Held on Monday, July 27 | 12-4 p.m.

Whether teaching hybrid, remote, or online, each of us needs a plan for the fall.

To help you achieve a plan that fits your particular style of teaching, the College of Engineering and Applied Science hosted “What’s Your Plan? A Symposium on Education for Fall 2020.”

The symposium featured a series of roundtable discussions, offering a space for conversation around core themes to help faculty members get to their plans, one that they craft based on their needs. Five topics were addressed in 30-minute discussions and repeated four times.

Need more resources? Visit the Going the Distance webpage for additional seminars.

Key takeaways for fall semester planning

Topic A: Assessment

  • Ken Anderson, supported by Viktoriya Oliynyk, led a discussion of student assessments and projects in a online and distance settings. Drawing from the ongoing conversation in the college, this roundtable included discussion of remote examination, group work and best practices. Key points and recommendations include:
    • It is important to take into consideration the reality that our students are facing when designing our courses and their associated course policies.
    • Our Gen Z students are a fundamentally different student population; they are part of a nationwide mental health crisis being experienced by all of higher education, not just CU, and they are living in a time of major political unrest amid a global pandemic.
    • We recommend revising course structures and their associated assessment and course policies with simplicity and flexibility in mind.
    • We are not saying that courses should be easy; instead, we are saying that the structure and goals of the course should be clear and we should focus on teaching students the fundamentals of the topic domain as opposed to trying to cover all aspects of the domain.
    • A key recommendation is to move away from course structures that rely on a few high-stakes exams to ones that have more frequent, lower-stakes assessments like homeworks and quizzes.
    • We also encourage the use of take-home exams, oral exams, and projects in place of high-stakes timed exams to help our students on their academic journeys this semester.
    • Another key recommendation is to support this wider range of lower-stakes assessments with flexible course policies that allow, e.g., students to drop their lowest homework or quiz score, or provide students with the means of demonstrating that they now understand a concept that they didn’t understand earlier in the semester (known as mastery-based learning)
    • The college has released a report from the remote exam working group that addresses many of these issues in more detail, adds a discussion related to academic intregrity, and makes recommendations on how to create/administer remote exams. This report can serve as a resource to faculty interested in topics related to assessment.

Topic B: Wellness

  • Rhonda Hoenigman and Donna Hall presented on early intervention strategies and using analytics to recognize patterns in student behavior. They covered barriers to learning, analytics available in Canvas, and the importance of setting up a platform that recognizes student needs. Key points and recommendations include:
    • Be intentional: Students may drop out of class, so be intentional about checking in with students through Zoom polls, Zoom open office hours, and TA check-ins. 
    • Be social: Think about social activities that bring students together in Zoom or in person.
    • Be human: It is OK to tell students that this is a difficult time.
    • Use Canvas resources: Canvas has analytics tools that we can use to track student engagement and help us realize when they are not engaging.

Topic C: Engagement

  • This session focused creating a positive learning community in the virtual world. Chris Koehler, with support from William Kuskin, discussed his experience teaching in the Space Minor and successfully transitioning that course over to Zoom. Key points and recommendations include:
    • Chunking lecture class into 10-minute sections.
    • Shaking the students intellectually to break them out of a pattern.
    • Switching how the content is delivered—through video, text, and lecture—so the students exercise different kinds of focus.
    • Flip all or part of the classroom (perfect for remote).
    • Voice: give students a way to be heard by utilizing email, Canvas, Zoom polling, or Slack so that they can react to the lesson.
    • Listen: listen to what they have to say and tell them that you are listening.
    • Encourage students to process the content.
    • Share the instructional role. Give students a chance to teach and to lead the class.
    • Give them shared experiences. Break them up into smaller sections and let them work thorugh problems.
    • Challenge the students to to stretch their minds and their imagination.
    • YOU! It is all up to you. Take the chance to experiment with your class, and your students will react positively.
    • Engagement belongs to the students: Ultimately, the students will engage as much as the instructor gives them room to engage. If you share with them the experimental nature of fall, and allow them to participate, it is our belief they will.
    • Content deliver vs. metacognition: As much as fall is a unique semester, it is worthwhile to ask what students will remember about it in years to come. Will they remember specific content or just that it was a laborious and difficult time? Perhaps it would be a good strategy to back out from the content somewhat and think about teaching metacognitive practices about learning how to learn.

Topic D: Communication

  • Keith Graham and Wendy Young led a discussion on communication inside and outside of class. This includes (1) office hours; (2) different methods of student and TA interactions (Slack, email, Google Docs, etc.); (3) pre-semester information; (4) weekly check-ins; (5) homework reviews; and (6) remote lecture discussions. Key points and recommendations include:
    • Reduce student and faculty stress
    • Plan remote, augment on-campu
    • Improve the efficacy of student instructional support
    • Make permanent communication enhancements
    • Remote Lectures
      • Have a TA monitor the chat room
      • If you are recording, inform class before you start and use the campus-provided statement in syllabus
      • Zoom etiquette
        • Consider requiring students to leave their cameras on (at least at start of class)
        • Having zoom etiquette expectations can help with relationships (turn on cameras, use raised hand function or chat for questions)
        • Zoom Meetings: Etiquette and Best Practices from University of Pittsburgh: www.technology.pitt.edu/blog/zoom-tips
    • Office Hours
      • Private/breakout rooms versus shared Zoom
        • Breakout rooms can be effective if you have a large number of resources (i.e. TA in each room is ideal)
        • OIT can set up pre-created breakout rooms for those who want collaborative teams working during a remote lecture (similar to collaborative group work in the classroom)
      • Asynchronous office hours
        • Create short 5-7 min videos on common issues and post
        • Create “Bug List” that is shared on Google Doc with TAs; create another for students (can require login)
        • Can give an asynchronous review for exams
        • Some may hold optional outside office hours, for instance in Scott Carpenter Park; suggest placing markers such as cones where students can sit and be socially distant
    • Building relationships
      • Small classes
        • Spend five Zoom minutes with each student every other week
      • Large classes
        • Divide class up between all faculty and TAs and each person spend 5 minutes with each student weekly
        • Flip classroom: teach online or remotely before lecture time, use lecture time to converse with students and answer their questions; can rotate students through the lecture time if you have a large class (i.e. switch out students every 15-20 mins)
    • Other methods of communications?
    • Utilizing ELAs, SAs, and TAs
      • Slack is a great way to do 1:1 meetings and general conversations
        • Use the @channel function notify all members
      • My students set up a Slack Channel named #daily-updates, and setup the Slackbot reminder to send the message every day at 9 a.m. with the following:
        • By the end of the day reply to this thread with your updates for today. Please consider the following questions:
          • What did you accomplish?
          • How many hours did you work today?
          • What do you plan to do next?
          • What questions do have? or What do you need help with?

Topic E: Design

  • Gear Up for Flexible Course Design (and How to Ensure Students are Along for the Ride). In this breakout session, Wendy Martin and Courtney Fell discussed flexibility in course design and how to incorporate student needs into the process. Topics included options for Canvas setup, content delivery and learning activities as well as how to include students in the design process. Key points and recommendations include:
    • Communicate expectations for course communication.
    • Map out your course.
    • Rethink for remote teaching.
    • Create and populate your Canvas site.
    • Build in learner supports.
    • Create a work schedule for students.
    • Be prepared to provide referrals.