Dennis Butler

Dennis Butler

Location: living the dream right here

About me

Instructor – Engineer – Philosopher
• Philosopher with an Engineering background – Creative thinker.
• Instructor with 6 years experience teaching undergraduate Psychology, English, and Philosophy.
• Designer with 18 years experience in thermoplastics.
Instruktor - Designer - Philosoph - Eklektisch


Ok folks, so it’s important to read the room - initially and periodically throughout the lesson.  This to keep student engagement and motivation up.

Also, EQ helps me read individual encounters better.

Relationships - classroom discussions to hallway interactions to recommendation letters - are more important to teaching success than slideshows and droning lecture material will ever be.

That's my take on this module.

This course has reinforced that the student needs connection and anticipation, even excitement for the upcoming class.

Personal communication from me, as well as thoughful evaluation and feedback on their performance, are ways to keep students engaged.

Creating a variety of ways to explain assignments will result in better student outcomes.

Including other staff and admin will let them know that other people are monitoring their progress and cheering their successes.

These are areas that I can easily improve upon.

Ok Folks, how do I plan on implementing 'authentic' assesment? Never! That is, if the definition of 'authentic' is as nebulous and unfocused as presented here!

In an environment where a greater number of students are encountered each year, the individual attention required to assess each one 'authentically' is not possible - there is not sufficient time or one-on-one interaction to make subjective 'authentic' assessments.

So, quantifiable objective measures will continue to be employed, as well as pass/fail assignment grades.  The final grades also include a general 'feel' of student understanding, but are mostly based on testing and assignment evaluations.… >>>

What I have learned is:

1) That my breaking up of the midterm and final into weekly mini-exams is a good strategy.  Yes, the students complain about the workload, but it is the same workload spread out, as opposed to two main weeks of effort.  Glad to see that this has been noted by others.

2) That there are plenty of tech-based ways to enhance student engagement, and I need to explore them.


Ok Folks,

There is a value to the linear model.  Blocks of subject knowledge are completed without gaps, so the completeness of instruction is assured.  This model, where multiple inputs are attempted to be coordinated into a cohesive whole, without knowledge gaps, is alluring but likely to fail. This due to the overly complex task of coordination and individual assessments.  You want to volunteer for 4 times the work, for a marginally 'better' learning environment?  Nah, not until the tech is advanced to the point of reasonable effort.

In the meantime, I require about twenty pages of reading each week,… >>>

Ok Folks,

This multichannel approach should work well. Some students enjoy reading, others prefer videos and video lectures.

In my Contemporary Literature class, we use the physical books, audiobooks that can be listened to while reading along, video lectures, live zoom lectures, verbal and written discussions, and both pre-critical responses and periodic essays about the readings.

So, there is a kind of shotgun effect going on here.

Yet... a full third of the class attempts to skate by with substandard work - and half of these with no coursework at all.

I don't believe that the 'rich learning experience' helps… >>>

 First of all, continuous improvement is a myth.  Periodic improvements, based on shifting expectations is closer to reality.

Second, it will take multiple tools, from your multiple stakeholders, to provide the feedback that you will need to make periodic changes that improve your online course and satisfy shifting expectations!

Providing feedback that is specific is helpful for student learning.  A "good job"  does not provide sufficient information for an improvement.

Rubrics take some of the subjectivity out of written assignments which I prefer as students are not as able to claim favortism over grades

Scafolding can be acheived through discussions, through the knowledge brought forth by each contributing student. Students can build on knowledge acquired from others.  Having a dynamic syllabus allow it to be shared where studnets can access and utilize at any time. Yet I am unsure why a dynamic syllabus is beneficial, except as gingerbread for easily distracted students.

I am not planning on using dynamic syllabi.  This is, among other things, a contract - by nature a static document.

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