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MDC's Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning: Best Practices

Top Picks

1. How Generations X, Y, and Z May Change the Academic Workplace (2017, The Chronicle)

2. The Chronicle's Best Ideas for Teaching(2017)

3. Creative Syllabi (8-27-12) - Prof Hacker

  • Examples of interesting ways faculty present syllabi to students.

4. Teaching Tips: Mastering The Boring Basics(4.17.17)

5. 5 Ways To Shake Up the Lecture (12.4.16)

  • Flipped Class
  • Scale-Up
  • Small-group Exercises
  • Teaching Assistants
  • The Personal Touch

Teaching Online

glasses on laptop

1. Pushing Through the Perils of Teaching Online (8-27-12) - Prof Hacker

  • The guest blogger Doug Ward explains why his first foray into online-only teaching didn't work out so well and offers some practical strategies for success.

2. Teaching Tips For a UDL Friendly Classroom (12.13.16)

4. Handbook of Emerging Technologies for Learning (Siemens + Tittenberger, 2009)

5. "3 Tips for Handling Discussions in Online Courses" (ProfHacker, 2015)

6. "7 Things You Should Know About Navigating the New Learning Ecosystem" (Educause)

7. Student Success Strategies (Blended learning Toolkit)

8. Difficult Online Students (Inside Higher Ed)

9. "Case Study: Tips for Blending Your Course" (Karen Teeley)

10. "How Student Video Presentations Can Build Community in an Online Course" (The Chronicle)

11. Blended Learning (Knewton Infographic)

12. Hybrid (Blended) Pedagogy

13. The College of 2020 (Chronicle)

14. What Is a MOOC?

15. ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology (2013)

16. "Lessons About Online Learning" (Inside Higher Ed, 2016)

17. "The Trouble With Online College" (NYTimes, 2013)

18. "Keeping an Eye on Online Test-Takers" (NYTimes, 2013)

19. "Online Education May Make Top Colleges More Elite, Speakers Say" (Chronicle)

20. "Walk Deliberately, Don't Run, Toward Online Education" (Chronicle)



Describing Visual Resources Toolkit

The description of visual resources is a crucial component of accessible digital publications, as it affords access to the information contained in images for the many people with disabilities that affect reading, and for all the technologies that interact with publications when indexing, searching, or converting text to speech. Description makes visual resources more discoverable and sustainable, and makes publications more useful to more people.

In academic publications in the arts and humanities, description must be scholarly as well as accessible, and in line with existing standards: metadata, copyright, and disciplinary conventions. It is therefore best managed by the scholars, academic publishers, and arts organizations who create the publications.

The resources in this toolkit are designed to support authors, editors, publishers, and arts organizations in advancing the description of visual resources for accessibility in arts and humanities publications.

Digital Storytelling

Close-up colored keyboard

"Digital storytelling at its most basic core is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories . . . [revolves] around the idea of combining the art of telling stories with a variety of multimedia, including graphics, audio, video, and Web publishing." - University of Houston, TX.

1. Digital Storytelling (Creative Educator)

2. "What is Digital Storytelling?" (University of Houston)

3. "Teacher's Guide to Digital Storytelling" (Edudemic, 2014)

4. "7 Things You Should Know About Digital Storytelling" (Educause)

5. "The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling" (2006)

Learning Objects

Learning Objects

  • represent a new way of thinking about learning content.
  • much smaller units of learning – self contained, reusable, and web-based.

Learning Objects do not take the place of teachers or textbooks. Rather, they are supplemental content designed to appeal to a variety of learning styles and provide students additional opportunities to learn.

Since LOs are small, self-contained, independent chunks of knowledge, they can be re-used by others in multiple contexts for multiple purposes and presented as components of instruction or as reference information.

They should be based on a clear instructional strategy – intended to cause learning through internal processing and/or action.

The best Learning Objects are interactive, requiring students to view, listen to, respond to or interact with the content in some way.

LOs are often aggregated, collected, and grouped into larger collections of content for broad dissemination. Some subjects, such as science, have hundreds of LOs available. There are very few in the area of the arts.

Youtube FNDT LOs IconBasic Skills LOs Logo Youtube

Learning Objects by Otis College Faculty

Faculty have created various learning objects that may help you with your projects. All of these videos are also available on the Otis College Channel on YouTube.

General Tips about effective Teaching

desk with an apple

1. Characteristics of Effective Teachers(Stanford Commons)

2. Essential Aspects of Effective Teaching(Stanford Commons)

3. Learning Theory (Crash Course)

4. Chickering + Gamson - The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education

  • Encourage contact between students and faculty.
  • Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students.
  • Encourage active learning.
  • Give prompt feedback.
  • Emphasize time on task.
  • Communicate high expectations.
  • Respect diverse talents and ways of learning.

5. MERLOT Pedagogy Resources

6. The Teaching Professor Blog

7. Nudges, the Learning Economy, and a New Three Rs: Relationships, Resilience, and Reflection

The Flipped Classroom


"The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. The notion of a flipped classroom draws on such concepts as active learning, student engagement, hybrid course design, and course podcasting. The value of a flipped class is in the repurposing of class time into a workshop where students can inquire about lecture content, test their skills in applying knowledge, and interact with one another in hands-on activities" (Educause).

1. "Flipped Classroom" (Knewton, Infographic)

2. "Flipping the Art Classroom" (Tech In Education Wiki)

3. "Resistance to the inverted classroom can show up anywhere" (The Chronicle, 2012)

4. "Toward a common definition of “flipped learning” " (The Chronicle, 2014)

5. "7 Things You Should Know About Flipped Classrooms" (Educause)

6. "The biggest lesson from the flipped classroom may not be about math" (The Chronicle)

7. "Creating learning objectives, flipped classroom style" (The Chronicle)

8. International Trends and Techniques Used to Teach Studio Art Courses Through Distance Education (East Carolina University)

9. More on the Flipped Classroom (Educause)

10. "Microflipping: a Modest Twist on the 'Flipped' Classroom"

Competency Based Learning

assortment of desk supplies

The competency-based learning (CBL) is similar to problem-based learning, but with CBL, students formulate the challenges they will address. Through a process of discussion and research, students identify a selection of questions that might be workable for their project, work on solutions, and publish those solutions online. In this way, CBL provides the satisfaction that comes from figuring out both the issue to be tackled and the solution to it, even though CBL requires a heavier time commitment than more traditional academic activities. Students gain meaningful skills through these projects, including how to share work, collaborate, organize, and express themselves more effectively.

More on CBL (Educause).

Educational Technology

Considering exploring the world of educational applications for mobile devices. Turn the phone or tablet into a learning tool as opposed to a possible classroom distraction.

1. "Resources related to tablets and iPads in the classroom" (Educause)

2. "iPad Classroom: Apps for Educators" (

3. iTunes App Store

4. "Best Apps for Teaching & Learning 2013" (American Association of School Librarians)

5. "The 70 Best Apps For Teachers And Students" (Edudemic)

6. "Turning Education Upside Down" (NY Times, 2013)

7.  "Creativity on the Run: 18 Apps that Support the Creative Process" (Edutopia, 2013)