Tech Snacks are short, focused professional development sessions covering instructional technology, pedagogical techniques, and online learning, delivered in 15-minute chunks. You can download PDF handouts from past Tech Snacks below.

Fall 2020

FERPA and More

Sept. 11, 2020 Have you ever had a parent call you to inquire about their child's grades in your class? Have you ever seen a "confidential" flag in DegreeWorks and wondered what exactly it meant? The Registrar addresses some common FERPA scenarios and discusses other registrar-related questions you're wondering about.
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Everything You Need to Know about Zoom

Sept. 4, 2020 — MSU-Northern recently got an institutional license to Zoom: How does it measure up to Webex? Which videoconferencing service best fits your needs? 
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Spring 2020

Curiosity in the Classroom

March 6, 2020 — Curiosity is the desire for new knowledge, information, experiences, or stimulation to resolve gaps in our understanding or to experience the unknown. When genuine curiosity is triggered in students, they’re motivated to fill in their knowledge gap. So how do we generate curiosity in the classroom? What activities or prompts can get students excited about their knowledge gaps?
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Early Feedback & Intervention

February 21, 2020 — With more than a third of the semester behind us already, it’s critical to ensure that struggling students get the feedback and support that they may need. Early feedback and intervention strategies play a critical role in students’ academic success and retention.
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Committee Involvement

February 14, 2020 — Service is an important part of the promotion and tenure process, but where do you even start? What committees exist, and what are their functions? How can you get involved, and what can committees accomplish?
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Identifying plagiarism and getting the most out of TurnItIn

February 7, 2020 — TurnItIn is a powerful tool in Brightspace for detecting plagiarism, checking citations, and identifying sources. But are you using it correctly and to its full potential? 
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Accessibility Accommodations

January 31, 2020 — Accessibility resource services and student accommodations can feel like a bit of a black box to instructors. How do students ask for an accommodation? Who decides if an accommodation is reasonable? What services are available to help, and what is the instructor’s responsibility in all this? Johnna Antonich, the new Accessibility Resource Coordinator at Northern explains the process.
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Student Engagement Technologies

January 24, 2020  In the Office of Teaching & Learning Excellence, we try not to buy into technology hype without clear use cases and learning objectives. So far this year we’ve been playing with a few new tools that we think have a lot of potential for student engagement, both in and out of the classroom.
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Fall 2019 


November 22, 2019  Burnout can happen in any occupation, but is most common among social workers, medical professionals, law enforcement officers... and educators. Burnout has both personal and structural factors. This is not a problem we can solve with 15 minutes and a handout, and it’s not something that can be fixed without institutional action. Let's start the conversation!

Serving Veteran Students

Nov. 15, 2019 — Military veteran students face a lot of extra hurdles and challenges that the rest of us may not even be aware of. Josh Gomez from Veterans Services addresses what faculty and staff can do to help veterans succeed at MSU-Northern.
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Classroom Management Tips

Nov. 1, 2019 — Effective classroom management isn’t something that just happens naturally! It requires the intentional use of non-verbal communication, instructor personality, classroom policy, and many other subtle factors. We discuss some specific behaviors and habits that can help.
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Using Cellphone Productively in Class

Oct. 25, 2019 — Smartphones can be powerful productivity tools, and usage among college students is approaching
100%. But they can also be major distractions if used inappropriately. How can we use smartphones inside — and outside — the classroom in ways that enhance learning?
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.


Oct. 11, 2019 — Student advising is critical to student success, but it’s not easy. We discuss the advising process and offer a handy reference checklist that covers some of the trickier aspects of advising.
Click here for a link to the current version of this handout.

Cheating & Plagiarism

Sept. 27, 2019 — According to survey data of tens of thousands of college students, about 68% of undergrads and 43% of graduate students admit to cheating on a test or assignment. And cheating doesn’t come out of the blue — In a similar survey, 95% of High School students admitted to cheating. How can instructors catch or prevent cheating? More importantly, how can we cultivate a culture of academic integrity in our own classrooms?
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Making Better Slides

Sept. 20, 2019 — PowerPoint and Google Slides are pretty ubiquitous when it comes to structuring a lecture or presentation. But are you making the most of your presentation? Are your students retaining information and engaging with the content as well as they could be? 
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Spring 2019 

Beyond Gamification

Apr. 12, 2019 — The idea of gamification — using game elements to enhance student motivation and learning — has been heavily discussed and explored over the last decade. But gamification is just one category within a broader field of teaching practices that integrate games and play, called (among other terms) Ludic Pedagogy.
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

High-Impact Practices

Mar. 29, 2019 — Learning experiences outside the traditional classroom setting can have a number of positive impacts on students’ learning. “High-impact practices” (HIPs) like cooperative education, undergraduate research, and global learning can help increase academic engagement and performance, promote a sharper sense of purpose and connectedness, and develop 21st century skills and perspectives among students. 
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Student Survey Results

Mar. 1, 2019 — As part of OTLE’s self-assessment process, each year we ask students to complete a Brightspace experience survey about their device usage, Brightspace habits, overall Brightspace satisfaction, and open-ended questions about how they’d like to see Brightspace improved. Here’s some of what we found this year. 
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Three Cool Tools

Feb. 22, 2019 — Learning technology apps, tools, and websites are constantly being created, updated, closed down, sold off, or bought out. There are some great learning tools available online, but it can be hard to wade through all the confusion to find technology that actually solves a problem. FlipGrid, Webjets, and YoTeach are three promising new tools. 
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Release Conditions & Intelligent Agents

Feb. 15, 2019 — Monitoring and guiding student activity in Brightspace is a daunting task, but there are tools that can help! Release Conditions and Intelligent Agents can automate some of those tasks and provide timely feedback to encourage and motivate students. 
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Brightspace Analytics 

Feb 8, 2019 — Brightspace has multiple analytic tools available to instructors. Knowing how to access this information — and what to do with it — can help you improve your course design, pinpoint trouble areas, identify at-risk students, identify and deter cheating, and more! 
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Dual Enrollment & Class 8

Feb. 1, 2019 — Around 70 high school students take college courses at MSU-Northern for college credit each semester. There are multiple forms of dual enrollment, and lots of potential benefits to the student, your program, and to MSU-Northern. 
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Beyond Powerpoint

Jan. 25, 2019 — Most everyone uses PowerPoint to create a lecture or presentation, but maintaining student engagement can be challenging. Are there ways to enhance the effectiveness and interactivity of PowerPoint presentations? What if we want to turn off the projector and try some “unplugged” activities? 
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.

Creating & Using Rubrics

Jan. 18, 2019 — Assessment and grading can be an overwhelming task for faculty, and a mystifying process to students. How do you maintain objectivity, clearly articulate grading criteria, and provide feedback in a timely manner? Grading rubrics can save time, avoid unintentional bias, and give students clear guidelines for how they’re being assessed. 
Click here for a PDF copy of this handout.