Educational Development Digest: April 2021

Pedagogy and Practice

Teach Together Minnesota! Keynote: Educators Emerging, Connecting, and Adapting

By Catherine Ford

Debra Leigh’s keynote for the Teach Together Minnesota! Conference is titled Educators Emerging, Connecting, and Adapting. She writes, “As faculty, who are we and what clarity are we seeking in our teaching?  What small actions can we take every day that will reverberate on a micro level to macro level?  How can we strengthen our relationships in ways that build stronger connections to our students, their families and the community all while adapting to ongoing systemic change?  We are emerging into our future selves as teachers. Every day we push ourselves into new levels, environments, and new ways of being and understanding the world around us.”

Adrienne Maree Brown’s book (2017) Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, invites readers to consider these 9 principles of emergent strategies:

  • Small is good, small is all.
  • Change is constant.
  • There is always enough time for the right work.
  • There is a conversation in the room that only these peoples at this moment can have. Find it.
  • Never a failure, always a lesson.
  • Trust the people.
  • Move at the speed of trust.
  • Less prep, more presence.
  • What you pay attention to grows. (pp. 41-42)

How do these show up in your classroom and your interactions with students and colleagues? How might you incorporate these items into your teaching and learning practice?

This is one of two eBooks that will be offered for free to participants of the Teach Together Minnesota! conference on May 18th, 2021. We invite you to register and engage in conversations within your disciplines about how this emerging, connecting, and adapting intersects with our intentional efforts and strategies within not only our classrooms but our larger communities as well.

NED Event Highlight

New Equity 101 Short Course Available

New to the NED this summer is the Equity 101 short course! This three-week short course is intended to define and support basic language surrounding equity and inclusion and provide an opportunity to reflect on your own identity as well as how it is constructed and identify some of our own assumptions, practices, and policies that are inequitable.

A need exists for continuing educational development in equity and inclusion across Minnesota State, and these courses are intended to support our community’s growth as equity-minded educators. Beginning in Fall 2021, this introductory short course will be a prerequisite for participation in other equity and inclusion themed short courses available through the NED as we work to use common language and framework.

Academic Technology Tips

Consider the importance of aesthetics in the learning experience you create for learners

By Scott Wojtanowski

In December’s edition of the Educational Development Digest we alerted readers to an upcoming research project sponsored by Minnesota State that aimed to investigate the quality of discourse in student-led discussions via an artificial intelligence assisted discussion platform, Packback.  In particular, does performance differ in an artificial intelligence supported discussion platform when measured by student ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or first generation status? While it is too early to draw any conclusions on student performance, for this month’s Academic Technology Tip, we want to share the importance of an early comment shared by the faculty members using the Packback platform.

In full disclosure, for some (all?) of the faculty participants who joined the first year of the project, there was no love lost for the discussion tool available in D2L Brightspace. It may have even been one of the key reasons why they were some of the first group of colleagues interested in exploring Packback as an alternate discussion tool.  So, what we are about to share is to be expected.

These faculty members have been exceedingly pleased with the form and function of the interface available in Packback. Faculty members commented that, on the whole, students enjoy using the platform for discussions. So, what makes it so appealing?  And why does appealing even matter to learning? Before we offer any suggestions to those questions, we think it is important to share this month’s academic technology tip – consider the importance of aesthetics in the learning experience you create for learners.

Parrish (2005) describes learning experience as “the transaction that takes place between individual learners and the instructional environment…learning experience includes the way that the learner feels about, engages with, responds to, influences, and draws from the instructional situation.” 

Parrish goes on to suggest there are four aesthetic first principles for creating artful instruction:

  • Principle 1: Learning experiences have beginnings, middles, and endings (i.e., plots)
  • Principle 2: Learners are the protagonists of their own learning experiences
  • Principle 3: Learning activity, not subject matter, establishes the theme of instruction
  • Principle 4: Context contributes to immersion in the instructional situation

If you consider the assertions from Parrish, you’ll find some of these elements incorporated into the Packback platform with features like the ability to share “sparks” on those posts that spark one’s curiosity and a “learner leaderboard” that highlights those students who contribute “hot” questions with a high “curiosity score.” While each of our learners are unique in terms of how we feel about or engage with these platform, Packback has a look and feel that can compete with popular social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, which has made it easy for students and faculty to adopt fairly quickly.

There are twenty (20) spots available to faculty to apply to participate in the next Packback study for summer 2021 and another twenty (20) spots for fall 2021. Please submit your application by Monday, May 3, 2021 for summer and Monday, August 2, 2021 for fall. Spots are on a first come, first serve basis.

Parrish, P. E. (2009). Aesthetic principles for instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development57(4), 511-528.

Initiatives Update

Explore anti-racist and culturally responsive teaching and learning practices with colleagues in your discipline

As you may have gathered, much of this month’s digest is focused on the Teach Together Minnesota! day-long virtual event. Teach Together Minnesota! is the kick-off to a three year program that focuses on anti-racist and culturally responsive online teaching and learning practices. This event is just one of a number of opportunities that will be available to Minnesota educators over the next three years made possible with funding provided in part by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Grant. There will be additional opportunities like short courses and learning communities that allow colleagues in like disciplines to explore strategies together.

The opportunities mentioned above are just one of the many available at the colleagues and universities of Minnesota State to support our Equity 2030 initiative.  If you haven’t already, we encourage you to explore similar opportunities that seek to advance equity and inclusion like Equity by Design, the competency series coordinated through the Office of Equity and Inclusion, and the Equity 2030 Webinar series.

Share Your Voice

Hear student experiences at Teach Together Minnesota!

An important part of the virtual Teach Together Minnesota! event this spring will be hearing directly from students about what is important to them, especially with respect to remote and online teaching and culturally responsive content and pedagogy.

Ten students from seven Minnesota State campuses have been identified as panelists during the Student Panel session at Teach Together Minnesota! on May 18, 2021.

Students will share the personal journeys of their education experience. They will also share what has led to their successes where they have encountered barriers to success, and their experiences with remote or online learning. Students may respond to questions from those attending the conference, as time allows.

Get a preview of who these students are below:

NameCollege or UniversityMajor, field of studyDegree
Axel KylanderAnoka-Ramsey Community CollegePolitical ScienceAA
Wisdom OgbuMinneapolis Community and Technical CollegeApparel Technologies and TextileAAS
Ibtisam MohamoudMinneapolis Community and Technical CollegePolitical ScienceAA
Drake BurkeMinnesota State University, MankatoEducation, HistoryMS, MAT
Oscar Andrade LaraMinnesota State University, MankatoEducation, Spanish/Ed LeadershipMS
Sena GeletoNorth Hennepin Community CollegeBiology/Biolog SciencesAA/AS
Sydney RiesterRochester Community and Technical CollegeCriminal JusticeAS
Nathan PhamMinnesota State University, MankatoCivil EngineeringBA/BS
Rebekah NagelWinona State UniversityManagement Information Systems (Minor: Spanish)BS
Jeremy MoenInver Hills Community CollegeBiology Transfer PathwayAS

We encourage educators from across the state to gather at this event on May 18, 2021 to learn from each other, share resources, and have a place for ongoing communication with those in your discipline or field of study.

Other sessions include teaching strategy webinars and lightning webinars highlighting ways educators innovated through COVID-19.

The Student Panel is scheduled to be from 12:05 – 1:05 p.m. on May 18, 2021.

Upcoming Events

Visit the NED Events Calendar to search for upcoming webinars, learning communities, short courses, and long courses.

Summer 2021 Faculty Development Opportunities Flyer
NED Course Catalog

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