Four Feathers Writing Guide – LibGuides at Royal Roads University

Four Feathers Writing GuidePicture of Royal Roads University.
As someone who taught community college in Humboldt County and elsewhere, I have been looking for something like this for years. This is a very important piece of work – I have seen Indigenous People’s readers (Jacqui Cain worked on one), but this gets into the teaching and learning, the pedagogy of teaching Indigenous peoples.

The Four Feathers Writing Guide respectfully presents traditional Coast Salish teachings and approaches to learning to support Indigenous students develop as academic writers. While Coast Salish teachings may not be transferrable across all Indigenous communities, we hope those presented in this guide will create a pathway to academic writing. The teachings and approaches to learning in this guide are shared with permission. The ownership of the Traditional Knowledge remains in perpetuity with the appropriate Nation; accordingly, the information should not be re-used without explicit permission.

This is especially helpful as a resource for teaching about Indigenous People’s Day.

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Increasing Inclusivity in the Classroom | Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University

Source: Increasing Inclusivity in the Classroom | Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University

I have been reading teaching guides at Vanderbilt and I am really impressed by this work. It provides clear definitions, plenty of teaching tips, and links to great resources. “Drawing from the literature on inclusive teaching in higher education, the current section considers the importance of increasing inclusivity and is framed by two overarching issues. The first issue is that of student belonging in their classrooms and in the broader campus culture. Most students struggle to transition into college, but students of less privileged and more marginal backgrounds face even greater challenges as they enter what they can perceive to be an unwelcoming or even hostile environment (Carter, Locks, Winkle-Wagner, & Pineda, 2006; Kalsner & Pistole, 2003). To help students overcome challenges integrating into college life, teachers can work to cultivate a sense of belonging among their students. Section Two of this teaching guide provides resources for teachers to increase the sense of belonging in their classrooms.”

And importantly, this material is openly licensed! This teaching guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Teaching Beyond the Gender Binary in the University Classroom | Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University

Source: Teaching Beyond the Gender Binary in the University Classroom | Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University

Great resource for creating a more inclusive classroom. “In recent years, students on campuses across the country have become increasingly vocal in resisting binary thinking with respect to gender identity and expression. In an editorial that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Schmalz (2015) interviewed a dozen students who self-identified as gender non-conforming and found a great amount of anxiety and frustration. Several students expressed their fear of instructors and staff misgendering them or committing other indiscretions. They described their anxiety about being “outed” by professors in their classes and being forced to “come out” every semester when they must talk with faculty about their preferred names or pronouns. One student shared, “Every day it’s scary to just be in class, not knowing what people are going to say” (Schmalz 2015).”

Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching is a great resource! Their teaching guides (like the one linked above) are openly licensed: “This teaching guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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NWeLearn: E-Texts as Collaborative Engagement

This is another presentation I gave at the Northwest eLearn Conference in Bend, OR on Oct. 17. There will be recordings of this presentation available later but I wanted the attendees to have a copy of it now. Some of the more interesting and salient points of this presentation are around the democratization of the web. Tools like allow us to comment on websites even if a govt. or “thought leaders” are discouraging or preventing it (e.g. sites that do not allow comments or “Comments closed for this blog.”). Web annotation tools represent a re-opening of the web that I think will represent as significant advance in collaborative thinking since cheap postage.

Hands down, I am finding to be the best, most useful, and easiest of the web annotation tools out there. If you agree, I would love to hear in the comments how you are using it in your work, and if you disagree, tell me about the tools you use! Thanks!

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NWeLearn: Badging for Beginners

This was a presentation I gave at the Northwest eLearn Conference in Bend, OR on October 17th. It was a short outline about what badges are and who is using them and why. Then, I went on to talk about badging efforts in the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges where I am working with Steve Gance to develop a badging program for the SBCTC’s professional development.

We plan on rolling out more tutorials and workshops at later phases of this project to the rest of the community and technical colleges.

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NWeLearn: Building a Community of Learners Online via Discussions

Title: Building a community of learners online via discussions (yes, its possible)

These are some brief notes from a presentation I went to at the Northwest eLearn Conference. My usual disclaimer: the rambling nature of my notes represents my interests and abilities, not those of the presenters, who were just great!


On the final evaluations for your course, do you see, “the discussions were a waste of time” or “the discussions were awesome, I learned a lot!” In this session, questioning techniques, rubrics, and online tools will be shared for better student discussion engagement and instructor management. A fish-bowl-style dialogue will involve the audience to crowdsource additional tips and strategies.


Debra Spielmaker
Utah State University
Debra Spielmaker is a Professor at Utah State University in the School of Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education. Dr. Spielmaker serves as the Graduate Program Director for the School, and teaches online graduate courses related to educational research and Career and Technical Education (CTE). Debra is also the team leader for the National Center for Agricultural Literacy and conducts research in this area along with STEM, CTE, and project-based learning.

Amy Spielmaker
Western Oregon University
Amy Spielmaker works in the College of Education at Western Oregon University where she teaches instructional design, develops marketing materials, oversees digital media production, develops and maintains all college websites, and assists faculty with curriculum development and creating engaging online classes. Amy also does freelance web and instructional design.


We looked at example of bad discussion questions.

Good prompts require critical thinking, relates to student experience, immediately applicable and have many responses.  Good prompts sets up conflict or cognitive distance.

They used Bloom’s Taxonomy to help develop discussion questions.

50 questions to help students think about what they think.

Common goals: engage with the content, participate, learn from one another’s work, and feel connected.

Using the discussions as the main level of engagement has issues. It violates UDL principles. You need to assess with a wider range of learning modalities. Some problems:

  • Confusing sharing work with “what did you learn?”
  • Requiring peer replies – this forces the community and is not organic community.
  • Believing in spontaneous generation – “…part of the problem is treating discussion as an end, rather than a means.” (Troy Hicks)

Debra seems to like these techniques and use them to provide deeper learning in the discussion forums.

Alternative discussion methods text/audio /video. Unless you have a good reason, you should let students use multimodes for assessment. They can be

  • voluntary – you can record meetings for those who don’t come
  • synchronous
  • panel – bring in guest speakers (experts, writers, etc.)
  • anonymous

Specify the levels of communication:

  • Formality
  • Netiquette
  • Quality and quantity
  • Accepted media
  • Citation rules
  • Participation and peer replies
  • Grading
  • Due dates

Debra staggers the due dates to give everyone a chance to respond to the other students: main post on Thurs. and the first reply is due on Fri. and the final response on Sun.

Streamline feedback

  • Make it personal. Use a generic comment with simple statement substitutions.
  • Tool tip: Awesome ScreenShot
  • Do a weekly reflection

Question: Do you participate as an instructor in the discussion forums? Debra: monitor but intervenes. These are grad students.

Ask students

Ask what they like or don’t like about discussions?

Alternatives to discussions

  • Case studies
  • Concept maps
  • interview
  • infographic
  • Create/Design


  • Prezi
  • Padlet
  • Flipgrid
  • Twitter/Tweetdeck
  • Slack
  • PowToon
  • Adobe Spark
  • G Suite Apps
  • Zoom
  • Edpuzzle
  • HP5

Really interesting technique – ask a broad topic question about the subject at the beginning of the class and then ask the students to answer the same question at the end.

In large classes, have students lead group discussions.

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NWeLearn: Universal Design for Learning Practices and Ideas

These are my random notes from a conference session. The usual caveats apply: any disorganization is based on my own interests and abilities, not the presenters. Contents may settle in shipping.


We will introduce the basic concepts of Universal Design for Learning and explain the value and impact it can have for you and your students. We will also demonstrate how you as an instructor can start incorporating UDL into your classroom, and the many resources that can help you on your journey. This session will also engage in audience participation and create an online resource list based on session contribution.


Dr. Michael H Murphy
Director for eLearning and Academic Technology, Central Oregon Community College
Dr. Michael H. Murphy is the Director for eLearning and Academic Technology at Central Oregon Community College (COCC). Prior to working at COCC, he was the coordinator for the Masters Programs and Associate Professor at Lander University in South Carolina.

Kristine Roshau
Instructional Systems Specialist, Central Oregon Community College
LMS Administration, Instructional Design, Faculty Training, Universal Design for Learning, Accessibility

Yasuko Jackson
Instructional Design Specialist, Central Oregon Community College

Jamie Rougeux
Coordinator for Disability Resources, Central Oregon Community College


Jamie Rougeux talked about her work in Disability Services and the connection to elearning. They were acting reactively to accommodations. We can create a broader curriculum that will target individuals with different needs.

Goals for Today: a basic undersantding of UDL, components of UDL based instruction, assessing your own curriculum, and available resources.

CAST – UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals. Dr. Murphy discussed the history of UDL.

A discussion of the three brain networks: Affective, Recognition, and Strategic networks in the brain. The what, why

Methods of assessment should not always be in the same mode. Students need opportunities for choice. How do we connect lessons to learning objectives. Every lesson should be connected to every objective.

UDL uses a lot of project learning. Students are asked to apply their work to real life situations.

Differentiated instruction means how you can make the work relevant. Collaboration, reflection, multimodal assessments.


  1. Choose one activity or lesson you are comfortable with,
  2. Identify which principle the lesson addresses
  3. Research ideas based on the resources based on the end of the presentation
  4. Compare your changes with your course competencies. Are they still being met?
  5. Try it out and evaluate. How did your students do? Ask for feedback.

There is a lot of open pedagogy here in this vision of UDL.  What are the true objectives of the course versus just the things that you think college students need to know or do. She claimed that we need to seperate the learning and communication skills from the subject matter.

Again with the objectives…

What is in your toolkit?

  • Ally
  • Readspeaker
  • Kaltura
  • Zoom
  • Captionsync

Their three primary tools are:

  1. Blackboard ALLY is an integrated tool to raise awareness on accessible materials.
  2. ReadSpeaker is a text to speech tool. It has a suite of tools that assist readers with learning disabilities.
  3. Kaltura Media (storage) and CaptureSpace (the utility). Automated closed captions. This is like Panopto.

Explore the National Center on Universal Design for Learning


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NWeLearn: An Accessible Course

Crystal Nielsen

Crystal Nielsen

These are some brief notes from an accessibility presentation I went to at the North West eLearn Conference. My usual disclaimer: the rambling nature of my notes represents my interests and abilities, not those of the presenter, who was just great!

Title: An Accessible Course: So Easy Your Grandmother Can Do It!

If you’re like most faculty, you’ve heard that you need to make your courses accessible. Surely, that’s a task more formidable than helping your elderly relative set up a new smartphone. Or is it? In this session, attendees will learn several key concepts to make the creation of digitally accessible content second nature.

Attendees will be able to

  • Explain the basic, underlying principles involved with digital accessibility.
  • Identify how to make images accessible, including special cases such as infographics.
  • Identify how to make links accessible, including the use of image links and the concept of front-loading.
  • Identify how to make headings accessible, including how to avoid empty headings and presentational attributes.

Crystal Nielsen
Northwest Nazarene University
Instructional Designer & Technologist
Crystal brings expertise in online course design, digital accessibility, and copyright compliance to her role as Instructional Designer & Technologist at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho. Involved in higher education since 2004, she has worked extensively with Blackboard, ANGEL, and now Canvas. A prior chair of the Northwest eLearning Community, Crystal has an M.A. in education with an emphasis on educational technology from San Diego State University.

My Notes:
I attended this to keep up on what others are doing about accessibility and to check in with any of the latest accessibility technology.

7 out of 10 students use the captions on videos and 3 out of 4 of the students do so as a learning aid.

She discussed “alt text” – this explains when an explanation is necessary. Info graphics need to be described. I suggested building infographics from an outline to help keep the infographic organized while providing an accessible transcript.

Accessible links
Blind students often use the tab key to find links. Embed your links on descriptive phrases. Front loading: Provide the links using a bulleted list of the most important information. Make the first words of links unique – if the first words are all the same like, “Help Desk Google,” Help Desk LMS” use “LMS help desk,” “Google help desk.”

Image links – make it functionally useful in the alt text.

Accessible Page Structure

Use headings, not bold, color, or font size to lay out a page. The screen readers announce the headings so it is a good practice to use them in order: H1, h2, h3, etc. You can use different fonts and bolding but use the headings formatting as well.

Captioning Tools  – she uses Canvas Studio, YouTube, and Amara.Org (Amara does this for free).

Canvas – Canvas has some general accessibility guidelines. WebAim has an accessibility web site with recommendations.

Tables – Use correct labels for tables <th> for headers and <td> for table data.

Color resolution. Use a color resolution checkers. Make sure the contrast is high.

We had a tour of one of her courses that uses accessible, functional alt text in images.


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A New Open Textbook on Philosophy

Intro to philosophy book cover.I got a notice of this last week. It looks like a good introduction to philosophy. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the series:

Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind surveys both historical and contemporary theories and debates around philosophy of mind to introduce first time readers to the field. The book covers dualism, functionalism, freedom of the will, and consciousness among other subjects, with each chapter written by different experts in that field. This is the first complete textbook from the new Rebus Community Introduction to Philosophy series, which will eventually include 9 introductory Philosophy textbooks in total.”

If you are not familiar with open textbooks (free, online, openly-licensed) there is a good explanation of open textbooks in this book.

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Facilitating Online Discussions for eLearning

Communication imageThis is a post in support of a presentation I am giving for Columbia Basin College’s eLearning Days. One of the reasons the presentation part is so short is because I am using the presentation as a launch pad for both a broader discussion with participants on class discussion in general and then towards the end I want to finish up with discussion question creation and the challenges of online discussion. I am reproducing my “resources” page below the discussion. I would love to hear about any resources, rubrics, or discussion guides you found helpful. I think this is another gap in teaching instructors on how to teach online. When looking at the issues around online discussions, it is notable how similar the issues are with face-to-face class discussions – or at least SHOULD be! Let me know what you think in the comments below or in an email if you prefer.

Chen, B. et al. (2017). “Creating a community of inquiry in large-enrollment online courses: An exploratory study on the effect of protocols within online discussions,” Online Learning 21(1), 165-188. 

Designing Online Discussion Activities.” (n.d.) Office of Distance Learning. Florida State University

Generating and Facilitating Engaging and Effective Online Discussions.” (2016) Free to Teach. Teaching Effectiveness Program. Teaching and Learning Center. University of Oregon. 

Martin, Florence and Bolliger, Doris U. (2018). “Engagement matters: Student perceptions on the importance of engagement strategies in the online learning environment.” Online Learning 22(1), 205-222. doi:10.24059/olj.v22i1.1092

Orlando, John (2017) ”What Research Tells Us about Online Discussion.” Faculty Focus. Magna Publications. 

Simon, Edwige (2018) “10 Tips for Effective Online Discussions.” Transforming Higher Ed. Educause Review

Discussion Rubrics” (2017) Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. University of Central Florida.

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