Faculty Reflection on the Flipped Classroom

Written by Berlin Fang

The Flipped Classroom model has been around for a while. As a matter of fact, teachers may have been doing it before the term was even coined. However, flipped experiences might flop without teachers being deliberate in the planning and implementation process.

In Fall 2014, David Christianson of Adams Center, Professor Laura Phillips and Professor Mark Phillips from the College of Business Administration, have been working with a group of our professors through a “flipped classroom” workshop, as well as ongoing mentoring, classroom observation, and feedback that came after the workshop.

In a recent progress review, Professor Karen Cukrowski and Professor Vic McCracken shared their experiences using the model. Here are a few takeaways from this session.

  1. “Just do it.” Students do not have to know you are trying a “flipped classroom” model. When they find that you are trying some new “gimmicks” in teaching, they may groan or even resist. However, a well-implemented flipped classroom experience, engaging and instructive, will be well received.

  2. Make it or Mix it. Online videos are often used for the flipped model. Students watch videos before coming to class for hands-on activities or discussions. It is a good option to use podcasting or screencasting tools to produce videos on your own. However, professors may also use or mix videos that already exist. When using existing videos, professors add value by screening, selecting and elaborating on the most effective videos. Most importantly, professors can project a strong professor’s voice throughout the teaching process even if videos are not produced locally.

  3. Design with the future in mind. When producing learning materials, be mindful of future uses of such materials. If intended for reuse, videos produced had better not include references to particular time, space or individuals that may make it difficult to use in the future.

  4. Make learning active. In the classroom, students should be actively involved in the learning process. Lecture out of necessity, but think of additional ways to make learning stick. Practice active learning mentally and even physically if need be. For instance, when discussing literal or metaphorical interpretation of the creation, Professor Cukrowski literally asked students to take a stand by moving to various areas in the classroom. She said students loved it.

  5. Use groups. Small groups can help a great deal in classroom activities. One special value it provides is that quiet students, when joining a small group, find it easier to talk. However, do not expect groups to just work. It is dangerous to assign students to groups without proper structure, guidance, or feedback. This could create the situation of “the blind leading the blind,” which both professors warned about. Good strategies for avoiding blind leading the blind include initial structuring or walking through, as well as “group reflection” for students to calibrate their position in the learning process. Providing rich learning resources is also a great way for students to learn when they are assigned to groups during the flipped classroom experience.

  6. Last but certainly not the least, value what students bring to the experience. With the use of group learning, learning communities among students can form in such flipped classroom experiences. Help shape such communities. There are times students bring great input to the process.  Make sure such highlights are captured. Structure for it, for instance, by asking students to present their discoveries after groups have an opportunity to work on problems.

Mobile Learning Evolves from Initiative to Ecosystem

Written by Berlin Fang

The Adams Center’s Berlin Fang published the following article with WISE Ed Review, an online platform hosted by World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) to share thoughts in educational innovation.

“On November 6, 2014, I organized a meet-up during the 2014 World Innovation Forum for Education. The audience was small, but diverse and active. Participants came from Egypt, France, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon, China, as well as Qatar, where the summit was held. A variety of mobile phones were used by participants of this session, including iPhones that are often seen in the US, Huawei’s Mate used in China, as well as some “dumb” phones used temporarily during travel.

Curious what people do with their phones, I asked everyone to recommend one favorite mobile app. Participants from France and Canada both recommended Uber, an app to help get a taxi. A participant from Egypt said she used whatsapp. Professor Jiao Jianli from China recommended Zite, an app to gather and curate mobile content. A participant from China recommended a Chinese app that provides recipes and tutorials for cooking Chinese food. Almost all of us use some kind of social media tools such as Wechat, Twitter, or Instagram. Of course, Skype is everyone’s favorite app as well.

Click here to Read more.

The Adams Center will also host “appy hours” for you to share what you do with your mobile apps.  Please check our weekly newsletters for details.

Learning Styles Out of Fashion

Written by David Christianson

It seemed to make sense – we all have different learning styles. You could take a learning styles inventory, find out your preferred learning style, and supposedly, that was the best way for you to learn. You might be a visual learner, spatial learner, a logical, an aural, physical, social, or solitary learner, and if you found out your best learning style, you would become a whiz at learning.

The problem with learning styles, and finding out how we learn best to learn the most, is that the idea has no support from empirical research. It’s a neat idea, but not one that is valid. The point is not that there are not learning styles, but rather, evidence does not support that receiving instruction with a preferred style improves learning.

So what is left? While the idea of learning styles to learn best has been debunked, strong research does suggest what does work best for learning. In Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel lay out the best methods for learning. While learning styles seems intuitive, they report that the most effective methods for learning are often counterintuitive.

Here are seven of the researched claims they make:

1. “Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful.”

2. “We are poor judges of when we are learning well and when we’re not.”

3. “Rereading text and massed practice of a skill or new knowledge are by far the preferred study strategies of learners of all stripes, but they’re also among the least productive.”

4. “Retrieval practice – recalling facts or concepts or events from memory – is a more effective learning strategy than review by rereading.”

5. “When you space out practice at a task and get a little rusty between sessions, or you interleave the practice of two or more subjects, retrieval is harder and feels less productive, but the effort produces longer lasting learning and enables more versatile application of it in later settings.”

6. “All new learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge.”

7. “The popular notion that you learn better when you receive instruction in a form consistent with your preferred learning style...is not supported by the empirical research.”

Make It Stick goes deeper and makes other claims as well. The focus for this article is that learning should be effortful, and easy learning through learning styles simply is not supported by research. Retrieval practice (flashcards, quizzes, tests) are the strongest ways to retain information. Since prior knowledge is required for new learning, having a solid foundation of information is necessary before learning can go deeper. Effort makes learning deeper and longer lasting. With this information in mind, the idea that learning is made easier when it is delivered through your favorite style actually doesn’t make any sense after all.

If you’re looking for a great read to improve your teaching, and even your own learning, Make It Stick should be at the top of your list.

Minimize Problems for Quizzes in OpenClass

Written by the Instructional Design Team

Many faculty find online assessment features useful for administering daily quizzes. The grades are automatically reported and recorded in the gradebook, students are held accountable for class preparation, and such retrieval practice helps make learning “stick” (Brown, Roediger, & McDaniel, 2014).

When administering quizzes online, students using different devices may experience a variety of problems, from the quiz not loading properly to the quiz seemingly not submitting properly. The problems can be dramatically reduced if students take some steps proactively.  We have some suggestions that may help students minimize problems when taking quizzes in OpenClass.

As you have students take the quiz or test, you can display this slide before students log in and during the assessment so students can troubleshoot before they ask for help.

For added success in using the technology, have students restart their computer or iPad and empty their browser cache before they log in to OpenClass.  Students should also consider applying updates to their programs before a test, since automatic updates can be disruptive in the middle of a quiz.  You might also want to ask students to close other programs and browsers that are not relevant for a quiz.

This prevents the most common problems and can save precious class time.

Fall Reading Groups

We will be offering a wide variety of reading groups this semester. Stop by the Adams Center to pick up a copy of the book(s):


Make it Stick: The Challenge of Lifelong Learning & Self-Improvement
Led by Bob McKelvain

  • September 3
  • September 17
  • October 1
  • October 15
  • October 29
  • November 12

Summit Reading Group: The State of the University
Led by Vic McCracken

  • September 10

Summit Reading Group: Learning to Walk in the Dark
Led by Brady Bryce

  • September 12
  • September 16

CHARIS Reading Group: MLK’s Where Do We Go From Here and Wes Crawford’s Shattering the Illusion
Led by Doug Foster & Carson Reed

  • September 12
  • October 9
  • November 20

Jimmy Carter’s A Call to Action
Led by Joyce Haley & Trevor Thompson

  • September 11
  • September 30
  • October 23
  • November 13




Faculty Fusion 2014: Discover



Let’s kick off another great academic year with Faculty Fusion, August 19, 2014. Save the date and register for activities at http://www.acu.edu/fusion or by calling the Adams Center at 325-674-2455. Registering saves your spot in each session and allows us to know how many to expect. We look forward to seeing you!


8:30-9:00 Continental Breakfast: Adams Center



How Learning Works – Jennifer Shewmaker, Cherisse Flanagan, Charles Wadlington, Karen Maxwell
How do students learn? What gets in their way? How can faculty set up our classes in ways that lead to optimal learning? This is what the faculty who piloted the new Master Teacher Program last year sought to understand.  Join them as they talk about what they learned over the semester-long program and share practical tips for helping students engage prior learning, organize knowledge to build mastery, and become self-directed learners.

Teaching with the iPad- Berlin Fang
In this presentation, we will share some common iPad apps to create content, manage your files, and interact with students. Most of these apps have been used and proven to be helpful by ACU faculty. We will also introduce the concept of “app-smashing”, or using a number of apps to accomplish your instructional objectives.

Podcasting 101 – Jonathan Stewart
Join Jonathan Stewart for an introduction to podcasting, and to learn how he and other faculty members have used it in their classes.

Rodney Ashlock Tips for working with large classes
Large classes can be very intimidating and often we feel like we are standing in front of a sea of faces with little engagement. This session will focus on strategies to make larger classes a friendlier learning environment.




How Learning Works – Jennifer Shewmaker, Rhonda Pupella, Lloyd Goldsmith, Debbie Williams
How do students learn? What gets in their way? How can faculty set up our classes in ways that lead to optimal learning? This is what the faculty who piloted the new Master Teacher Program last year sought to understand.  Join them as they talk about what they learned over the semester-long program and share practical tips for helping students engage prior learning, organize knowledge to build mastery, and become self-directed learners.

Learning with the iPad – Scott Hamm
In this presentation we will share iPad apps that have proven to make learning “stick.” Such apps can help students develop study habits that have proven to be effective by evidence, such as retrieval practice.

Designing and Writing a Podcast That Meets Your Needs – Jonathan Stewart
This session will include discussion, brainstorming and tips for designing a podcast that meets your goals.

Introducing the One Button Studio – Kyle Dickson
Recording a video can be a complex process. The checklist of settings for any given camera is often daunting, especially for someone new to the equipment. That’s why in 2013, the Learning Studio introduced a new solution for quick video recording: the One Button Studio. Join Kyle Dickson for a tour and brief tutorial on using the One Button Studio to enhance your classroom experience.




Writing Your First Podcast – Jonathan Stewart
This working session will be a time for participants to work on their podcasting scripts.

Gender Bias in Academia: Is There Really Equality/Equity? – Stephanie Hamm & Rachel Slaymaker
Join Stephanie Hamm & Rachel Slaymaker as they examine gender equity and its challenges in a university setting.

iMentor: Using Radical Techniques to Reach this Generation – Steven Moore
Current research indicates that students of today are more selfish and less empathetic than decades ago, largely due to this high-tech society.  Come and hear ideas on how we can effectively mentor our students through jaw-dropping and innovative methods.

Adobe Creative Cloud for Advanced Media Editing and Design – Kyle Dickson
This fall all ACU students and faculty will have access to Adobe’s creative suite of applications. Titles like Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro (among others) are used by creative professionals around the world. So the question is, are these tools for the kind of work you need to do? Join us for a quick overview of Adobe’s Creative Cloud and training opportunities available to you this fall.

12:00-1:00           Lunch: Hunter Welcome Center




Maker Lab Laser Cutting 101 – Nil Santana
Join us in the Maker Lab for a hands-on workshop on designing for and using the laser cutter.

Podcast recording workshop – Jonathan Stewart
In Part 2 of the Podcasting workshop, Jonathan Stewart will lead a demonstration on recording a podcast in Garageband. There will also be working time to record the podcast you created during the morning sessions.

Getting Started with Turnitin – Cliff Barbarick
Starting this year, ACU faculty will have access to a helpful new tool. Turnitin not only generates detailed originality reports for students’ written assignments, it also provides an efficient platform for online grading and peer review. It even includes a robust online gradebook, making it a helpful supplement to any LMS. Come to this session to set up your Turnitin account and learn to use its features by creating assignments for your upcoming classes.





How to Create A Course Calendar

Written by the Instructional Design Team


You probably enjoy the convenience of Google Calendars which give you alerts to events and activities to keep you organized. You could create the same calendars for courses. Course calendars will automatically be pushed to Google calendars of students enrolled in these courses. If you want to create such course calendars for classes you are teaching, follow these steps:

  1. Log into myACU

  2. Under “My Courses” click the wrench icon next to the course that needs a calendar created

  3. Click the Tools tab to manage course tools

  4. Click the Create button next to the Calendar tool (you will get  a pop-up box that asks you confirm your request, click “yes”)

  5. You should receive an email alert once the calendar is created and shared with you.

Note: These instructions are also displayed if you click on the Calendar Edit tool in myACU (instructor-only tool with month calendar icon) and you don’t already have a calendar created for the course.

How long will it take? Between 6am and 10pm this will typically take one hour.

Thank you to Hab Adkins, Director of Computing Services, and the IT department for their work in adding this to our faculty’s course management options.

Flipping the Classroom with Mark & Laura Phillips


What are you doing?
We have partially or completely flipped classes that we teach so that students receive course content before they come to class through readings, videos, podcasts, powerpoints, etc. Class time can then be spent answering questions, working problems, or doing activities that reinforce the concepts.

Why are you doing it?
Pushing some of the basic content delivery out of the classroom accomplishes several objectives. Students arrive at class better prepared to move past basic terms and concepts. They have the opportunity to engage with each other as they wrestle with challenging ideas together. We also have the opportunity to interact with the students individually, which gives us the chance to address the questions actually being asked—instead of general questions that student might have.


Why do you think it’s important to incorporate this practice into the classroom?
A lecture-style class is really a “one-size-fits-all” approach to learning, but our students do not all learn at the same pace. They also differ in which concepts they find difficult and which come easily to them. A flipped class allows for more individualized learning. An added benefit is that flipped classrooms help our students transition to self-directed learning, a skill that is valuable in the workplace.

Who is being impacted the most?
In a typical class some students struggle to keep up, while others are hardly challenged. A flipped classroom allows students to engage with the material at their own pace.

What hopes do you have for the future when this work is done?
As we become better at applying the flipped model our students should be able to move further into specific topics. We should also be able to customize instruction across the class population—allowing us to challenge the thinking of the stronger students while simultaneously allowing us to focus on foundational building blocks with struggling students.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Written by the Instructional Design Team

 Choose Your Own Adventure. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? During one of our recent “Best Practices” sessions,  Dr.  Matthew Dodd, assistant professor in the Duncum Center for Conflict Resolution demonstrated a teaching approach he has used successfully in his online courses.   He uses video to create scenarios for his students to view, explore, create-the-right-ending, and other ways to engage his students in learning.


These videos can then be used integrate theory, practice, and other application of conflict principles in professional and personal situations.  Dr. Dodd is one of ACU’s online teaching guru’s and has recently published this, and another practice, in the highly acclaimed University of Central Florida’s peer reviewed Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR).

Matthew Dodd (2014). Use branching videos to engage students. In K. Thompson and B. Chen (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.

Matthew Dodd (2014). Engage adult learners with course-long role play. In K. Thompson and B. Chen (Eds.), Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida Center for Distributed Learning.


The Adams Center would like to thank Dr. Dodd for sharing his expertise.  To gain further insights from Dr. Dodd, email him at: mjd95o@acu.edu.

Collaborative Team Translation

Written by the Instructional Design Team


We recently invited a number of our faculty members to showcase their online course/course components during one of our “Best Practices for Online Teaching” workshops.  Dr. Melinda Thompson (Assistant Professor and Director of Distance Education at the Graduate School of Theology) introduced an effective approach to have her students collaborate on their translation assignments. Usually class translation is a “lone ranger” kind of assignment, though Bible translation and ministry activities often require collaboration among different people. Dr. Thompson intentionally designed this collaborative translation activity to cultivate habits of working with other people to produce quality work.

In this activity, students translated – from Greek to English – the Gospel and Epistles of John. Dr. Thompson put together a rigorous process for team translation. Each of her four teams consist of 4 students, who take assigned rotating roles of (1) primary translator, (2) text critical work, (3) literary considerations and commentary work, and (4) theological claims and application for sermon or Bible lesson. Students shared their work with their teammates through Google Docs.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 10.05.55 AM.png

Fascinated by her approach, we followed up with Dr. Thompson about her method and would like to share with you the short interview we had:


Adams Center: What made you decide to have students collaborate on translating a book?

Dr. Thompson: Language study, by nature, is mostly individualized. Even if you attend a study group you still have to learn the forms and vocabulary for yourself. But Bible translation – for modern English translations especially – is almost always done by committees. On top of that, our students are training for ministry in congregations or small group settings. I wanted to give these students – who had already gone through a semester of individualized work on grammar and vocabulary – a more authentic experience in translation and exegesis. I also wanted to reinforce the concept that translation should never be done in a vacuum. Even the best language work should be checked and balanced through interaction with others.

Adams Center: How did students respond to this process?

Dr. Thompson: Student response was very positive. They appreciated seeing how translation fits into the larger process of exegesis, especially with an eye toward preaching or teaching for a congregational setting. Sometimes students struggle to understand how parsing verbs or memorizing long lists of words applies to their vocational goals. With this project, students come out with a semester of practicing translation as part of lesson or sermon prep. They also have spent a semester collaborating with others to create a community-based interpretation of the text. My hope is that this experience will encourage them to continue using their language skills after the class ends and will encourage them to seek out the input of others when considering the meaning or application of a particular text.

Adams Center: What kind of pedagogical considerations went into this design of collaborations?

Dr. Thompson: We did need to establish some ground rules at the beginning which helped iron out general group-work concerns about students not pulling their weight or not getting things shared in a timely manner. Because this was a fully online class comprised of students from across the globe, it was more difficult sometimes to enforce group work. When I teach this class in residence next year we’ll use the class meeting times (in a “flipped classroom” style) to ensure that students have space for collaborative work.

We would like to thank Dr. Thompson for sharing her method. We also hope that you can be inspired by her approach in creating innovative teaching experiences for your students.

Designing and Analyzing Qualitative Research Seminar

Interested in designing a qualitative research project? Needing a refresher on analyzing qualitative data? Wanting to advise students who are conducting qualitative research?


What: Designing and Analyzing Qualitative Research

Where: Adams Center

When: May 15, 16, and 19 (9a.m.-4p.m.)

Presenters: Dr. Jonathan Camp and Dr. Andrew Huddleston


This three-day seminar is designed for anyone interested in learning more about qualitative research methods. No prior experience is required. The sessions will provide an overview of the various components of qualitative research: epistemological stances, theoretical frameworks, research questions, data collection, analysis (including NVivo software), and writing a research report. Participants will have time each day to work on their own research projects while receiving feedback from the presenters. Join us for an opportunity to learn more about qualitative research, design your own study, or analyze data you have already collected.

RSVP by emailing Shaylee Southerland at sjw09b@acu.edu or call ext. 2023.

In Case You Missed It – CHARIS Conversations

If you missed the CHARIS Conversations on March 3rd & April 10th, don’t worry! You can watch the full podcasts of both sessions here.

March 3rd: Pedagogy in the Stone-Campbell Movement: Implications of Religious Heritage for University Teaching Practices
John Mark Hicks

April 10th: Evidences of Renewal in Churches of Christ and the Stone-Campbell Movement
Doug Foster

iPad Apps for Reading

Written by the Instructional Design Team

Hoopla (free):

This is an app that allows you to check out digital books and movies from the public library, if such titles are available in digital format.   Not every library  book or movie is available yet, but it is a nice to check out books once in a while right from your mobile devices.

Kindle (free app; books are purchased through Amazon):

You do not have to own a Kindle device to read digital books from Amazon.   You can download the Kindle app on your iPhone, iPad and computer to read your favorite books.  As long as you log in with the same Amazon account, you will be able to use multiple devices to read the same book.  You can also annotate and highlight along the way.

Audible (free app, but books are purchased through Amazon or Audible.com):

Audible has been purchased by Amazon,  so you will find that it is possible to sync your reading in a totally new fashion.  For books with both Kindle and Audible versions, you can pay a few extra dollars for an audible version and read the book when you use the Kindle, or listen to it when you use Audible.   You can listen from where you leave off in reading, or vice versa.

Gutenberg (free):

The Gutenberg app offers thousands of free books, including audio books.  Check out whether the books you or your students read happen to be there!

Cleaning up Word Formats

Written by the Instructional Design Team

As computer programs do not always talk with each other very well, things copied from Word (or other rich format processing applications) may “choke up” a content page or activity in a learning management system (LMS). It is best to clean up the format in Word when you copy things over. You can choose any of the following options when doing so:


  • Use the “save as” function of Word to save your document in “plain txt” format, re-open it in Notepad or another plain text reader. Copy from this program into the corresponding editor windows of your learning management system.
    Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 4.35.09 PM.png

  • You can also toggle to the html mode (Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 4.33.08 PM.png)when copying content over, as this html mode will not keep any formatting you originally have. After you have copied the content over, you can then toggle back to the normal view, and make and format change you need. It is better to format the text with the editor that comes with the learning management system.

  • If you have short descriptions you want to copy over, you can paste such content in an address bar of a web browser you are working with, which will remove all formatting, and then copy it into the editor of your LMS.   Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 4.34.10 PM.png

  • If you use Moodle, Moodle has a tool (Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 4.32.09 PM.png) in its text editor for you to “remove formatting”.

  • If you have a document that goes beyond one page, consider converting it to a PDF file and attach it in your LMS, instead of copying and pasting the text to the learning management system’s editor you are using.

If you are working with a test, we recommend that you get our help using Respondus to convert the Word file into a test file, instead of using copy-and-paste methods to create your questions. Respondus can clear all such formatting in a batch, instead of you having to do this question by question. Contact the Instructional Design team if you need assistance with this kind of task.

Backing up Your Course Data with CourseSites

Written by Berlin Fang

You can use the “export/archive” functions to back up your course data with CourseSites. You will need to do this for a number of reasons:

  1. Creating a copy of the course so that it can be imported into a shell in future semesters;

  2. Restoring a past course to check certain information.

Usually you do this at the end of the semester, but you can do so multiple times during the semester as long as you have space to store such files.

CourseSites gives you the option to “export” or “archive” a course. The former allows you to mainly export the content of the course, while the latter allows you to preserve student activities (especially Grade Center history) as well.

Check this tutorial for instructions on archiving your course.

If you export a particular type of content (such as tests only)  from one course to another, you may want to consider using “export course” function to export the source course first (see tutorial), and then use “import package” to import (see tutorial).

You can also download your Grade Center data for backing up or for offline grading. Check this tutorial for details. If you intend to use this option to grade offline, make sure there is no change in columns or users between the time you download the grades and the time you upload the Excel file back.

Tellagami for Communication and Learning

Written by the Instructional Design Team

Tellagami is a great mobile app. You can use a photo (or a stock) background. Add voice or type in dialogue. You can send it by text, twitter, email, and embed one in an online class.

You can post a slide, a saying, or learning artifact to reinforce learning. Or you can have students post a picture of something and narrate it for a class assignment. Click here to view how to use tellagami for learning (30 secs):  https://tellagami.com/gami/2JJ5NN/

Managing Assignments with CourseSites

Written by Berlin Fang


Collecting student assignments by email can add to the increasing clutter of our digital lives.  Well, there is a method to madness.   You can collect assignments using your learning management system.  All major learning management systems (OpenClass, CourseSites and Moodle) have ways for you to collect student assignments, grade them and record them directly in the grade book that comes with the learning management system you use.

The benefits of doing this is that you do not have to sift through your emails to find a particular attachment and then relate that to a particular class.  Nor would you have to create folders to store such files.   A learning management system would streamline the entire process while students can get quicker feedback as soon as you have given them.

I am going to use CourseSites as an example to show how it works to management assignments with a learning management system.



While this tutorial shows you as an instructor how to manage assignment using CourseSites, the following tutorial shows students how to submit an assignment.  Consider copying the URL and share it with students if you intend to collect assignments the way I explained:



Please note that you can also create “self and peer evaluation” type of assignments or group assignments using CourseSites.  Let me know if you need any help creating this type of assignments. In addition, you can also download all your assignments from the learning management system, grade them offline and enter your grades online if that’s more desirable.