MnLC Monthly Professional Development Webinars

The Minnesota Learning Commons offers free monthly webinars. The webinars are hand selected by members of the Minnesota Learning Commons Coordinating Committee and include highly rated presentations from the past year’s Summit, presentations on special projects by educators from around the state, and more.

What Makes a Question Effective?

Thursday, April 18, 3:00–4:00 p.m. CDT

We answer the question we are asked. Asking good questions improves instructor/student communications and designing successful discussions begin by drafting good questions. Many of us are looking for ways to improve online discussion activities: let's start with the questions we ask. Through a presentation and a facilitated discussion, we will explore how to get the type of responses we are looking for by looking at what makes a question effective.

About the presenter: Treden Wagoner, Instructional Designer, has an MA in Education and over 20 years' teaching experience. He has specialized in education technology since 2002. As an instructional designer, Treden works with CEHD instructors to develop effective course sites and the integration of technology for teaching and learning. His interest in asking good questions began when he was an art museum educator.

Past Webinar Topics

What do maps have to do with storytelling? Everything! Come learn how Story Maps, a powerful digital platform, integrates spatial thinking with storytelling to present information in a compelling, interactive and easy-to-understand format. Story Maps are multidisciplinary applications that require students and instructors to move past a basic text-based project with an instructor as the only audience, to one that requires exploration of multiple means of demonstrating their knowledge, incorporating visuals, spatial information and relationships and digital delivery. Creating a Story Map requires students to think in multiple dimensions of pursuing creative storytelling, combined with innovative use of geospatial technology. Students are given the opportunity to not only apply spatial thinking to their course content, but also by creating Story Maps, they demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in an innovative media that moves students into 21st-century learning technologies. These geospatial technologies are accessible at many levels of learning, from K–12 to higher education, to novice and expert, and can be applied to all subject areas.

Presented on February 21, 3:00 p.m.

Explore a high-tech and high-touch method for supporting online students to make them feel engaged as part of their campus community. Throughout this presentation, you will walk through six different methods that helped to increase online students' participation in virtual activities. Improve your student engagement and success rates by one or more of the following: 1. Zoom 2. Atomic Learning (LearnIt, DoIt, ProveIt) 3. Cengage (Mindtap) and/or  Pearson (MyIT Lab) 4. ReadSpeaker 5. Ted Talks/YouTube 6. Office365. We will demonstrate how we use these products in a variety of blended and online courses with the result of engaging students with access to rich learning applications. LTI Integrations and Definitions, Web Conferencing with Zoom, Student Self-Help with Atomic Learning Publishers, LTI: Pearson and Cengage Mindtap, Text to Speech with ReadSpeaker, Videos in Ted Talks, and/or YouTubeOffice365, Widget in D2L Brightspace. With Q/A at the end.

Topic Area(s): Learner Engagement Strategies

Presented on January 17, 2019

In this workshop, you will be introduced to several easy-to-implement discussion techniques that can be used for online, blended, or face-to-face courses. We will explore how to create a structured debate online and how your students can become the expert on the topic using the "Hot Seat" concept, or how students can demonstrate the application of course concepts on discussion boards. All techniques will allow you to create a lively and engaging conversation for your online or face-to-face courses. Templates, assignment directions, and examples will be provided. 

Presenter: Mary O'Brien is an Instructional Design Specialist in the Adult Continuing Education (ACE) department at Winona State University (WSU). In this role, Mary supports online faculty through the WeTeach program and serves as campus Quality Matters coordinator for WSU. She has experience teaching online and face-to-face (F2F) in K-12, higher education and international courses.

Presented on October 18, 2018


The U of M Twin Cities College of Design offers a semester-long Creative Problem-Solving Course for its undergraduates with both online and traditional face-to-face options. Based on data from the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, the online students did not benefit as much from the course. We discuss the results of the data analysis and the broader literature on the subject, and what they may tell us about creative problem-solving skills specifically, and the potential for online learning in general. Takeaways: 1. Much remains to be learned about the effectiveness of online learning. 2. Certain subjects may lend themselves better to online learning than others. 3. Overall course grades, often used to measure of outcomes, may not capture the impact of the learning environment.


Justin Baker has been a creative professional in the advertising industry, developed performance and stress management training for athletes and educators, and is now studying the human factors that impact problem-solving at the University of Minnesota. His mission is to inspire the next generation to take on the daunting systemic problems of Planet Earth with creativity, and compassion.

Presented on September 20, 2018

A to Z: Techniques to Leverage Learning
Presented by: Dihanna Fedder on May 3, 2018

Creating Academic Technology Competencies and a Faculty Development Curriculum
Presented by: Nima Salehi, Christina Petersen, Peg Sherven, Sara Hurley, and Christiane Reilly, University of Minnesota on April 5, 2018

Beyond Captioning: Tips and Tricks for Accessible Course Design
Presented by: Jenessa Gerling and Karen LaPlant, Hennepin Technical College on March 1, 2018

Inclusivity: Universal Design Strategies for the Online Classroom
Presented by: Sarah Keene, Rothenberger Institute, University of Minnesota on February 1, 2018

Designing for English Language Learners in Your Online or Blended Course
Presented by: Nancy McGinley Myers, University of St. Thomas, on January 4, 2018

Creating a Culturally Proficient School System by Leveraging Technology as a Catalyst for Change
Presented by: Stacie Stanley, ISD 191 and Rachel Gorton, Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Public Schools, on December 7, 2017

Getting Frogs to Market in a Wheelbarrow: Strategies for Managing eLearning Projects with Faculty-Driven Teams
Presented by: Mary Katherine O’Brien and Kelly Vallandingham, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota on November 2, 2017

Authoring Open Textbooks
Presented by: Melissa Falldin, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota, on October 5, 2017

Web Writing for Online Courses
Presented by: Ann Fandrey, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota, on September 7, 2017

Gentle Project Management: Shepherding Pedagogical Change
Presented by: Sara Schoen and Annette McNamara, University of Minnesota, on May 4, 2017

Creation and Adoption of OER: A Sustainable Statewide Model
Presented by: Jon Fila, Intermediate District 287 on April 6, 2017

Online Learner Discussion Self-Grading: Sharing of an Innovative Teaching-Learning Strategy
Presented by: Dr. Nancyruth Leibold, Southwest Minnesota State University Mankato and Dr. Laura Schwarz, Minnesota State University Mankato, on March 2, 2017

Exploring the Flipped Side: Inside and Out the Flipped Classroom
Presented by: Caroline Hilk, Kate Borowske, Gina Erickson, and Nicole Nelson, Hamline University on February 2, 2017

Engaged Brains: Strategies for Mastering Learner Engagement
Presented by: Tracy King, InspirEd, on January 5, 2017

Making Accessibility Accessible: Engaging Instructors Empathetically
Presented by: Cynthia Sarver, University of St. Thomas, on November 3, 2016

They Aren’t Wrong, We Are: Designing Online Courses for How Students Actually Use Them
Presented by: Ellyn Buchanan, Sara Hurley, and Audra Kerlin, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, on October 6, 2016