Author: David Noffs

Synchronous Sessions: A Valuable Inclusion in Online Learning

Introducing A Policy Change While synchronous sessions have long been a part of online instruction at Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies, their potential impact on student engagement and community building has been underestimated. Now, administrators and lead faculty have developed a revised policy on holding sync sessions. Significantly, new information regarding assignments, material, and concepts integral to the course can now be shared during these live sessions. Previously, this was not the case, which may have contributed to a sense that sync sessions were purely optional social events. As the pandemic progressed, many of us faculty felt that sync sessions

The Online Teaching Tourist

Experiencing the unknown We all enjoy traveling, whether for a simple road trip or a two-week vacation abroad. In either situation we are tourists, exploring an unknown area with new and exciting perspectives. We take pictures, meet new people, relax and maybe plan on returning to that destination. Once the trip is complete, we return home to our safe and known environment. We are relieved to return to what we know. We share stories and pictures and reflect on how “different” the vacation spot was from our “normal” life. The adventurer Another type of traveler, that some may call an

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

NUDL Workshop Reflections

This summer, AccessibleNU hosted their second UDL Workshop series. A cohort of faculty and academic staff, including Learning Designer and IDS instructor David Noffs and Senior Content Specialist Christine Scherer, learned about universal design for learning and best practices to design and teach courses that are welcoming and accessible for all students. The workshop series was packed with information and resources. Here are five of our top takeaways, plus tips on how to start incorporating UDL into your class! Takeaway #: For some, learning is not as easy as it looks. One of the biggest challenges faced by disabled and

What Should I Do With My Slides Now That I’m Teaching Online?

Introduction If you’ve taught face-to-face before, there’s a good chance you’ve developed slides to help give lectures in your classroom. You may even have structured your course around them: ten slide decks for ten weeks of class. There’s no shame there–keynote speakers and conference presenters use slides as an important part of their practice, and when properly designed they can make for engaging in-person presentations. Now you’re designing an online or hybrid class, and you’ve got your slides in hand. These worked great in my face-to-face class, you’re thinking. I’ll just put them online for students to read. But wait!