Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Elliott Hall, Room 200A
275 Varner Drive
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4485
(location map)
(248) 370-2751
cetl@oakland.edu

Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Elliott Hall, Room 200A
275 Varner Drive
Rochester, Michigan 48309-4485
(location map)
(248) 370-2751
cetl@oakland.edu

Rows of checkboxes

Tips for Planning Winter 2021 Teaching and Learning

Mon Dec 21, 2020 at 07:00 AM

While these tips not necessarily a comprehensive, they can provide a structure for many of the planning items to attend to for fall 2020. Make an editable copy of this list of tips, and add additional notes and items specific to your needs.

  • Plan upcoming courses by reflecting on the most recent semester. The Reflecting on the Semester Teaching Tip provides a basic approach to reflecting on the semester based on a variety of data, along with links to reflection models for continuous improvement and for other purposes.
  • Confirm current university decisions influencing instruction, and check for timely updates. Currently, courses scheduled for on campus meetings will have remote sessions until January 19, 2021. Save email announcements that come from Academic Affairs, check the Academic Experiences page, or contact your department chair. If outstanding issues remain, go to the Academic Affairs Guidance and Updates for Faculty eSpace for resources and to ask questions.
  • Work with your department chair to determine course delivery (i.e. all online, hybrid, face-to-face). If some sessions will be in-person, determine a way to decide which students will be attending when.
  • Keep it simple and minimal. Preparing for an uncertain semester with novel challenges means instructors and students alike will be navigating new procedures. Keeping course activities, structure, and workload simple and minimal will help everyone focus mental energy on the core learning of the course.
  • Use the syllabus to help guide decisions. The OU Syllabus Resources page includes an updated syllabus template with COVID-related policies and language. Updates for Winter 2021 include explanation on S/U grades, a new excused absence form, and supporting students with disabilities during remote teaching.
  • Focus on what you can control in your course. If teaching on campus, it may be helpful to have the mindset of fully online instruction with the added option of some face-to-face time. Two experts provide this and more advice on making the most of hybrid and flexible formats in the Chronicle.
  • Humanize online learning: 8 elements. Online learning leader Michelle Pacansky-Brock offers a guide to creating connection, enthusiasm, and rapport in the online environment. Even when teaching face-to-face, these online elements are important to have in place, and these considerations are a great place to start.
  • Apply a “Plus One” instructional design mindset. The “Plus One” approach (Tobin & Behling, 2019) prompts instructors to “make one change, one time, forever,” meaning you make one adjustment to a course element that increases its flexibility and accessibility. This could be providing an alternative assignment, posting slides to Moodle, letting students choose between reading an article and listen to a podcast interview with the article’s author. Aim for simple, easier “plus ones” that will help you and students navigate unexpected issues.
  • If teaching on campus, have an online backup plan. What 2-3 types of online activities could help accomplish learning goals? If using exams, how could these be translated online? The Examination and Assessment Guide provides options and recommendations.
  • Be flexible with due dates. Providing due dates helps communicate expectations and aids executive functioning needed to progress toward course learning outcomes. But when students do not meet due dates, focus on the goal of the due dates and how to best help students achieve those goals.
  • Set up your Moodle course. Whether teaching online or f2f, use Moodle to house core documents, a forum for student questions and class communications, and provide assignments and activities as needed. See the Moodle Help Library to explore more options, and get more e-LIS support through their Support Portal (live chat, phone, or online), workshops and one-on-one appointments. Even if you have some experience with Moodle, strolling through the new Self-Paced Online Teaching eSpace can help you reflect on and think about getting the most out of Moodle.
  • Set up student resources for their engagement in the course. Create space in your syllabus, communications, Moodle courses, asynchronous discussions, and live class sessions to share how students can be actively involved in remote sessions. Include student resources such as the Student Online Success OrientationOU Online Learning Help Library for Students, and Learning Tips for Students.
  • Design assessments that deter cheating and promote academic integrity. CETL’s Reduce Cheating Online Teaching Tip applies to face-to-face environments as well, and the Virtual Assessments at OU guide is written with academic integrity in mind. e-LIS’ Reducing Cheating in Moodle Quizzes is also a good place to start for considering Moodle-based options. See these and more in the Academic Integrity Teaching Resources. To consult on alternative assessment design, contact CETL director Judy Ableser at ableser@oakland.edu.
  • Plan on ways to manage student communication. In the absence of asking questions in class and with many sudden changes in learning, students experience a higher cognitive load that may make it difficult to process new information. In short, they might ask a lot of questions, even if you have addressed this information in the course. To support students in a timely manner without overburdening yourself, consider ways to manage student questions online and prioritize email with labels.
  • If teaching on campus, get to know the classroom logistics. Classroom Support (CSITS) is setting up classrooms to facilitate a social distance, and recording/live-streaming of in-person class sessions. CSITS encourages faculty to visit their scheduled classrooms early to prepare for furniture arrangement and technology. For specific questions about classroom furniture and equipment, email csits@oakland.edu (and provide a cellphone number for timely follow-up).
  • Record all sessions (including face-to-face sessions) as some students may not be able to attend at specific times (due to child care, family illness, time change if overseas). Create a test recording before the semester to ensure visual, audio, and other logistics are in place. See e-LIS’ Help library on recording options and their workshops.
  • Plan active engagement for social distancing. Faculty developers crowdsourced how active learning strategies could be done at a distance, from f2f to online formats.
  • If teaching completely online, consider providing some synchronous online sessions to increase engagement and community. Ideally, these would be optional or would not incur penalties for missing sessions as students’ personal schedules are likely disrupted and uncertain. Holding virtual office hours is one way to build presence beyond formal class sessions. If synchronous sessions are required, regular class sessions, use set times indicated in the catalog.
  • If going on campus, establish new routines according to OU’s Return to Campus webpage, such as completing a daily health screening form and wearing a mask. What other supplies will you want to bring? Where else will you be going and what do you need to know about these spaces (library, office, lab)?
  • Get an early idea of who your students are. Asking students to fill out a simple form will help you move from hypothetical situations to working with the students you have. Knowing their technology/internet access, schedules, interests, experiences, and concerns will better help you anticipate barriers and opportunities. This Preparing for the Semester Google Form Template can serve as a model you can use and adapt.
  • Reach out to students in personal ways to welcome them before classes start, and then throughout semester.
  • Teach with compassion and support. Students and faculty will continue being under stress this year due to COVID. In turn, show yourself compassion and seek support. The Being Human Online Teaching Tip provides practical actions to help sustain energy and well-being, such as identifying people you can reach out to when you are struggling and continually re-centering core purpose. 

View a Google Doc version of this teaching tip

Written by Christina Moore and Judy Ableser, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Others may share and adapt under Creative Commons License CC BY-NCView all CETL Weekly Teaching Tips. Follow these and more on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.