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Millennial Students and Community-Based Learning (CBL): A Perfect Match

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2016 Ann Ferren Conference Session #402:

Today’s college students crave exposure to and cultivation of “real-world experiences” that translates to the professional world. At the same time, they are seeking meaningful opportunities to “make a difference” in the world around them. The session is appropriate for all faculty—from those who have never taught a CBL course to those who are experienced in CBL, but want to explore new ideas and innovations. The goal of the session is to engage faculty in considering the unique interests and needs of today’s students and to introduce CBL course strategies to meet those needs. Additionally, two students who have engaged in a CBL course will share their experiences, its value, and impact. Specifically, the student panelists will describe CBL experiences with a local nonprofit organization, DC Doors.

Jolynn Gardner (CAS-DHS) (Chair)
Marcy Campos (Center for Community Engagement and Service)
McKinley Doty (Class of 2016)
Roshan Thomas (Class of 2017)

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Encouraging Discussion, Participation, and Enthusiasm in Class

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2016 Ann Ferren Conference Session #303:

This interactive conversation provides an opportunity to learn various techniques and ideas for encouraging students to participate more in class discussions, and to be more enthusiastic and motivated. It describes how to create an atmosphere in the classroom of warmth and trust, so that all students, even shy ones, are more willing to actively participate.

Chris Palmer (SOC)

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Supporting Student Engagement and Risk-Taking in the Classroom

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2016 Ann Ferren Conference Session #109:

In this session panelists will share how they create a classroom environment that connects students to each other and where students feel safe and supported, and as a consequence, are willing to take risks and be vulnerable. This strategy is used in two Executive Masters Programs at AU, as one way to continuously search for creative ways to prepare students for the increasing demands of leading in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. This approach to developing students who are not only leaders, consultants and entrepreneurs, but are also able to deal with multiple demands and uncertainty, can be useful in multiple classroom settings, including undergraduate classes over the course of a semester. The panelists will share their strategies, including group development and trust building in the classroom. Participants will have an opportunity to engage in a brief exercise as an example of experiential learning design.

Ruth Scogna Wagner (SPA-PUAD)
Patrick Malone (SPA-PUAD)

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Building a Writer’s Community in Your Classroom

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2016 Ann Ferren Conference Session T4:

Creating a dynamic community of writers can support any class where papers are required. Class time is so precious; however taking the time to form and reinforce communities pays off. Using resources to help build classroom social identity, as well as proper use of the “writer’s workshop” will create an environment where students want to achieve and participate. Using a series of interactive exercises, students learn about each other, how to connect, and how to support one another in the active process of learning, researching and writing. This session discusses a series of tools, empowering the students not only to learn, but also to teach, and in turn improve their own internal editors, while keeping the love of learning alive.

Hildie Block (CAS-LIT)

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Beyond Old Newspapers: Local History Re-Examined

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2016 Ann Ferren Conference Session T3:

This session shows how DC history can be explained using little known University Library online tools such as primary source videos, photos, demographic Census data, and other items. Participants learn how to use these items to weave together demographic data and audiovisual resources to tell compelling stories about DC’s urban history. The session uses the example of the 1968 riots to tell a story of DC’s neighborhoods before, during, and after the riots—to illustrate how these events are still relevant today.

Christopher Seay (Library)
Tristan Cabello (CAS-AMST)
Kathryn Ray(Library)

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How to Keep your Students Engaged during the Snowquester?


The American University Be Prepared site ( gives us a few tips to keep your classes going and your students focused on the class material while campus is closed.

We invite you to view the above site and to comment to this post if you need any special support from us.  Here we summarize a few of the most handy tips:

1.  Use Blackboard to e-mail students and post announcements on readings, discussion boards or any tool you want to use to keep the class going.

2.  Meet with your students using Blackboard Collaborate tool.  You can have several students in session and do a compact class meeting.  Alternatively you can hold your office hours using Collaborate and just meet with one student at a time.  You will need a camera and a microphone if you want to have a video session with your students.  But you could simply chat with them, share your screen or use the “white board” in Collaborate to write equations or draw graphs.

Links to learning material on Collaborate can be found at the library site:

3.  Film your class session using Panopto and post it in Blackboard.  We recommend making a couple of short videos (up to 15 minutes) with the key topics you want emphasized.  Remember that Spring break is next week, so the Panopto tool can help you not stay disconnected from your students for 2 weeks.  You can use Panopto to film your power point slides, your screen view and/or yourself so it can be as interactive as you want it.

Links to instructional handouts including how to get started with your first recording are available online at:, or through the Library’s Panopto support site:

4.  Post your class Power Point slides in Blackboard with narration.  This is an alternative to Panopto recording for those that find it easier (we recommend Panopto though).  You can create your slides and add narration to them (remember to check your microphone settings so that the voice comes as optimal as possible).   As with Panopto recording we recommend making a couple of videos of up to 15 minutes long to optimize attention levels.

Microsoft offers step by step guides on how to add narrations to your slides:

Please feel free to e-mail us with questions at or to post your comments here.  We would like to know if any of these tips are useful to keep your classes going while the university remains closed.

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