Category Archives: Teaching


5 Tips for Handling Grading in Large Online Classes

I’ve been chronicling my experiences this semester adapting my approach to teaching from my previous experience with small courses to a new challenge of large-scale classes, and particularly to the needs of a large online course. The most overwhelming aspect for me so far has been the challenge of grading and providing meaningful feedback. This is unsurprising, given grading has been one of our most debated subjects here at ProfHacker. Taking grading to new scales has definitely required me to …


3 Tips for Handling Discussions in Online Courses

I’ve been teaching a large online class for the first time this semester, and as the course involves looking at a number of challenge interactive works and games I put a lot of emphasis on discussion forums and critical debate. However, discussion forums of this kind present a lot of potential problems in an online class. We only have to read the comments anywhere on the web (pro tip: don’t actually read the comments) to see that the online medium offers huge potential for miscommunication, per…


Preparing Lectures for Large Online Classes

This semester, I’m teaching a fairly large (130 at final count) online course in digital media. I wrote last month about some of the strategies I’ve used to prepare the course, including thinking about replacements for in-class activities and planning a highly structured series of content. However, one of my biggest challenges has been planning an alternative to lectures. I’m used to thinking of “lecture” as a dialogue, with opportunities for interaction, connection, and breaking up the class i…


Starting Your Own Website: Reclaim Your Hosting

If you’re a regular ProfHacker reader, you probably understand the importance of building and having control over your web presence. We’ve posted a “Website Hosting 101 guide back in 2009, a primer for creating your digital presence in 2011 with a guest post by Miriam Posner, and tips on how, and how often to update your website by Anastasia.

Now that the new school year has begun, some of you may be looking to start a professional website of your own. To create a website, you’re going to need…


Open-Thread Wednesday: Anything New?

FireworksThe new academic year has arrived (or soon will, for those who start after Labor Day). Though there may be a certain sadness to the end of summer, a new academic year can also bring the excitement of a fresh start. It’s a time for meeting new people and trying new things, for faculty no less than for students.

Some new things may be major: a new course, or perhaps a new project. In my case, the new is something small. I’ve changed the first essay assignment in my writing course. For several year…


Playing Cards in the Classroom for Student Collaboration

In my courses, I often put students into small, temporary groups for collaborative work that takes place in class or over the course of a few days. This work ranges from analysis of an assigned reading to researching a local issue to creating a digital resource to conducting an interview with a faculty or community member. We cover how to ensure effective collaboration and communication in small groups, including assigning and managing tasks (something for which an online tool like Basecamp can…


Designing Engaging Course Documents with Piktochart


This is a guest post by Julie Platt, currently Assistant Professor of English at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. She researches and teaches about writing centers, creative writing studies, professional writing, and technical communication. On Twitter, she’s @Aristotlejulep.–@JBJ]

It’s sometimes a struggle to get students to carefully read course documents. Many student questions, especially at this time of year, can be answered with “Please check the syllabus!” However, when I c…


Preparing to Teach a Large Online Course

With increased pressure on classroom spaces, many departments are moving courses online. I’ve written here at ProfHacker about teaching online previously, but in that past experience I was teaching a very small synchronous online course. While late-night video chats have their own challenges, that course gave me plenty of opportunities to hear directly from each student and encourage collaboration and discussion. This fall, I’m embarking on an online course on a far different scale: I’m teachin…


Teaching a Class Again

We never teach the same course twice. Some of the changes are out of our control: new students, new classroom, new time. A move from early morning to late at night can change the whole feel of a topic, while a group of students with strong camaraderie might take on collaborative assignments very differently from a group that includes many non-traditional students or a range of disciplines. And of course when technology is involved, the foundations are likely to shift every semester: even when I…


From the Archives: Getting Ready for the New Semester


Sooner or later, the fall semester will start — and of course for some of us it already has. Here are some tips from the ProfHacker archives to help you navigate the transition.

Getting Ready to Teach