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Category: New Horizons

What the Best College Teachers Do


During the scenic two-hour shuttle ride from the Calgary Airport to Banff on my way to the Open Education Global conference I managed to plow through the slim little bestseller, What the Best College Teachers Do, by Ken Bain. Dr. Bain was one of the keynote speakers at this years VCCS New Horizons conference and I was really captivated by his talk which he gave amidst his keynote audience, wandering table to table like some Vegas crooner. His keynote was essentially a synthesis of the his book, citing examples of what the best college teachers do–they focus on knowledge-creation, not knowledge transmission, create learning experiences in their courses, encourage learners’ intrinsic motivation–and how these practices are supported by research in the learning sciences.

However I found his concluding chapter a bit contradictory. For his research studied what the best college teachers do, not what the best-trained college teachers do. Many of these teachers learned to be effective “on the job,” through trial and error and, most likely, and possessing a certain disposition for good teaching. Yet, in the concluding chapter Bain argues that good teaching is not some set of intuitive, inborn traits but in fact a set of skills, based in research, that can be taught. I don’t disagree, but think this point would be much more effective if I could see how teachers trained in the learning sciences get to effective teaching more quickly and completely than those who are not.

This book is a reminder to me that, colleges don’t need to be reinvented, run like for-profit corporations, or actually run by for-profit corporations. Instead, higher education needs to focus fully on supporting effective teaching and learning. We know what works–in fact, Bain summarizes these approaches nicely in his book–so let’s finally, finally train our faculty to do what the best college teachers do.

You can buy What the Best College Teacher’s Do at your local bookseller or, if you insist, online through some global behemoth.

To do: upcoming events

CC-By: Office Now

CC-By: Office Now

Spring 2015 is positively lousy with EdTech-related events, meetings, webinars, and more events. And webinars. There are also meetings: lots of ‘em. Below are the ones I have compiled, at least through April, the cruelest month. For a complete list, go to

If you have an event that you would like to add, please let me know.

February 06, 2015 (Happening now!)
JSRCC FantasTech Virtual Conference

February 09, 2015
Educause Learning Initiative (ELI)
Anaheim, CA

February 11, 2015
Increasing College Access and Success through Zero-Textbook-Cost Degrees
Washington, DC

February 17, 2015
New America Foundation: Community College Online
Washington, DC & online

February 19, 2015
ELET Committee Meeting
Charlottesville, VA

February 19, 2015
VCCS Peer Group Meeting | Accounting/Business/Economics
Richmond, VA

February 24, 2015
Tech Council
Suffolk, VA

March 04, 2015
Fredericksburg, VA

March 08, 2015
Innovations Conference
Boston, MA

March 09, 2015
Austin, TX

March 30, 2015
OpenSym 2015 | Call for Papers

March 30, 2015
OxCon: OpenStax Conference
Houston, TX

April 01, 2015
New Horizons 2015
Roanoke, VA

April 09, 2015
Council for the Study of Community Colleges Conference (CSCC)
Ft. Worth, TX

April 17, 2015
VWCC 2015 Instructional Technology Mini-Conference
Roanoke, VA

April 22, 2015
OpenEd Global Conference
Banff, Alberta, CANADA

April 22, 2015
OLC | Emerging Technologies for Online Learning
Dallas, TX

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