Telling Berkeley’s story about teaching and learning, across campus and in the public sphere.

Teaching is at the heart of what we do—feeding our collective hunger for knowledge and knowledge sharing. In an effort to enhance teaching-focused dialogue on the Berkeley campus, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) brings you the Berkeley Teaching Blog. See our guidelines and submission policy.

August 12, 2018

This fall, along with the usual excitement and apprehension that accompanies the start of a new academic year at Berkeley, seven faculty members and more than 700 students will help launch the first large general-assignment active learning classroom (ALC) on campus. Wheeler 212, which can accommodate 120 students, is a scaled-up version of the smaller ALCs that have been supporting teaching and learning on campus for the past several years.

April 30, 2018

It’s May and the first line of that old Frank Sinatra song “My Way” keeps running through my head:  “And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…"

March 19, 2018

March 18, 2018

January 10, 2018

I have it right now this very instant --- your Attention.  You’ve given it for a few minutes but if this content doesn’t continue to earn it, your Attention will move on.  It can’t help it.  The Brain is a data-seeking missile constantly gathering key information about surroundings in order to assess what is vital to your survival.  If it determines the information on this page isn’t relevant, your Attention will automatically shift to something seemingly more important (perhaps that text message on your phone).

I’m not speaking of lying or delivering fake news, I’m talking about an actual story. Consider this: A story communicates something, by definition, and can entertain, amuse, delight, divert, provoke, offend, disturb, disappoint, but in all, a story can instruct. There’s a lot of background to storytelling—the what and how to use in lecture, but let’s first discuss the why.

January 2, 2018

Robert Frank says any course, but especially an introductory course, can have no more than five big ideas [The Economic Naturalist, Basic Books, 2008] not fifty (and by the way, professor, none of them is your cutting edge research!). He claims trying to cram too much material into a syllabus actually decreases learning: that students acquire knowledge and skills when the menu is selective and they get to actually use the material, not just have “too much stuff” told to them, during the course.

October 29, 2017

Every second of a class meeting matters so it’s natural to look for ways to streamline the administrative tasks that are a part of course management. Taking attendance is an undertaking that requires time.  The larger the class, potentially the more time required. 

August 14, 2017

Once upon a time, a Syllabus was written.  It was beautiful and contained most of nearly 50 possible information elements that every Syllabus could have.  It was reviewed by the curriculum committee, revised and finally approved.

It waited anxiously for the semester to begin.

April 25, 2017

I want to talk about thinking as teaching.  Let me start with a story.

January 10, 2017

December 13, 2016

Without a Screen Shot 2016-12-09 at 1.42.43 PM.png, It’s just a Machine *

Forgive the over simplistic dualism of the title. Of course we can be, and almost always are (or should be), both teacher and learner at the same time. But, as a semester’s end approaches and a break is in sight, it’s time to consider how to spend that now vacant “teaching” time.

October 20, 2016

Part 1 in this blog series ( discussed the opportunity digital pedagogy provides to reflect on why you teach the way that you do and to explore current learning theories.  In addition it listed a few books that you might find interesting in further developing your teaching practices.  

It’s October which is National Cyber Security Awareness Month so we’ve all heard from our IT colleagues about how we should avoid being lured into a moneymaking scheme, being hacked, or having a ransom note for all our data suddenly appear on our computer screen.  But it’s the everyday disasters that we create for ourselves that should put fear into our hearts.

October 19, 2016

Being located in such proximity to Silicon Valley and the start-up culture that permeates the region means the term “innovation” gets thrown around quite often. But,what does innovation mean for teaching and learning? We can often see it easily when embodied in a new financial app, or furniture product design. It gets trickier when we look at pedagogy.