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CITL Teaching and Learning News: July 22, 2020

Jul 29, 2020, 09:58 AM
Instructor Stories
Leon Liebenberg

Using Mini Projects for Experiential and Project-Based Learning

"It takes a lot of effort to dream up the mini projects. But, the reward is to see students doing autonomous learning, doing intensive independent research, engaging with users of products or devices, empathizing with clients, and then co-designing solutions with those people."

Engineering professor Leon Liebenberg has been using mini projects in his theory-heavy courses, such as Thermodynamics (ME 200) and Fluid Mechanics (TAM 335), and also in senior-level courses (ME 400 – Energy Conversion Systems). Heoffers these mini projects as team-based efforts, where teams range from 2 to 4 students in size, depending on the course. This allows him to cover a lot of ground, with team members delegating tasks to one another.

Mini projects present a structure in which larger projects are divided into several smaller pieces. Each of these smaller (mini) projects could either be independent from one another or scaffolded as a connected series. Lessons learned in previous mini projects could be integrated in subsequent projects. Get more details about Leon's mini projects and other teaching strategies on the I-STEM website.

Do you have your own story to tell?
CITL is collecting stories from instructors and students interested in sharing their experience of remote instruction. Whether you have an interesting innovation, simple course adaptation, or even an instructional misstep, we hope to share these stories so we can all learn from the collective experience of our campus community. Please take a few minutes to complete this short form to share your Teachable Moments.

Upcoming Online Course Workshops

Are you converting a course to an online or blended format for the Fall semester? CITL has several upcoming workshops available. Topics include Instructional Video Production and Editing, Illinois Media Space, Compass Technical Skills, and Zoom Basics. Check out the CITL Calendar for the full list of workshops, registration details, and Zoom info.

Need Help in Transitioning to Blended or Online Instruction?

While our physical offices are closed until further notice, CITL is here to help! You can contact a CITL Online Learning Specialist to consult with you on strategies for transitioning your course.You may also want to visit the CITL website for the latest advice on transitioning your course to a fully online or blended format.

URAP Graduate Mentor Application Now Open

The Graduate College invites applications from graduate students interested in serving as Graduate Mentors in the 2020-21 Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program. URAP is a valuable professional development opportunity for graduate students, who gain hands-on experience mentoring undergraduate researchers. Graduate Mentors receive a Mentoring Certificate upon completion of the program. The next information session will be held on August 3. Learn more and apply at

TechHub Virtual Office Hours

Join us for virtual office hours every Tuesday from 10am to 11am on Zoom. Jamie and Megan will be there to answer your questions about emerging technologies, other educational tech on campus, how you can access our spaces, and anything else of interest! If we don’t have the answer, we’ll point you to someone who does. Some of our specialties include PowerPoint, Zoom, 3D printing, virtual reality, augmented reality, and laser cutting.

While each week will be an open discussion, be on the lookout for special guests and topics!

CITL Events & Workshops

Thursday, July 23 & August 13
Zoom Workshop
11:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M., Online
Speaker: CITL Instructional Support and Training
Thursday, July 23
Get in the Game: Easy Video Production with Illinois Mediaspace
1:00 P.M. - 2:00 P.M., Online
Speaker: CITL Instructional Media Resources
Thursday, July 23
Step Up Your Game: More Powerful and Flexible Tools for Producing Online Video
2:00 P.M. - 3:00 P.M., Online
Speaker: CITL Instructional Media Resources
Tuesday, August 11
Think Big Picture About Instructional Media: Best Practices, Equity, and the Argument for Asychronous Content
11:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M., Online
Speaker: CITL Instructional Media Resources


Teaching Tips

Using Breakout Rooms with Less Stress and Better Results

(from Faculty Focus)What are we supposed to be doing?” (said every student at least once in a breakout room). Small groupwork enables students to “compare their current understandings with those of other team members. . .construct new understandings” (Brame, 2020), builds a learning community, facilitates reflection (Brame, 2020), and mirrors the workplace (Scott, 2011). When our instruction moved online this spring, many instructors found using videoconference breakouts much less effective and efficient than in F2F (Face to Face) classes because: a) students became confused; b) the instructor could not monitor progress quickly for all groups at once; and c) group report-backs were slowed. Here are ways to structure the group activites in the breakout rooms.

Zoom Video Conferencing

(from CITL)Zoom is the preferred tool on our campus for live, online course sessions. Sessions using Zoom allow you to deliver online lecture materials in a variety of ways, including using a webcam for live lectures, using screen sharing to display a PowerPoint, and using break-out rooms to foster student collaboration. Here are a few of the tools available in Zoom to help keep your students engaged.

Elevate your Webcam Cinematography

(from With online meetings the new norm, these simple tips will help you look and sound better! The less mental energy your students spend comprehending what you’re saying (or reconciling what they are seeing), the more they’ll have to focus on your learning goals! Our media team is ready to assist and provide recommendations so your online presence can be one step closer to flawless. Request a consult here.

Click here to see past Teaching Tips