Third Annual Instructional Innovation Conference

Here are the abstracts and presentations from the Third Annual Instructional Innovation Conference, held on March 25, 2011.

Engaging Students

An Exercise in Movement and Music, Helena Binder (CFA)

As an acting teacher I regularly call upon students to make their action on stage as real as possible while becoming relaxed and focused, abandoning self-awareness and criticism.  Opera singers have a unique set of circumstances as music is always accompanying their on-stage reality.  Using recordings of famous compositions, students were given a specific activity upon which to build a scene to the music assigned, allowing the music to inform their actions but not dictate them.  The results were illuminating to the individuals and to the class as a whole.

An Innovative Student Project Conceived as Part of a Natural Sciences Course, Andy Andres & Peter Busher (CGS)

Our Natural Sciences program at the College of General Studies encourages students to further their understanding of nature and the process of science by becoming active participants in investigating and developing scientific explanations for our world.  This is both an exciting opportunity and a challenge since the courses are required and the majority of students are non-science majors.

Our fall semester course was designed to examine a major contemporary paradigm, human genetics and the Human Genome Project (HGP).  During the semester the students explored what is known about human genetics and the HGP, how we acquired our current knowledge, and most importantly how we apply this knowledge.  As a primary component of the course we designed a project that enhanced student learning and encouraged students to function as scientists.  This project required students to use cutting edge HGP tools and databases designed to help geneticists keep track of current results from HGP research.  Students used these databases to investigate specific genes and their polymorphisms.  Based on their database research, students then isolated, purified, amplified, and sequenced their own DNA to measure their own genetic polymorphisms.  The culmination of the project was a scientific poster session during which they communicated to faculty, staff, administrators and peers what they learned. Students demonstrated knowledge acquisition through the sophistication and quality of the posters.  The poster session was an extraordinary learning outcome because the students were not science majors.  Students used ePortfolios to reflect on their learning and from this it was clear the students enjoyed the project and they learned much about science, genetics and the HGP.

An Innovative Student Project Conceived as Part of a Natural Sciences Course

Helping Students Understand Complex Social Problems: the “Is It Corruption?” Exercise, Taryn Vian (SPH)

How people understand socially-defined problems depends on history, power relationships, social norms and beliefs. To begin addressing these complex problems, students first need to learn to see issues in context. This presentation introduces an exercise which can help students appreciate how social and contextual factors affect perceptions of one such social problem—corruption—through the analysis and discussion of short scenarios. Workshop participants will have a chance to engage in this active learning exercise which uses inductive reasoning and does not require prior exposure to theory or practice. The exercise can be used in social science or humanities courses to introduce many types of problems or concepts which are socially defined or controversial.

Helping Students Understand Complex Social Problems

Handout – Is It Corruption?

Teaching Through Unexpected (and Sometimes Painful) Experiences, Moshe Cohen (SMG)

We teach our students many things – theories, models, facts, skills, and ways of thinking. When looking to teach students how to think differently than they have in the past or how to develop new skills, it is often helpful to surprise them with unexpected challenges or have them engage in experiences that take them way outside their comfort zones. To this end, I conduct exercises that look like they are meant for one skill area but in reality challenge a different skill area altogether, use common, conventional cases in unusual ways, and create activities that force students to work through their discomfort into stronger capabilities. The result is a breathtaking combination of insights, skills, and energy in the classroom. In this session, I will demonstrate and provide examples of teaching through unexpected and sometimes painful experiences and show how you can apply these methods to different areas of study.

Teaching Through Unexpected (and Sometimes Painful) Experiences


The DNA Bead String Exercise, Anita DeStefano (SPH)

The “DNA bead string” exercise was developed to provide a hands-on classroom experience that would introduce or reinforce topics in human genetics.  The sequence of the beads is carefully designed to present biological phenomenon observed in human DNA sequences. Students work in pairs to complete the exercise, choosing partners based on the color of the string. The two bead strings represent the chromosome pair possessed by an individual.  The students then characterize their individual string based on the genetic landmarks. This provides information similar to that obtained from DNA samples in the laboratory by various genotyping techniques and enables students to “visualize” genetic variability while providing concrete examples of genetic terms. The students then aggregate their data across the class, enabling them to assess association between the genetic variants and disease status and among genetic variants.  Aggregating the data provides an opportunity to introduce concepts in population genetics and applications of statistical testing to genetic data. This way representing DNA is an innovative way to present complex genetic concepts using concrete examples, while engaging the students in a hands-on exercise requiring interaction with their partners and the instructor.

The DNA Bead String Exercise

Learning Pedagogical Lessons from Video Games, Nicholas DiDonato (STH)

Video games: the nemesis of the classroom. Video games compete with teachers for students’ attention. What can be done? Rather than loathing video games, teachers can learn pedagogical lessons from them. Specifically, well-designed video games successfully immerse their players in their game world. Likewise, well-designed syllabi will immerse their students in their teacher’s world. Pedagogy can glean insights from game design theory in terms of immersion, that is, the captivating of players in the world of the game. Three game design principles important for teachers are scripting, rewarding gameplay, and replayability. When applied pedagogically, scripting would empower students to customize the syllabus, rewarding gameplay would incentivize students to complete tedious assignments with in-class rewards, and replayability would aim to build deep enough syllabi such that students could benefit from taking the class more than once. The depth achieved by replayability means maximizing the chances of piquing latent student interest.

Moving Families Toward Economic Independence, Emily Feinberg & Sara Donahue (SPH)

The Moving Families Toward Economic Independence activity is an in-class exercise in which students simulate the experience of a low income family in Boston. The goal of the simulation is for students to gain a concrete understanding of realities that low-income families confront, including what it takes to access public programs and the frustration of enrolling in such programs. Through a series of hands-on activities, students learn about the meaning of poverty as measured by the Federal Poverty Level, and its relationship to income adequacy and economic self-sufficiency. The exercise also explores the impact of participation in public programs in families’ efforts to attain economic independence. The activity can be used with students with a range of experience, from undergraduates in introductory sociology and public policy classes to graduate students in medicine, public health, and social work.

Moving Families Toward Economic Independence

Jeopardy Research, Serena Rajabiun (SSW/SPH), Sheila Phicil & Carol Tobias (SPH)

Jeopardy Research is a PowerPoint presentation adapted from the popular television game show “Jeopardy” and used as a summary exercise to review essential concepts in a research methodology course. The goal of this interactive exercise is to foster a collaborative process for students in the spirit of competition and to review and strengthen the knowledge of key concepts. The exercise is about 60 minutes. The exercise was used in a graduate course on research methods for students in the School of Social Work with a class size of 10-25 students.  The major objectives of the activity are 1) to review key concepts of the course; 2) to identify potential areas for strengthening knowledge of concepts; and 3) to create a memorable and enjoyable interactive learning experience. This exercise could be applied to any course as review.  Other instructors could change the knowledge categories to match their course syllabus.

Course Design

Physics RULE: Active Pre-Learning for 1000 Students, Andrew Duffy, Lee Roberts, Bennett Goldberg & Manher Jariwala (CAS)

In CAS Physics, we are continually exploring and testing new and innovative methods and technologies that actively engage students in the learning process. Most recently, as part of our RULE initiative, we have been developing and refining the use of online prelectures and checkpoint quizzes that students must complete prior to attending lecture. In this innovative pedagogical method, instructors as well as students are more engaged in the learning process, since instructors can refocus their lectures by reviewing both individual and aggregate quiz responses “just-in-time” before class. We describe different means of implementing this strategy in both our PY105/106 and PY211/212 introductory physics sequences, and discuss the response of and benefits to our students. We also describe the dissemination of these methods to other faculty in our department and note the ready applications to other disciplines across campus.

Physics RULE: Active Pre-Learning for 1000 Students

Innovative Instructional Practices in Design, Implementation and Execution of Blended Programs, Vijay Kanabar, Leo Burstein, Lou Chitkushev & Tanya Zlateva (MET)

A blended paradigm for teaching courses allows us to leverage the best of both face-to-face teaching and online education. In this presentation we present our experience and answer questions such as:

Strategic: What is blended education? What are the advantages of blended courses? What is our experience here?  How can we package a curriculum and how can we offer an innovative graduate certificate?

Design: What tools and technology are used in implementing blended education? What techniques must be used to enhance student understanding of course material and engage students during both face-to-face sessions and distance sessions?   How do we implement a continuous learning experience model for blended programs?

Execution: How should a professor teach a blended course?   What tools can students use to communicate with each other and with the professor during the course? What tools can students use as a shared repository for term projects? What are the critical success factors for successful execution of a blended course?

Innovative Instructional Practices in Design, Implementation and Execution of Blended Programs

A Blended Approach to Develop Hierarchical Thinking, Wayne LaMorte (SPH)

SPH EP711 “Introduction to Epidemiology” is a core course for MPH students and undergraduates in the Public Health Minor. The course was modified to progressively develop increasingly complex analytical skills through a blend of didactic and active learning exercises in the classroom.  An easy-to-use series of analytical tools was developed for the course using Excel. In-class active learning exercises with feedback were interspersed within didactic presentations and short demonstrations of the use of the analytical tools and their applicability to the exercises. Students were given access to a Flash video, recorded by the instructor using Camtasia® software that demonstrated analytical strategies and the stepwise use of the analytical tools. Ultimately, each student completed assignments which required analysis of large raw data sets using the skills that had been developed in the course.  All 120 students successfully mastered the raw data analyses.

Discussion Boards

Using an Online Forum and Blog to Incorporate Real World Issues into a Business Law Course, Kabrina Chang (SMG)

In my Introduction to Business Law and Employment Law courses, I have implemented an online blog/discussion forum into the class participation requirement.  The purpose of the blog is to help incorporate real word legal and business issues into our class discussion, and to help students understand that the topics we discuss in class are confronted by businesses every day.  Using the forum also gives students alternative to in-class participation.  In the forum, I can post almost anything I think is important and that will be the basis of the blog for that day.  I also pose several discussion questions that must be addressed in the blog postings, to guide the discussions.

By using our course management open source platform, SMGtools, I create a “forum” which is the discussion topic.  A forum can also be created using Blackboard and WebCT.  The SMGtools “forum” function allows students to thread their comments; therefore, they can respond directly to another student’s post and the conversation will be threaded together.

The blog can be used by any level of student; the more advanced the class, the more sophisticated and in-depth the postings. Equally important, anyone can incorporate a forum into their class for any topic.  The posts by faculty can be in a variety of formats: word documents, PDFs, video, URLs, and more, which means the possibilities for engaging students is endless.

Using an Online Forum and Blog to Incorporate Real World Issues into a Business Law Course

Using Blackboard Discussion Board in HC Communication Course, Teresa Cheng, Thomas Barber, Julie Crosson & Suzanne Sarfaty (MED)

In Academic Year 2010, we initiated the use of Boston University Blackboard 8 with Discussion Board in a course on health care communication within the School of Medicine Ambulatory Medicine Clerkship. With the decline of infectious diseases and the successes of modern medicine and public health, physicians are increasingly caring for a range of conditions such as diabetes or hypertension that may be prevented or ameliorated through health behavior change, that is, actions patients can take to improve their health.  Motivational Interviewing (MI) has developed prominence as an approach to health behavior change counseling. However, healthcare professionals tend to under appreciate the challenges of these changes in the context of a patient’s life.  During MI role play sessions, medical students are work on a health behavior change they are thinking of taking on for a week.  They are asked to post reflections on their experience on Blackboard Discussion Board twice during the week. Postings are grouped into threads that contain a main posting heading and all related replies. Fellow students are pre-assigned in class to read and respond to their small group members.

Our goals in designing the curriculum also included maximizing direct teaching time and effective use of senior physicians with advanced communication skills.  We used Blackboard to post assigned readings and view demonstration videos on MI technique prior to the workshop session in order to take advantage of the classroom time to focus on clarification of concepts, discuss contrasting view points and finally allow extended time to practice role playing. This curriculum has been in place since July 2010 with monthly groups of about 15 students and overall response has been positive.

In summary, our innovations for the workshop include the employment of the previously underutilized resource of Blackboard in clinical medicine rotations, use of experiential learning as a way of enhancing reflection on the challenges of behavior change, and the use of Discussion board as a vehicle for sharing of reflections.

Using Blackboard Discussion Board in HC Communication Course

An Online Strategy to Translate Basic Concepts into Real World Applications, Jean Maguire van Seventer (SPH) & Eldon Strickland (ODE)

We describe an innovative instructional strategy that we introduced in teaching the online course, CM752, The Biology of Disease, within the BU Online Master of Science in the Health Communication program.  The purpose of this course is to provide students with a foundation in biological mechanisms underlying health and disease.  The strategy we used provided students with a unique opportunity to appreciate the clinical relevance of basic physiology and pathology concepts they were learning in class. Using the online classroom (supported by WIMBA web conferencing software) students engaged with physicians whom had both clinical expertise and research experience in areas directly related to the lecture material they were studying that week.  Prior to meeting with each physician, students were assigned discussion questions that required them to apply what they were learning in class lecture in order to understand disease issues that would be discussed by that week’s guest.

As an example, during a week of class that was focused on studying gene expression and genetic diseases, the week’s discussion guest was a physician running a clinical trial using gene therapy to treat children afflicted by a form of hereditary blindness.  The discussion board for that week gave a background of the trial, included directed readings, and then presented questions, one scientific and a second ethical, related to the trial.

Students’ responses to each of the guest physicians were extremely positive.  Moreover, the discussions appeared to motivate students as they realized the more completely they mastered the week’s lecture material, the more they would get out of their online experience with the discussion guest. From an instructor’s perspective, the online discussions with guest speakers supported didactic class lectures by demonstrating the application of material under study and giving students a true appreciation of the clinical medical significance of that material.

An Online Strategy to Translate Basic Concepts into Real World Applications

Learning in the Real World

The PAIRS Program: Pairing Medical Students with Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Patients, Angela Jefferson & Nicole Cantwell (MED)

The PAIRS Program: Pairing Medical Students with Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Patients

Expanding the Ivory Tower: Creating Educational Partnerships for Global Health, James Wolff & Montia Baba Djara (SPH)

A frequent complaint of master’s degree global public health students is the lack of connection between coursework and the real problems of the workplace. This presentation describes an innovative strategy for providing real world public health experience in a classroom setting. For our program design course, we worked with an international NGO partner to develop course consultant teams. Each team chose a specific region and public health challenge in line with our partner’s mission. Consultant teams designed and presented to our partner organization a public health program to address this challenge. Our partnership helped achieve several major educational objectives; real world application of academics, learning how to translate evidenced based results into action, learning essential elements of program design and proposal development, building team skills and learning from others, and building student confidence. Forming an educational-practice partnership allowed us to more than achieve our goals and objectives for the course and was useful in growing the practice portfolio of our organizational partner.

Expanding the Ivory Tower: Creating Educational Partnerships for Global Health

Using Exciting Educational Principles to Create a Multidimensional/Multiformat Teaching Experience, James Meisel & Daniel Chen (MED)

Utilizing adult learning principles, Heath and Heath’s “SUCCES” framework, and a multidimensional/multiformat approach to implementation, The Boston University School of Medicine Evans Student Educator Third Year Medicine clerkship director group created a seminar to help students learn bedside cardiac assessment skills.

By making explicit the underpinnings of this approach, we think it may be applied in multiple other settings, particularly to those that involve teaching knowledge or the practical application of skills.

Using Exciting Educational Principles to Create a Multidimensional/Multiformat Teaching Experience

In-Class Exercises to Teach Legal Research Skills, Stefanie Weigmann & Stephen Donweber (LAW)

Teaching basic legal research skills to first year law students is a challenging task, because legal research is very dry yet quite complex.  Divorced from an actual research context, students often find the details of where information is located overwhelming.  With a combination of hands-on print exercises linked to a Google Docs form and online student exercises following an instructor demonstration, the librarians at the Pappas Law Library developed a series of problem-based classes that successfully address this challenge.  The classes are designed to engage the students while at the same time demonstrating research methods and the structure of the various sources commonly used for legal research.  The class pages use various technologies to help engage the students, provide an outline for the class and provide opportunities for review.  Student satisfaction with the classes improved dramatically as a result of these instructional innovations.

Kinematics of Billiards: Draw, Follow and Massé Shots, Sidney Redner (CAS)

Some basic features of Newtonian mechanics are illustrated in a setting familiar to every young adult -the pool hall. The pool hall provides an ideal venue to demonstrate rolling motion, as well some pool-hall skills, including the follow shot, the draw shot, and the English shot. A more advanced and particularly appealing example is the Massé shot, in which the cue ball moves in a parabolic trajectory after being struck by the cue. This phenomenon is controlled by the same forces as a projectile that is thrown into the air at some angle. Our underlying purpose is to exploit real-life examples to deepen students’ understanding in a manner that is fun, yet substantive and thought-provoking.

Team Learning Application

Variations on the Case Study: Engaging and Enabling Students in Active Learning, Deborah Breen (CAS)

Case studies, commonly used in business, law, and medicine, are a well-known teaching tool that presents students with scenarios that require interpretation and close analysis. Typically, experts create the case study which is then presented to students as a fully developed scenario that includes documents and questions. My variation on this traditional approach is to enable students to collaboratively research, write, and present a case study to the class. In my presentation I will discuss how students construct their case studies and highlight how this approach deepens skills in various ways, from identifying and evaluating sources, to constructing research questions and writing collaboratively. The student group must manage not only the intellectual content of their material but also the logistics and dynamics of group work.

Variations on the Case Study: Engaging and Enabling Students in Active Learning

A Telescope of Two Cities: Flagstaff & Boston (One NSF REU Supplement’s Impact on 90 Students and a Dean), Dan Clemens (CAS)

Conducting research trumps reading about research findings, and exposes students to methods, tools, and approaches that are difficult to convey in lecture courses. But, how can research involve even more than a handful of students in a large, non-major lecture course? The fall 2010 Astronomy 102 (“The Astronomical Universe”) offering became a test bed for one attempt to answer this question. Key components were a field trip to the Perkins telescope in Flagstaff, AZ for 12 students (and a dean), live video links between Boston and the students at the telescope, small group projects, group presentations to the entire class, and funding by the National Science Foundation.

From Introductory Statistics to Real-Life Projects: Can We Prepare Our Students?, Natallia Katenka (CAS)

In effort to make an introductory statistical course more interesting and effective, and in order to provide students with useful lifetime experience, I developed and incorporated a group project activity as a part of the curriculum. Through the group project activity, students took a part in the full statistical process – starting with choosing a topic of interest, followed by forming a statistical hypothesis, designing a study, collecting and analyzing their own data, and finishing by preparing a written report and presenting the results to the audience.  Designing and monitoring each step of each project helped me to establish a closer teacher-student link over the semester.  For many students this experience served as an initial step toward their ability to think analytically in terms of real-life problems, to understand and communicate clearly about statistical concepts, and to collect and analyze real data.

The novelty of this work is in organization and conductance of a full statistical process in an introductory class that instructors in statistics or related fields may be interested in utilizing in future.

From Introductory Statistics to Real-Life Projects: Can We Prepare Our Students?

Using Team-Based Learning in a Gross Human Anatomy Course, Judith Schotland (SAR)

Gross human anatomy is typically taught as a combination of lecture and lab sessions to students who are mainly undergraduate upperclassmen and graduate students in the health professions, including medical students.  It is well established that lectures are not a very effective method for students to learn a subject.  For example, students are only able to focus on a lecture for approximately 12-15 minutes and only about 20-40% of a lectures’ content is accurately secured in their notes.  Most alternatives involve some form of active learning, e.g., problem-based learning, peer teaching, methods that impart immediate feedback, etc.

Team-based learning (TBL), an alternative that has been shown to improve student engagement and critical thinking, may be particularly useful for future healthcare professionals who will be learning and working in teams and via case studies in many parts of their professional training.  However, the usefulness of TBL is not limited to healthcare classes.  Engagement and critical thinking have been enhanced by employing TBL in many other courses, including applications programming, chemistry, education, history, information theory, literature, and psychology.

In general, TBL involves a structured sequence of activities that requires active participation both by the individual members of a team and by the team itself.  However, there are numerous variations on the components that constitute a TBL session.  This year, a TBL activity replaced the normal lecture, “Overview of the Nervous System and Spinal Cord.”  I chose to use TBL to replace this lecture because it occurs very early in the course.  In the past I occasionally have a student who fails miserably on the first exam or two before turning a corner and performing very well from then on.  My interpretation has always been that they have “learned to learn” the course material. These students in particular may benefit from the transparency of thought processes and the immediate feedback inherent in the TBL experience.

Choosing whether or not to grade a TBL activity is up to the professor.  To increase motivation for studying and doing well, I chose to have this TBL activity count toward their grades, replacing the 5% of their grade that would normally be part of the first midterm exam.

Feedback following the TBL activity was overwhelmingly positive.

Using Team-Based Learning in a Gross Human Anatomy Course

Using Technology to Innovate in the Classroom

Mind Maps as a Teaching Tool, Adnan Onart (MET)

In my course HI 480 Panorama of Islamic Ideas: Faith, Reason and Ideology, I have been using a Mind Map application within the classroom to overcome some of the shortcomings of PowerPoint as a teaching tool. With this new approach, I wanted the students to have the complete context of the material continuously in front of their eyes rather than a 5-6 bullet summary. I believe that non-linear flow of the presentation reflects the natural flow of the discussion better. More importantly, I believe PowerPoint constitutes a danger for freezing ideas with its most often over-polished style; it operates generally in the context of formal presentation. My desire has always been to approach the students with my ideas in formation, that is, in the context of discovery.  It goes without saying, many of these objectives can be achieved by careful usage of PowerPoint, but there is an ease in accomplishing these goals with a Mind Map application because the design points of such tools are geared toward brainstorming rather than summarizing.

In this presentation, I will formulate some of the most severe objections waged against PowerPoint; I will provide a quick overview of the Mind Map techniques and after listing many readily available public domain or free applications and I will give a short demo of the tool I have been using: XMind. A discussion of further potential and future developments will conclude the talk.

Mind Maps as a Teaching Tool

Using ePortfolios to Document, Present, and Assess Public Health Competencies and Skills Learned in the Classroom, James Wolff & Monita Baba Djara (SPH)

A digital portfolio can be a powerful tool for reflecting on the learning experience in the classroom, documenting the competencies and skills acquired during a course, making learning visible by creating a permanent record of classroom activities, and assessing the progress and competence of students. In this presentation we will describe how we have used digital portfolios (ePortfolio from in three different courses. We will discuss how to overcome barriers to the use of ePortfolios in the classroom and offer suggestions for integrating ePortfolios into a course curriculum.

Using ePortfolios to Document, Present, and Assess Public Health Competencies and Skills Learned in the Classroom

Handout – ePortfolio

London Calling: Bring a course text “alive” via Skype!, Sophie Godley (SPH)

Safer Sex in the City is a graduate-level School of Public Health class open to all students, including undergraduates.  During the fall 2010 semester required reading for the course included The Wisdom of Whores by Dr. Elizabeth Pisani ( New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2008).  The Wisdom of Whores is a controversial text about the state of HIV/AIDS both domestically and internationally. Pisani, an epidemiologist, has done research and worked as an advisor across the world. Pisani’s book is provocative, and pushes students to examine their own assumptions about human sexuality and HIV/AIDS.  On December 8, 2010 we held a one-hour live video conference call with Dr. Pisani from her home in London via Skype. Students were able to ask Dr. Pisani questions (prepared ahead of time) about the text, her current work, and issues and themes from the book. In addition, Dr. Pisani asked the students questions which engaged them in scholarly inquiry.  Setting up the Skype call with Dr. Pisani was very easy and free, and greatly enriched the classroom experience.

London Calling: Bring a Course Text “Alive” via Skype!

Storing Student Projects in a Web-searchable Database to Facilitate Progressive Knowledge Building, David Whittier & Eisara Supavai (SED)

The educational media and technology (EM&T) knowledge building community (KBC) is a web-based database innovation that promotes students’ critical thinking skills and knowledge creation. The EM&T KBC provides an interface to a database of student projects.  By providing flexible opportunities for naming the fields in the database, the professor can facilitate student searching of previous student’s projects in the database.  This means that instead of starting from scratch each semester, students are challenged with studying previous student projects and then refining, updating, expanding, or otherwise improving upon them.  This sets the educational model as one of progressive knowledge-building rather than resetting the clock to zero each semester. This can change the discourse that professors are able to have with their students to be in the manner of improvements in science.  The presentation will describe the instructional approach and a prototype online technology—EM&T KBC—designed to support this pedagogy.

Storing Student Projects in a Web-searchable Database to Facilitate Progressive Knowledge Building

Lights! Camera! Action! Students Film Commercials in Business English Class, Eileen Kramer, Linda Wilkins & Lisa Pontoppidan (CELOP)

Working together to create a video project is an exciting way for students to learn important content while practicing skills essential for their future. This method has proven to motivate and engage students in a number of our classes at CELOP, including the Business Communications elective. In addition to traditional methods of teaching marketing, which rely on textbooks for stimulating discussions of products and principles, vocabulary acquisition, and testing, language learning begs for more interactive involvement. In our classes, students experience product development in project teams that design blue-sky products, which are innovative ideas that change the way people work, think, and live. As part of the marketing module, our students learn to promote their products by scripting, filming, editing, and presenting commercials.

Lights! Camera! Action! Students Film Commercials in Business English Class

Use of Online Spaced Education to Reinforce Learning, Kitt Shaffer (MED)

The spacing effect is a phenomenon by which repetition of information enhances retention.  The testing effect indicates that material which is tested is retained better than other information.  An innovative website ( makes use of both of these effects and is freely available for design of online educational courses.  This site was used to develop a two-part course on CT Anatomy of the Chest for radiology residents that has received high ratings from participants.  Research by the designer of the site has shown that repetition of questions after an interval from 4-6 weeks leads to a significant increase in retention of knowledge long-term.

Use of Online Spaced Education to Reinforce Learning

Tablet PC Enhanced Instruction: Technology as a Means to Enhance Student Learning, Carla Romney (MET)

This session will describe the hardware and software employed in teaching mathematics using Tablet PCs in an interactive classroom. Preliminary data that support the efficacy of this pedagogical strategy will also be presented.

Tablet PC Enhanced Instruction: Technology as a Means to Enhance Student Learning

Teaching an Advanced Computer Science Course Using Graphical Wacom Tablets and Echo 360 Recording Technology, Anatoly Temkin, Leo Burstein & Tanya Zlateva (MET)

The use of tablet technology along with the Echo 360 audio system allows students to fully concentrate on course material without the need to take notes. This mode of delivery provides students with fully recorded lectures.  Students then have the ability to access these materials at anytime thus providing them with a more powerful tool to learn the course material.

Using Interactive Synchronous Tablet Tools in Online Finance Courses, Irena Vodenska (MET)

One of the biggest challenges of teaching online finance courses today is being able to interact with students and convey important concepts of financial management. Just couple of years ago the world financial system was on the brink of collapse, creating a fundamental need for finance graduates to thoroughly understand the intricacies of the complex global financial network. At a time when we have seen some of the most outrageous government rescue interventions in the financial industry, we strive to equip our students to approach financial risk management meticulously and methodically. In order to prepare online students to face the challenges of today’s financial industry, we have introduced novel technologies that facilitate effective studying of complex financial models, decision-making tools, and structured financial products.

Online finance education is designed to reach a large number of students, offering a unique opportunity for students to obtain graduate degrees in financial economics and greatly enhance their finance knowledge, while still keeping their jobs in another part of the country or anywhere in the world. Besides offering many conveniences and benefits, online education has its drawbacks as well.

One of the most significant shortcomings of distance education is reduced interaction with the instructor compared to on-campus classes, and absence of student-instructor communication during step-by-step instruction for solving complex financial problems throughout the semester.

To address this limitation of online classes, we have introduced an interactive synchronous online instructional technique using the Wacom Intuos ® 4 Professional Pen Tablet in combination with Uniboard 4 advanced White Board software within the Wimba Live Classroom. Combining these technologies in a virtual live classroom allows online students to greatly benefit from synchronous online discussions and from step-by-step problem solving sessions.

Using Interactive Synchronous Tablet Tools in Online Finance Courses



For the Second Annual Innovation Conference (March 2010), please click here.