UW Now Series: Confronting COVID-19 Misinformation

Next week Tuesday, June 9, the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association will host Professor Ajay Sethi for the discussion “Confronting COVID-19 Misinformation.” Professor Sethi is an infectious disease epidemiologist and faculty at UW–Madison; he teaches the popular course Conspiracies in Public Health at UW. After his talk, Sethi will take questions from the audience via live chat.

In recent years, a number of Independent Learning courses have offered students activities that help evaluate the credibility of sources, and this should be an excellent discussion on credible information about a very relevant topic.

For more information, or to sign up for reminder 30 minutes before the event starts, go to:

Want to help plan a virtual conference?

ADEIL, the Association for Distance Education and Independent Learning, will be hosting a virtual conference later this year, and they’re recruiting members for the planning committee.

Would you like to help plan this organization’s first virtual conference? You can contact ADEIL member Aisha Haynes: haynesa@nullemail.sc.edu

Need to archive anything from your old d2l courses?

After June 30, UW personnel will lose access to the older versions of our courses in d2l Brightspace. This will not affect our instruction, as we’ve been instructing in Canvas for some time now. However, if there’s anything you’d like to save (especially if it’s from a course that hasn’t been offered since the Canvas migration), like reading lists, notable discussions, assignment prompts, syllabi, etc, they will disappear in the near future.

Michael G Moore interview

Last month, UW Madison shared a Q & A with Michael G. Moore, a pioneer in distance education. You can read the interview here:

Moore was to receive an honorary degree from UW-Madison at the 2020 Spring Commencement; that honorary degree will be conferred December 2020.

Favorite Strategies and Resources for Asynchronous Teaching?

Greeting, Independent Learning faculty!

As educational institutions throughout the world have transitioned to emergency remote teaching and learning, asynchronous online education (that is, not working in real time) has been suggested as a way to increase accessibility for students and faculty with limited internet. Web conferencing tools are certainly wonderful, but they also take a lot of bandwidth. For some faculty, asynchronous interaction can be a difficult adjustment if they’ve interacted in real-time throughout their teaching career.

How did you transition from synchronous to asynchronous education? What challenges did you encounter? What did you like about it? Have you encountered any resources that you’ve found helpful?

Beyond an opportunity to reflect, I would love to share your experiences, ideas, reflections, etc on teaching in an asynchronous environment. Do you have any stories you’d like to share? Feel free to reply, or e-mail me at jrfreese@nullwisc.edu.

Stay safe, healthy, and well!

Articles: Online Teaching vs Emergency/Remote Teaching and Learning

Two recent articles provide worthwhile comparisons and contrasts between online learning (with Independent Learning being just one example) and the now-widespread emergency online teaching/learning.



It’s certainly amazing how quickly institutions have been able to continue instruction in the midst of face-to-face instruction being cancelled, but it’s also important to note the difference between typical online courses (the instructional design component is mentioned in both articles) vs an emergency change in teaching modality.

Well-Being App

Greetings, IL faculty! I hope you and yours are safe and healthy.

During this time of pandemic, a Center for Healthy Minds at UW-Madison affiliate has made a recently released app freely available. This app is called the Healthy Minds Program. From their website:

Translating pioneering neuroscience into tools for everyday life, our unique framework guides you through the four pillars of the science of training the mind: awareness, connection, insight and purpose.

This tool was informed by decades of research at the Center for Healthy Minds. For more information, go to: https://tryhealthyminds.org/#program

Career Counseling Resources

March brings promises of spring (even if we still see some occasional snowfall), and marks an important transition in the UW-Madison Independent Learning program. March is the last enrollment month for the few DCS IL courses that are still open for student enrollment. As we enter the third phase of our teach out period and reflect on what comes next, we wanted to highlight some career counseling services available to you.

The employee assistance office offers counseling and consultation at no cost to UW-Madison staff: https://hr.wisc.edu/employee-assistance-office/

Additionally, the Division of Continuing Studies (our division on campus) also has resources that you can use at no cost.

Adult Career and Special Student Services “provides career and education planning support for community adults including UW-Madison employees.” From their website: “We can help you focus on your interests, skills, and values while providing you with the techniques and resources for exploring career and education options.” https://acsss.wisc.edu/career-and-educational-planning/

There’s also a job support group that meets weekly to discuss a specific topic or simply for everyone to check in: https://acsss.wisc.edu/job-search-support-group/

Q & A: The Democratization of Education through Technology

In the Q & A below, Anant Agarwal (computer architecture researcher, founder and CEO of edX) offers some ideas of what education could look like in the future: modular learning (short-term course-taking instead of completing a degree), stackable learning (institutions offering degrees based upon credentials one has accumulated from various institutions), and a greater emphasis on problem solving, empathy, and communication rather regurgitating facts.

Anant Agarwal and the democratization of education through technology

Given that the author is chatting with a major figure of the massive online open course platform edX, it sometimes reads like an edX commercial, but it’s still interesting to read ideas on how technology and employee/employers needs might reshape education.

How Humans Learn – Interview

I recently had the opportunity to interview Josh Eyler, author of How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories Behind Effective College Teaching. We had a 4-part interview series, and interviews 1 and 2 can be found at the following links:

A Discussion on Curiosity and Authenticity:

A Discussion on Sociality and Emotions: