Category Archives: New tools and ideas

Eight Tips for Writing Good Multiple-Choice Questions

multiplechoiceDo a quick Google search on “worst multiple choice questions” and you’ll come up with something like this:

Macbeth was probably written to honor:

(a) Macbeth; (b) Shakespeare; (c) James I; (d) God whose ancestors came from Scotland

With the half-way point of the semester behind us, and final exams around the corner, we thought we’d provide some tips for writing good multiple-choice questions. The eight tips below, drawn from the Teaching Professor’s Faculty Focus Blog, are based on Maryellen Weimer’s years of experience as a faculty member and from Kansas State University’s IDEA Paper No. 16: Improving Multiple-Choice Tests.

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The Tao of Teaching With Technology

Even in the best of times, using technology to teach your students can sometimes be a frustrating process. But with patience and an open mind, that TechYangprocess can also yield tremendous rewards for both the teacher as well as the student. The CTL’s resident Taoist, Bill Drummond, has compiled a few nuggets of wisdom to help you keep calm, find your center and ultimately, to peacefully co-exist with Instructional Technology.


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Keeping Students Engaged With Video

We at the CTL understand that many faculty prefer to remain as low-tech as possible, utilizing technology only when  necessary. Our guest blogger this month is one such faculty member. Mathematics Professor Lori Chapman had an opportunity to discover how posting her lectures on YouTube and ANGEL helped her engage students: 

I wanted to share how an out-of-classroom use of technology helped me stay connected with my students in the classroom.  First of all, I’m not a very “tech-centric” person; I can do what I need to do, but if I don’t need technology to do Chalkboardsomething, I won’t use it.  I take the same approach to teaching: if a shiny new technique genuinely enhances my courses I will use it, but mostly I stick with what I know works.  I know what works in the classroom is to stay connected with students! Continue reading

Sailing the Sea of Data: What is Learning Analytics?


Technology is supposed to aid instructors with their courses, but with the increasing amount of data generated by laptops, smartphones, tablets and Learning Management Systems, so much data can seem like a vast, confusing sea of information. How can we navigate past the rocks and shoals and steer ourselves into calmer waters where we can put the data to use? Continue reading

Prezi: Presentations “in the Round”

Prezi horizontalIf you are like most successful faculty, you are always looking for new tools to help create content and engage students. One of those tools is Prezi a free, web-based presentation software which allows you to create and share your presentations as well as store your work in the cloud for access anywhere.

In as little as five minutes you could be creating presentations that can help to transform your lecture into a conversation. Using a nonlinear approach to construct a story can help the audience remember the important ideas.

Unlike the two-dimensional, side-scrolling  nature of PowerPoint, Prezi lets your information flow in a three-dimensional space. You can zoom, twist and turn your presentation any way you want in order to get your point across. While Prezi does offer an extremely eye-catching way to deliver your presentations, it also enhances lectures and gives instructors and students a new way to think about how information can be presented. Continue reading

The Virtual Field Trip

deer creek grand canyon

Much of the  information for this post was adapted from the blog, Free Technology for Teachers.

You might not be able to take your students to all the places they learn about in your classroom, but thanks to the web you can take them on virtual field trips.  Take interactive tours of  the Grand Canyon, Van Gogh Museum, and Sistine Chapel right from your computer!

Practically every week more STREET VIEW imagery is added to Google Maps. Through Street View students can take tours inside the White House, visit research stations in Antarctica, virtually hike the Grand Canyon, or go under water to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Some of these places are also featured in the Google World Wonders Project. Continue reading

“Exercising” our Creative Technology Potential

Physical Education Professor Sheila Tansey likes a challenge, she also likes trying new things.  So when we heard about how Sheila has integrated the iPad, mobile apps AND video recording into her courses we knew it was too good NOT to share.  The problem was, how does one person video record, analyze, and share feedback to students in courses such as tennis, bowling and golf.  These courses require a huge amount of time and personal attention … so what’s a coach to do?

We’ll let Professor Tansey explain:

When the College was no longer able to come to my classes and record my students and hand them the VHS of their performance, I had to come up with a creative solution to make sure the students were not being short-changed. With the help of the CTL, I think I was able to do just that.

This generation of students is not camera-shy and more willing to publicly share and provide feedback. The trick was how to use this to my advantage and to facilitate the learning process. What I’ve found by using the tools below, is that I have been able to increase class participation, increase retention of information, and solved my problem of video recording with feedback. Along the way, I have been able to incorporate other tools into the teaching and learning process that have elevated the students’ ownership over their learning and has allowed me to coach them through this process. By taking ownership over their learning, students both work at a higher level and inject more creativity into their assignments.

Here are some of the tools I’ve begun using and how I’ve integrated them into the courses:

  • Use the Coach’s Eye app to record student performances and provide feedback. This allows me to share a video of individual student performances along with audio and screen annotations of my analysis.
  • Use the Swingbyte app to provide a graphical representation on the X,Y and Z axes of the student’s golf swing and ball flight. It tracks individual improvement and the data can be immediately be shared.
  • Self-Defense students were recorded, uploaded to YouTube and linked within the ANGEL course. Students review and practice using the videos before their skill assessments.
  • Pilates students wrote their own routine, recorded it, uploaded to YouTube and provided the link within ANGEL. Students can continue working out to their own routine after the class is over.
  • Use the Myfitnesspal app to record calorie intake when eating, calories burned through exercise, scans barcodes to get the nutrition information, and calculations to see the impact of their activities in health and wellness classes.

It is always quicker and less work to deliver course material in the same way as done in the past, especially if it has been successful. It does take time and effort for the initial learning and experimenting to find the solution that best fits the curricular outcomes. The CTL staff helped cut down time spent on the technical learning curve and help brainstorm implementing possible solutions. The payoffs have been well worth the investment.


Want to know more? Contact us OR drop Sheila a line. (  Are you using an iPad or mobile apps in an interesting way?  We want to spotlight the great things you’re already doing.

Show and Tell: Guest Speakers in the Digital Age

It’s past midterms, it’s right before spring break. Even your best students are card-carrying members of the Apathy Club and come to think of it … you’ve started your own count down to the end of the semester.

Well, SNAP OUT OF IT! Or better yet find a guest speaker. Bringing in a guest speaker can change-up the pace and add insights or knowledge that differ from your own.   Thanks to technology,  your guest doesn’t have to travel at all or you can record their one time talk and use it over again next semester or for online.

skype interview

Through the magic of technology, Professor Steinborn is able to interview speakers from Switzerland, Germany, and France while his students were here in the Detroit Metro-area.  How perfect for an international  business course!  Think of the possibilities of Skyping with peers in Mexico or Egypt for language courses.   Interviewing the author of the course textbook. Artists, CEO’s, Scientists, even your Grandmother in Florida, who know what stories and experiences are out there to share!

Cools tools to use:

  • Adobe Connect – for web Conferencing.
  • Skype – It’s easy and almost everyone has it.  Click here for Skyping in Education.
  • Panopto – use it to capture your live or virtual speaker.

Need to find someone? Check out these options

For tips on this subject check out this website:

Need help setting up the tools to connect with your guest speaker, let us know.  Have you brought in a guest speaker into your class? How did it go? Let us know in the comments.

Say Adieu to the Red Pen and Bonjour to Turnitin


Help students turn around their writing using Turnitin.   It’s the next best thing to help student writers since the typewriter … Ok, that may be a stretch but we think that Turnitin has great potential to help our students get better feedback from instructors and peers.  Here is what it offers:

  • An easy and efficient way to deliver electronic feedback to students on their writing assignments.
  • An easy and efficient way to manage and monitor peer evaluations.
  • The ability to leave voice comments for students.
  • Access to rubrics to help your students understand what is being asked of them. 
  • Best of all Macomb has an institutional license and y
  • ou can access it through ANGEL … right now!

How to use Turnitin

When people think of Turnitin the first thing that usually comes to mind is anti-plagiarism because it runs a diagnostic report using internet sources and Turnitin’s database of submitted papers for closely borrowed and plagiarized material.  While this tool can be helpful it should be used with care.  As one professor explained, “I don’t want to begin my new relationship with students assuming that they are going to cheat and that my job is to catch them at it. My students are not my adversaries.”  Kudos to this Macomb faculty member, who has her student’s best interests in mind.  So while you may be excited about this feature we strongly suggest that Turnitin should be used as a positive tool rather than a punitive trap.  So forget the originality report for right now.  It’s small beans compared to what else the program allows you to do … and don’t fret, we’ll address this tool in a future post. So check out these cool tools instead.

GradeMark – Allows for 5 different types of engaging and individualized feedback.  You can choose from a variety of pre-made comments,  create your own or leave voice comments.

PeerMark – Easily allows students to have access to each other’s papers and provides for interactive peer feedback.

Rubrics – Connect assignments with grade level appropriate rubrics or create your own.

To get started with Turnitin, access your ANGEL Master shell, go to Lessons and then click Add Content.  Scroll down to Turnitin at the bottom of the screen.  Give your assignment a title to get started. It’s that easy!

Click here for faculty focused tutorialsmacbook13red2

Help your Students Research, Write, and Stay Informed.

Here is the scenario: You want your students to write a persuasive or argumentative essay about a current topic.  Typical assignment, right? Except you have some concerns.

  • How do students pick a topic?
  • How does the student get relevant, accurate and balanced sources in a timely manner?
  • How do they cite and share their sources?
  • Your students do not have very strong organization, writing or research skills and you DON’T have time to devote a lesson to all three skill sets.

We have a helpful tool  it’s called Opposing Viewpoints in Context.  It is a free database for students and teachers available through MeL,  (Michigan e-Library)  Opposing Viewpoints in Context is the premier online resource covering today’s contested social issues, from Offshore Drilling to Climate Change, Health Care to Immigration. Opposing Viewpoints in Context helps students research, analyze and organize a broad variety of data for conducting research, completing writing assignments.  This is an extremely rich resource and will definitely be one of your most powerful teaching tools.

Highlights include:

  • More than 14,000 pro/con viewpoint essays
  • 5,000+ topic overviews
  • More than 300 primary source documents
  • 300 biographies of social activists and reformers
  • More than 775 court-case overviews
  • 5 million periodical articles
  • Nearly 6,000 statistical tables, charts and graphs
  • Nearly 70,000 images and a link to Google Image Search
  • Thousands of podcasts, including weekly presidential addresses and premier NPR programs

Benefits: Students can browse for topics using keywords or by subject. The topic page includes multimedia sources that the students can then use to craft their argument or learn about the controversy.  By giving your students some structure and more specific sources you will prevent them from drowning in a sea of information.  Using this model can reinforce of concepts from lecture in a real-world context, while also stressing organization and proper citation.

Here is how you get there:

Go to Click on MeL databases.  Scroll down to Opposing View points…they are in alphabetical order.  You may have to go through  authentication which may include typing in your driver’s license. 

Try This:   Send your students to Opposing View Points topic page  for homework have them study the various articles.  Instead of lecturing stage a debate style discussion OR create a jigsaw discussion group.  Then give a quiz on the basic information.  After this you will have accomplished:

  1. An engaging lesson,check.
  2. Student self-directed study, check.
  3. Real word application,check.
  4. One less class comprised of straight lecture, double-check.

With all those checks you can write one payable to the CTL…or just tell us how it went 🙂