CTL Blog

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Discussion Board Basics

By Lisa Young – Scottsdale Community College | 2012

Definition of discussion boards

Two quick videos that explains how discussion boards can be used to engage students:

Advantages of Using Discussion Boards in Hybrid Courses:

  • valuable feedback 
  • connections seeing other point of view 
  • perspective
  • validation
  • stimulating responses – less terrifying
  • not in real-time
  • come to some conclusions/summaries
  •  can see specific evidence from the text and can refer to in F2f class
  • can allow students to express themselves as needed

An article on building community with discussion boards.

Check out page 5 of this document for great discussion board resources.

Disadvantages of Using Discussion Boards in Hybrid Courses:

  • discipline
  • responses may be brief
  • time and effort on part of instructor

Writing Discussion Board Questions

Tips for writing discussion board questions:

An article that will help you to identify the characteristic elements of critical thought, describe the features of online discussion that support critical thought, and explore the role of the instructor in facilitating successful online discussions.

Discussion Board Rubrics

Rubrics for discussion boards are useful as they provide a basis for grading students on their discussion board posts. Criteria can include participation, content, grammar, etc.

Samples of discussion board rubrics located at Maricopa’s Blended Learning site.

Ideation Circle Courageous Conversations

Spring 2020 Ideation Circle: Courageous Conversations About Race

Led by Megan Garvy

The Center for Teaching and Learning invites you to join us as we discuss and interact with the book Courageous Conversations About Race, a field guide, to explore topics of race and uncover our personal passion for equity work at MCC. This introductory session sets the stage for an ongoing series throughout the semester.
Join the first conversations of the semester:
January 9 9-11 AS175 S&D January 10 1-3 S280 RM

Fall 2019 CTL Catalog

The catalog is here!

Interested in jumping in for some conversation, learning, or trying something new? Consider one of the many exciting events we have going on this semester! The catalog can be seen online or stop by and pick one up today! To look at a calendar view check out our calendar.


Fall 2019 Unconference

What’s an Unconference? Conferences are about presentations but an Unconference is about conversation…conversations around topics you choose. So, we won’t create the schedule – you will! Tell us what you want to talk about and we’ll find someone to facilitate that conversation OR better yet – tell us what topic you are willing to facilitate a conversation around. We are all busy getting ready for this upcoming year and all faced with many of the same challenges…we have much we can share and discuss so let’s get together and talk! What do you want to talk about? Tell us! Then join the conversation on Wednesday August 14, 2019 in the CTL.

Canvas LMS

What’s New in Canvas Fall 2019

MCC Faculty will be interested in knowing that there are some significant features in Canvas LMS as they prepare for Fall 2019 semester courses. Here is a brief rundown for each new feature:

Course Card Images

For several years Canvas has allowed course instructors and designers to add an image to their course card so it shows up in the Canvas dashboard, but forever has been in a state not allowed for use at MCCCD. If you don’t have time to design a course card image yourself, the feature integrates an image search. This allows you to spruce up your course design in less than 5 minutes.

New Grade Book

Canvas has had a new grade book design in the works for several semesters as an institutional opt-in feature for several years. Their new Grade Book is finally ready for prime time use in preparation for a final switch over in January 2020 as the ONLY way to keep an online grade book in Canvas. We are encouraging faculty to begin using the new grade book as soon as possible. In order to use it you need to go to your course settings and opt-in via the Features tab. Check the CTL Calendar for in-person workshops/tutorials on how to use the new grade book, or contact a CTL Staff Member for an in-person consultation.

New Quizzes Feature

Canvas has had a new quizzing engine in the works for several semesters as an institutional opt-in feature for several years. The new quiz tool features many improvements to building and delivering quizzes in Canvas over the quiz feature that MCC faculty have been used to from the time Canvas was adopted in Fall 2012. Instructure has not determined 100% when this new quizzing engine will become the default, but is allowing instructors to opt-in if there’s a feature that makes it compelling to try out in your course offering.

What you should know before you use New Quizzes:

It is recommended that you work closely with a CTL staff member to determine if using new Canvas quiz tool is right for you. It is not up to feature parity with the existing quiz tool, and there are a number of known issues.

If you are interested in trying to use the tool, please contact a member of the CTL staff first.

Quiz Log Auditing

Canvas has an opt-in feature for logging student interactions with Canvas quizzes (in the existing quizzing engine) that we expect to become always on at some point in the future. For now, in order to use it you need to go to your course settings and opt-in via the Features tab.

Quiz Log Auditing New Feature Toggle On State
Quiz Log Auditing Option In Course Settings Set to the On State

Mastery Paths

This feature option has at its heart the idea of adaptive learning. Mastery Paths lets you design course content that will direct students to content that can serve as a remedial or for review before progressing to other content. In other words, students have to master a certain aspect of course content in order to have access to other course content. In order to use it you need to go to your course settings and opt-in via the Features tab.

Mastery Paths Option in Course Settings Set to the On State

Release Schedule Change

Did you know that Canvas updates on a regular schedule? If you do or do not, you should take note that the release schedule has been updated to become more predicable. New features are released on the 3rd Saturday of each month with smaller changes like bug fixes are relegated to updates called Deploys. Check out this Instructure blog post for details.

Visit the Canvas release calendar for a list of release dates.

New Turnitin Plagiarism Framework

Turnitin is MCCCDs official Plagiarism review platform. In the past, Canvas has been able to integrate with Turnitin in a variety of ways, with the latest being called the Plagiarism Framework option. At some point in time MCCCD will switch off the existing integration, but for now we are beginning to migrate our existing faculty users to this new framework. Some of the highlights of this new integration option are as follows:

  • The setup is easier to discover from the Online assignment type. It’s just a box you check
  • You can use existing Canvas rubrics that are visible to your students…with the previous integration the Canvas rubrics aren’t visible to students until they receive their feedback in Speedgrader
  • Assignments that may not make it to the Turnitin service can be pushed through manually by instructors

Mesa Syllabus Generator

Mesa Syllabus Generator is LIVE!

Are You Ready To Spice Up Your Syllabus?

The Mesa Syllabus Generator is ready to help you create a clean, consistent, and attractive syllabus.
The Mesa Syllabus Generator features:

  • Your specific course information that you provide through a Google Form.
  • All required and recommended syllabus sections from both the District and MCC.
  • Accessible content for students with disabilities.
  • Clean and consistent layout.
  • Complete control over the content after it has been compiled into your syllabus.
  • All delivered to you in a convenient Google Document.

Get started today! https://ctl.mesacc.edu/teaching/syllabus/

Instructional Strategies Microcredential badges

Its not all about workshops…

We recognize that most of the time a workshop is never the right time, exactly the right content, or pace you need/want to work at. As such we have created online courses to offer you just in time, whenever you want PD around topics such as: Quality Matters, Canvas Basics, OER, and more. Simply pick your course and get started! We facilitate the courses and will give you feedback. Also, we realize you may not like learning online so we encourage you to schedule one on one sessions with any one of us to help you on an individual basis. Want to learn about Flipped? Schedule a 1 hour session and we can give you the information we would cover in a workshop but catered to what you know and what you specifically you want to accomplish. Also, we encourage you to continue conversations you may have started during the Unconference by starting an Ideation Circle, we’ll support your continued conversations!

Geographic shape-like flower with light bulb in the center

Fall 2018 Faculty Ideation Circle

Ideation Circles: What are they?

A small group of faculty or staff from any area of the college who come together for at least a semester to discuss a teaching and learning topic that they can delve deeply into during group discussions. Ideation Circles can be around a book, a problem, a project, or simply a topic of interest that will generate conversation, reflection, and build community.

Faculty Cultural Introspection Ideation Circle

Cultural Introspection is a self-examination of the cultural, familial, and community influences on personal values. (Chávez & Longerbeam, 2016)

MCC faculty (residential, adjunct, OYO/OSO) are invited to engage with cultural introspection for teaching across cultures to understand the role of our personal cultural influences in our pedagogical choices, interactions with students, and judgements about values, priorities, and student behaviors.

Faculty participants will read and discuss the book Teaching Across Cultural Strengths: A Guide to Balancing Integrated and Indivduated  Cultural Frameworks in College Teaching.

KICK-OFF DATES (Choose 1): 8/30 3-4:00PM • 9/4 3-4:00PM • 9/5 1-2:00PM

Location: CTL AS160

Discussion Dates: Tuesdays & Thursdays 9/27, 10/9, 10/25, 11/6, 11/29 and 12/6 • 3-4:00PM


Learn More: Faculty Cultural Introspection

CTL Unconference

The Unconference Agenda

Question Everything Unconference

Time AS192 AS193 AS194
9:00 A.M. Canvas Q&A
Jeff Anderson
Debbie Holexa
Reading Strategies for All Disciplines
Anna McWhirter
9:30 A.M. Grants
Ken Maruyama
Making 4Cs Assessment Relevant for Student Learning
Lindsey Pederson
Critical Thinking Through Problem Solving in Your Classroom
Madeleine Chowdhury
10:00 A.M. Generating Discussion in Canvas
Stephanie Williams
Experiential Learning/Internships for ABUS Students
Keith Takata
Activity Based Learning
Susan Nicolson
10:30 A.M. New Media Lab
Eddie Webb
What can MCC do to Help Close the Achievement Gap?
White & Jesse
Libraries are Awesome!
McGuire & King
11:00 A.M. Sharing Strategies for Student Success
Jennifer Strickland
How Does Google Drive Actually Work?
James Bowles
11:30 A.M. Integrating 4C’s in Your Course
Pederson, Barrera, & Garvy
Sharing Culturally Responsive Practice
Beth Alsen
Civic Engagement Through Service Learning
Duane Oakes


Time AS192 AS193 AS194
12:30 P.M. Deciding When to use Excel or Google Sheets
James Bowles
Motivating/Mobilizing Students to Vote
Janell Alewyn
Running an Effective Meeting: Don’t Waste Time
Brian Dille
1:00 P.M. Curriculum Process @MCC
Shannon Ridgeway
Student Enrollment Process: Rosters, 45th Day, and Advising
Rhoads, Banner, & Thor
FPG: Faculty Professional Growth: Salary advancement, travel, and sabbaticals
Erin Rawson
1:30 P.M. Canvas Q&A
Jeff Anderson
Andrew Kasian
Financial Aid: Timelines, Processes, and Scholarships
Pat Peppin
2:00 P.M. Mid-Semester Student Formative Feedback
Janice Dawson
Social Change: Moving Beyond Competition and Conflict
Paul Harasha
Inserting Research Experiences into Courses Far from the “Cutting Edge”
Mark Neeley