Screencast: ‘Problem Solving’ class activity to try out.

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Laptop misuse in the classroom: Trust is a four-letter word.

My first laptop in college. Unlike today's laptops, the professor could hear us if we were using it!

Trust is a four-letter word. A very successful business person once told me about the importance of giving your ‘word’ (four-letters) to a customer. In business, or for that matter, anytime where your reputation is at stake, giving your word means everything. Use this lesson and apply it to stop (or, at least minimize) laptop misuse in the classroom. Here’s how:

During the first day of class, look around the room at all the students using laptops and tablets and have them [Read more…]

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“SHUT UP!”: 10 tips on how to deal with disruptive students in the classroom.

“SHUT UP!” Ok, so I snapped. It’s only happened once, and that was during my earlier years as a perhaps, ‘not- so-experienced’ professor. I was teaching a class about the importance of business plans and told a related joke. It’s good to have that kind of rapport with your students, right? Well, I thought so, up until the part when a small group of them didn’t settle down after the joke. [Read more…]

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All profs should watch a Steve Jobs presentation.

An Apple store window covered in R.I.P. post-it notes.

When I watched the video of Steve Jobs delivering his keynote presentation at the WWDC on June 6, 2011, I, like many others, didn’t realize that it would be his last. Today, as I read his biography, ‘Steve Jobs’, by Walter Isaacson, one quickly realizes that he was not only a visionary, entrepreneur, and creative genius, but he was also a master at presenting. The [Read more…]

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Digital Camera Quiz: How can you use a digital camera at the college?

Kodak Zi8

Kodak Zi8 for capturing college experiences.

One of the best small investments I made was to buy a Kodak Zi8 1080p Pocket HD Camcorder (Note: Kodak has recently replaced this model with the ‘Kodak Play Touch’). Your department may already have one for faculty to use, but personally, I think it is worth the investment to get your own so you don’t have to wait for someone else to return it. Plus, most likely, when you need it, that’s when it will be out ‘on loan’. Since I never buy anything [Read more…]

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Quick Tip: Get into ‘Google Translate’ conversation mode.

Learn multiple languages at once

This is a handy app to have for profs using iPhones or iPads in the classroom. You can now translate words and phrases in over 60 different languages ‘on the fly’. So, let’s say, for example, you want to say “good job” when you hand back an assignment to an international student from China. Open up Google Translate on your iPhone/iPad, key in the phrase, and then listen to the audio for pronunciation. When you hand the assignment back to the student, you can say both, “Good job”, and “Hǎo gōngzuò”. Nice touch. Try it out and start to ‘wow’ your diverse student population with your newly acquired language skills!

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Group work in class: How to ‘deal’ with it.

Playing cards are great for 'shuffling' groups.

If you want to shuffle students into groups for in-class activites (or even projects), shuffle the deck! Depending on the size of the class and the size of the groups that you want, use a deck of playing cards to determine the groups. Let’s assume you want to set up groups of four students per group.  [Read more…]

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Music in the classroom ideas: Your class will ‘rock’.

Walking across Abbey Road

I’ve always liked rock music.  Ever since hearing the ‘Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night’ album at my Aunt Shirley’s house when I was a pre-teen, I was hooked. If I remember correctly, the first album I ever ‘bought’ was by the rock group, ‘Deep Purple’, called ‘Who do we think we are’ (it still rocks!). I had the coolest looking record player than anyone I knew. It had a dark green dome with a silver base. I wore out [Read more…]

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The final countdown: digital timers for Mac users.

This timer looks like the countdown at the beginning of the TV series, "24". Go to to see more.

I went on a search for a countdown timer that I can put directly into my ‘Keynote’ presentation slides. I came across a free download of a digital timer from a website called, ipresentee. It has a pretty cool graphic (see image attached to this post as an example) and you can customize the countdown. I usually set my timer for mid-class breaks at 12:37 seconds. It’s a different spin on how to tell students that we don’t start back ‘around’ 12 minutes, but specifically at 12:37! When you say, “let’s take a 10 minute break”, it sounds too general and students stroll [Read more…]

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Quick Tip: Reduce student stress, increase student retention

Before a semester begins, have a meeting with other faculty members that teach in your program of study and map out everyone’s due dates for projects, exams, and assignments. You may be surprised to see just how many student project due dates overlap during the same week or even the same day. A bottleneck of deadlines creates a huge amount of stress for students, which, in turn, affects retention. How often have we heard students say, “we have an exam, 3 projects and 2 presentations due all on the same day!”. This can easily be avoided if everyone knew each other’s due dates and exam schedules.

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