Three Podcasts to get you Excited for the Spring Semester

There are empty mugs all over my house.  One sits on the credenza in my bedroom.  Another is nestled between the knife block and spice rack in my kitchen.  Still another is perched high on a ledge in my shower.  These are the evidence of a sincere addiction.  Not to coffee, tea, or even hot chocolate, but to podcasts.


If you haven’t already discovered this delightful DIY tip for amplifying your smartphone, you’re welcome.  If you have, fire up your phone’s podcast app and get your favorite mug ready.  Below are three higher education podcasts that will get your brain buzzing faster than a shot of espresso.

Teaching in Higher Ed

Hosted by Bonni Stachowiak, the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast is dedicated to the ongoing exploration of “the art and science of being more effective at facilitating learning.”  The show also provides frank and frequent discussions of managing work/life balance and increasing “personal productivity, so we can have more peace in our lives and be even more present for our students.”

Higher Ed Live

For perspectives on issues outside of teaching, Higher Ed live, is must-listen. The podcast network uses interviews with educators, administrators, journalists, consultants, and other thought leaders to explore a range of campus issues–from admissions, advancement, and marketing to campus climate and student affairs.

The Pulse

The Pulse is Inside Higher Ed’s monthly tech podcast.  Hosted by edtech veteran Rodney B. Murray, The Pulse takes on the latest trends in eLearning teaching and technology.  With product reviews, interviews with innovators, and roundups from the world of edtech, this podcast will keep you up-to-date and in the know.


Do you have a favorite higher education podcast?  Drop a link in the comment section to share!


Call for Presentations

Call for Presentations
TIPS 2017 Winter Workshop.

Friday, January 13th, 2017
11:30AM (following the all-college meeting)
Hampson Commons

All members of the Randolph College faculty are invited to submit presentation proposals for the TIPS 2017 Winter Workshop.

“Share something that you do in the classroom that works.”

The perfect TIPS presentation is just that simple.  Presenters should focus on actionable teaching innovations, practices, and strategies that have proven to be successful in the classroom and beyond.  TIPS presentations should be short (7-10 minutes), informative and informal.

While presentations on all classroom innovations, practices, and strategies are welcome, presenters are encouraged to address the following topics:

  • Improving reading comprehension
  • Improving math fundamentals
  • Improving writing skills
  • Cultivating effective classroom climates
  • Crafting better evaluations and assessments
  • Having great classroom discussions
  • Getting students to prepare for class
  • Getting students to work effectively in groups
  • Teaching to diversity
  • Overcoming apathy
  • Strategies for students with disabilities
  • High impact icebreakers
  • Designing grading rubrics
  • Better syllabus strategies
  • Integrating instructional technology

Visit for more information, to RSVP for the workshop, and/or to submit a presentation proposal.

Introducing TIPS

In recent weeks, I have experienced a substantial intensifying of the ongoing conversations about student success at Randolph College.  I have recently sat down with a number of you, in fact, to vent, brainstorm, express concerns, and ask for advice.  I also attended the session with Charles Schroeder this morning where the same conversation continued to evolve.  While there are a number of common themes that have stood out to me in all of these interactions, one seems to be beating me over the head.

Faculty seem to be well aware of an increasing need to adapt our pedagogy to a changing student body.  And while we may disagree about the ways that our students are changing (or even on the degree to which they are changing), we do seem to agree that, as a group, we are not as well equipped with actionable strategies as we need to be in order to achieve the level of student success we would all like to see (and would presumably lead to higher retention, completion, and eventually enrollment).

As a newcomer to the Randolph College faculty and someone who came from the community college ranks, I have something of a different perspective on this theme—something of an insider/outsider view.  And my motivation in writing this is to gauge support for implementing something that was extremely successful for me and my colleagues at my former institution, where “going and getting students where they are” was not just a desirable goal, but the starting assumption from which we worked.

That institution has what I describe as a “relentless culture of professional development.”  Often the sessions and speakers and workshops were tedious and unhelpful.  One event, however, was the highlight of my convocation week every semester (The week before classes began each semester was “convocation week,” which was designated for training, professional development, and department and committee meetings).  Our “TED Talks” sessions were started by an instructional designer who received a grant to make a media-rich archive of best teaching practices.  Rather than try to attend and film dozens of classes around the college, he organized an event during convocation week.  The call was put out to faculty to propose short presentations on “something you do in the classroom that is effective.”  The emphasis was on self-contained practices that had proven to work—icebreakers, assessments and rubrics, testing formats, evaluations, guided discussions, in-class activities, uses of instructional technology, ways of managing group dynamics, strategies for students with special needs, the list goes on.  I can say, without doubt, that almost all of the things I do in the classroom that are successful for me now came from one of these sessions.

I am writing you because I think that doing an event like this at Randolph College could at least begin to address the concern I mention above.  I particularly think the spirit of the event is what I would like to see here.  The events were always informal and fun.  We had food (I think this is key) and the atmosphere was overwhelmingly positive.  These sessions weren’t conducted by an outsider who was telling us what we were doing wrong and they weren’t attached to formal performance review or evaluation.  They did not unfold after a stern lecture from administration or under the specter of data on flagging enrollment and sagging retention (those conversations raged on elsewhere).

These events were organized by faculty, for faculty.  They reminded us that we are already doing great things in our classrooms; that we already held many of the solutions to our biggest challenges; that we are very smart, creative, caring people; and that teaching is amazing, exciting work.  We just needed the space and the time to share without all the institutional doom and gloom—we needed show-and-tell time.  I left each session inspired.  I left each session with a massive pedagogical crush on my colleagues.  And, most importantly, I left each session with a instructional toolbox full of shiny new things that I could not wait to try out.

In the interest of rebranding–Communication Studies scholar after all–I would like call the event Teaching Innovations, Practices, and Strategies (TIPS) and keep much of the same structure:

  • A 1.5- to 2-hours worth of short (7-10) minute presentations
  • An intermission with food
  • Focus on actionable pedagogical practices
  • Not like hummus and cheese cubes, but real food
  • Curated to be interdisciplinary and cover a range of topics
  • Video archived
  • Recurring (contingent upon reception of first event)

I have heard some really encouraging feedback about this idea from those of you I have already talked to in person.  I’m looking forward to working together to make this happen!