Desire to Grow — Mary Power

The other weekend I was with my daughter at a belated Earth Day tree planting event in Waterloo Park. It was a cold day, but we had a good turnout and planted all the trees and bushes within a couple hours. A great day! Part of what made it exciting for me was looking around at the wonderful mixed demographic working together. I would guess the group represented the cultural and age demographic of Waterloo region fairly well, and included a fairly large group of our university students. The group planting near my daughter and I were engineering students, who had gone to bed at about 4 am after an organized school event and were out planting trees at 10 am. Oh youth! However, they were out there because the wanted to be engaged in the community in which they find themselves and because they care about our planet.

The conversation drifted to urban forests and education and the desire to learn (more). We were talking about the need to know about issues and opportunities, how to find the spark, and that ultimately this increase in knowledge will create the desire and passion to learn, to care and to act. We were discussing environmental issues, but with my being so wrapped up currently in our new learning management system project and our new vendor Desire to Learn, I began making inferences.  I realized that is exactly what a learning management system can do if used effectively – help instill the knowledge and create the desire to learn.

I hope we use this transition, that will initially takes us outside our comfort zones, as an opportunity to grow and to capitalize on the “Desire to Learn.”  Isn’t that what university is all about?


The Centre for Teaching Excellence welcomes contributions to its blog. If you are a faculty member, staff member, or student at the University of Waterloo (or beyond!) and would like contribute a posting about some aspect of teaching or learning, please contact Mark Morton or Trevor Holmes.

Testing: good practice! – Mary Power

If you have been reading our blog lately you may have noticed a bit of New York theme going on. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to continue the trend. Maybe not quite so glamorous as a trip to the Big Apple, but a recent article in the New York Continue reading Testing: good practice! – Mary Power

A few thoughts on classroom interaction – Mary Power

Student engagement, participation and attendance are all pieces of the same puzzle in my mind. A puzzle that becomes more complex as class size increases. I’d like to share a couple promising ideas using technology that I have seen recently and that I believe can be used to help solve this puzzle.

While having lunch with chemistry instructor and friend, Dara Gilbert, we got to talking about how much she enjoyed using the Tablet PC that Continue reading A few thoughts on classroom interaction – Mary Power

e-learning: green learning?

ereaderA few weeks ago our Senior Instructional Developer, Emerging Technologies the illustrious Mark Morton sent off an email informing us of an interesting new device that he had come across called the PlayAway. This device is an audiobook that is integrated with its own hardware, including battery so you can just plug your earbuds in and “play away”. He suggested that they were virtually “disposable” and popular in elementary schools where it would not matter if they were lost since they were relatively inexpensive. Continue reading e-learning: green learning?

Virtual Field Tripping: A “Real” Way to Learn — Mary Power

bryce-canyonAs a consequence of a grant that I have been working on, I have been reading about “virtual field trips”. These trips are multimedia web-based experiences that take the learner to places that might not be feasibly experienced in “real-life”, due to such practical impediments as accessibility and cost.  Although the format is limitless these virtual trips often are comprised of readings, maps, glossary of terms, images, video clips and may include on-line discussions with experts and or the instructor. Together these things can lead the student on an interesting and interactive learning journey. To complete the experience there is usually a (hopefully) thoughtfully designed assignmen, such as a field trip report or on-line quiz to be assessed. Continue reading Virtual Field Tripping: A “Real” Way to Learn — Mary Power

Learning Through Peer Discussion – Mary Power

discuss-copy It seems intuitive that group discussion can enhance the learning experience. We (or at least I do anyway) almost often think of discussions occurring among a small group of individuals. Yet there is a growing body of research evidence indicating that discussion based collaborative learning is a powerful tool that can be used even in large class situations. Continue reading Learning Through Peer Discussion – Mary Power