In this issue


Keeping up with Coursera

Coursera launches at Vanderbilt March 4

Getting to Know Coursera: Who is everyone?

Getting to Know Coursera: Statements of Accomplishment

Getting to Know Coursera: Video Lectures

Getting to Know Coursera: Video Discussions

Getting to Know Coursera: Assessments





Check out these recent posts to our blog.

Ask Professor Pedagogy: Assessment Suggestions for Large Lecture Classes

From a Student’s View – Large Classes

Ask Professor Pedagogy: Tips for Engaging Lectures in Large Classes

gradLEAF pools resources from throughout the VU community






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March, 2013

Upcoming Teaching Visit Opportunities

Description: many years, The Center for Teaching has hosted Teaching Visits, among the most productive and helpful events we offer.  They are wonderful opportunities for Vanderbilt teachers to observe directly and then discuss various forms of teaching across the disciplines, building collegiality and expertise around inquiries into teaching and learning.

We endeavor to organize visits across the university in various disciplines, but visitors do not have to be in the same discipline as the course they are observing.  Indeed, many faculty members have found it helpful to encounter teaching styles and strategies different from their own, which they can then discuss with colleagues after the observation and adapt to their own use.


Steve Buckles, Senior Lecturer of Economics

Wednesday, March 13th
2:10 – 3:00 pm, followed by a 1 hr discussion
REGISTER TO ATTEND (Junior Faculty Only)



Sheri Shaneyfelt, Senior Lecturer of Art History

Tuesday, March 26th
11:00am -12:15 pm, followed by a 1 hr discussion
REGISTER TO ATTEND (Junior Faculty Only)


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Apply to be a Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow

Research by Robert Boice (Advice for New Faculty, 2000) and others indicates that junior faculty often find teaching the most challenging and time-consuming part of their jobs.  Engaging in a structured set of professional development activities will help you become what Boice calls a “quick starter” in your faculty career.

2012-13 Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows kick-off reception

The CFT's Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows program is designed to help you:

  • Learn from the teaching experiences of colleagues at Vanderbilt.
  • Develop skills that will enable you to analyze and improve your teaching over time.
  • Enjoy the community of teachers at Vanderbilt.
  • Learn to balance and integrate your teaching and research.
  • Develop and improve materials for review and tenure processes.

Fellows will engage in a variety of program activities sequenced to develop and refine their teaching skills over the course of the year that include teaching visits, dinner discussions, working groups, one-on-one consultations, and workshops. 

Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows will also receive $2000 in research funds each to be used to enhance their teaching.

For more details on the program or to apply, visit the JFTF webpage.


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A Conversation about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Last Thursday, February 21st, the Center for Teaching and the Library hosted “Teaching to Thousands: A Conversation about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs),” an event featuring faculty panelists Douglas Schmidt (Computer Science) and Jamie Pope (Nursing). Doug and Jamie are participating in Vanderbilt’s Coursera pilot, each offering a MOOC on the Coursera platform this fall: Doug’s “Pattern-Oriented Software Architectures for Concurrent and Networked Software” and Jamie’s “Nutrition, Health, and Lifestyle: Issues and Insights.” During the event, Doug and Jamie shared what they have learned about teaching MOOCs as they have prepared their courses, and they answered questions about their experiences from the audience.

Watch a video of Doug and Jamie’s opening remarks, as well as a summary of the discussion that followed.

For more on MOOCs and Vanderbilt’s experiments in this area, see the CFT’s teaching guide on MOOCs.

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Mid-Semester Student Feedback

photo of workshop

The feedback students provide about your teaching on their end-of-semester course evaluations can be valuable in helping you improve and refine your teaching. Soliciting mid-semester student feedback has the additional benefit of allowing you to hear your students' concerns while there is still time in the semester to make appropriate changes. A Small Group Analysis (SGA) takes this one step further by involving a CFT consultant to help.

An SGA is a method of gathering anonymous feedback from students about what is helping them learn and what is not in a course. This service is an excellent way to assess students' responses to your teaching mid-semester. The SGA results will remain completely confidential—only you and the CFT consultant will see them.

"I was able to implement some small changes to my courses that, I think, improved them.  I felt like my classes became more cohesive as groups and invested in the course after you solicited feedback, which led to a good conversation between me and my students in both classes."

—An  Assistant Professor in the College of Arts and Science reflecting on the SGA experience

Our website has more information on our SGA service. To schedule an SGA, simply call the CFT at 322-7290. And if you're interested in gathering feedback from your students on your own, please see our "Gathering Feedback from Students" teaching guide for ideas and tools.

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Save the date! Celebration of Teaching is Friday, May 3rd

The CFT, in conjunction with the Graduate School, invite you to join us in celebrating teaching on the Vanderbilt campus. This year’s celebration will include a poster session displaying the scholarly work of participants in two of the Center for Teaching’s graduate student programs. Additionally, the Center for Teaching and its campus partners will host sessions throughout the day which highlight innovating teaching by faculty and graduate students on campus.

We’ll celebrate 2012-2013 highlights and achievements of the Vanderbilt teaching community including:

    • Participants in the CFT’s Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows program
    • Participants of the Teaching Certificate program
    • Participants in the Certificate in College Teaching
    • Participants in the SoTL Scholars program
    • Graduate Teaching Fellows
    • Teaching Affiliates
    • Panelists featured at this year’s CFT events
    • CFT Advisory Board
    • CFT’s campus partners
    • Faculty who have received awards for their teaching accomplishments

This year’s Celebration will be held at The Commons. Additional details about the schedule will be available soon.

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From the Stacks...


The New Digital Storytelling
by Bryan Alexander

From the publisher...
Digital storytelling uses new media tools and platforms to tell stories. The second wave of digital storytelling started in the 1990s with the rise of popular video production, then progressed in the new century to encompass newer, social media technologies. The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media is the first book that gathers these new, old, and emergent practices in one place, and provides a historical context for these methods.
Author Bryan Alexander explains the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling, weaving images, text, audio, video, and music together. Alexander draws upon the latest technologies, insights from the latest scholarship, and his own extensive experience to describe the narrative creation process with personal video, blogs, podcasts, digital imagery, multimedia games, social media, and augmented reality—all platforms that offer new pathways for creativity, interactivity, and self-expression.

Available in the Center for Teaching library.

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