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Travis Thurston

Credentials: Director, the Office of Empowering Teaching Excellence, Utah State University

Travis Thurston headshot

Dr. Travis Thurston is the Assistant Director in the Office of Empowering Teaching Excellence leading the educational development programming at Utah State University. Travis’ is the editor of the Empower Teaching Open-Access Book Series and recently published, Resilient Pedagogy: Practical Teaching Strategies to Overcome Distance, Disruption, and Distraction (Utah State University, 2021), and serves on the editorial board for the Journal on Empowering Teaching Excellence. Dr. Thurston’s creative and research interests focus on digital badges in educational development and the scholarship of teaching and learning. With over a decade of experience as an educator and instructional designer in K-12 and higher education, Travis holds a Master of Educational Technology degree from Boise State University with a grad certificate in Online Teaching, and a PhD in Curriculum & Instruction from Utah State University.


#DigitalPowerups: Empowering Students with Choice and Voice in Online Discussions

Struggling to engage online students in relevant ways? In this session we will discuss student perceptions and student engagement in online discussions through an emerging online discussion strategy called digital powerups. Digital powerups are keywords displayed as hashtags that are associated with corresponding prompts in online discussion forums allowing for student choice and voice. By providing multiple entry points, you’ll find that your students will engage in discourse in authentic ways, and will allow you to cultivate social presence in your course. The digital powerups strategy is theoretically grounded in the concept of instructor presence from the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, and provides students with opportunities for multiple means of representation from Universal Design for Learning (UDL). In this session participants will explore how CoI and UDL inform the digital powerups strategy, how to remix and apply the strategy in their own courses, and have access to additional resources to support them as they get started.