Innovative Practices Spotlight

CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight


Dr. William Archibald, Assistant Professor, English

The Center for Academic Excellence is recognizing a faculty member every month in the CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight to highlight his or her innovative classroom practices and outstanding contribution to Millersville University.

Dr. William Archibald is being recognized in March for his exceptional use of leveraging technologies to build student engagement in his English courses!

Please continue reading to learn more about Dr. Archibald's exciting experience and to learn ways to incorporate innovative practices into your classroom…

1. What innovative practice did you incorporate into your classroom?

I have used Google docs for a number of years in my writing classes--Engl 110 and Engl 311 both online and face to face. Google has been a bulwark against the ever changing LMS. Since I've been at MU we have cycled through WebCT, Blackboard, and now D2L. Google provides a stable platform to link instructional items into the D2L. For instance, my syllabi and all my assignments are on Google. I provide links to the Home Page in D2L and in Content to these materials. This allows me to change them and add to them on the fly without changing multiple links in D2L. 

2. When did you implement the new practice into your classroom?

I've used Google extensively for at least 10 years. 

3. Did the students willingly accept the use of the new practice? What were the reactions of the students?

Students see the value of using Google from the start. They make their account and they control it. They can keep it long after they leave MU. It is reliable and secure. Google allows students to share documents one time and it allows me to see their revisions in real time. 

4. How has the use of the new practice positively affected the classroom learning environment?

It reduced the stress of posting and reviewing documents for me and my students. Also, in my face-to-face class I use what I call a Daily page where I have all the links, assignments, and class notes from each day’s class posted. These items are preserved on that page--the newest materials placed to the top of the page--so that students can see them in class and review them after class. They never go away. 

5. How has the use of the new practice affected student engagement in the classroom and the level of participation?

Since I teach online and in a computer classroom, engagement and participation is immediate and perpetual. Students see each other’s papers as soon as they are shared and for a writing class, the emphasis on writing online and in Google, adds to the engagement with the content and the practices of the course. 

6. What challenges did you encounter when you were implementing the new practice?

Most students were able to follow my detailed videos on how to access the parts of the course that I put up on Google and to use Google for writing their papers. Some found the maze of instruction initially to be overwhelming but as long as they patiently reviewed the steps this problem of learning a new system quickly dissipated. As a course proceeds, we use Google in reliable and predictable ways. There are no more complaints about the program after the first week or so. 

7. How did attending Camp IDEA or a CAE Professional Development session contribute to your learning and use of the innovative practice?

All the CAE sessions I've ever gone to at MU have been insightful and interesting. One session especially stands out: last semesters “Using D2L Grades for Feedback and Communication.” It provided me with ways to tweak the grade book in D2L in order to access and grade my students’ small assignments without going out of the LMS.