CourseKey Blog

25Oct 2016

USD Professor Generates Professionalism in the Millennial Classroom

When we think of the word ‘professionalism’, we often think of the workplace. However, a new trend in higher education, especially in many business courses, has shown that professors can transfer these soft skills to the classroom. These "people skills" describe the personal attributes that indicate a high level of emotional intelligence, or EQ.

Linda Barkacs, an Associate Professor of Business Law from the University of San Diego, has a strict professionalism policy (check it out) in her classroom - and she even assigns points to it! Professors with industry experience like Linda are helping prepare their students for the expectations and competitiveness of life after college.

04Aug 2016

Why We Love Formative Assessments (And You Should Too!)

What are Formative Assessments? 

Formative assessments are low-risk, low-point value quizzes or surveys instructors administer during the learning process to gather immediate feedback and adjust their teaching style as needed. They are becoming more and more popular with the rise of technology in the classroom, making it quick and easy to gather audience feedback and learner participation in real-time.


28Jul 2016

To Take or Not to Take Attendance? That is the Question

Roll call, random participation quizzes or a sign-in sheet are several ways to track who is showing up to class. Why do some mandate and track attendance and others do not? Let's explore the policies, reliability and availability of different methods being used in education today.

Mandatory vs. Voluntary Attendance

In a previous blog, we discussed the connection between attendance and student success and it's no surprise that the more frequently students attended class, the better their outcomes were at the end of the term or semester. But does this mean attendance should always be mandated and tracked? 



Some institutions, like for-profit, for example must track student presence. Some make it mandatory in order to use the data for funding or administrative purposes. The decision is easy, when it's made for you. 


Others are forced in the opposite direction due to large class sizes, making it nearly impossible to get an accurate count without wasting a significant amount of class time. However, this may be the environment with the most to benefit from having this knowledge. When it is difficult to get to know students on an individual level, the ability to identify those missing significant instructional time can help educators identify who may be in trouble before it's too late.

05Jul 2016

A Curious Case of Classroom Facilitation: Traditional vs Progressive

Traditional vs Progressive Pedagogy...what's the deal?

The long-standing debate between which type of pedagogy - traditional or progressive - is becoming more relevant than ever before. Faculty are taking their stance along the spectrum, somewhere between these extremes based on their beliefs, experiences and classroom environment.


Rather than pit one pedagoligcal preference against the other, let's look at some of the major differences between the two.



Traditional Classroom Facilitation:                                                                

  • Teacher as the expert                                          
  • Structured and formal systems 
  • Rote memorization and learning 
  • Focus on content
  • Measurable outcomes 
  • Emphasis on textbooks
  • Exams 


Progressive Classroom Facilitation: 

  • "Hands-on learning"
  • Focus on problem solving and critical thinking 
  • Organic systems - experiences 
  • Collaborative learning projects 
  • Highly personalized environment 
  • Intangible outcomes - building life-long skills
  • Learning material frequently changes based on the class, current events, topics
28Jun 2016

A Case for Digital Citizenship in Education

What is Digital Citizenship and what does it have to do with education?

When most people think of digital citizenship, they think of cyber bullying, social media and the ability to connect with others from around the world. Many don't think of: 

  • Teaching and learning appropriate ways of communicating online.

  • Understanding that what may seem to be an innocent joke between you and friends can come back to harm your reputation later on.

  • Learning to respectfully communicate your views and engage in conversation with those who hold opposing perspectives.

These simple ideas offer students a useful frame of reference and a mindset that can help prevent them from becoming lost in a rapidly expanding technological age.

Susan Bearden, a music teacher turned education technology thought-leader, witnessed this impact first hand and it has changed the trajectory of her career.

21Jun 2016

Student Engagement Using Video Feedback

When a learning environment enrollment hits a certain threshhold, both the educators and students are in danger of diminising learning outcomes. Many stages of the learning process can suffer as a result. The quality and frequency of student feedback and engagement is one area that has been impacted by growing class sizes. New ideas and methods, such as the video feedback approach are helping to scale traditional learning practices to meet the demands of the modern learning environement.

University of California, San Diego's Tanya Hall, Dean Tracy, and Andy Lamey share their insights and experiences using video feeback to offer a more personal and constructive approach to student engagment in their philosophy courses.

Video Feedback Highlights:

While the UCSD trio teach in the philosophy discipline, many of the ideas are universally applicable to other subjects as well. The findings identify numerous advantages of using video feeback over traditional methods like written comments and note that these methods are "underappreciated and underutilized".

Below are some of our key takeaways from Hall, Tracy, and Lamey's publication: