Spider Web

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why do you teach this course? What is the history of it?
    I have been doing a version of this course for over two decades now. Wow! As you might suspect, I started doing it when I was just 8 years old. I used to teach a course on critical and creative thinking and problem solving at West Virginia University in the early 1990s. When I came to Indiana University in 1992, I started teaching a course on cooperative learning programs and possibilities. I liked teaching these courses but had no time in my schedule for both. Hence, I merged them. Around 1998 or 1999, I added motivational techniques to the beginning of the course to complete the learning environment. In 2006, I added instructional strategies related to online teaching and learning. In 2008, I expanded that further still and the final day of the class now focuses on linking technology and pedagogy. In 2011, I only had Bloomington students and had a blast. In 2012, I am experimenting with adding back in IUPUI and IU East students. We will see how that goes.
  2. Will this course count for teacher recertification?
    Definitely yes!!! Many teachers have taken it for such in the past.
  3. How many credits is this class for?
    3 credits.
  4. Is the course graded or pass-fail?
    I experimented with pass-fail back in the summer of 1997 and found that a traditional grading system works better for students enrolled in master's degree programs. Per IU rules, if I grade one student, I am required to grade them all.
  5. When will the syllabus be available? Just what is required?
    The syllabus is typically completed in early November or December for spring courses. See recent one for details. Typically, students complete two of four optional assignments (e.g., a curriculum brainstorm, a thought paper, a literature search, and/or write a letter to an expert). In addition, students must attend class each day, participate, and create a workshop or curriculum unit based on course materials which they present to the class. A written summary of the workshop is also turned in.
  6. What age levels does this course address? And what about adult learners? Just who should take this class?
    This course addresses all levels of learning and instruction. I have had preschool teachers as well as corporate trainers and instructional designers who claimed that they have benefited. While many examples and videotapes used in the course are K-12 related, my background in industry as a CPA and corporate controller makes me particularly sensitive and interested in adult learning needs as well. Higher education professionals, administrators, and principals are especially encouraged to take this class.
  7. What if I miss class?
    This is a five-hour class. Therefore, students who miss more than one class will definitely see it impact their grade. I am usually flexible for those with a small amount of overlap between classes.
  8. How can you cover so many topics in 8 days? Won't my brain hurt?
    Well class is 5 hours long. Secondly, I intend to make your brain feel like mush during the course and get the dendrites in your heads moving and expanding. But the end of the course, your brain will feel like mush at least once or twice.
  9. What will I learn here?
    There are two roads to learning in this class: (1) the easier low road--finding 5-10 useful techniques for one's instruction; and (2) the tougher high road--rethinking one's instructional paradigm or basic ideas about teaching and learning. Some are ready for the latter before entering the course and this course becomes a useful springboard for them to think about significant philosophical changes. Others simply want strategies and techniques to help with block scheduling or to vary their instruction. That is fine too.
  10. Why are some materials now available on the Web? Can I take the course over the Web?
    Maybe. I am experimented with a Web-based version in the spring of 2009. I recently added some material I use in the course to the Web so that ideas from the course are spread to other teachers and trainers. Students who participate in the course might now be able to help their colleagues and others requesting help at other locations. Hence, while the Web materials were created for convenience, they are now on the Web. For those interested in using technology for teaching, in 2009-2010, I created a series of 27 videos for teaching online that are in my YouTube channel, TravelinEdMan: http://www.youtube.com/TravelinEdMan. It is called the "Video Primers in an Online Repository for e-Teaching and Learning"(V-PORTAL). The V-Portal covers topics for both novice and more expert online instructors and educators. Watch them and learn how to engage learners with Web 2.0 technologies, build instructor presence, prepare highly interactive and relevant online activities, access free and open course resources, plan for the future of e-learning, and much more. Some people might also want to explore my R2D2 book (i.e., "Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Activities for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing") which came out in 2008 with Jossey-Bass (see: http://www.trainingshare.com/courseWeb/book.php). In the summer of 2012, I began writing a follow-up book with 100 activities for online motivation and retention using my TEC-VARIETY model. If interested, write to me for more information on that.
  11. Where do I get the books? Which are required?
    I recommend you buy books on Amazon or at Half.com. I normally require the "Creativity is Forever" book by Gary Davis as well as one or two books (see recent syllabus for more details).
  12. What about other required materials?
    Yes, there is another set of course handouts that I require everyone to buy. It is called the Best of Bonk (BOB) course packet. For the live class, I will bring packets to Bloomington and Indianapolis if that is a remote site and send them to other sites as needed. Students make their own copies. For remote or distance students, I will have to work out some kind of traveling packet. Not sure yet.
  13. How does the course work when using videoconferencing?
    I have used videoconferencing with this course since around the summer of 1996 and have often taught it without videoconferencing. Course evaluations are typically extremely high in either format. Face-to-face is often preferred, but remote sites evaluations indicate that students think it goes very well for them too. There are just a lot of pedagogical ideas here and you can learn something no matter where you are.
  14. Why doesn't IU teach more such practical courses for teachers and instructional designers?
    We are working on it.
  15. Will this class count toward a minor in IST? Will it count toward a master's or doctoral program?
    Yes, it can be part of a minor or graduate program. It might also count in educational psychology as I used to be housed there. Check with your advisor.
  16. Can I use material from this course for a qualifying examination question before I am accepted as a doctoral candidate?
    Yes, you can use the material, and are encouraged to do so, but I would not structure qualifying examination questions around basics of what a strategy is or how to use it. Perhaps some deep level philosophical questions could arise from this course.

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