A thoughtful online transition

This month, the Academic Director of the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) and Professor of Teaching, at the Department of Philosophy Christina Hendricks, introduces the subject of this edition: A thoughtful online transition.

As we now face a new reality of teaching and learning (mostly) online for the fall term, we have moved from emergency remote teaching in March and April to preparing for courses that will take place online from start to finish. This edition of Edubytes will focus on a thoughtful online transition since, for many, this is still a period of transition to new practices of online teaching and learning. With more time to prepare for fall courses than we had during the emergency transition to remote teaching, many educators are looking to learn more about effective online teaching to help them design their courses for an online format.

At the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT), we have been thinking through this transition as well, and how we can help support faculty and graduate students during this time. This month, we launched the Online Teaching Program (OTP). We designed this program to help faculty adapt courses for an online environment and to prepare to teach online. We cover topics such as designing online assessments, developing engaging learning activities, and creating a supportive learning environment. The flexible program includes online workshops with experiential learning opportunities, self-paced online modules, and one-on-one consultation support with an educational consultant. We hope that the OTP will be helpful for educators at UBC and beyond, and have developed the OTP modules to be publicly available and openly licensed so that they may be adapted and reused. Please get in touch with us at the CTLT if you have any questions about this program.

Please see below for a collection of other resources that you may find helpful to support a thoughtful transition to online teaching and learning.

Using announcements to give narrative shape to your online course

In this article, Dr. Nathan Pritts describes his strategies to establish a teaching presence online using announcements. He defines a road map to follow to help students sort things out online and indicates what to expect from him in terms of communication. An interesting strategy to make effective use of announcements is to use labels to categorize them (e.g. course policies, instructional content), particularly at the beginning of the course. This will help set the tone but also “recognize the educational journey students are on.”
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A consistent, mission-aligned instructional framework for the fall and beyond

Robin DeRosa, director of the Open Learning and Teaching Collaborative at Plymouth State University, argues that as institutions explore how to respond to the transition to remote learning, it is essential to develop a set of clear, context-sensitive and mission-aligned values to drive decisions. The article describes the ACE framework (adaptability, connection, equity) developed by Plymouth State University that has guided their decisions during the transition. The framework is openly licensed and adaptable so that other institutions can reuse and modify it in their context and values.
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Will active learning be possible if colleges have physically distanced classrooms this fall?

As campuses begin to explore the possibilities for when and how to reopen, we need to look at whether effective pedagogical practices such as active learning can be done effectively in classroom environments that require physical distancing protocols. Will a constrained classroom that limits student proximity and interaction encourage a return to teaching approaches dominated by didactic lectures? This article summarizes a discussion from the POD listserv, where instructors shared ideas for active learning strategies that could be implemented in a physically distanced classroom. The discussion leads to the question, however, if instructors aren’t able to produce dynamic, active learning experiences in a constrained classroom, would it be better for students if we didn’t rush back and focused instead on delivering high quality, interactive online experiences?
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Enhanced course workload estimator

To help instructors understand how much work they should assign to their students, the Rice University Center for Teaching Excellence published an online course workload calculator that is grounded in empirical research. The use of workload estimates, the Center suggests, will help instructors understand if they are assigning a reasonable amount of work given their own expectations and assumptions. Additionally, making such targets explicit can help students have a better sense of where they stand within a course, help with their time management, and help to make assessments more equitable. Please see this post for more information on the estimates and research used in developing the tool.
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How to build an online community: 6 theses

This article from Dr. Jesse Stommel’s blog explores the ideas of how educational institutions can build an online learning community. Emphasizing the importance of building space/rich ecosystems for students to stay connected with each other, he presents six theses:

  1. Stop conflating on-ground and online learning models, which require different pedagogies, administration, economies, curricula, and communities.
  2. Online learning communities need to be hybrid communities.
  3. Online learning communities don’t require video, synchronous meetings, formal expectations, or extrinsic motivators.
  4. Online learning communities should be permeable, engaging local communities, disciplinary communities, and broader publics.
  5. Our ability to develop community will depend on our willingness to acknowledge the trauma that our community members have and will experience.
  6. Our ability to build community will depend on our willingness to continue feeling joy, having epiphanies, asking hard questions, and sharing our curiosity.

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The revisability paradox – iterating toward openness

David Wiley, a lead scholar in open education, posits that there is a revisability paradox when it comes to designing open education resources: the more research-based instructional design is embedded within an open educational resource (OER), the more a learner can learn from it. However, the harder the resource is to revise and remix without hurting its effectiveness. Wiley suggests the implication of this paradox is that creators of OER can either design smaller objects that are easier to reuse or design larger objects that support learning more effectively but have limited potential for reuse.
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12 key ideas an introduction to online teaching

To help prepare faculty to move their teaching online and understand the internet as a platform, this short textbook works as a guideline on how to teach online. Subjects include how to design activities and assessments for the web, keeping it equitable and accessible, keeping your course simple and engaging, teaching with care and much more.
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To view past issues, visit the Edubytes archive.

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