Educational Development Digest: February 2023

Being a Teacher: Becoming a Scholar

Pedagogy in Practice | By Amy Jo Swing, Lake Superior College English Department and Center for Faculty Innovation

My path to teaching was more organic than planned. I started as a teaching assistant while getting my MFA in poetry. I took a class on teaching from one of my professors, but mostly learned from other teachers and from my students. I picked up theories here and there; I attended many conferences on both teaching and learning. I learned the lingo enough to be able to present at conferences and sound professional, but I never, ever would have called myself a scholar.

Then I joined the Minnesota State REFLECT program. Now, at the end of the two years doing SoTL (Scholarhip of Teaching and Learning), I understand the value of intentional scholarship and focused study of teaching practices.

Through Minnesota State REFLECT, I have learned the value of intentionally studying what I do in the classroom and then sharing that with others. Currently, my project is to determine if having students earn a badge for revising in first year composition will increase their skills and confidence in revising (and their overall quality of writing). One of the most important components of this is that the students create the badge and process for earning it. Both Hammond (2015) and Christensen (1990) talk about the importance of partnerships in teaching and learning and in helping student become independent learners. So far, the students are engaged in both the creation process and in their final products, and I get to see them really think about revising as a tool and not a chore.

As Bishop-Clark and Dietz-Uhler (2012) state, “SoTL has provided many positive outcomes, including making us more informed teachers, allowing us to collaborate with other colleagues in difference disciplines, and improving our students’ learning.”

I would encourage others to participate in Minnesota State REFLECT (applications due March 31, 2023) to explore the scholarship of teaching and learning, especially those who have not thought of themselves as scholars. It’s gratifying to see evidence that what we do in the classroom is impacting student learning and to be able to share that evidence with our colleagues. The SoTL community is extremely supportive, and I have again learned more from my colleagues and students than anyone else.

10 Strategies for Engaging Learners with Universal Design for Learning and Antiracism

Academic Technology Tips | by Elizabeth Harsma and Jess Schomberg, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Elizabeth Harsma, our guest author for the January 2023 Pedagogy in Practice article provided an overview of the foundations of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This month we are sharing strategies to connect the UDL framework to culturally responsive and antiracist teaching. 

Here are 10 strategies and recommended technologies that Elizabeth and her colleague, Jess Schomberg, included in the open educational resource Maverick Learning and Educational Applied Research Nexus (authored by colleagues from Minnesota State University, Mankato – Elizabeth Harsma; Michael Manderfeld; and Carrie Lewis Miller)

Strategy #1: Start Small, Keep Building

Engage in critical reflection. Choose one strategy, apply it to one learning activity or one assessment. Observe the results and engage in critical reflection to determine next steps. Continue to update, refine, and apply additional strategies to your course design and delivery. Be curious, be compassionate, be critical.

Technology: There are many technologies that allow you to gather feedback and build community with colleagues, such as:

  • Qualtrics for surveys
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Zoom

Strategy #2: Use Identity Safety Cues

Use identity safety cues that address multiple intersecting identities. Identity safety cues are environmental or social cues that signal to people that their identities are valued and that they will face less discrimination in that setting than they may elsewhere, so they can focus more attention on learning.


  • Add personal pronouns to your syllabus, D2L Brightspace, and Zoom
  • Use Creative Commons Image Search to add diverse images and examples
  • Add a CETL Inclusive Teaching Statement to your syllabus or course introduction
  • Be attentive to the disparate social impacts of technology tools when developing assignments, particularly the risks of race- and gender-based bullying when giving social media assignments, facial recognition algorithms that misrecognize people of color, proctoring software that mischaracterizes the engagement of neurodiverse students, the anxiety that surveillance systems create for many people with marginalized identities, and uneven availability of high speed internet and other tools.
  • Review important considerations for online proctoring, including considerations for bias in these softwares.

Strategy #3: Reflect on Values and Goals

Help students to make connections between course learning goals and their own core values and learning goals to increase the salience and engagement with the course. For example, Ask students to share a reflection on how the learning goals support their values.

Technology: Sway, PowerPoint, MediaSpace, Free online graphic design software.

Strategy #4: Support Agency in Discussions

Provide multiple opportunities to engage in robust discussion on topics of social justice, antiracism, and envisioning an antiracist future. Build scaffolds into the course to reduce barriers and ensure that students have the tools they need to participate effectively in challenging discussion without reproducing inequities through denial and defensiveness, demanding to be comforted, or oversimplifying complex realities.

Technology: Shared Word online document.

Strategy #5: Incorporate Diverse Representation

Infuse diverse representation of scholars, perspectives, images, examples, etc. throughout your course curriculum. Depict Black, Brown, and Indigenous people through an asset- and strengths-based lens.

Technology: Work with a librarian at your campus to create a shared image and source repository for your content area, Creative Commons Images; Creative Commons Image Search; Royalty Free Image Services.

Strategy #6: Empower Students with a Class Digest

Engage students in creating a collective class digest of vocabulary or key topics. Or provide your own digest of vocabulary or key topics that students can collaboratively annotate and/or comment with questions or additions. Provide structure to support student agency and creativity and provide feedback to correct or clarify as needed.


  • OneNote Class Notebook,
  • Shared Word Online document,
  • Create a synchronous, informal class digest using backchannel discussion tools like Poll Everywhere or Zoom Chat (What is backchannel discussion?)

Strategy #7: Make it Accessible

Engage learners with accessible curriculum, course design, and instructional methods.


  • Caption videos.
  • Create an audio transcript using Microsoft Word Online.
  • Use mobile responsive and accessible web pages in D2L Brightspace.
  • Share the Microsoft Immersive Reader in Word, One Note, Teams, and Outlook with students.

Strategy #8: Support Information Processing

In asynchronous modules and/or synchronous classes use an instructional model that supports information processing (Hammond, 2015).


  • Open educational resources and online videos can provide music or pose questions that can gain learners’ attention.
  • Writing tools ranging from paper & pencil to Word Online, or Media Space audio recording for students to record and share their thoughts.

Strategy #9: Try Ungrading

Ungrading is a set of practices designed to encourage compassionate critical thinking about the process of grading and evaluation. Ungrading encourages us to ask questions about who benefits from grading, what purpose grading serves, and whether grading supports learning as well as other processes might.


  • One Note class notebook can be used to create portfolios or to support students in monitoring and tracking their learning progress.
  • D2L Brightspace Grades: Consider flexible qualitative (no points) feedback options, such as using Text or Selectbox Grade Items or creating a qualitative Grade Scheme.
  • D2L Brightspace Rubrics: Try a no points evaluation option in rubrics to provide individualized feedback that does not require rating or ranking student work.
  • D2L Brightspace Discussions: Use small group discussions for peer grading/feedback; Or create individual private discussions to turn evaluation into a conversation with a student.
  • D2L Brightspace Quizzes: Use Quiz Results Display to hide scores from students but display feedback. Use un-graded quizzes to collect student responses for negotiated self-grading or contract grading.

Strategy #10: Big Ideas, Real World Thinking

Social justice issues are embedded in all disciplines. Allowing students to investigate the social justice implications embedded in, for example, environmental science, statistics, or management can help students see how the numbers we collect have human implications. It can also help us guide students in challenging some of the ideology we absorbed during our own educational experiences.

Technology: There are many technologies that could support this strategy including:

  • Flip video discussions â€“ Consider for modeling analysis, brainstorming,
  • One Note class notebook â€“ Create graphic organizers with analysis prompts you can provide to each student to support their work, use the collaboration space for peer review
  • Media Space for creating video and audio to share analysis
  • Free online graphic design software

Reference: Maverick Learning and Educational Applied Research Nexus

Featured February Events

Did You Know? | By Megan Babel, Communications Coordinator, Academic and Student Affairs

If you would like to ensure your events are more accessible and inclusive or would like to learn about how Minnesota State Guided Learning Pathways relates to your work, two NED events this February will peak your interest.

Connecting the Classroom to Minnesota State Guided Learning Pathways series

February 15 @ 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM

This 2 hour workshop will be divided into 4 sections, each one dedicated to the following questions:

  1. What is Guided Learning Pathways? 
  2. How is Minnesota State Guided Learning Pathways different than the national model, 
  3. How does Minnesota State Guided Learning Pathways connect to Equity 2030 and Equity by Design, and 
  4. How does Minnesota State Guided Learning Pathways relate to me and my work?

Participants will hear from system office staff and campus colleagues, as well as have opportunities to ask questions and discuss the implications that Minnesota State Guided Learning Pathways has on our work. 

Conversations with Colleagues: Accessible and Inclusive Event Planning

February 21 @ 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Want to transform your meetings and events? Fully inclusive meetings and events consider all people –  placing access and inclusion on the forefront of the agenda! Anyone who helps to plan events of any scope will benefit from this conversation.

Join faculty and other colleagues to share practical advice on how to make your workshops, meetings and events more accessible and inclusive. It’s not all about accessible documents – let’s talk about everything from the event announcement to food, venue, scheduling, registration, and more!


Educational Development and Technology, Minnesota State.

View past editions of the Educational Development Digest.

Visit the NED Events Calendar to view upcoming educational development opportunities. Visit the NED Resource Site for recordings of previous webinars and additional resources.

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