Want a FREE copy of “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning”?

“Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful. Learning that’s easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow.”

As educators, we love learning. We’ve devoted our professional lives to teaching and are committed to developing lifelong learners, yet … most students don’t know how to learn.

Written by storyteller Peter Brown and two cognitive scientists who have spent their careers studying learning and memory, Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel, “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning”, is an in-depth review of the most effective ways in which people learn (interleaving, retrieval practice) and a rebuke against widely used methods (re-reading, highlighting texts) that are not as effective.

In exchange for a free copy of the book, we ask that you read it over the summer and come to the Fall Academy luncheon on Friday, August 30 at 12:00 pm, ready to discuss the book. Sign up for Fall Academy begins on July 1.

In order to best facilitate a lively discussion, we are capping enrollment to fifteen, so please apply ASAP!

Questions? Contact Julie Knudson at jmknudson@wlu.edu.

10 active learning strategies that connect teachers with students

Poll Everywhere is a classroom response system that engages students on devices they already have: their phones. Educators create and embed live, interactive questions into their lectures, and students respond in real-time from the privacy of their phones. The results are immediate.

Poll Everywhere’s Maxwell McGee recently blogged about a few of the wonderful strategies teachers and professors alike have produced using interactive questioning. Each example actively engages students in the learning process, and includes a link for further exploration …

Use multiple-choice questions to kickstart classroom debates

Christopher Robertson helps his first-year law students at the University of Arizona understand the nuances of law with a technique called cascading persuasion. If too many students answer the question incorrectly, Robertson will not reveal the correct answer. Instead, he has each student turn to their neighbor and debate whose choice was correct. When the two reach a consensus, they find another pair of students and plead their case.

“Law students can easily go an entire semester passively attending class [only to] discover on the final exam that they have not grasped the concepts covered in class,” said Robertson. “I find that polling in class encourages active student participation and uncovers misunderstanding of how to apply the law.”

Eventually the entire class will agree on which answer is correct. Most of the time their consensus is correct, but on the rare occasion it’s not, Robertson says it’s an easy fix.

Law school example poll

Read more at https://blog.polleverywhere.com/active-learning-strategies/.

Want to try out Poll Everywhere? Great! Email Brandon Bucy or Helen MacDermott and we’ll get you set up!

The potential perils of screen sharing at work!

Check out this unintentionally hilarious and totally helpful piece in the NY Times , “How to Not Ruin Your Life (or Just Die of Embarrassment) With a Screen Share“:

Whether it’s happened to you or in front of you, many of us are familiar with the screen-share disaster: the accidental exposure of something private (like, say, a friend’s “I’m pooping at work” text) while projecting your screen before a group of colleagues.

The only surefire way to avoid this is to do as the lawyers recommend and keep your personal things on your personal devices and your work things on you work computer. Sonia Farber, a partner and founder of Kluk Farber Law, acknowledges that may not be feasible for everyone. “But, to the extent that you can keep some separation of church and state, you should make every effort to do that,” she said.

Here’s a checklist of things to do before your next meeting.

Read more at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/21/style/screen-share-privacy-tips.html!

“Tell Me a Smart Story: On Podcasts, Videos, and Websites as Writing Assignments”

Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

Great article by Theresa MacPhail, assistant professor in the science and technology studies program at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in The Chronicle of Higher Education: Tell Me a Smart Story: On Podcasts, Videos, and Websites as Writing Assignments.

MacPhail talks about “going out on a pedagogical limb” in giving her students—enrolled in a class focused on medical topics from the perspectives of the humanities and social sciences—the option to write a traditional research paper OR create  a 45-minute podcast, 10-to-15-minute video, a website, or an interactive, digital essay (on a blog or a Word document) that used embedded videos, photos, and audio for their final project.

Here’s my best argument for trying this in your own classes, summed up in — of course — a good story.

What struck me most about that first experiment was this: A couple of the students who had turned in lackluster reading responses all semester long had clearly taken the interactive essay — with its less formal and more journalistic tone — very seriously.

A standout in this category was a male student athlete who sat in the back corner of the classroom with three other athletes. Often it was clear they hadn’t done the readings, and the quality of their reading responses reflected that — yet they seemed alert and interested during class. This particular student, however, was quiet. So quiet that I had no idea what his voice sounded like, since he had never uttered a word in class discussions.

On his final project, he had chosen to do the interactive essay. His subject was rapid weight-loss techniques used by wrestlers before “weigh-ins” for competition and their effects on mental and physical health. He deftly used videos to illustrate not only how the techniques themselves worked, but how they were shared on social media and set up a culture that normalized dangerous methods of weight loss. He applied concepts from class and used them to work out his own personal relationship to his training routines and diet.

He wrote, very movingly, about how wrestling affected his body image and sense of self. At the bottom of the essay, he wrote a short note to thank me for allowing him to write in a nontraditional, creative way. He also said that the process of doing research on the topic had fundamentally changed how he would train as a wrestler and that he would no longer participate in the more dangerous weight-loss techniques.

He would, he said, never forget the class or what he had learned. If that’s not a major pedagogical victory, then I don’t know what is.”

We couldn’t agree more that allowing students to “write” in nontraditional formats has the potential to have a major impact on our classrooms. And, remember, ITS Academic Technologies is always here to support your students with video, podcast, or website-related projects!

Making Passwords Simple!


computer screen with shield and key inside

You are often told your passwords are key to protecting your accounts (which is true!), but rarely are you given a simple way to securely create and manage all your passwords. Below we cover three simple steps to simplify your passwords, lock down your accounts, and protect your future.


The days of crazy, complex passwords are over. Those passwords are hard to remember, difficult to type, and with today’s super-fast computers can be easy for a cyber attacker to crack. The key to passwords is to make them long; the more characters you have the better. These are called passphrases: a type of strong password that uses a short sentence or random words. Here are two examples:

  • Time for strong coffee!
  • lost-snail-crawl-beach

Both of these are strong, with over twenty characters, easy to remember, and simple to type but difficult to crack. You will run into websites or situations requiring you to add symbols, numbers, or uppercase letters to your password, which is fine. Remember though, it’s length that is most important.

Password Managers

You need a unique password for every account. If you reuse the same password for multiple accounts, you are putting yourself in great danger. All a cyber attacker needs to do is hack a website you use, steal all the passwords including yours, then use your password to log in to all your other accounts as you. It happens far more often than you realize. Don’t believe it? Check out the website www.haveibeenpwned.com to see what sites you use that have been hacked and your passwords potentially compromised. So what should you do? Use a password manager.

These are special computer programs that securely store all your passwords in an encrypted vault. You only need to remember one password: the one for your password manager. The password manager then automatically retrieves your passwords whenever you need them and logs you in to websites for you. They also have other features such as storing your answers to secret questions, warning you when you reuse passwords, a password generator that ensures you use strong passwords, and many other features. Most password managers also securely sync across almost any computer or device, so regardless of what system you are using you have easy, secure access to all your passwords.

Finally, be sure to write down the password to your password manager and store that in a secure location at home. Some password managers even let you print out a password manager recovery kit. That way, if you forget the password to your password manager you have a backup. Or, if you get sick or find yourself in an emergency, your spouse or trusted family member can retrieve the information on your behalf.

Two-Step Verification

Two-step verification (often called two-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication) adds an additional layer of security. It requires you to have two things when you log in to your accounts: your password and a numerical code which is generated by your smartphone or sent to your phone. This process ensures that even if a cyber attacker gets your password, they still can’t get into your accounts. Two-step verification is simple to set up and you usually only need to use it once when you log in from a new computer or device. Enable this whenever possible, especially for your most important accounts such as your bank or retirement accounts, or access to your email. If you are using a password manager, we highly recommend you protect it with a strong passphrase AND two-step verification.

It may sound silly, but these three simple steps go a long way in protecting your job, your reputation, and your financial future.

Subscribe to OUCH! and receive the latest security tips in your email every month.


Have I Been Pwned:  https://haveibeenpwned.com/
Two-factor Authentication Site:  https://twofactorauth.org/
Long Live the Passphrase:  http://www.sans.org/u/OKJ
Time for Password Expiration to Die:  http://www.sans.org/u/OKO
NIST SP800-63B Digital Identity Guidelines:  https://pages.nist.gov/800-63-3/sp800-63b.html

OUCH! is published by SANS Security Awareness and is distributed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. You are free to share or distribute this newsletter as long as you do not sell or modify it. Editorial Board: Walt Scrivens, Phil Hoffman, Alan Waggoner, Cheryl Conley

Help Us Create the Fall Academy Schedule!

cover of Fall Academy scheduleFall Academy 2019 will take place from Monday, August 19th to Friday, August 30th.

If you would like to offer a session, please let us know the following information:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Presenter(s)
  • Duration
  • Format (panel session, information session, guest speaker, workshop, etc.)
  • If you would like a breakfast or luncheon session (or to offer coffee and cookies/pastries), please let us know if you have funding.
  • Preferred days, times — we’ll try to accommodate, but some mandatory sessions and sessions that are already booked might prevent this — and locations.

Questions? Contact Julie Knudson (jmknudson@wlu.edu, 540.458.8125) or Helen MacDermott (hmacdermott@wlu.edu,540.458.4561). Thank you!

Sign up for the Spring Term Festival!

Sign up for the Spring Term Festival!
Four weeks. One class. Your undivided attention. In the lab, in the field, on the road, around the world. Come and celebrate with us!

The festival is free and all are invited. Refreshments will be provided.

We’re excited that you want to celebrate the work of your students who have been exploring the depth and breadth of a single course for an intense four weeks! Please sign up for the Spring Term Festival  to tell us what you’ll need to be able to showcase your students’ work. The more information you can provide, the better.

We will do our very best to honor all requests. Please keep in mind that we will honor requests in the order in which they are submitted. Thank you!


To support W&L’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, ITS is committed to ensuring that web and online content is accessible to all. As such, we are in the process of making WordPress sites more web accessible for individuals with disabilities.

As part of that process, we would like your assistance with educational course sites created in WordPress, in particular, course sites that are public-facing.

No action is necessary during the term, but after the end of the current term, we will request your permission to change the visibility settings on created course sites from public to private.  This will allow you and your enrolled students access to the site after the term, but will restrict access beyond your class.

If you would prefer your site to remain public, then it will be your responsibility to ensure the site meets the web accessibility guidelines mandated by the University for public-facing websites (guidelines and site evaluation tools available at https://www.wlu.edu/disability-accommodations/web-accessibility).

We have worked to ensure that all themes and settings are accessibility-ready in our WordPress service, and we will be happy to work with you at that point to ensure your added content meets these guidelines as well.

Happy Holidays! Have a Great Winter Break!

Whew! We did it! We made it! What a great fall! We wish everyone a safe and happy, relaxing, restful winter break, and we look forward to seeing you in January 2019!

Have a great winter break!


(For any of you overachievers, here’s a great, curated Lynda.com playlist created especially for students: Skills and Tools for Student Success.

Screen capture of Lynda.com playlist, Skills and Tools for Student Success

If you want to prepare yourself for academic success by exploring the top tools and skills students need to effectively organize their work, present their knowledge, and prepare to transition to their careers, then this playlist is for you. Annnnnnnndddddd if you need to focus on getting some R&R, we totally understand!)

Monday Productivity Pointers from Lynda.com

Happy Monday!

In this weekly series on being productive with technology, Lynda.com authors Jess Stratton, Garrick Chow, and Nick Brazzi introduce tools and tips to help make today’s software and devices work more efficiently and powerfully for you. With everything from pointers on using Microsoft Office and Google platforms to learning social networking skills and discovering the most useful apps for your iPhone or Android device, there’s something for everyone.

This week’s pointers:
Safely clearing drive space in macOS