Guest Post by Jennifer Gibbs & Jennifer Smith

Sharing the Lilly Experience: Recapping the 2015 Lilly Conference on Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning

For 35 years, the annual Lilly Conferences on College and University Teaching and Learning have offered a glimpse into cutting-edge evidence-based practices that enrich teaching and learning in higher education. With the generous support from the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, we attended the May 2015 Lilly conference in Bethesda, MD to present two papers focused on applying brain-based learning principles. While there, we attended some amazing – and engaging – sessions. One recommended using video recording for purposes other than lecture; incorporating this suggestion, we are using Screencast-o-matic ( to supplement written comments on term papers with dual-screen videos (one showing the computer screen and the other displaying the webcam). Other uses for video technology include a video review of the syllabus contents, lessons in basic skills or course skills, topic reviews, and citation guidelines, among others. Another session encouraged developing students’ mental toughness (i.e., commitment, challenge, control, confidence). Others talked about exam wrappers – structured reflection activities – promoting the transition from a fixed to a growth mindset. Exam wrappers can be as simple as asking students three questions about their performance relative to the exam: (1) how did you prepare; (2) what errors did you make on the exam; and (3) how should you study for the next exam.

Our presentations focused on brain-based learning. The Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) literature indicates the brain needs five things to be prepared to learn: (1) nutrition; (2) hydration; (3) oxygen; (4) exercise; and (5) rest. Ignoring the assumption that instructors have little control over these, we designed one-minute activities touching on each element that can easily be incorporated into college classes.  Although our research is continuing, we are finding that our students’ exam scores are higher after using these one-minute activities in our classrooms.

Faculty workshop presentation_2015-10-27 to Penn State colleagues

Campus Internationalization Considerations and Resources

Since 2008 when Penn State Harrisburg had 70 international students, we have experienced a significant increase with approximately 430 international students enrolled for the Fall 2014 semester. Several events sponsored by the Faculty Center have focused on our campus’s changing demographics, including a Talking about Teaching forum in February 2013, a faculty survey regarding campus internationalization in December 2013, an International Student Panel Discussion in March 2014, and a Faculty Panel Presentation and Discussion on International Students in April 2014.

The Office of International Student Support Services has partnered with the Faculty Center on a number of these events, has increased its programming, and has added a new full-time international student adviser, Anna Marshall. The Russell E. Horn Sr. Learning Center, in addition to their other tutoring options, has tutors specially trained to teach English as a foreign language to assist students who are non-native speakers of English. Faculty and staff are encouraged to contact these support offices, as well as other support offices on campus, with their questions and needs regarding their support of our growing international student population.

The Faculty Center has created a new resource for faculty that provides a number of instructional strategies shared in the December 2013 survey, and a list of additional resources for further reading and reference. You may download the Word document here: FacultyResourceFA14.

Teaching Large Enrolled Courses

In May, 24 faculty completed a survey on teaching large enrolled courses. We wanted to learn about the challenges and successes they were experiencing, and prepare to offer professional development opportunities on topics of interest.

The range of course sizes was from 24 to 120, with an average of 66 students.

The primary means of teaching was lecture with PowerPoint (8), followed by lecture with multimedia other than/or in addition to PowerPoint (6). There was only one response for lecture only, one response for group work, and two responses for discussion. No one reported using inquiry or peer instruction as their primary means of teaching.

Similar challenges were shared:

  • Providing detailed grading and individual feedback
  • Engaging all students
  • Facilitating discussion
  • Managing the classroom
  • Recording attendance
  • Raising the students’ motivation to learn
  • Providing more direct contact with students
  • Overcoming language issues with ESL students
  • Dealing with varied academic preparation
  • Cheating on exams
  • Learning all students’ names
  • Organizing a large number of small groups, and effectively and efficiently facilitating the groups

Student challenges were also shared:

  • Feeling lost and anonymous
  • Feeling of anonymity leading to absences
  • Staying engaged from the back of the room
  • Feeling hesitant to ask questions in a large group

However, some faculty are experiencing successes in their large classes through the use of:

  • personal response systems (clickers),
  • group work,
  • collaboration and peer group workshops,
  • hands-on activities,
  • discussion to actively engage the students,
  • a variety of techniques to keep students engaged (mixing problem-solving, group work, demonstrations, and traditional lecture),
  • use of PowerPoint or PDF slides with a tablet and annotating the slides with a stylus,
  • an online homework and tutorial program linked to the textbook, and
  • the use of technology (ANGEL, Yammer, and padlet were mentioned).

Since a wide range of professional development topics were requested, we thought it might be helpful to bring together those scheduled to teach a large enrolled course this year with those who have experienced success in their large classes. We’ll use a web conference through Adobe Connect so faculty can attend from wherever they are located as summer winds down.

If you are interested in discussing the planning and teaching of a large enrolled course with experienced colleagues, please email me at by Monday, July 27th, and I’ll be back in touch to select an August date that works for most. We need both faculty who want to explore new pedagogical strategies AND experienced faculty who shared their successes in the survey.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you and collaborating on our planning for teaching large enrolled courses this year.

Winter Weather Impacts Teaching and Learning

The winter has already been disruptive this semester with the potential for more disruption in the semester! The following is a brief explanation of a few centrally supported University services you can use as you are trying to recover from classes missed during campus closings and delays. Links are provided to tutorials for each service when available. The Faculty Center instructional designers are available for consultation and assistance with these services, or can connect you to the relevant University support.


ANGEL is the most commonly used learning technology at Penn State. However, most faculty are not using ANGEL to teach courses completely online, so they may not be familiar with using the complete set of tools available. ANGEL makes it easy for instructors to post course materials online, facilitate class communication and teamwork, collect student work, gauge student progress, manage a gradebook, and extend learning beyond the classroom. Some online options include posting instructional videos or other files, quizzing, using dropboxes for students to submit assignments electronically, connecting with students via Live Chat, and monitoring attendance through online participation such as discussion forums.

Sites at Penn State 

Sites at Penn State, powered by WordPress, can be used to post media files and other educational resources. This web publishing platform will replace the current Blogs at Penn State service. ITS provides technical and pedagogical support of these features through a series of how-to guides, hands-on sessions, and recorded training sessions available from their Support section.

Web Conferencing

Adobe Connect is a web conferencing tool that can be used to create and distribute lectures and presentations. Connect supports audio, video, slide presentations, screen sharing, and whiteboard activities, as well as chat and polling. Live sessions can be recorded for later viewing by those who were not able to attend the session. In addition to live presentations, Adobe Connect can be used to create prerecorded lectures that students can watch at any time. Getting Started information, Best Practices, training information, and support resources are provided at the Meeting@PennState site.


Podcasts are simply audio and video content to which you can subscribe. iTunesU makes it very easy for people to find and access this rich educational content. Visit the iTunesU Dashboard instructions for more information. The Podcasts team ( provide the front line support for the iTunesU service. Nick Smerker, our Media Commons consultant, is the best contact for assistance in creating podcasts.

Pre-recorded Lectures

Faculty who are comfortable recording their lecture material ahead of time have several options. They can create audio or video recordings and make them available to their students through ITunes U. Faculty who would like to sync audio with PowerPoint slides can use Adobe Presenter on Windows or Keynote on a Macintosh. Adobe Presenter is available for purchase through Software at Penn State. Another option is our One Button Studio located in Harrisburg’s library. Additional software options include Jing, QuickTime, and Camtasia.


Turnitin is a web-based writing assessment tool with options for online grading and commenting, creation of peer review assignments and reports for determining assignment originality.


VoiceThread makes it easy to create and interact with online presentations. VoiceThread is a web-based application that allows you to place collections of media like images, videos, documents, and presentations at the center of an asynchronous conversation. A VoiceThread allows people to have conversations and to make comments using any mix of text, a microphone, a web cam, a telephone, or uploaded audio file. Faculty are using VoiceThread to create new forms of conversations online. Visit VoiceThread to access a variety of “Getting Started” resources.

Yammer – Similar to Facebook, Yammer is a social media tool that allows classes to communicate and collaborate anytime, anywhere.  Instructors can instantly upload handouts and assignments, chat, post discussion questions, or direct their students to any alternative classroom experience, all from their laptop, tablet or smartphone.  For more information, please review some Yammer use cases.

Lynda Tutorials

Learning on the go, features over 2,300 courses, compiled of over 110,000 video tutorials. Lynda is an excellent resource for students, faculty, and staff to learn software, creative techniques, and business skills at their own pace. Vetted instructors walk the user through tutorials that are segmented into easily digestible videos, available anytime on their desktop or mobile device. You can assign specific tutorials for a project or course work, and/or provide tutorials to supplement a course.

NBC Learn

NBC Learn was originally developed for use in K-12, but has since been adapted for Higher Education. Through a licensing arrangement, Penn State instructors and students can access the NBC Learn archives of high-quality archival video of historical events and documentary shorts. The vast archives of educational content  includes history/politics, science, the arts, social issues, business/economics, and more.  Students can access historic footage in order to gain additional perspectives into recent historical and political events. The archival footage can also serve as a point of departure for a discussion of mainstream media coverage of current events, including changes in coverage over time. In addition, the video format can provide an optimal way to present images to students, which can enhance comprehension of many topics.  (There’s even some brand new content on the Science and Engineering of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Games – including The Science of Ice and the Science of Snow.)


Read About. . .

During the course of a year, hundreds of articles on teaching and learning pass by my eyes via my inbox, Twitter, conferences, etc. I read many of them, and also try to stay current with the many wonderful resources available at Penn State. The challenge is how to provide the most useful of these resources to faculty in a timely fashion – especially at the moment of need. The result is a new series called Read About. . . in which each issue focuses on one issue and provides one page of annotated resources. The first three have been created and are now available on our website in the Faculty ToolkitReadAboutAcademic Integrity.docx  ReadAboutSRTEs.docx  and ReadAboutClassroomManagement.docx.

I hope you find them helpful, and would love if you share other topics in which you would like a Read About. . . created.

Penn State Open Education Art Course Featured on iTunes U

From ITS News, December 18, 2012:
Art 10: Introduction to Visual Studies, an online Penn State course, has
undergone an extensive redesign to become the first open educational
resource the University will offer through Apple’s iTunes U. The course
will feature a multi-touch book that showcases artists and artwork,
newly redesigned high-definition videos, a variety of art apps, and
engaging creative artwork projects.

Art 10 is an introductory art appreciation course created for individuals without artistic backgrounds, introducing them to various art movements, cultural influences, artistic genres, and artists and their work. The course is taught by Anna Divinsky, instructor of art for Penn State’s School of Visual Arts, and is designed to help students learn about hands-on studio art techniques, while encouraging personal creativity. By the end of the course, participants will compile a portfolio of artwork based on what they have learned. As an online open education
resource offered by Penn State, anyone can take the course free through Apple iTunes’ educational service iTunes U.

The course restructuring was a collaborative project between the e-Learning Institute in the College of Arts and Architecture and Information Technology Services. Along with the new instructional videos and updates, it is now designed for use on a device using Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, specifically the iPad. Art 10 will be featured on the iTunes U landing page from Dec. 18 into January.

To get started taking the course, please the iTunes Preview.

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Faculty who use newspapers in classroom can get free subscriptions

Copied from the 12/18/12 Penn State Harrisburg Newswire:
Faculty who include newspaper readership as part of their required coursework can receive a daily subscription of that paper at no cost — as well online classroom resources, case studies and additional teaching support materials made available by The New York Times and USA Today — as part of the Penn State Student Newspaper Readership Program. Faculty interested in receiving the free newspapers for use in their classrooms should email the Penn State Student Newspaper Readership Program at and provide their contact information, office address and a copy of the course syllabus requiring student newspaper readership as an email attachment.

Read the full story on Penn State News.

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Training Services update

On Monday, November 12th, Chris Lucas and Heather Huntsinger from Penn State’s Training Services visited campus and met with John Hoh, Greg Crawford, Barb Hundertmark, Sue Copella, Tim Lengel, Kristin Bittner, and me to update us on their services and inquire about our training needs. Here are a few notes I took during that meeting. Training Services has hired an instructional designer, Nathan, who will be helping faculty integrate lynda into their courses, and will be working to raise awareness of this licensed tool. It was interesting to hear that lynda is moving towards an LMS model, and Penn State has a good working relationship with them. There have been problems with faculty, staff, and students who have “member” status in lynda. For full-time faculty and staff, Human Resources can update the UADR screen and publish the faculty or staff member’s work address. For adjunct faculty, they will not have access to lynda until their first paycheck has been processed. However, there is a work-around and the help desk should be contacted for assistance.

UCS: Training Services does have some nice quickstart guides available on their website. They are also aware of an interest in advanced UCS training. Some interests shared in our meeting included the use of briefcases, and different uses of the calendars (used for vendor visits, and software licensing).

Accessibility: As of next semester, their training classes will integrate accessibility into training on Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and PDF creation. Accessibility training for faculty will also be available.

ANGEL: They are redoing their training in ANGEL to be more pedagogically focused.

Tech Tutors: Currently, this is a UP program providing technology tutors for students. There is a possibility that it will be piloted here next year.

Indiana University (IU) Training Materials for PSU trainers/instructors: The distribution and use of these materials is closely monitored according to the license agreement. I am our campus representative, and can print and distribute these materials to a PSH trainer/instructor for training/instructional purposes. Some of the printed handouts available include Access, Excel, PowerPoint, and Word (2003, 2007); Acrobat (v. 7 & 8); CSS; Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, Illustrator, and InDesign (CS2, 3, 4); PhotoShop (CS2, 3, 4); SPSS (v. 8 & 9); XHTML.

Lecture Capture: Echo 360 has been piloted, and this year Panopto is being piloted. Some faculty have been using Camtasia Relay on their own.

IT Pro Roundtables: (From the Training Services website) These are monthly presentations and open discussions hosted by Penn State and
other IT industry experts. These sessions are free, open to the Penn
State community, and revolve around the technology topics that are
relevant to the roles of Penn State’s current and aspiring IT
professionals. Some of these sessions are recorded and available in wikispaces at

Survey: Heather and Chris will share their Training Services survey with Barb Hundertmark so she can administer it to our campus. The results will help to determine our training needs.

Center for Workplace Learning & Performance: Training Services is working more closely with this new center.

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The Talking About Teaching Story Lab

The Faculty Center’s Talking About Teaching group got off to a great start this semester! This is an interdisciplinary group of faculty that meets once a month in the Fall and Spring to share successes and concerns that arise during the practice of classroom teaching. This year we are trying something new and shifting the focus towards creating a “story lab” space where we will produce online faculty case studies. Building off of our regular practice of sharing best teaching stories, we are now creating a process (thanks in part to our new Multi-Media Specialist who has joined our staff, Pete Warren) to document these successes for an online resource. At our first meeting last month, we showed a few examples of how other universities have been documenting faculty case studies in this online module form that can both highlight excellent teaching as well as serve as a resource for newer faculty. These online case studies will be comprised of some combination of recorded interviews, classroom footage, text providing context about the pedagogical technique or philosophy, and relevant instructional materials.

We have found that focusing our attention on the innovation and expertise of our faculty can improve morale and facilitate learning opportunities across the disciplines. We believe this to be an excellent opportunity to highlight the exceptional work happening on this campus. At our next meeting on Friday, October 19 from 3:00-4:00 pm (W205), we are aiming to show a template for Penn State Harrisburg’s faculty case studies, using footage we have recorded with Dr. Oranee Tawatnuntachai. We will also have some fun ‘workshopping’ the interview process so faculty can better understand how we are creating the online case studies and think through what they want to share. Consider which teaching and learning strategy you would
want to share and join us!

Preventing Plagiarism – A Different Kind of Assignment

Today I read a new Faculty Focus article by Maryellen Weimer, a Penn State emeritus professor, that reviewed an assignment two accounting instructors used to teach their students about plagiarism within their discipline. They acknowledged that proper citation was taught in a previous English composition course, and they described the challenge in this way: “Most of the time, students are taught about using the material of others and crediting those sources in some sort of composition course. Then students are expected to apply what they’ve learned when they prepare written materials in subsequent courses. McGown and Lightbody felt that
students needed instruction beyond the guidelines and that they needed repeated instruction in subsequent courses, especially those courses in the major. Not all fields handle the use of sources in the same way. Once students are in a major, they need to learn the particulars of
referencing for that field.”

The instructors did not want to use class time to teach plagiarism prevention, so they had their students complete an online workshop. Then, they had them apply the plagiarism workshop  content and develop their “knowledge of a particular accounting issue” through their new assignment. I encourage you to access the Faculty Focus issue and the McGown & Lightbody article it references, available online in the Penn State University Libraries, to learn more about the assignment and the creative way they had their students actively learning about proper citation in the accounting field.

I want to remind you of the plagiarism prevention resources available at Penn State. First, be sure to visit the Plagiarism Prevention Resources web site that includes a Plagiarism Tutorial for Students, an Instructor Guide on Plagiarism and Prevention, and links for faculty and students to plagiarism policy pages, guides, quizzes, citation guidelines, and basic copyright information. There are some nice plagiarism quizzes and exercises available too, including an iStudy module on Academic Integrity that can be integrated into ANGEL. The Plagiarism Quiz Bank is available here and could be used in ANGEL or as a printed quiz. Students can work with a writing tutor in the Learning Center. Penn State Harrisburg’s Academic Integrity Policy (C-7) is available online.

I wrote a previous post on “Why students cheat and what we can do about it” where I include a few strategies you might use to prevent plagiarism in your classes. Please contact me if you would like some assistance in including some of these resources in your course(s), or want to redesign an assignment to reduce its plagiarism potential.