Speed Dating Elevator Talks

This activity, contributed by the Cornell Center for Teaching Excellence, was created for a graduate communications class to provide students with the opportunity to practice concise description of their graduate research projects.  Students go on "speed dates" to practice giving eloquent blurbs of their research.

Sounding China

This was a semester long project. Throughout the semester, graduate students (many of whom had little previous exposure to the course material) studied the history of Chinese music theory, the Jesuit missionaries who transmitted it back to western Europe, and the reception of Chinese culture there in the 18th century. The website commemorating the exhibit and giving more information can be found at

Understanding Diaspora

Benjamin Weber created an activity that spans across the entire class to help students understand the concept of “diaspora” through constant reiteration of concepts from some excerpts given to the class by the instructor. Students learned how to close-read excerpts, write reflections, and create their own ideas about the theme of the class.

East Asian Text Diagrams

Eric Schluessel developed this assignment for his EAS97ab class, so students can read texts and learn how to map these out in a diagram. This activity exposes students, especially those just beginning their college careers, to learn to read seemingly repetitive, obscure texts closely and quickly to pull out key information and process it into an accessible, intuitive form.

Archive Analysis

Students were asked to produce a multimedia and historical analysis of the archives of Saudi Aramco World. It aimed to bring historical and secondary sources alive by putting students directly in contact with primary, archival sources and asking them to critically engage with those materials.

Open Review Discussion

Students used a platform called Open Review (, developed by the members of the Harvard physics department, which is a PDF annotation tool that is tailored to discuss scientific publications openly. Every week, students read two publications related to research in the Harvard Physics Department and used Open Review to discuss them online and learn about the academic research.

Minute Physics Videos

Emily Russell designed this for Physics 95: Topics in Current Research aimed towards junior and senior concentrators in Physics.  Students were encouraged to develop their skills in explaining complicated physics topics in layman’s terms through a short video presentation. This project incorporates public speaking skills and video technology like Final Cut Pro. 

World Music YouTube Culture Show

Dr. Michael Heller created this project for a World Music Class for International Students taught at University of Massachusetts, Boston.  Students were encouraged to develop traditional academic skills and new media skills in this World Music YouTube Culture Show Project, by incorporating written word, public speaking, and storytelling tools like Zeega, Powerpoint, or Meograph in this project.