Blog Archive

This June, twenty faculty members spent a week of their summer participating in the Office of Teaching and Learning’s second-ever Course Design Institute (CDI). The CDI is a week-long, immersive experience focused on designing courses for significant learning –learning that has the potential to change students’ lives in lasting and important ways. We had an impressive group of participants from departments across the university, and a wonderful week working and learning together!

Participants started out by articulating their “Big Dream” for their course, reflecting on questions such as “What is the primary impact you want your course to have on students’ lives?” and “Five years after this course is over, what do I hope my students will still carry with them?” Then, throughout the week, they engaged in a series of interactive workshops, discussions, and collaborative and individual work time as they designed or redesigned their course to achieve that Big Dream, using research-based perspectives on how learning works a “tools to think with” in designing their courses for significant learning.

The CDI introduced faculty members to a set of tools, frameworks and approaches to support them in designing courses for significant learning. In addition, participants were able to experience a wide range of teaching approaches as students, and then reflect upon what they learned from that experience and how they might apply that to their own teaching. But just as importantly, the CDI provided faculty members with the opportunity to learn from and with their teaching colleagues from across the university.

Here are just some of the comments participants shared about the overall experience:

“The CDI has truly opened my eyes to the possibilities for course design. I learned lots and cannot wait to apply all the techniques into my other courses too.”

 “This institute has been an invaluable and rare opportunity to learn with and from colleagues across disciplines. Each learning opportunity was intentional and facilitated greater depth of experience. I am very grateful for this experience and look forward to implementing what I have learned.”

 “This was a great institute, both because of the content/instructors and because of the interaction with other faculty across campus. We are too siloed, even in our own schools! I appreciate the fact that DU is supporting teaching us how to be better teachers and how to respond to the new landscape of learning coming from the next generation of students.”

 “This was such a rich learning experience, from experts sharing, exercises, discussion with colleagues, self-reflection, and practice. I really enjoyed it and find it very helpful. I think that the CDI workshop itself is a great teaching model.”

It is exciting to see the great work that came out of this institute, and even more exciting to think about all of the students who will be impacted by this great work. We look forward to seeing the next group of wonderful faculty members who will be joining us for the next CDI in August!

 “I expected to learn a lot but I’m blown away by just how much I’ve learned.”

Do you have 20 minutes to learn?List of sample 20 minute mentor videos

  • How to Minimize Cheating in the Classroom?
  • How to Reduce Student Apathy and Increase Motivation?
  • How to Make the Activities in Your Course More Inclusive?
  • How to use Technology to Improve Learning?
  • How to use Twitter to Improve Teaching & Learning?

Take advantage of the Office of Teaching & Learning’s 20-Minute Mentor Commons subscription!

About 20-Minute Mentor Commons

As a member of our campus community this online resource from Magna Publications is available at no cost to you. 20-Minute Mentor Commons offers on-demand versions of their popular 20-Minute Mentor programs, covering a broad range of topics. Most videos include a note taking guide, supplemental PDF, and a transcript.

How do I get started?

There are two ways to access the 20-Minute Mentor Videos and Supplemental Resources:

  1. 20-Minute Mentor Canvas Course – Log into Canvas and follow the instructions on the home page. Email if you have problems.
  2. Request an account by emailing We will email you instructions and a link to the activation code.

Teaching Professor Newsletter

In addition, the OTL has a campus subscription to the Teaching Professor Newsletter, an 8-page document published 10 times per year with articles containing ideas and inspiration about current teaching issues.

If you’d like to join a list to receive copies of electronic newsletters as they are published, send an email to

Faculty members have much to learn from each other regarding teaching practice, yet we rarely have the opportunity to see each other teach. But what if we could get a window into each others classrooms?

Mark your calendars for the Peer Classroom Visit Kick-off Breakfast from 9:00 – 10:00 am on Wed, Sept 16 in the OTL Conference Room AAC Room 345, and sign up for fall quarter today (by Sept 14)!

DU’s Office of Teaching and Learning will offer a peer classroom visit program for interested DU instructors starting in 2015. The purpose of this program is to provide a mutually-supportive opportunity for self-reflection and sharing of good practice. Through observing each other and discussing teaching informally, this program will allow faculty members an opportunity to reflect upon, enhance, and celebrate their teaching.

Here’s an example of what the program will look like:

  • Instructors will be matched into small “peer learning groups” of three instructors for one academic quarter.
  • Instructors attend a kick-off meeting to learn more about the program and its goals. The peer groups will have time at that meeting to meet each other and plan their observations.
  • Instructors observe at least one class taught by each member of their group during the quarter.
  • Peer groups will meet informally at least one time to share observations and reflections with their group members (focusing on what they’ve learned about their own teaching, not their colleagues’ performance).
  • Everyone will attend a celebratory lunch at the end of the quarter to share overall insights and takeaways.

There are two options available to participate in this program.

  1. Instructors interested in participating can sign up individually to be matched with other participating faculty members.
  2. Instructors can determine their own group of three and register it with the OTL.


Sign up to join a fall quarter group by Sept 14


Contact Bridget Arend or Virginia Pitts with any questions about this program.

We have scheduled many workshops in the early fall to help you get your Canvas course(s) ready for fall. Join in to help jump start your course and use the most efficient techniques!

Canvas Basics

This workshop is an introduction to Canvas for new users. Topics in this session will include general navigation of the Canvas interface, content creation and organization, notifications and communication, and assignments (including quizzes, graded discussions, papers). The last 30 minutes will be dedicated to Q&A and an open lab session for you to start building your Canvas courses. If you wish to participate, please bring course documents and/or syllabi on a USB drive or bring your laptop. Facilitated by: Terri Johnson, Office of Teaching and Learning

Thursday, August 20, 2:00-3:30 pm  
Anderson Academic Commons 275 (Herold Research Instruction Room)

Monday, August 24, 1:00-2:30 pm  Register here
Anderson Academic Commons 275 (Herold Research Instruction Room)

Tuesday, August 25, 9:00-10:30 am   Register here
Anderson Academic Commons 275 (Herold Research Instruction Room)

Wednesday, September 2, 1:00-2:30 pm   Register here
Anderson Academic Commons 275 (Herold Research Instruction Room)

Thursday, September 3, 9:00-10:30 am   Register here
Anderson Academic Commons 275 (Herold Research Instruction Room)

Tuesday, September 8, 1:00-2:30 pm   Register here
Anderson Academic Commons 345 (OTL Conference Room)

Wednesday, September 9, 11:00 am-12:30 pm   Register here
Online via Adobe Connect:


Canvas Open Lab:

Wednesday, August 19, 12:00-3:00 pm
Anderson Academic Commons 345 (OTL Conference Room)

Friday, August 28, 9:00 am-12:00 pm Register here
Anderson Academic Commons 345 (OTL Conference Room)

Monday, August 31, 12:00 – 3:00 pm Register here
Anderson Academic Commons 345 (OTL Conference Room)

Thursday, September 10, 12:00 – 3:00 pm Register here
Anderson Academic Commons 345 (OTL Conference Room)

The Office of Teaching and Learning was pleased to host the first Teaching and Learning Week at the beginning of the Spring quarter. During the week, DU faculty and staff members were engaged in over 20 different workshops and roundtable discussions on a variety of topics, hosted by different departments and support units across DU.

Teaching and Learning Week 2015 018B

Teaching and Learning Week 2015 007

Teaching and Learning Week 2015 035

Many of the workshop materials and follow-up resources are now linked from the program schedule page on our website next the appropriate session.

In addition, video-recordings from the talks given by our special guest James Lang are available online:

Although there were many good ideas shared during the week, comments in our feedback survey indicate that many participants appreciated James Lang’s concept of “small teaching” – the idea that even small changes can make immediate and important impact in your teaching practice. Here are a few comments sharing what some faculty members have already implemented:

“I have already implemented two things I learned from the final keynote lunch. I have used the association exercise and also the method of asking students to speculate before giving them answers.”

“I’m thinking about improving learning in my course through the little changes I do to circle back through material or ask pre-quiz questions.”

“Enhance my minute papers based on research of increased learning from open questions about content. More time for faculty/student and student/student connection based on that research.”

“Loved the final presentation with the small changes ideas where you don’t have to implement something big to make a difference.”


If you participated in a session during Teaching and Learning Week and have not yet had a chance to do so, please take a moment to share your feedback with us.

We want to thank everyone who took some time this week to share their ideas, network with others, and learn something new!


Are you wondering why students often don’t come to class prepared? Curious about what they are really learning, and not learning? Are you looking for some new strategies and approaches?  Join one of our Winter workshops!

Are they really learning? Methods for gathering formative feedback to improve teaching

Our tests, papers, and assignments allow us to see how well students have learned. But, there are ways to find out more about what they are learning along the way.  What did students actually learn from the last class activity or homework? Are they starting to grasp the important concepts or organize their thinking in ways consistent with the discipline?  What methods can we use that allow us insight into our students’ thinking and learning progress, without taking too much time? In this session we will explore and see examples of a variety of methods for gathering feedback on student learning.

January 26, 3:00 – 4:30 pm
OTL Conference Room, 345 Anderson Academic Commons
Facilitators: Bridget Arend and Rob Flaherty

Register here

Why don’t my students come to class prepared?

DU instructors are using more active learning methods in class. In order to make the most out of class time, it is critical that students come to class prepared. However, this is not always the case. In this session, we will discuss common reasons why students do not prepare for class, and explore a number of methods instructors can use to help motivate their students.

February 11, 2:00 – 3:30 pm
OTL Conference Room, 345 Anderson Academic Commons
Facilitator: Bridget Arend

 Register here

November 3, 2014 – November 3, 2014

Upper Floor of Anderson Academic Commons

View MapMap and Directions | Register


Have you been meaning to work on those rubrics you need for grading, or for that signature assignment in your course? Take this opportunity to explore general guidelines and best practice for using rubrics. You will work with colleagues and get some hands-on advice for developing and implementing your rubric.

Participants should bring with them a rubric in development, or an assignment in need of a rubric.

Facilitated by: Rob Flaherty and Bridget Arend



This Fall the OTL will offer a series of “Lunch and Learn” sessions on various topics related to teaching and learning. Bring your lunch and your curiosity and join us for one or all of the sessions!

Methods for Encouraging Self-directed Learning: Assignment Wrappers

Facilitated by: Bridget Arend
Wednesday, October 8, 12:00-1:00 pm
OTL Conference Room (AAC Rm 345)
“Wrappers” are short handouts or surveys that students complete along with an assignment or exam. The wrapper focuses on the learning process rather than on the content itself. In this session we will look at a number of assignment wrapper examples and discuss methods for using them effectively. If you’ve already used wrappers in your course, please contact before the session.

Register here

How Research on Learning Can Inform Our Teaching

Facilitated by: Virginia Pitts
Wednesday, October 15, 12:00-1:00 pm
OTL Conference Room (AAC Rm 345)
In this interactive workshop, we’ll discuss some key research-based perspectives on how people learn that can be used as “tools to think with” when it comes to designing and facilitating learning experiences for our students.  An initial 20-minute presentation on these research-based perspectives will be followed by an opportunity for faculty to discuss how these perspectives might apply to their own work with students.

Register here

Using Canvas for Assessment

Facilitated by: Rob Flaherty & Ryan Shiba
Tuesday, October 21, 12:00-1:00 pm
OTL Conference Room (AAC Rm 345)
This workshop/roundtable event explores the tools available in the Canvas system for building program assessment into the evaluation of course assignments.  Learn how outcomes can be designated and then aggregated at the program level as part of your assessment plan.  An initial overview will be followed by a Q&A discussion that can focus on the needs of individual programs.  This initial conversation will help the Office of Teaching and Learning identify current and future needs for assistance in this area.

Register here

Assessment as Scholarship

Facilitated by: Rob Flaherty
Wednesday, October 29 12:00-1:00 pm
OTL Conference Room (AAC Rm 345)
Description:   Serious assessment projects can provide opportunities to present or publish the findings.  Come and talk about ways to translate your work in assessment into additions to your vita.  Topics may include:  Working with the IRB, where to publish or present, and the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Register here


October 28, 2014 – October 28, 2014

Anderson Academic Commons, Room 340

View MapMap and Directions | Register


Facilitated by: Chayla Haynes, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Colorado
Tuesday, October 28, 2:00-3:30 pm
The Loft, Anderson Academic Commons

This interactive workshop aims to both expose faculty to teaching practices that promote inequitable educational outcomes among college students based on race and equip faculty with the skills to implement behaviors (i.e., specific course design formats and pedagogical choices) in their classrooms that link inclusion to teacher excellence. Participants are encouraged to come to the workshop ready to engage in the type of discussion and group activity that fosters deep learning, reflexivity, and the co-construction of knowledge.


Law Student Smart Board_ Student with laptopJoin us this session to learn about producing effective instructional videos and using Camtasia Studio Basics. We will showcase instructional videos done by DU faculty members. This workshop will be taught by Alex Martinez from the Office of Teaching & Learning. Main points include:

  • Strategizing video to related course assignments and/or assessment
  • Advising instructors to use conversational language in production; also encouraging them to use humor and draw on past experiences
  • Adding audio/visual elements to the video that supplement the content; the videos should not convey information that students could just read as text
  • Producing high-quality videos (despite mixed findings related to production values, elements such as professional sound, lighting, and graphics are considered important when creating high-quality media)
  • Keeping the four-minute view time as a design consideration, especially when producing longer-form content lectures that can be broken up into shorter segments


Thursday, September 11th 1:00-2:00 pm
Location: Anderson Academic Commons 275 (Research Instruction Room)
Register here

Click the video full screen icon to improve visual quality.

Related Resources:

Camtasia Studio Tutorials

Camtasia Studio Video Export to DU VideoManager

Confuse Students to Help Them Learn

What makes online instructional video compelling

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