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Articles: Teaching & Learning

English: 399-101: Trauma Narratives

Shenandoah University (Va.)

Taught by Michelle Brown, assistant professor of English in world literatures

Several universities, spurred by student groups, are considering adding trigger warnings to course material that some students may find disturbing.

We’ve all seen the familiar warning preceding TV shows: “The following program contains material that may be disturbing.Viewer discretion is advised.” Online, the term “trigger warning” is a common notation on women’s blogs and forums to alert readers, particularly victims of sexual abuse, of content they might want to avoid.

Now several universities, spurred by student groups, are considering adding trigger warnings to course material that some students may find disturbing. That may include references to rape and violence as well as racism.

A Beginner’s Guide to World Domination

Alfred University (N.Y.)

Taught to honors program undergrads by Associate Professor of Psychology Danielle Gagne and Associate Professor of Astronomy David DeGraff, who jointly came up with the idea of a class about supervillains when discussing re-running a class called “The Science and Psychology of Superheroes”

Small schools led in SIS purchases, but mid-tier schools were more active in 2013.

A potentially positive higher ed economic indicator is that more institutions purchased student information systems in 2013 than had done so in any year since 2008, according to a recent market analysis by The Tambellini Group.

Two of the main reasons given for the 195 purchases were the need to update outdated software and to replace homegrown systems.

In March, Excelsior College launched its new Online Writing Lab or OWL , a comprehensive, media-rich, open-source resource designed for students making the transition to college-level writing. Developed with funding from the Kresge Foundation, this free, publicly available OWL uses extensive multimedia and gaming activities to help reinforce important writing concepts and skills, and provide students with a warm, engaging online environment in which to learn.

Online labs require fewer instructors, and can even be taught by teacher assistants. (Photo: eScience Labs)

Budget crunches and crowded courses are two reasons online science labs are becoming more popular in higher ed. Some online labs require little or no equipment, and take up no space on campus.

Students learning to investigate aircraft accidents can sift through the debris of simulated crashes on eight acres of land at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s campus in Prescott, Ariz.

Last month, the institution, which has 150 locations around the world, launched a virtual version of the lab. While not meant to replace the real-life lab, it may offer remote students a more extensive experience of simulated accidents, its designers say.

Brad Marcum, the Director of Academic Data Services at the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine

The healthcare industry is in flux. As more Americans acquire insurance, providers are moving towards an integrated care model with doctors, nurses, and social workers, working in coordinated teams. “Traditionally, all the different professionals in healthcare have been stuck in their own silos. But this is changing,” says Brad Marcum, the Director of Academic Data Services at the University of Pikeville (UPike)-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM).

Rob Peregoodoff, director of learning services at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business

The blended classroom is no longer the exception, with the majority of universities integrating online learning into nearly every department. Despite the whirlwind innovations in online pedagogy, there has been a much slower race to online assessment. But the schools integrating web testing into their curriculums are reaping benefits campuswide

A bookstore renovation gave officials the chance to reimagine how  technical support is provided to students and make changes for the better.

Tech support is rarely fun—even, apparently, if it’s a lot closer than an overseas call center. Despite 24/7 help desk availability and in-person technical consulting, Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD) staff at the University of Pittsburgh believed their services were being underutilized by the main campus’ 26,000-plus students.

REL 397D: From Revelation to “The Walking Dead”: Apocalypse Then and Now

Central Michigan University

Taught by Kelly Murphy, a philosophy and religion faculty member

Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, "Fun Home," was assigned at The College of Charleston.

Two South Carolina public institutions are at risk of losing nearly $70,000 in state funding after books with LGBT themes were assigned to freshmen last fall.

For 2013-14, The College of Charleston provided 2,000 freshmen with the graphic novel Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel. It details the relationship of the author and her closeted-gay father, and her own personal coming-out as a lesbian, says Christopher Korey, biology professor and director of the college’s summer reading program. The book wasn’t required reading, but was part of the discussion at campus events.

Ed Rock, Senior Advisor to the President and Provost, and Director of Open Course Initiatives, University of Pennsylvania Law School

University of Pennsylvania was one of Coursera’s first four partners, having started its open course initiative in April 2012. Today, it offers 25 courses from 10 of its 12 schools, and has logged 1.9 million enrollments.

Brian Klaas, senior web systems designer at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The flipped classroom is a hot topic; faculty are excited to hear more about the model. But, after all the buzz, many are still confused on how to proceed with the flip.

Kelly Walsh, CIO, College of Westchester

Traditional in-class activities are made available online and assigned as homework, freeing up class time for more individualized learning, group work and workshopping concepts.