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Welcome to the Minds-Online blog!

Posted in About Minds Online, Course Redesign, First-year Learning Initiative, Technology, and Trends and Change

Welcome to the blog! I’m Michelle Miller, a professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, where I also direct the First Year Learning Initiative. I teach and do research in psychology and related topics; my specialization is human cognition, with a side of behavioral neuroscience and an emphasis on memory, attention, and applications to college teaching. I’m also interested in how people interact with each other using technology, such as social media, and how they think in computer-based environments.

I wrote a book called Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Psychology that translates cognitive research into design principles for online and technology-enhanced instruction. That project plunged me full-time into the applied side of psychology; it also got me thinking about bigger themes having to do with where higher education is going, which is (mainly) what I write about on this blog.

I come at this topic from a few other angles as well. I’ve had a hand in course redesign for a while now – if you’re not familiar with this idea, it’s an approach to cost-effective overhauling of courses, spearheaded by organizations like the National Center for Academic Transformation. I have been one of NCAT’s Redesign Scholars since 2006, and I occasionally give talks and workshops about how to set up successful course redesign initiatives.

Rick McDonald and I started this blog to experiment with ideas about higher education, learning and the changes that are going to affect all of us in the field. I found that after I finished writing Minds Online, the ideas kept coming and I wanted to have a way to put those ideas out there, try out new things and share them with like-minded professionals. One thing that has always struck me about online learning is how fanatically engaged people are within the profession. I meet designers and instructors all the time who would walk over hot coals for the cause of learning with technology, and after we talk I often wish we could continue the conversation. No matter where, who or what we teach, we face common challenges – and that is the discussion I want to engage in here with you.

You’re not going to find posts of the “Five Tips to Jump-Start your Online Course” or “Ten Best Tools for Blended Classrooms” variety. There is plenty of that kind of content out there already, and cataloguing the latest tech is not really what I do. Nor are you going to find much in the way of debating whether online learning is the wave of the future, or whether we should have online learning at all, because I think the conversation is now well past that “should we or shouldn’t we” stage. But you will find recommendations for practice that have come through conversations with a lot of smart, engaged people, and some candid reflections on where we are going, as institutions, during a time of upheaval and change. That’s what I hope will keep you reading, commenting, and coming back.

[Disclaimers: Views expressed on this blog are solely mine and do not represent my employer, Northern Arizona University, or the State of Arizona. Feel free to share my content far and wide, but please do credit me or link back.]