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Insights from Instructional Technology Council eLearning Conference

Posted By Barbara Millard, Monday, February 23, 2015

Barbara Millard
Associate Professor - Marketing
Johnson County Community College

High Impact Educational Practices are Critical to Success in the Work World

As Jillian Kinzie, Associate Director, Center for Postsecondary Research and the National Survey of Student Engagment (NSSE) opened the closing keynote at the 2015 Instructional Technology Council eLearning conference, she shifted away from our three day focus on eLearning techniques and directed our attention to High Impact Practices (HIP) currently being recognized and encouraged by NSSE and CCSSE (Community College Survey of Student Engagement). These practices include opportunities such learning communities, service learning, study abroad, internships, student success courses, first year seminars and experiences, undergraduate research accelerated developmental education and capstone projects.

According to the NSSE, 81-84% of employers report that student involvement in high impact educational practices is critical to success in the work world. As students enter the work world, these higher impact practices are associated with persistence, deeper approaches to learning, increased critical thinking and a greater appreciation for diversity.

Her suggested “prescription” is that every student’s college career include at least 2 HIPs and she indicated that  many students taking face to face classes are meeting that goal. However, distance education students fall far behind when it comes to participation in HIPs. Her challenge to those of us teaching online – get creative and find ways to offer High Impact Practices to online students. It’s critical to their careers.

Gaming and Gamification

Prior to arriving at the Instructional Technology Council eLearning conference, I knew I was interested in attending sessions on Gaming and Gamification.  Having raised three boys I was aware that games could keep the young person's attention in ways I never could. However, what I learned in the sessions I attended on this topic, was somewhat different than I expected and as a result, my view of Gaming has greatly expanded.

I was introduced to a game development tool called eLearning Brothers. This is the type of application I was initially looking for and I'm excited about the idea of using this tool to customize games to meet my specific course objectives. However, I also learned that this type of tool falls under the classification of "Gaming" while the term "Gamification" refers  to using gaming “techniques” to create a more game like environment in courses using traditional delivery methods. For example, one professor shared her Gamification method which involves assigning online chapter quizzes with 10 - 20 multiple choice questions prior to coming to class. Students are allowed to take the quiz twice and receive the higher grade. Many of us do's a typical practice. But, here’s where the gamification comes in. After the quiz is closed, students are given the opportunity to enter a "Quest" and can take the quiz again up to five times for 2 points extra credit. To young people, failure is okay in games and they are motivated to try again. As they do so, they expect to advance to another level so the instructor has built levels into the course.  Students participating in the Quest can reach various levels based on the number of points they receive. Quest levels can be given titles that fit your subject matter area. In my retail management class, I'm thinking of using the levels of Department Manager, Store Manager and District Manager.

Blogging Best Teaching Practices

Since I find it difficult to turn down a challenge, I couldn’t resist attending the session “I Triple Dog Dare You to Take the 9 x 9 x 25 Challenge” at the recent ITC eLearning Conference. The focus of this session was finding ways to make it easy for busy faculty to share best practices. The presenter, Todd Conaway from Yavapai Community College, was faced the challenge that most of us have - faculty on his campus find it hard to carve out the time for "the professor in office A to share successful practices with the professor in office B”.  In an attempt to overcome that obstacle, he created the Triple Dog Dare 9x9x25 Challenge.

Todd challenged faculty to commit to writing a 25 sentence blog each week for 9 weeks. The blog had to be about teaching and learning. He felt the word “challenge” was a critical part of the project. According to Todd, “faculty wouldn't do it if assigned the task but to challenge faculty is whole different matter”. And, he sweetened that challenge with ice cream! Those who wrote the first week received a pint of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. Following weeks were rewarded with items such as books and water bottles and at the end of the year, a luncheon.  The result: a permanent record of best practices that can be accessed by faculty anytime, anywhere. More details about the challenge can be found at

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Steven Groner says...
Posted Saturday, February 28, 2015
Thank you for posting Barbara. You provided insight to a new topic for me- HIP, High Impact Practices. I think this will be a good topic for my March meeting with top administrators.

Thank you for making the distinction between Gaming & Gamification as I am just getting underway on these topics... looking into them as possible ways to better engage faculty, not just students. Your third story about blogging best teaching practices actually is gamification, is it not?
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