Active Teaching & Learning in Online Synchronous Sessions


In a range of our online and blended/hybrid programs at EMU and in the Collaborative MBA, we have been making increased usage of web conferencing technologies to create opportunities for more live engagement for our students in these kinds of programs. For Mennonite education, building a learning community is a highly-valued goal of what we do to fulfill our mission as educators in a Christian higher ed context.

In order to help spread best practices from faculty who have had good experiences learning how to teach well with these web conferencing platforms, we developed the following 45 minute screencast discussion between two instructors in Mennonite-affiliated schools: Jim Leaman (EMU, Business & Econ Dept) & Steven Webster (Bluffton University, Adjunct business instructor). We’ve included the slide deck below the video…


Synectics: The Role of Science Fiction


The following video provides a brief introduction to the use of the Synectic method of teaching for the humanities. The video primarily outlines the synectic use of Science Fiction to engage issues of ethics and leadership. This presentation also models the use of Adobe Voice on the iPad for presentations with voiceovers. The content was originally developed for a “TED Talk” presentation at a workshop on Ethics and Leadership Education.

Would You Take Your Own Course?


RollercoasterI would imagine that the best part of being a roller coaster designer is being first in line to test your latest creation. As a thrill ride designer you create an experience that you would enjoy riding. There must be an extreme amount of excitement as you watch construction crews bringing the product of your imagination to life. Imagine the day that the ride is to open for the first test run. The designer and others who have been involved in the project are pacing back and forth on the starting platform. There is an air of excitement as they nervously chatter about what the ride will be like. Several are standing next to the aerodynamically designed vehicles anxiously waiting to climb in and experience that first drop or loop. There is possibly some degree of nervousness in this moment of anticipation where the air is heavy with the unspoken question, “Will it be worth the price of admission?” (more…)

Power Play: Transitioning From Lecturer to Facilitator


The Fear of Obsolescence



Nothing haunts most people more than the fear of becoming outdated, obsolete, and no longer valued. This can probably be said more for educators than most other professions, especially as the form of education continues to rapidly change. While the form of education might be changing the function remains the same; to invite others to learn. The fear of change is a fascinating phenomena especially in a field that’s purpose has tended to be about facilitating change. Education brings about great change in the lives of individuals, communities, and entire continents, yet some educators opt for a static existence and strive to retain the status quo in regard to their own self preservation. Typically this is an unconscious act grounded in our base human nature. The thought of transitioning to online education elicits this feeling of outdatedness for educators. This fear becomes unfounded if the educator works with an educational designer who can guide them through the transition.


Smoothing bumps in the hybrid highway


[Editor’s note: This is a guest post by EMU MBA professor, Jim Leaman. -bg]

This past semester was my third experience teaching a hybrid course.  All were in the EMU MBA program where classes meet alternating weeks, onsite and online; this was also with my third different set of software tools. The technologies used in online teaching both limit and enhance pedagogy; the two need to be considered together when transitioning from traditional teaching environments.


Educational Design as Bridge Building


Sio se pol Bridge

“Sio se pol” by (original), Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons –

Bridges are phenomenal feats of engineering that are used to traverse obstacles that would otherwise prohibit the connecting of societal groups. Often bridges have served to connect disjointed land masses bringing the various cultures of each into a shared environment. Throughout history bridge designs have changed to serve the various needs of the terrain being spanned and to withstand the weather conditions of the environment. The four basic types of bridges are beam, truss, arch, and suspension with variations that incorporate aspects of each. While the bridge design may vary its primary purpose remains the same.

Educational Design is an area of academia that has proven difficult to pin down into a specific area of the pedagogical landscape. Is it IT or is it education? I would propose that it is neither and both. Educational Design provides the often needed bridge between two important aspects of pedagogy. With a system of trusses, beams and arches firmly anchored on both sides of the divide, Educational Design understands both worlds in which it spans. The role of Educational Design is one of translation and implementation where the information of both areas is melded into power pedagogical tools that engage the student and transforms the educational landscape.

Bridges are more than utilitarian structures that serve to meet the needs of travelers. Bridges are functional wonders of architectural design that both awe and inspire those that traverse them and those that admire the manner in which they transform the landscape. Bridges, like Educational Design, bring together technical expertise and innovative design, to provide solutions to a spatial dilemma.