Over the course of our Academic Technology Scholars training, we have learned a lot about teaching online, and I appreciate that knowledge, but it will soon be time to apply our skills. It is a unique challenge since professors will be using a hybrid format this fall. These are my initial areas of emphasis and recommendations. They are subject to change as I collaborate with my colleagues and the faculty I work with, but it is a starting point.
1. Canvas course organization
I plan to show professors how to download the course template for the Commons, and I will encourage them to organize their course into weekly modules. With students both in class and online, having strong, central organization will be important to keep everyone on track and reduce unnecessary cognitive load.
2. Canvas assignments
My feeling is that the best impact-for-work change that professors can make is having all assignments be submitted and graded on Canvas. I suspect that many used Blackboard in a similar way – if not for a while, then at least during the end of last semester – so the transition will hopefully be painless.
3. Lecture structure
If a professor I work with traditionally lectures for the entirety of a given class period, I will suggest adding break points to allow students to reflect on what they have heard in some way and have the opportunity to ask questions. Poll Everywhere will probably be the first tool I recommend.
4. Formative assessment
Hopefully, most classes already have good formative assessments. Either way, it will be important to make sure they work in the hybrid format, as they will be crucial tools in making sure no student falls through the cracks. Canvas quizzes and discussions could help augment existing formative assessments.
5. Student support on Canvas
Since professors will not being seeing all students face-to-face, having an increased online engagement could help with student engagement and satisfaction. Two straightforward tools I will suggest are mixing in video announcements and utilizing a Q&A discussion forum. Not all announcements need to be video announcements, but they can be a great way to clear up misunderstandings or just give quick reminders. The Q&A discussion forum is already a part of the template course. I had trouble with the links in the template, so I will have to make sure to show how to get those working.
From my perspective, it seems that tests will have to be done online. I have not tried any tools like the lockdown browser, but using Canvas quizzes with questions that can’t simply be looked up online is a good option. Either way, I have more to discover, and I hope the university will make a policy.
I know there is more. A lot more. For instance, grading based on learning outcomes and rubrics is an extremely important topic to me, but that is such a large pedagogical shift that it may be outside of the scope of what is possible over a handful of half-hour meetings. If we can address the six points I outlined, I think that professors will be better prepared to handle fall’s challenges.