Preconference Workshops

The 2015 Teaching Professor Technology Conference offers four preconference workshops at the price of $195.

Enriched Learning through Online Interaction

Friday, October 2, 2015   8:30 a.m. – Noon

Lolita Paff, Penn State Berks

Online discussion is commonly used to engage students in learning. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to get students to post meaningfully online. Some students don’t want to participate. Others post short, tentatively offered comments. Sometimes those who participate do so a bit too often, or at great length without adding much substance. Perhaps most troubling are hostile comments, intentional or otherwise, that suppress discourse.

This workshop will explore the learning potential and the challenges posed by facilitating online interaction. We’ll identify the problems and their causes to scaffold experience-driven and research-based solutions to create and maintain purposeful online discussions with timely, meaningful and efficient feedback. Because a workshop dealing with online interaction and discussion should be interactive and online, the session will incorporate face-to-face and online activities. Participants should bring a laptop or mobile device.

Learning goals:

  • Implement policies and practices to establish and maintain a positive learning climate.
  • Design/redesign an online discussion to facilitate critical thinking.
  • Implement strategies to address the problems of under and over participation.
  • Develop an efficient feedback and assessment plan to provide feedback that promotes deep learning.

About the Presenter:

Lolita Paff

Lolita Paff is an associate professor of business & economics at Penn State Berks. She teaches a variety of courses in face-to-face, hybrid, flipped, and online formats. She has lead faculty development courses internationally and implemented program-level learning assessment. Her recent scholarship focuses on discussion teaching in technical courses, classroom interaction, participation policy, and assessment. She is the chair the 2015 Teaching Professor Conference.


Using Technology to Breathe New Life into Your Classes through Creativity, Innovation, and Design

Friday, October 2, 2015   8:30 a.m. – Noon

Ken Alford and Taylor Halverson, Brigham Young University

What happens to teaching and learning when you combine technology (defined as any tool or process used by humans to solve problems) with proven principles of innovation and creativity? You unlock and engage more than just left brains in your classes. You make learning more meaningful, exciting, and relevant to your students, and you make teaching more enjoyable for you. Join us to discover and experience effective techniques you can implement in your courses at this exploratory, fun, interactive, and interdisciplinary pre-conference workshop. As a teacher, you are a learning designer. By learning and applying creativity and innovation design principles, you will become more than just a subject matter expert; you will be empowered with effective ways to engage your students in your field of study. Workshop participants will leave with the tools and basic skills they need to immediately begin unlocking creative and innovative solutions that will make a difference for their students.

Learning goals:

  • Discover and demonstrate creative and innovative learning designs.
  • Experience the value of using interdisciplinary thinking and teams to solve compelling learning needs.
  • Apply creative and innovative learning design solutions to help students reach their potential.
  • Find new excitement for teaching and collaborating in your discipline.

About the Presenters:

Ken Alford
Taylor Halverson

Kenneth L. Alford is an associate professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. After serving almost 30 years on active duty in the U.S. Army, he retired as a Colonel in 2008. While on active duty, Ken served in numerous personnel, automation, acquisition, and education assignments, including eight years teaching computer science and information technology at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and four years as Professor and Department Chair of the Strategic Leadership Department at the National Defense University in Washington, DC.

Taylor Halverson is a teaching and learning consultant at Brigham Young University. Taylor is also the founder and co-chair of the BYU Creativity, Innovation, and Design group ( He focuses his teaching, research, and professional work on helping others become lifelong learners. He connects people to people, resources, and opportunities to do new and innovative things. His Ph.Ds. are from Indiana University in instructional systems technology, and Judaism and Christianity in antiquity.

Leveraging Cognitive Science and Instructional Technology to Build Thinking Skills

Friday, October 2, 2015   1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Michelle D. Miller, Northern Arizona University

There is wide consensus that a college education should equip students with thinking skills such as critical reasoning, problem solving, and logical analysis. Yet these abilities can be surprisingly difficult to build, sometimes eluding even the most expert instructors. And without explicit focus on higher thought processes, the learning experience can easily devolve into memorization and regurgitation.

Fortunately, the research literature in cognitive science offers insights that teachers can use to deliberately strengthen thinking skills. In this interactive session, participants will learn techniques for promoting higher thought processes, particularly through the use of instructional technology and online teaching tools. The session will also incorporate major theoretical concepts including formal and analogical reasoning, insight and non-insight problem-solving, and structural elements of problems, expertise and transfer — all contextualized within teaching and learning.

Learning goals:

  • Explain how thinking skills develop through practice across varied problems and contexts.
  • Generate strategies for eliciting effective practice using commonly available instructional technologies.
  • Address your students’ gaps in specific thinking skills, particularly critical thinking.
  • Use online peer-to-peer interactions (e.g., discussion boards) to reinforce thinking skills.
  • Correctly structure analogies to facilitate transfer across problems and contexts.

About the Presenter:

Michelle D. Miller

Michelle D. Miller is professor of psychological sciences and director of the First Year Learning Initiative at Northern Arizona University. Her scholarly interests include applied memory research, psychological impacts of technology, and student success in the early college career. Dr. Miller is active in course redesign, serving as a Redesign Scholar for the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT). She currently serves as a President's Distinguished Teaching Fellow at NAU. She is the author of Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology (2014, Harvard University Press).

Online Course Development 101

Friday, October 2, 2015   1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Renee M. Cicchino, Seton Hall University

Institutions are offering online versions of their face-to-face courses to meet the growing demand and needs of their learners. Courses are being rapidly built and faculty who are new to teaching online are being asked to develop and facilitate online courses.

Are you ready to develop and facilitate an online course?

This workshop will demonstrate key standards and essentials for developing a quality online course. We will begin with an overview of best practices in faculty readiness, engagement strategies, appropriate use of technology, and course design. The creation of measurable learning objectives, appropriate activities, assessments, and the alignment of these elements will be our main focus.

Participants are asked to bring a course syllabus so that they can develop one unit, module, or week of their course and receive feedback. Templates for course development as well as a variety of resources will be shared.

Learning goals:

  • Assess your readiness to develop/teach an online course.
  • Apply best practices in online course design to your own course.
  • Create a module/unit/week with measurable learning objectives, activities, and assessments based on a quality assurance rubric.

About the Presenter:

Renee M. Cicchino

Renee Cicchino is the senior instructional designer with the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center at Seton Hall University. Her primary focus is on supporting faculty in the development of online and hybrid courses, although she also manages special projects and initiatives for Seton Hall’s TLT Center. She is a Quality Matters Master Reviewer, a graduate of the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning through Penn State and the Sloan Consortium, and has earned a Certificate in Online Teaching through the Sloan Consortium.