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Dutton Digest, January 2024

January 15th, 2024

A Mixed Bag of Precipitation (how appropriate for January...)

Professors at Play

It might sound silly or less than serious, but according to co-founder of Professors at Play, Lisa Forbes, play in the classroom “stimulates student engagement. It reignites the love of teaching. It creates safe spaces for failing and learning. It connects faculty and students. In that sense, it’s addressing a whole raft of issues we have around mental health and retention” (Palmer, 2023). Download a free PDF of the excellent e-book Professors at Play Playbook and find a huge repository of ideas for a variety of uses. It is entirely possible to maintain academic rigor while incorporating play into your classroom! Read the associated Inside Higher Ed article here: Nonconformists Embrace Play As a Tool for Teaching and Learning


Much like play, gamification can improve learning and engagement, enthusiasm, and motivation. Tapping into what people like about gaming (competition, opportunities for achievement) can result in positive results in the classroom! Check out the guide from SUNY Online for more.

Student Engagement

Play and gamification aren’t the only ways to engage students, of course. This list of tips includes some good reminders for how to encourage student engagement and shares a nice troubleshooting chart for how to prepare for dealing with problematic online actions and interactions: How to Use Gamification and Interactive Learning to Improve Online

As always, the Dutton Institute’s Teaching and Learning showcase includes a ton of information on student engagement! See the list of articles here: Teaching & Learning Showcase: Student Engagement.


There are lots of ways to provide feedback to your students, and Canvas includes helpful tools for doing so, such as rubrics, annotation (in Speedgrader), and audio and video recording capabilities. Are you offering frequent and specific feedback? How about balanced feedback that includes praise along with constructive criticism? The Chronicle of Education’s guide entitled How to Give Your Students Better Feedback with Technology provides ideas for using many available tools and emphasizes that audio and video feedback are great for helping to deliver the cues and tone you intend.

Palmer, K. (2023). Nonconformists embrace play as a tool for teaching and learning. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved January 12, 2023 from