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In this Spring 2021 edition of the LIFE newsletter, we'd like to share some resources and opportunities to wrap up the semester. Inside, we share a summary of our team’s efforts over the last year, upcoming teaching and learning events, and new white papers on remote technologies.




2020 Annual Report

The 2020 LIFE report includes accomplishments we made alongside faculty members and partners in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Explore the report


Blackboard Ultra Upgrade

Saturday, May 15th, 2021

This year, we’ve been working with our colleagues in Learning Platforms as they plan the upgrade to the modernized Blackboard Ultra Experience!  This upgrade provides a major change to the navigation of Blackboard courses, and the option to switch to a new, user-friendly course view experience.

Get to know the new Blackboard Ultra




Introduction to Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation

April - May 2021

Over the next month, a series of initial training sessions are being offered by members of the Learning Platforms, LIFE, and Distance Learning Institute. This session will focus on providing an overview of the upgrade to Blackboard Ultra, the Ultra Base Navigation, and the optional Ultra course view environment.

Register for the sessions 


PETAL Course Mentoring Program

Faculty are invited to participate in the course mentors program during the summer 2021 semester, as part of the Platform for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (PETAL). Over six meetings, faculty peer groups will focus on a teaching topic, co-facilitated by an exemplar faculty and an instructional designer. Teaching topics include courageous conversations; teaching online; assessment and evaluation; and active learning. For questions, contact: Dr. Ahjane Billingsley, PETAL Coordinator.

View more information and register


Teaching and Learning Innovation in STEAM Day

On March 26, 2021, over 50 attendees from across the University of Miami engaged in a keynote presentation, faculty presentations, and a fireside chat about impactful teaching and learning practices, co-hosted by the College of Engineering and Learning Innovation and Faculty Engagement. All live-session recordings are now available on-demand, on the TALIS event website.

Watch the recorded sessions



Our team led two rapid investigative 'Hot Teams' on emerging topics related to remote-teaching needs and the results focus on sharing use cases and relevant educational research to inform teaching practices.


Collaborative Digital Whiteboards

We investigated Padlet, Google Jamboard, Microsoft Whiteboard, and Miro, which enable students and instructors to aggregate, display, and comment on related content in real time. Use cases from professors at the School of Architecture and Psychology are shared.

Read the white paper


Interactive Video Tools

We investigated Kaltura, VoiceThread, and Nearpod that allows instructors to annotate and embed questions into videos, resulting in a more active, engaging learning experience which yields important formative assessment data. Use cases from the College of Arts and Sciences are shared.

Read the white paper



How to Help Students Feel a Sense of Belonging During the Pandemic

Equitable Teaching Takes Time and Practice. Here Are Strategies to Help

Anti-Racist Pedagogy in Action: First Steps



Here's what we've been reading since our last newsletter:



Matt - Director of LIFE

Giroux, H. A. (2021). Race, Politics, and Pandemic Pedagogy: Education in a Time of Crisis. BLOOMSBURY.

In this book, Henry A. Giroux passionately argues that education and critical pedagogy are needed now more than ever to combat injustices in our society caused by fake news, toxic masculinity, racism, consumerism and white nationalism.


Aaron - Senior Instructional Designer

Brookfield, S. (2012). Teaching for critical thinking: Tools and techniques to help students question their assumptions (1st ed). Jossey-Bass.

In Teaching for Critical Thinking, Stephen Brookfield builds on his last three decades of experience running workshops and teaching courses on critical thinking to explore how students learn to think this way, and what teachers can do to help students develop this capacity.


Gemma - Senior Instructional Designer

Costanza-Chock, S. (2020). Design justice: Community-led practices to build the worlds we need. The MIT Press.

An exploration of how design might be led by marginalized communities, dismantle structural inequality and advance collective liberation and ecological survival.


Amanda - Instructional Designer

Honeycutt, B. (2021). Episode 77: Tips for Designing Collaborative Learning Experiences and Group Work with Dr. Alexandra Mihai (No. 77). 

In episode 77 of the Lecture Breakers podcast, Dr. Alexandra Mihai joins us to talk about why collaborative learning is important and what we can do to make it a more successful experience for students.


Renee - Senior Instructional Designer

Paul, B., Paul, M., & Zunon, E. (2019). I am farmer: Growing an environmental movement in Cameroon. Millbrook Press.

Discover the true story of how environmentalist Farmer Tantoh is transforming the landscape in his home country of Cameroon.



This email was sent by Learning Innovation and Faculty Engagement, Academic Technologies. Contact the LIFE team at, for one-on-one, small group consultations, and workshops on impactful pedagogies and educational technologies. View our programs and services here.

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