Resources for Transitioning Online (COVID-19)

All instructors, working with their departmental colleagues, should think creatively of ways to deliver curriculum in alternative modalities should the need arise. For example, can your course be moved online, are there alternative assignments you can use in place of things like labs, etc., or in the case where this is not possible, can we determine how to work with students to complete the semester in the event of an interruption? We hope this will not be the case and have no indication currently that we will need to do this, but we should be prepared. The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL) has prepared collections of resources in regards to moving courses online and insuring that we are teaching as part of a safe and inclusive environment for all students.

https://www.uwgb.edu/remote/faculty-resources/

Teaching Resources Around COVID-19

CATL has collected a number of resources to help instructors and academic staff foster a safe and inclusive environment for all students on our campus. In light of the discussion surrounding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the xenophobia, discrimination, fear, and bias that pervades its portrayal in the media, we hope to support and encourage instructors to consider these pedagogical strategies and responses should they happen in your classes or in interactions with students.

Course Continuity Resources

Inclement weather, natural disasters, or other emergencies may lead to an extended loss of class time. CATL has put together some resources that may help you in planning for the inability to meet in person, and how you may continue to speak with students, guide their learning, and collect assignments and assessments.

First Week of Class

As the first week of class draws nigh, instructors naturally turn their thoughts to those first moments that form a new community. These initial interactions offer instructors and learners an opportunity to set the tone for learning for the semester. We searched our library and reached out to UW-Green Bay faculty who have presented on their methods for building community and transparency in the first week to share their insights once again. Many thanks to Dr. Jenell Holstead for inspiring our objectives for the first day, and to Drs. Katia Levintova and Carly Kibbe for example icebreakers for building community in large lecture courses.

What are the objectives for the first day:

  • Clarify all reasonable questions students might have about the course (course objectives, assignments, pre-requisites, when you’ll provide feedback, and how and when students should seek help); spotlight important parts of your syllabus and consider asking students to annotate the syllabus either before class or while you’re all meeting for the first time. Suggestions for how to do this are below.
  • Build community and set the tone for the course environment with an introductory activity. Whether you’re teaching online or face-to-face, students are more likely to succeed when they have a greater sense of belonging not only to each other but also to the course design.
  • Convince students of your competence to teach the course, predict the nature of your instruction, and know what is required of them (your expectations about performance in class). When appropriate, consider asking students to generate a class charter for participation so that they have a stake in shaping how and when they will be prepared to come to class. Giving your students some agency encourages them to hold themselves and their peers accountable for their preparedness.
  • Give you an understanding of who is taking your course and what their expectations are and whatever you plan to do during the semester, do it on the first day. Some instructors ask students to do some “predicting” on the first day of class in order to gauge their expectations and learning goals. Suggestions for how to accomplish this are here.

Man with ice pick chipping away at frozen lakeExamples of Ice Breaker Activities

  1. Sharing Course Trepidations.* Some students have high anxiety about beginning a new course, especially in some courses, such as math or writing, which may be associated with high student anxiety and expectations. Have your students pair up or work in groups to share some of their fears and concerns about starting your course. Groups can share with the larger class if they feel comfortable; this provides validation for the students and an opportunity for the instructor to address student concerns.
  2. Simple Self-Introductions.* Have students introduce themselves to the rest of the class, including their names, majors, and year in school. You can even have them include a “fun fact” about themselves. This also may help you remember them a little bit better. This is a particularly useful exercise in a course where student speaking, in the form of speeches, oral presentations, or regular discussions, are expected.
  3. Getting to Know Each Other through Writing.* Instead of asking students to interview one another verbally, have your students write down the information that is traditionally shared in an introduction. Students can write their names, majors, reasons for enrolling in your course, “fun facts” about themselves, etc. Have your students swap papers with one another and learn about their partners without speaking. This is especially useful in a writing-intensive course.
  4. The M&M Icebreaker. Each student should be given an M&M (or a Lifesaver, or other multicolored candy). They can be given this piece of candy either as they walk in to the room or while they are already sitting in their seats. Develop a few questions or ideas about what students can share with the rest of the class.  Then ask the students to introduce themselves to either a small group of other students or to the whole class, depending on the size of your course.  When they introduce themselves, what they share or say is dependent on the color of their piece of candy.  For example, a red one might mean they share why they decided to take the course or what they did over the school break.
  5. Syllabus Icebreaker.* Before distributing syllabi, have students get into small groups (3-5 students depending on the size of your course) and introduce themselves to one another. In their groups, students write a list of questions they have about the class. After their questions are written down, hand out the syllabus and have the students find answers to their questions using the syllabus. This is not only an icebreaker, but can also show students that many of their questions can be answered by reading the syllabus. Afterward, the class “debriefs” as a large group and discusses any questions that were not answered in the syllabus. 
  6. Syllabus Jigsaw.* Divide your syllabus into a few major sections. Have your students get into groups and distribute one major section to each group (for example, Group A gets “homework assignments”). Each group studies the section of the syllabus until they are confident about the information in it; groups then present that section of the syllabus to the rest of the class.
  7. Common Sense Inventory.* Make a list of true or false statements pertaining to content in your course (for example, in a Biology course, one might read, “Evolution is simply change over time”). Have students get into groups and decide whether each statement is true or false. As a large group, “debrief” by going over the answers and clarifying misconceptions.
  8. Anonymous Classroom Survey.* Write 2 or 3 open-ended questions pertaining to course content. Consider including at least one question that most students will be able to answer and at least one question that students will find challenging. Have your students respond anonymously on note cards; collect the answers to get a general sense of your students’ starting point.
  9. Choose your Thread:* ask students to read the poem “The Way It Is” by William Stafford, and reflect on what their “thread” is and how it sustains them.
  10. Draw* a picture or create a PowerPoint Slide where students can express why they are taking the class.
  11. Bingo: Make a 5×5 grid to use as a Bingo sheet. In each box, write a “fun fact,” or something that at least one of your students will probably relate to. Some examples might be: has traveled to Europe; plays a sport; is left-handed, but they can also be related to your discipline. Have your students walk around and talk to others until they find matches; the first to find all of them “wins.”
  12. Shoes Activity: This activity comes from Dr. Katia Levintova, which she uses in a large lecture class to develop community on the first day. Take a look to see how students’ shoes, a few minutes of silence, and shuffling groups helps her to do this.

(* = suitable for Online or Face-to-Face environments)

Why do an Ice Breaker?

Research around the first weeks of a course indicates that it is not just content expertise that matters to student experience and learning: it is also the environment that the instructor creates–ideally engaging students as active participants (Deluse, 310-312). First impressions are important—from the first time you greet your students to the built or virtual environments in which you teach. Sara Rose Cavanagh shows how students’ first impressions heavily influence their evaluation of courses at the end of the semester. (Cavanagh, 63) 

Email CATL@uwgb.edu if you have an activity for the first week that you would like to share!

Resources

“!2 Icebreakers for the College Classroom” Center for Advancement of Teaching, Ohio State University

Angelo, T. A., and Cross, K. P. Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. (2nd ed.) San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.

Cavanagh, Sarah Rose. The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion. First edition. Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 1. Morgantown, West Virginia: West Virginia University Press, 2016. [E-book requires UWGB login]

Deluse, Stephanie. “First Impressions: Using a Flexible First Day Activity to Enhance Student Learning and Classroom Management.” International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 30, no. 2 (2018): 308–21.

“First Day of Class – Design & Teach a Course.” Carnegie Mellon University. Teaching Excellence & Education Innovation – Eberly Center, 2019. https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/teach/firstday.html.

“First Day of Class Guide.” Vanderbilt University. Center for Teaching, 2010. https://wp0.vanderbilt.edu/cft/guides-sub-pages/first-day-of-class/.

Holstead, Jenell. “Do’s and Don’ts for the First Day of Class.” Presentation Session presented at the Instructional Development Institute, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, January 17, 2018. https://blog.uwgb.edu/catl/files/2018/01/DosDonts.pdf.

Jaggars, Shanna Smith, and Di Xu. “How Do Online Course Design Features Influence Student Performance?” Computers & Education 95 (April 2016): 270–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2016.01.014.

Kibbe, Carly, and Katia Levintova. “Building Community in Large Lecture Classes.” University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, January 28, 2018.

Samudra, Preeti G., Inah Min, Kai S. Cortina, and Kevin F. Miller. “No Second Chance to Make a First Impression: The ‘Thin‐Slice’ Effect on Instructor Ratings and Learning Outcomes in Higher Education.” Journal of Educational Measurement 53, no. 3 (2016): 313–331. https://doi.org/10.1111/jedm.12116.

 

 

 

 

 

Call for help with Online Checklist

Overview

Developing and teaching an online class can be a daunting challenge. In the past, UW-Green Bay subscribed to the Quality Matters to provide guidance in course design. That program provided useful assistance to instructors in the development of online courses, yet Quality Matters shied away from issues related to teaching online courses. The team in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning seeks to build upon the work the institution did with Quality Matters to provide a course quality process that assists with development as well as teaching online courses.

Anecdotally, this makes sense as many instructors report to us that developing relationships with students is among the most satisfying elements of face-to-face teaching and among the most difficult experiences to replicate in the online environment. This also makes a sense according to recent research which has shown that interactions among students and with instructors is the biggest determinant of student success in a course.[1] In this light, the Center seeks participants who would be willing to help us develop a rubric which will serve as the backbone of our trainings to help with online course design and delivery.

Two phases

We seek participants who are willing to assist with either or both of the following phases of this study.

Phase 1

We seek instructors who will be willing to analyze their courses with a draft version of our rubric and provide feedback on their experience. This analysis will take place both before the start of the semester and mid-way through the term. The goal of this phase is to determine the degree to which the rubric helps instructors with the development and instruction of their online courses.

Eligibility

  • Any instructor who teaches an online course during the four-week three summer period which commences on July 15.
    • We would like three to five participants.
  • Participants must be willing to discuss their experiences with the rubric prior to the start of the term; at mid-term; and at the end of the term.
  • Participants will be taken on a first come, first served basis.

Requirements

  • Assess online or hybrid course with the draft version of the rubric before semester and mid-way through the term
  • Provide feedback on experience.
    • The purpose of this phase of the study is to refine the rubric and is not part of a research study.

Benefit

  • Participants will earn $300 for their help, along with consulting help from the CATL team

How to apply

Email Nathan Kraftcheck (kraftchn@uwgb.edu) or Todd Dresser (dressert@uwgb.edu) if you are interested. Please email by July 8 if you are interested in being part of this phase.

Phase 2

We seek instructors who will teach the same course in the online environment in the fall and spring semesters of the 2019-20 academic year. We would like for these instructors to teach the fall semester as they normally would and to then apply changes based upon the rubric in the spring semester. We would like to compare the experience of the instructors and the students in the course. The goal of this phase is to determine the impact of the rubric for the student experience.

Eligibility

  • Anyone who teaches the same online course in the fall and spring of AY 2019-20.
    • We seek five to seven participants.
  • We will take participants on a first come, first served basis with preference for openness to modifying course during the period between semesters in December and January.

Requirements

  • Teach the fall offering as you typically would
  • Assess course with rubric for Spring
  • Consult with CATL on how to make changes based upon the rubric during Winter break (we expect that all participants would make some changes).
  • Allow CATL to survey students on their experience in your course.
    • This phase is part of a research project that the Center is conducting as part of the UWGB teaching scholars program. We are in the midst of seeking IRB approval for this study and participants will be required to ask students to be part of this study.

Benefit

  • Participants will earn $750 for their participation in this program.

How to apply

Email Nathan Kraftcheck (kraftchn@uwgb.edu) or Todd Dresser (dressert@uwgb.edu) if you are interested. Please email by August 23 if you are interested in taking part in this phase of the project.

  • Include a paragraph in your email which answers the questions: Why you are interested to take part in this study and what about your online course you are interested in improving?

[1] Shanna Smith Jaggars and Di Xu, “How Do Online Course Design Features Influence Student Performance?,” Computers & Education 95 (April 1, 2016): 270–84.