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14 Ways To Engage Online Learners, per Dr. Curt Bonk Champion of online engagement speaks to NLU profs

160204-Curt-Bonk-21 Curt Bonk, Ph.D., is on a crusade against boredom, for both students and instructors, in online and blended courses. He brought that crusade to NLU Thursday to share with professors, offering them lots of practical techniques they can use right away in online instruction.

After getting fed up with poorly-designed courses that lulled students to sleep, Bonk, a professor at Indiana University, put his background at the intersection of business, education, technology and psychology to work to design better online learning techniques.

160204-Curt-Bonk-36As an advocate of blended learning, he cited the Stanford University study which concluded that students in online courses learned more than students in face to face courses, with those online courses having a face to face element (i.e., blended learning) creating the greatest learning of all.

Bonk offered the 35 NLU instructors in attendance, and greater numbers teleconferencing in, two different models for creating engagement and better learning experiences in online teaching. He calls the first TEC-VARIETY, and the second R2D2.

The TEC-VARIETY model includes:

Tone/Climate: Set a tone in which learners feel safe and comfortable. Bonk recommends icebreaker activities such as a video from the instructor, and, a tool which allows someone to ask a question and respondents to answer on video.

Encouragement and Feedback: Use polls, such as on, to encourage students’ feedback.

Curiosity: Fire students’ imaginations by including links to interesting news and videos about the topic.

Variety: Use to randomize who is going to present, or what is going to be presented. Bonk uses it to randomize the order of his lectures, so that he doesn’t give the same course in the same order every time. He says it keeps his teaching from getting stale.

Autonomy: Bonk encourages students to consult and other learning sites.

Relevance: Have students Skype with guest experts or peers from another country or school, or visit one of the Internet’s countless data sites, such as on-demand weather maps, census records, etc., to establish relevance of the material to the real world.

Interactivity: Students can collaborate on PiratePad, which Bonk said is easier to use than Google Docs, although that is also a vehicle students can use to collaborate on a document.

Engagement: Try using simulations and games, or let students try things out in a virtual lab, to stimulate engagement. Interactive timeline maps are a great idea to let students compress lots of data into an engaging map. For example, one version of the map could show the U.S. population in 1870, and where people lived; the second version could show today’s population and where people live, plotted on the map. Try for collaboration.

Tension: Create some challenge; get students into debate.

Yielding Products: Ambitious students can write books and upload them on Bonk said one student told him the class wasn’t challenging enough, and asked if he could publish a book. Another student created a mobile app to explain Bonk’s course to future students; still another created a documentary.

The other model, R2D2, stands for:

Reading (both on the printed page and in recorded audio, for Visual and Auditory learners) This focuses on having learners acquire knowledge through readings, podcasts, etc.

Reflecting (for reflective and observational learners) Learners reflect on the content, and check their understanding through means such as blogging and online practice tests.

Displaying (for visual learners) Learners create timelines, concept maps, flowcharts and videos for the instructor and others to view and discuss.

Doing (for hands-on learners) Learners resolve cases, solve problems in a simulation, or post a report.

The activities help learners comprehend the knowledge and make it more meaningful and personally rewarding.

The slides Bonk used in the presentation, and many more resources, can be viewed here:

Slides for NLU presentation Feb. 4.

Tec-Variety website, including free book download

Bonk’s homepage and resources

Curt Bonk’s Bio

Curt Bonk is Professor at Indiana University teaching psychology and technology courses and President of CourseShare. Drawing on his background as a corporate controller, CPA, educational psychologist, and instructional technologist, Bonk offers unique insights into the intersection of business, education, psychology, and technology. He received the CyberStar Award from the Indiana Information Technology Association, the Most Outstanding Achievement Award from the U.S. Distance Learning Association, the Most Innovative Teaching in a Distance Education Program Award from the State of Indiana, and, in 2014, the Wedemeyer Award for Outstanding Practitioner in Distance Education. A well-known authority on emerging technologies for learning, Bonk has authored several widely used technology books, including The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education (2009), Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Activities for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing (2008), The Handbook of Blended Learning (2006), and Electronic Collaborators (1998). His recent book, Adding Some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online (2014), is freely available to download as an eBook at in Chinese as well as English. And his latest book with Routledge, MOOCs and Open Education Around the World, as well as a special issue of the International Journal on E-Learning on the same topic both came out in July 2015 (see See Bonk’s homepage for his archived talks and Web resources at: Curt can be contacted at: or

Distinguished Leader Series Taps NLU’s Azcoitia He joined other leaders to lecture at California university


Carlos Azcoitia, front row, and Diana Aczoitia pose with Soka students, back row from left, Jamie Haynes, Jessica Bridges, Vicki Mokuria and Stephanie Samaniego and Soka program director Jay Heffron. Students not pictured: Prince Heto and Alankrita Chhikara.

NLU’s Carlos Azcoitia, Ed.D., recently traveled to southern California when Soka University invited him to teach graduate students in its Distinguished Practitioners Series. He spent two days engaging students in Soka’s Educational Leadership and Societal Change course.

Soka asked Azcoitia and five other accomplished leaders to examine the course’s themes of inclusive leadership, social justice, the dynamics of organizational change, and ways to overcome barriers to change.

Jay Heffron, program director for the Soka course, described Azcoitia’s wide range of experience in educational leadership as the reason Soka invited him to the prestigious series.

“As a former member of the Chicago Public School Board, overseeing the third largest school district in the United States, a former teacher, principal and central office administrator, as the founding principal of a comprehensive K-12 community-based school in Chicago, it was clear that Dr. Azcoitia brought the exceptional professional background and the history of success in helping to change schools that we were looking for,” said Heffron.

The half-dozen students in the course also have careers, and work at the intersection of education, government and community-based organizations. However, educational leadership and change were important to all of them. The group was international and diverse, and included students from Africa, India and one originally from Ecuador. One is doing research in Cuba, where Azcoitia was born.

Besides Azcoitia, the other visiting instructors included a Columbia University professor, a top Los Angeles Unified School District leader and the National Principal of the Year winner.

“The plan is for students to get back to their communities, take knowledge they’ve learned from the program and see what they can apply,” said Azcoitia, distinguished professor of practice at NLU.

Student Stephanie Samaniego commented, “Carlos took us through a journey of self-discovery, learning how culture, language, and identity tie in with schooling and, most importantly, community. Bringing a wealth of experience, including serving as Deputy Chief of Education for Chicago Public Schools, Carlos shared his lessons learned over his thirty plus-year career.”

Reflecting on his experience at Soka, Azcoitia wrote, “Educational leadership requires the balance of skill development in three comprehensive areas: instructional leadership, management/ organization, and interpersonal effectiveness. The students demonstrated advanced leadership attributes in all of their interactions and discussions.

“The depth and breadth of their engagement prompts me to express my gratitude for a powerful teaching and learning experience.”

The students focused on social justice, the inherent dignity of the person, world peace, the care of the poor and vulnerable, and equity and excellence.

Heffron, program director of the Soka course, invited Azcoitia to lecture at the recommendation of a mutual friend, Amanda Rivera, a former CPS principal and administrator. Rivera also practices Buddhism, Azcoitia said, and SOKA, though non-sectarian, was founded upon Buddhist principles of peace, human rights and the sanctity of life, according to its website.


How To Stand Out at a Career Fair Follow these eight tips to make a positive impression


By Consiglia M. Intile, MA, NCC
NLU Assistant Director of Career Services

See upcoming NLU Career Fairs here

Attending career fairs is an excellent strategy for job seekers. Most job seekers face the challenge of getting a face-to-face interview with employers;  career fairs give you an opportunity to shake hands with the employer’s representatives and make your first impression count. To make sure you create a positive lasting impression, follow these eight tips below.

1). Research, Record, and Review

Once you register for the career fair in advance, you will have the opportunity to view the companies that will be attending. You can upload your resume on each employer’s website so they will have a copy on file. Research the companies, read their mission statements, goals and values, and make a list of the companies that interest you. You can jot down the company name and its mission statement on a piece of paper and review it before the day of the career fair. Continue reading »

Safe Zone Allies Prepare To Support LGBTQ Individuals at NLU Get a glimpse of how LGBTQ people encounter society

SafeZone_logoWhat does the world look like through the eyes of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning person, and why is it so often harsh? Why are public restrooms so scary for transgender people? What do the newer terms gender fluid, cisgender, intersex and non-binary mean?

About 10 NLU staff and faculty members learned the answers to these and other questions when Amanda DaSilva, associate director of student development, facilitated a training in late January on how to become Safe Zone Allies, meaning participants are willing to offer support to LGBTQ students and others.

The attendees got a sobering look at why LGBTQ individuals might breathe a sigh of relief at finding a safe zone. Continue reading »

’40 Under 40′ List of Chicago Latinos Names NLU’s Ramos Negocios Now Bilingual Newspaper Creates Its First Such List

140407-MONICA-RAMOS-008Negocios Now, a business-oriented Hispanic newspaper in Chicago, has named NLU’s Monica Ramos to its inaugural list of “Latinos 40 Under 40 in Chicago.”

Ramos is in good company, since the list also includes Jose Abreu, first baseman for the Chicago White Sox; Carina Sanchez, Chicago’s deputy clerk; Silvana Tabares, Illinois state representative from the 21st district; Dan Ponce, a WGN-TV news anchor; Julio C. Rodriguez, president of Dulcelandia Candy Stores, Susana Meza, vice president of Wintrust Bank, and other notables. Continue reading »

22 Chicago Universities Form ‘America’s Urban Campus’ NLU signs on to the effort, to brand Chicago as a premier college town


Presidents of 21 Chicago universities were present at the Jan. 11 signing of the America’s Urban Campus partnership agreement. NLU President Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., is second from right in the second row.

On Jan. 11, National Louis University joined with 21 other Chicago universities in America’s Urban Campus, a partnership designed to highlight and advance Chicago’s pre-eminence in the higher education arena.

The Chicago Community Trust coordinated the partnership among the schools, and said it will work with Choose Chicago and World Business Chicago to brand the city as a global destination for higher education.

The partnership also expects to work on issues such as economic development, civic programming, student engagement and infrastructure. Coordinating a student day of service may also be a goal.

The Chicago Community Trust funded a detailed research study which found that metropolitan Chicago’s universities “educate 216,000 students, generate $10.8 billion in local economic activity, and support 43,000 jobs,” according to the Trust.

For more information, see the Chicago Community Trust website article.

NLU Hosts 25th Reading Recovery Conference, Strategizes Ways To Help Striving Readers Experts Gather in Chicago; 14 percent of Americans can't read



Keynote speaker Baruti Kefele, an author, Milken National Educator and a principal who led transformations of four New Jersey high schools, makes a presentation at the Reading Recovery Conference.

Teachers Nancy Mills and Natasha Ridley were comparing notes and bubbling with enthusiasm as they left a session of the Reading Recovery Conference in Chicago  on Jan. 21.

The 25th annual conference, sponsored by the Illinois Reading Recovery Center for Literacy at National Louis University, brought together reading experts from around the nation to address the issue of how to teach reading. It’s a crucial one for the U.S. economy, since an illiteracy rate of 14 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Education, hamstrings efforts to develop a well-prepared labor force.

Attendees included reading teachers, classroom teachers, curriculum leaders and teacher leaders who work with children in grades K-8 and interested in improving their instructional practices, including those for children who have learning difficulties. Continue reading »

NLU President Presents With Higher Ed Leaders Dr. Megahed Asked to Participate with Five Other Leading University Presidents

nivinemegahed4_webNational Louis University President Nivine Megahed Ph.D., participated in a high-level talk Jan. 15 in Washington, D.C. with presidents of five leading universities from around the nation.

Though diverse, the universities have one thing in common. Each of their presidents is leading the school through a period of change, whether that be a rebalancing of academic offerings, a repositioning in the marketing place or a successful turnaround. Continue reading »

NLU Receives $30,000 in Scholarships From Mexico Consul, IME, Juntos Podemos Students Of Mexican heritage will be able to apply for scholarships


Dr. Ignacio Lopez, from left, Monica Haydee Ramos, NLU-IME scholars 2014-2015 Itzel Hernandez, Claudia Moreno, Mitxi Ortiz and David Rios pose with a check indicating the total amount IME awarded to local universities. NLU received $30,000.

Students of Mexican heritage will soon be apply to apply for $30,000 in new scholarship money for their undergraduate studies.

The Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago, the Institute of Mexicans Abroad and Juntos Podemos (Together We Can) have awarded National Louis University the financial support, to be used for scholarships benefiting students who are recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Dreamers.

Scroll to the end of this article to learn how to apply for a scholarship.  Continue reading »

Catalyst: NLU Partner AUSL Leads In Teacher Prep Article describes how NLU helped design the Academy of Urban School Leadership

preschoolclassroomA Catalyst Chicago article on the Academy of Urban School Leadership, which expects to graduate its 1,000th teacher resident in June 2017, described National Louis University’s key role in helping create the non-profit teacher incubator.

The origins go back to 2001, when Martin “Mike” Koldyke, a venture capitalist, founded AUSL.

Koldyke, who was interested in focusing on teachers, had founded the Golden Apple Foundation to recognize teacher quality six years earlier. He intended AUSL to supply the teacher pipeline of the Chicago Public Schools with excellent teachers. Continue reading »