30 Day Challenge

Man with right hand raised on top of a mountain
Published: Tuesday, September 1, 2020

September is National Self Improvement month, so this month we’re taking the opportunity to share some ideas in the form of a “30-Day Challenge.”

You can start with us on Day 1, or pick up at any time, as all these tasks can help you improve no matter when it is.

This “challenge” is more of an opportunity to learn from and refresh your memory with resources from a variety of different sources, and to dedicate a little bit of time each day to improving your course, project, skills, or self. We’ve collected and curated several resources below that will provide you with inspiration, knowledge, and hopefully a little break every now and then.

You can read the full schedule of resources below, or for a quick update every day, and we’ll be sharing our daily resource download on our social media sites, so make sure to follow us.

A gratitude journal is a great way to start this challenge and your month. This resource from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley will give you an idea on how to start and make it meaningful to you. According to them, “...the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful—benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike.” They even have a digital version to download to get you started.

Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal

Take a few minutes to learn about what some of the work faculty members are doing here on campus, and around the country. We’ve provided some options below in the form of podcasts, but feel free to check out your favorite teaching website, blog, or even checking in with your fellow faculty members about what they’re doing, whether it’s within your own department or elsewhere.

Now that we’ve taken a moment to reflect and get inspired, let’s talk about learning objectives! For experts, this is a good time to reach out to others who may be new to building them. For everyone else, here’s a helpful resource from our friends up north who made objective building simple.

ASU’s Objective Builder

September 4th is National Wildlife Day, and it’s also a Friday which means weekend plans are just around the corner. Take some time away from screens to take a walk around the park, block, or even a more adventurous spot in nature. We’ve provided some ideas below.

“Check Your Links” is practically a motto for us here at Digital Learning. September 5th is National Be Late For Something Day- which for us, means it’s not too late to make sure all your links are working. Whether it's for a course, project, or internal project management, you’d be surprised how many links are floating around that might be broken or need help making sure they’re accessible to your audience.

National Read a Book Day falls on September 6th, and we’ve got a ton of options for you below if you need some inspiration. We’ve asked our staff members to provide their favorite books about teaching, learning, and the online experience. Whether it's one of ours or one of yours, grab a beverage and your favorite book for a relaxing Sunday read.

Part of our self-improvement month includes taking a look at everything we’re working on and how we can make it better. If you’re using images in your course or project, making sure there’s alt text is a must. Alt text provides screen readers with the ability to describe images to users and can make a world of difference in accessibility and design functionality. The DRC here at UArizona has an excellent resource to get you started.

DRC Resource on Alt-Text

We’ve spent plenty of time playing with new tools in technology, so we’re here to provide some options for you to try out too. For this task, take a peek at Perusuall. It’s an annotation tool that can help enhance a student's understanding of the material you need to present. Check out the website below to learn more about the tool, and read our web piece about how to empower students using annotation.

Did you know the entire Adobe Creative Cloud Suite is completely free for faculty, staff and students? If you haven’t already, your task today is to sign up. And if you have signed up, let someone else know who hasn’t had a chance to take advantage of the powerful tool set. Instructions on how to sign up are below.

How to Sign up for Adobe

Meditation is a powerful way to bring yourself mindfulness during a hectic day. There are plenty of free apps to help you do a guided meditation if this is your first time, or if you’re a pro, turn to whatever method works best for you. If you’d like to see what our campus and others are doing to aid you in meditation, review the resources below.

Color is a powerful design tool to help your course, project or communications pop and make an impact. A key element to a good design is making sure how you use color aids everyone in your audience in understanding the material. The DRC here at UArizona provides some information below about using a Color-Contrast Checker to make sure that everything you make can be read by everyone.

DRC Information on Color-Contrast

Need a break? September 12th is National Video Games Day. If you have a favorite, set aside some time to hop back in. If you’re looking for something a little more educational, check out the resource below to play a game about using games for professional development.

Goblin Education Game

The same lecture videos every week can be boring for us as instructors. Why not inject a little interaction, ask some questions, and encourage students to pause and reflect? Playposit is available for everyone in D2L and has some pretty powerful tools. Check out their Playposit Academy to learn how to use it!

Playposit Academy with D2L

September 14th is National Coloring Day, and a great time to relax between Zoom meetings to doodle or color. Adobe Capture has some ideas on how you can create your own coloring book based off your own photos.

How to Create a Coloring Book from Your Family Photos

September 15th is National Online Learning Day, a time where many are sharing their experiences teaching and learning online. Take some time to browse Twitter or your favorite social media channel to see what others are doing, and maybe even share something yourself. More details are below.

National Online Learning Day

We’re halfway through the month, and it’s a great time to assess your workload to prioritize what’s important versus what you can give yourself a break on. We’ve provided a link to the Eisenhower Matrix, which is a helpful tool to help you prioritize what’s urgent, what’s important, and what you can get rid of from your heafy to-do lists.

The Eisenhower Matrix

Another new tool to play around with is one of our Adobe products, Photoshop Camera. This tool is a great way to introduce photography concepts from your phone, and how to improve your camera photography. From family photos to pictures you can use to share with your students, phone cameras are becoming an accessible way to take quality photos.

Using Photoshop Camera

One of the tools that DL is known for supporting is PlayPosit, the interactive video player that lets you engage your audience with interactions built into a video. There are a ton of use-cases that we’ve seen over the years, but we’re constantly learning more from our users. Take some time to think about how you could use this tool in a unique way. We’ve provided some examples below in our PlayPosit showcase.

PlayPosit Showcase

September 19th is National Talk Like Pirate Day, and as fun as it would be to be a pirate, digital piracy is something we need to avoid. Make sure all the images, videos, and other materials you’re using are in fair use. Here’s some resources to help you complete that check and give you some options for media content that is free to use.

Sometimes work and responsibilities extend far outside the work day and creep up into the evening. Today, take some time away from work to watch your favorite movie, or a movie you’ve been meaning to get to. If you’re missing seeing some of campus, or Tucson in general, check out Revenge of the Nerds or Can’t Buy Me Love.

Pressbooks is software that facilitates the creation of open educational resources. Users are able to create textbooks and course materials, remix the creations of other users, and add interactive elements like videos and quizzes. Take a peek at the website, and if you’re interested in trying it out, check out the resource below.

There are hundreds of tutorials out there on how to do specific things with Adobe products. Think of a project you’ve been curious about, and look up a tutorial on how to do it. If you need help getting inspired, we’ve linked some down below.

Dust off your cookbooks or head to the internet to find a recipe that you haven’t tried before. We all have our eyes on that one recipe that seems great, but we just don’t have the time for. Take that time today to improve your culinary skills or at least get a fresh new dish to add to your repertoire.

Take a peek at this resource that the Adobe team put together. It’s a set of quick, simple kickstarters you can use to inspire your students’ creativity, critical thinking, creative problem solving, and collaboration in any class.

Adobe Kickstarter for Inspiration

At its core, alternative assessment is a means to meet outcomes on a deeper level. It achieves this often by adding relevance to an assessment, making it a bit more plausible or reflective of activities or problems one might face in the real world. This relevance improves the engagement for the learner. Take some time today to learn about alternative assessments and how you might be able to incorporate one into your course.

Alternative Assessments

The past few tasks have been heavy on the brainstorming and finding inspiration. Take some time today to do a few stretches, take a jog, yoga, or any activity that you find gets you moving and shakes out any stress.

Parts of improving your workflow can be fun. Productivity browser extensions have made all the difference for some of our staff, who’ve provided a few ideas below. Otherwise, take some time to browse through your browser’s extension library to see what could help you.

  • Wave - Allows you to check a web page for accessibility issues.
  • Clear Cache - Helps clear your cache to keep you running smoothly.
  • Dualless - allows you to choose a ratio to split your screens if you don’t have dual monitors.

Take some time today to think about what you’d like to improve upon in your course, and what you think had the most impact on your students. Being strategic about the way you refresh your online course can save you a lot of time and a lot of stress. Here’s an article below about how to refresh courses and quiet the perfectionist that lives inside so many of us.

Quieting the Perfectionist: Course Refreshes for Us Mortals

Today’s challenge is just to take a peek at this fun website that allows you to see out the window of someone else in the world. Pair this activity with your favorite beverage while you work today.

Window Swap

National Podcast Day falls on September 30th, which means we close out this challenge with your favorite podcast. If you need some inspiration on education, online teaching, and even video production, our staff have provided a few suggestions below.

Authored By:

Tess Salmón

Tess Salmon
Project Manager