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December Deadlines

Nominations are being accepted for the 2013 Harriet W. Sheridan Award for Distinguished Contribution to Teaching and Learning.  
The Harriet W. Sheridan Award for Distinguished Contribution to Teaching and Learning recognizes those members of the faculty of Brown University who exemplify teaching through the support of their colleagues, including graduate students, in professional development that integrates teaching and research.  The Sheridan Center's Advisory Board invites faculty and members of the University academic administration to nominate faculty colleagues for this award.  Two awards are given each year and carry a stipend of $2,000 each. Nominations should be submitted no later than December 31, 2013 to Sheridan Center Executive Director Kathy Takayama.

Requests for Proposals: Coursera Classes and Experimental Digital Modules
The Sheridan Center is now accepting proposals in two areas: new Coursera classes for 2014 and experimental digital modules to be used in Brown classes during the 2014-15 academic year.  The deadline for both proposals is December 31, 2013.  Questions should be addressed to John Melson or Kathy Takayama.

News from the Center

First Cohort of the Sheridan Center's New Mentorship Program Selected
We are pleased to announce that the first cohort has been selected for Principles & Practice in Reflective Mentorship Program, a new Center program for graduate students in mentorship skills development.  In this program, teams and pairs of graduate and undergraduate students are pursuing scholarly development or examining research questions in a way that both gives the graduate students opportunities to practice critical mentorship skills and promotes undergraduate students' intellectual development.  Graduate student mentors also receive training in positive mentorship principles and practices.  
Learn about the members of the first cohort.

Sheridan Teaching Consultants Win Best Poster Award
Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences graduate students Neal Fox and Megan Reilly, who currently serve as Sheridan Teaching Consultants, were awarded Best Poster by the Society for the Teaching of Psychology for a poster they presented at the Northeast Conference for Teachers of Psychology in October 2013.  Their poster was titled "Significantly Different: A meta-analysis of the gap between statistics students learn and statistics psychologists use."
Congratulations Neal and Megan!

Click here to see more news from the Center.

Upcoming Events

Click the event title for more information or to register.

Academic Career Series: Life as a Faculty Member 
Join us at the Sheridan Center to hear guest faculty from various institutions share their experiences as a faculty member and their career paths that led to their academic positions.  See spring events here.

Fundamentals: Teaching & Learning Workshops: 
This Sheridan Center workshop series addresses practical strategies for new instructors.

Midyear New Faculty Orientation to Teaching at Brown
Open to faculty and postdocs new to teaching at Brown in Spring 2014.
Thurs, Jan 16, 12 - 1pm

Featured Resource from the Sheridan Center

Six Tips for Online Discussions (from the Digital Pedagogy Series)

You can find this and other handouts from this fall's Digital Pedagogy Series online now.

1. Provide structure
Discussion forums, especially in very large classes, can sometimes become confusing or even a little chaotic. Creating a simple yet clear and logical forum structure before class begins will make them more usable and, consequently, more conducive to sustained conversations. Consider organizing forums by unit, topic, or some other sensible measure.

2. Set clear expectations and policies in advance
You can help set the stage for civil and respectful discussions by creating clear expectations for student behavior. Establish some basic rules of forum etiquette and incorporate them into your syllabus or course guidelines. Explain the consequences of uncivil, antisocial, or hostile behavior.

3. Remain consistently active and visible
When instructors and teaching staff participate frequently in online discussions, the quality of student participation often improves dramatically. Taking part in the conversation demonstrates how much you value it; it also helps to model engagement with the ideas of others. Try to check in regularly, even if you only have time to post one or two very brief responses.

4. Respond quickly
Students often use discussion forums to pose questions or report problems, and waiting days for a response can be frustrating. While other students often try to help their classmates, nothing beats a direct response from the instructor or teaching assistant. If you post a prompt or create a new forum thread, be sure to respond to the discussions that ensue. Instructor-initiated discussions will quickly die out if you don’t remain involved.

5. Moderate with a light touch but intervene when necessary
Discussion forums constitute a vital social and intellectual community. Most of the time this community is self-regulating, but on occasion something goes wrong. Be prepared to intervene quickly if antisocial behavior threatens to derail productive conversations, but try to keep such interventions narrowly focused. Deleting an entire thread because of a single inappropriate comment is an extreme response that will do more harm than good.

6. Allow yourself to let go
Discussion forums provide students with spaces that are, in many ways, their own. They inhabit and actively shape them through their participation, and you can’t control everything that takes place there. Instead of seeing this as a disadvantage, consider online discussions a flexible, open environment where you and your students can meet on a more equal footing.