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Throughout the United States, from grade school to college, the entire 2020–21 academic year was held online and/or in hybrid modality. Not unlike several of my colleagues, I had never taught an online course. Although digital practices — such as e-textbooks, multimedia software, and learning portals — were already part of my normal teaching strategy, the dramatic shift in expectation compelled me to evaluate traditional teaching practices in a new light.

The transition learning curve was steep, to say the least, but the desire to support student success overrode my fears of improving my teaching practices.

Fortunately, the institution at…

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My dad, Appa, was four when he lost his mother. The time and geography of relevance are 1939 British India. My grandmother, twenty-five years old and pregnant for the fifth time, died during delivery alongside her stillborn child. Her older sister Gopi, who was childless, valiantly swooped in and took in my father and his three siblings — all under the age of six! My grandfather later remarried and went on to have four more kids.

Let’s take a moment to unpack the first paragraph.

Point #1:

I’m 52 and I still have my mother, and I couldn’t be more…

image showing a thought bubble with the phrase “Hi! how are you doing today?”

Emphasized in academia and prized in the workplace, the pre-requisite skills of verbal, written, and interpersonal communication have helped us adapt to an ever-changing world of expectations. Also over the years, various tools and technologies such as email, chat, text, and video have enabled and elevated communication to the next level.

Two additional communication skills that are not as discernible and don’t receive the credence that they deserve are body language and emotional intelligence. Especially in teaching, these skills can serve as a source of nurturance to students, motivating them to connect, participate, and perform better.

Emotional intelligence is an…

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Image Source: Author Artwork using Creative Commons images

Of all my secret teenage fantasies, the one that I projected the most was me being on screen. It took approximately 35 years, but that fantasy materialized into reality in March 2020 when teaching unexpectedly went online. In a swift moment, I found myself staring into my laptop camera, projecting my face onto my students’ screens!

Rethinking and modifying assignments, in the waning days of the semester, was an all-consuming task on the one hand. …

Image of Canvas LMP
Image Source: Artwork by Author using Commons Content

A roadmap for student success, Canvas is one of the most popular learning management systems (LMS) used in academia today. Canvas is used just as easily for blended or online courses as it is for in-person courses.

This post is not a training workshop on Canvas. Your best resource in this regard is the Instructure website or your institution’s instructional resource center. This post summarizes how I use Canvas, specifically modules, to effect the best possible outcome for my students.

With the pandemic-induced change in class modality, I decided to invest some time into designing and setting up modules for…

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I was born cloaked in privilege. My parents were a lower-middle-class family in India, but what they bequeathed to me was a cultural heritage rich in education, values, and traditions. At 21, I arrived in the United States in hot pursuit of new horizons, equipped with two suitcases and a professional degree.

I had never met white people but had seen them in an occasional English movie or the history books of British India. I knew of Black and Chinese people as races only. The term Hispanic? Never heard of it. There was no awareness of sexual orientation, let alone…

A laptop with a blackboard on the screen and lab glassware in background
Image Source: Author artwork using pictures from Creative Commons

As an instructor at a public university, I’m always exploring the next thing that can motivate students to take greater responsibility for their learning.

As an engineering instructor, I’m always looking for case studies, videos, TED Talks, subject speakers, and hands-on project ideas that can help crystallize complex, technical concepts into meaningful takeaways that inspire learning and innovation.

Having spent a significant part of my initial career as an engineer in the public sector, my learning ideology is influenced by my experiences in the field. …

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The iPad has been an indispensable teaching tool for me, especially in the recent transition to online instruction.

Interestingly enough, my objective behind my iPad purchase had little to do with the pandemic. At the time, I was nursing an irritated shoulder resulting from calcific tendonitis. The range of motion in my shoulder was limited and the pain was constant. Lifting my arm to write on or erase the whiteboard had been excruciating.

Upon evaluation, my institution’s employee accommodations center recommended the iPad as an assistive technology tool. I teach engineering classes that require significant use of the whiteboard to…

2021 Corona virus infection graph of India
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This post is not about rehashing what’s already on the news. Rather, it’s a call to action for disaster preparedness.

Nonetheless, a brief introduction to the brewing crisis is in order.

India is dealing with a sudden spike in Covid cases. India’s Covid infection rate is at a record high, now outpacing the United States in terms of daily reported cases. Less than 10% of the total population of 1.3 billion has received its first dose of the locally made vaccine to date.

Change petitions are flying around in cyberspace, pressuring the US administration to lift the ban on the…

Rotting food dumped by a truck
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Growing up in post-colonial India, in an era that prefaced conveniences such as running water, 24/7 electricity, and electronic gadgets and appliances, I learned about food economics before I learned the ABCs.

My lower-middle-class family — my parents, brother, and me — had enough to satiate our hunger, sans any frills or excesses. Shopping for fresh, seasonal fruits, vegetables and groceries was a daily ritual. We would walk to the local market, drop the purchased foods into home-sewn cotton bags, and carry them back home on foot.

My mother, a high school math and physics teacher, miraculously transformed raw foods…

Raji Lukkoor

Educator, author, engineer, trying to live her best life!

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