Recent Posts

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


Up Up and Away: How Superheroes Can Save Online Discussions

Back to Krypton… In the late summer of 2017, Jacob Guerra-Martinez a Learning Designer and game-design researcher in Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies, pitched an audacious plan to a part-time faculty member in the School of Professional Studies. He wanted to gamify a discussion board so that graduate students could choose between being heroes or villains while debating and supporting opposing views. His mission was to save students from mundane discussions, and he called this idea Discussion Hero. The previous year, I had developed a course on Learning Environment Design for graduate students in the field of Information, Design


Time Management Strategies for Teaching Online

Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Below you will find 10 strategies to assist you while teaching online during term. Host office hours: Hosting regular office hours can lessen the number of emails you receive. You can also use this scheduled time to respond to emails and grade assignments or discussions if you have time before or after meeting with students. Especially if #5 isn’t realistic. Funnel questions to the discussion forum: If one student has a question, it is likely that other students have the same question. Encourage students to post general questions


GamiCon Reflection- My Top Three Takeaways

This past weekend I had the pleasure to attend the first ever GamiCon conference, which was a co-located event hosted here in Chicago by Sententia Games and Training Magazine’s Online Conference. This conference was specifically for those who design and deliver Gamification for a variety of audiences, including corporate and academic programs. Along with the sessions, I, and fellow Learning Designer David Noffs, had the opportunity to showcase an exciting project we developed at SPS-Distance Learning called Discussion Hero for GamiCon’s Gamification Throwdown. It was a lot of fun, and we’ll share more about Discussion Hero in later posts. But


Lowering the Cost of College with Open Educational Resources – October 2018 Online Learning Webinar

The cost of commercial textbooks can be a roadblock to student learning, but open textbooks offer high quality alternatives to instructors. According to US Public Interest Research Group, upwards of 65% of students decide against buying a textbook because of cost. Librarians at Northwestern have identified open and free textbook options relevant to courses taught within SPS. In this webinar, Northwestern librarians Chris Diaz and Lauren McKeen discussed the state of textbook costs and shared how open educational resources can provide alternatives to commercial textbook options. Participants learned about high-quality open textbook resources, heard examples of open textbook use in