SPS courses in the last year?  Would you like to share what you’ve learned with others? TEACHx, Northwestern’s annual symposium that brings together instructors, students, learning designers, and technology specialists to make connections, begin collaborations, and learn from their peers, is returning to the Norris University Center in Evanston on May 22-23, 2019. Whether you want to give a poster, an interactive session or be part of a panel—join in on the celebration of teaching and learning.  This year we are excited to announce that TEACHx is expanding to include a half-day pre-conference. Attend


Building Up to Big Assignments and Complex Tasks: Making the Case for Assignment Scaffolding

Introduction Do some topics or skills seem too large to approach in your course? Are your students struggling with time management? Do you want to provide students with thorough, meaningful feedback but find it difficult to keep up with all the grading? Do you want your students to learn more effectively? Assignment scaffolding could be the answer. Source: Pixabay What is assignment scaffolding and why is it important? Simply put, assignment scaffolding helps break down large ideas or tasks into smaller steps that build on each other. Consider the analogy at the root of the term. Scaffolding, like the multi-level,


A Few Big Changes, Lots of Little Ones: Updates to the Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric

Introduction In the summer of 2018, Quality Matters (QM) released the Sixth Edition of the Higher Education Rubric along with a Rubric Update course to help reviewers brush up on the changes. For the Distance Learning team in the School of Professional Studies, that’s a big deal. We use the QM rubric, a research-based set of standards for quality in online courses, to guide the design of new classes and help revise existing ones. At the end of each development cycle, all courses are reviewed by peer Learning Designers on our team as a way to provide feedback and ensure