Transparent Learning

Dear Colleagues,

Consider adding more active learning into your classroom by using some of the “transparent methods” described below.

This information is taken from the website: from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and was developed by:

Mary-Ann Winkelmes, Ph.D., Coordinator of Instructional Development and Research, Office of Faculty, Policy, and Research as part of the Transparency in Learning and Teaching Project.

Transparent Methods

Transparent teaching methods help students understand how and why they are learning course content in particular ways.
This list of options is adapted frequently as faculty participants identify further ways to provide explicit information to students about learning and teaching practices.

These methods include:

  • Discuss assignments’ learning goals and design rationale before students begin each assignment
  • Invite students to participate in class planning, agenda construction
  • Gauge students’ understanding during class via peer work on questions that require students to apply concepts you’ve taught
  • Explicitly connect “how people learn” data with course activities when students struggle at difficult transition points
  • Engage students in applying the grading criteria that you’ll use on their work
  • Debrief graded tests and assignments in class
  • Offer running commentary on class discussions, to indicate what modes of thought or disciplinary methods are in use

Interested? Comments? Questions?

Let us know how we can assist you.

Jim O’Connor

Dynamic Lecturing

Dear Colleagues,

Are you interested in improving the quality of your lecturing?

Listen to the podcast by Todd Zakrajsek:

Dr. Zakrajsek, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine at UNC Chapel Hill, has recently written the book:

Dynamic Lecturing: Research-Based Strategies to Enhance Lecture Effectiveness (The Excellent Teacher Series)
by Christine Harrington and Todd Zakrajsek.

Consider taking 30 minutes to listen to this podcast to get some new ideas to improve your lecturing.

Questions or comments?

Best regards,

Jim O’Connor

Challenge from CILT

Dear Colleagues,

July 1st marks the beginning of a new academic year. I’m challenging each of you to improve your teaching by choosing one new technique, tactic, strategy or assignment that will lead to increased student engagement and student learning.
If there is anyway I, or any of the CILT Center Fellows, can be of assistance to you, please feel free to contact me by responding to this email. I will be happy to meet with you to discuss ways to improve teaching, student learning, and engagement.

There are many joys of teaching, three being: (1) teaching is a lifelong learning experience; (2) teaching is transformational, you are changing lives; and (3) you never know where your influence will stop.

Let’s have a great 2018-19 academic year.

Questions or comments?

Jim O’Connor

Nine Steps to Support Faculty

Taken from…

Volume 6 Issue 10: June 25, 2018

The Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching (CILT) was established at the beginning of this year to fulfill the goals of the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan. As Director of the CILT, Dr. Jim O’Connor, Professor and Founding Dean Emeritus of the College of Education and Health Sciences, has put a series of nine steps into motion that will achieve the center’s goal of providing support for new and current faculty. To meet the vision of the Strategic Plan, for which Dr. O’Connor was Committee Chair, CILT support will especially help those who come with primarily clinical experience to develop and increase their understanding of pedagogy. By working to create a critical mass of faculty who have upgraded their knowledge of student education, the Center for Innovative Learning and Teaching is laying down the pathways for TUC’s growth and improvement.

1. Perform a Campus Needs Assessment Report

The first step of the CILT has been to engage in a listening tour across TUC and TUN to learn and assess the unique pedagogical needs of each academic program. The tour has also gathered insight from other universities, including UC Berkeley, Sonoma State, and San Francisco State, to gain an appreciation for their scopes of work. The needs assessment is nearing completion, having been conducted from January to July 1st of this year.

2. Establish the Center Advisory Committee

The CILT is also establishing an advisory committee composed of faculty across TUC’s programs, ensuring that all programs receive representation.

3. Develop a Center for Innovative Learning Website

The Center is in the process of developing a new website to provide ideas, expertise, and evidence-based best practices for higher education. The site will help faculty to develop strategies for designing classes with best practices for teaching and assessments, all focused on improving the quality of student learning.

4. Mentoring and Resources for New Faculty

A wealth of pedagogical resources will be made available to TUC’s new faculty, including direct mentoring, ensuring that those who come from the medical world are able to fully apply their knowledge to leading the classroom.

“We want faculty to feel welcomed and unthreatened to come to us to improve their teaching and get feedback on ideas they might try,” says Dr. O’Connor.

5. Effective Peer Formative Evaluations

The CILT will support annual, mandatory peer observation, providing faculty the opportunity to observe and provide feedback to their peers on how teaching can be improved. With a focus on effective peer formative evaluations, faculty can learn how to give the best feedback to improve student learning outcomes.

6. Collect Course Syllabi Electronically

In the move from paper to electronic syllabi, gathering syllabi across programs will identify objectives and ensure that important pedagogical elements are not overlooked.

“The more active students are engaged, the more likely they are to be motivated rather than passive receptors of information,” says Dr. O’Connor. “You do this by giving them choices on how to demonstrate their knowledge and ensuring that students feel connected with other students.”

7. Pedagogically Support Interprofessional Education Across Campus

By collecting and offering pedagogical information, the CILT will support leadership for the campus interprofessional education initiatives that already take place across TUC’s programs.

8. Oversee and Support the Campus Transition from BlackBoard to Canvas

In the shift from one student learning platform to another, The Center is seizing the opportunity to improve quality of faculty pedagogy, helping learning become more active and discussion-based while reducing the reliance on lecture and Powerpoint. The Center also encourages students to watch videos of lectures beforehand so that discussion and clarifications can be made in class.

9. The Implementation of Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) Courses in Effective Teaching Practices for Faculty

Through Canvas, faculty can enroll into a 29-unit program, culminating in a Certificate of in Effective College Instruction endorsed by the American Council on Education (ACE). ACUE’s Course in Effective Teaching Practices prepares college educators to implement all of the essential practices shown to improve student outcomes.

View original at

Reminder: TUC Canvas Training Schedule

Please note the next Canvas training session is later today in Library Annex 118. There are only 43 days before the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester, which is when the College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Pharmacy, and Public Health program will begin using Canvas.

Please bring your laptop to any of these sessions that you plan to attend.

Introduction to Designing Course Content
Monday, 25 June 2018 at 12:00pm-1:00pm (Library Annex 118)

Open Session
Tuesday, 26 June 2018 at 10:00am-11:00am (Library Annex 112)

Introduction to Designing Course Content
Tuesday, 03 July 2018 at 11:00am-noon (Library Annex 112)

Introduction to Designing Course Content
Wednesday, 11 July 2018 at 10:00am-11:00am (Library Annex 112)

Open Session
Thursday, 12 July 2018 at 1:00pm-2:00pm (Library Annex 118)

Introduction to Designing Course Content
Monday, 16 July 2018 at 10:30am-11:30am (Library Annex 118)

Open Session
Wednesday, 18 July 2018 at 2:00pm-3:00pm (Library Annex 112)

Introduction to Designing Course Content
Tueday, 31 July 201810:00am-11:00am (Library Annex 118)

Open Session
Wednesday, 01 August 2018 at 1:00pm-2:00pm (Lander 113)

Introduction to Designing Course Content – An overview of the main functions needed to be able to design course content in Canvas. Functions include creating pages, uploading files, adding links, embedding Kaltura videos, creating assignments, adding quizzes, posting discussions, etc.. Sessions will generally have approximately 45 minutes of guided demonstration and approximately 15 minutes for questions and answers.

Open Session – A session without a formal agenda. This is an open 60-minute session designed to allow faculty to come and have their specific queries related to Canvas answered. Stay for as long or as little as you need.

Please note that the Canvas functions included in these sessions are the same functions described in the “How to Use Canvas: A Guide for Instructors” and the Zoom training sessions provided by the Canvas Project team in New York (see for a complete calendar and to sign up for one of these Zoom sessions).

If you have any questions please contact me at

Michael K. Barbour

TUN Canvas Conversion

I will be offering open Canvas training sessions for the next four weeks on Tuesday from 9:00 – 10:30 AM in the new conference room. Please ask anyone who is responsible for Blackboard exports, course rolling, or course builds in your school to attend. The sessions will be very informal but will hopefully help us as we transition from Blackboard to Canvas.

Tuesday, June 19 (Exporting from BB and importing to Canvas)

Tuesday, June 26 (Exporting from BB and importing to Canvas)

Tuesday, July 3 (cleaning up the course in Canvas)

Tuesday, July 10 (cleaning up the course in Canvas)

More sessions as needed!

Debbie Millican

Canvas Training Focusing on Assignments and Grading: How to Use Canvas

Below are some additional training opportunities related to implementing Canvas.

Jim O’Connor Ph.D.

Additional Canvas Training Focusing Exclusively on Assignments and Grading will be offered on the following dates:

Tuesday, June 19th at 11 AM – 12:30 PM (Eastern Time)

Tuesday, June 19th at 3 – 4:30 PM (Eastern Time)

Monday June 25th at 11 AM – 12:30 PM (Eastern Time)

We’ll answer the the following frequently asked questions:

  • How do I set up my gradebook?
  • How can I make one or more assignments count as a % of the final grade?
  • How can I check submissions for plagiarism without Safe Assign?
  • How can I annotate a student’s submission?
  • How do I grade assignments using rubrics?
  • How do I assign extra credit?
  • How can I align assignments with academic goals?
  • How do I create student groups for group assignments?
  • How can I moderate grades entered by Teaching Assistants?

We look forward to seeing you there.

Canvas Training: Assignments and Grading

Please note that the Canvas Project Team in New York have added some new sessions to their Canvas training schedule that are focused specifically on the Assignment and Grading features in Canvas. These sessions, which are offered in Zoom, are scheduled for (times are listed in Pacific Time):

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

8:00am – 9:30am Canvas Training: Assignments and Grading –
12:00pm – 1:30pm Canvas Training: Assignments and Grading –

Monday, June 25, 2018

8:00am – 9:30am Canvas Training: Assignments and Grading –

A reminder that you can access the complete Zoom training schedule that the NY-based team are completing at

Michael K. Barbour

Activating Student Curiosity

The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes a weekly newsletter focusing on effective teaching in Higher Education, entitled “Welcome to Teaching”.

Here is an example of one article that may be of interest to you, which focuses on Activating Students’ Curiosity:

Comments or questions?

Jim O’Connor

Blackboard to Canvas Transition

As has been communicated in previous announcements, TUC and TUN will begin to transition from Blackboard to Canvas as the TCUS Learning Management System (LMS).  Blackboard will still be available for instructors to access courses and necessary content information until June 30, 2019.  To help facilitate the transition to Canvas at TUC and TUN, a TWD Transition Task Force (TTF) has been established with Drs. Michael Barbour and Jim O’Connor as co-chairs.

Over the course of the next year, the co-chairs will be responsible for the following general tasks at both TUC and TUN:

  • Dr. Barbour has had significant experience in converting courses from Blackboard to Canvas, as well as in developing the instructional design of courses using both of these LMS’s. He will provide coordination, training support, and general assistance with instructional design. He will also coordinate TWD activities with those of the TCUS transition team.
  • In his dual roles as co-chair of TTF and as TWD Director of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, Dr. O’Connor will work with faculty of TUC and TUN to introduce new pedagogical approaches and the preparation of enhanced learning materials using Canvas as a LMS.
  • The co-chairs and the TTF members will also plan and coordinate training and create timelines for transition activities with college and school Canvas champions on both campuses.

In addition to the TTF, there will be a group of Canvas champions that will be designated in various colleges, schools, and programs at TUC and TUN.  The champions will act as points of contact for their respective units, and will also be responsible for the following:

  • Attending regular Champion meetings via Zoom;
  • Attending a one to two day Canvas training in May/June (dates and times TBD);
  • Assisting faculty with the use of Canvas in their respective programs;
  • Sharing pertinent Canvas related information with faculty, students, and staff in their respective programs; and
  • Reporting any issues and/or challenges regarding Canvas to the transition task force.

The deans will identify individuals to serve as college Canvas champions. During the Summer and Fall semesters, Canvas workshops offered will target outreach to TUC and TUN faculty and students. The transition task force and the local champions will work collaboratively with the TCUS Instructional Technology Canvas team to design, and conduct trainings for both students and faculty.  Workshops/trainings will be offered in the following formats:

  • Synchronous sessions via Zoom and in-person;
  • Self-paced orientation and training courses available in Canvas;
  • Asynchronous exploration of the Canvas community (guides, Live!, and discussions); and
  • Self-paced Touro-created student and faculty guides.

These training opportunities will be announced shortly.

In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact Jim O’Connor ( or Michael Barbour ( directly.

Sarah M. Sweitzer, PhD
Provost, CAO
Touro University California