What is a best practice?

As I’ve shared previously, I prefer the term “effective practices.” In this era, nobody is an expert when it comes to teaching with emerging technologies. Keeping that in mind, the practices contained in this book are guided by one thing: supporting student learning. The book provides ample ideas for faculty to use digital tools to make their class more student-centered and their students’ learning more active and relevant — and those are best practices, as we know from the learning science. The book also candidly addresses sticking points like student anxiety about using technology, privacy, copyright, and accessibility. These are topics that commonly cause faculty to shy away from experimenting with technology.


The Wisdom Wall is an example of a best practice included in the book. The concept is simple. Rather than telling students what they need to do to be successful in your class, ask students to tell students. At the end of a semester, invite students to reflect on their learning and identify one piece of advice they would like to share with future students in the class. These golden nuggets will not only be received with interest by your future students, but they will also reveal valuable information for you about your teaching approaches. The Wisdom Wall can be developed with a simple editable Google Doc or, for a boost of human presence, try VoiceThread or FlipGrid.

Another example, new to the second edition, is the Liquid Syllabus. Reconceptualizing a syllabus is the perfect starting point to revamp your teaching with digital tools. The syllabus is often conceived as a guide for students. It contains all the pertinent information needed for the semester. But, as we all know, students typically don’t use it the way faculty want or expect them to. Creating a digital or liquid syllabus with a tool like Populr.me or Google Sites turns that dusty old Microsoft Word file into dynamic, visually compelling media that can be accessed, bookmarked, and read easily from a smartphone or tablet. For a humanized twist, embed a friendly and brief introductory video in your liquid syllabus so students can learn a little bit about you and the class.

  • View an example of a liquid syllabus from one of my own online classes or click here to view a collection from faculty at CSU Channel Islands.