Our Next Adventure in Teaching and Learning
Congratulations! You survived the Spring 2020 semester, rapidly taking your on-ground courses online, supporting students who were experiencing major life disruptions, and managing your own work/home life in new ways.
Now what? Take a deep (but quick) breath and prepare for what the Fall 2020 semester will bring.
As you know, Lindenwood, like all colleges and universities, has had to make decisions about how teaching and learning will happen under the current and evolving circumstances. For the Fall, we will have the use of a new classroom technology – the OWL unit – that will allow us to hold some face-to-face sessions with a limited number of students at a time while all other teaching and learning will occur online.
Video demonstration of how the OWL unit works
Viewer Overview (Student)
Moderator / Presenter Overview (Instructor)
Recorded Session of Teaching with OWL / Big Blue Button
While this is a form of hybrid or blended teaching and learning, there are some differences compared to the most traditional form of this approach. Traditionally, students are required to attend/complete the online and on-ground elements of a hybrid course because, together, these components constitute the full learning experience. Given the uncertainties and complications brought by the pandemic, students attending Lindenwood in the Fall will not be required to attend face-to-face sessions and, if they do attend, they will not do so all at the same time (unless the class size is quite small) due to the need for social distancing. Students can choose to attend the on-ground sessions, but will need to do so on a rotating schedule such that each student has opportunities to learn in person. Students can choose never to attend the on-ground sessions, so all learning and assessment of learning should be available to students to complete online.
Based on this, the Learning Academy recommends that instructors aim to design, build, and deliver effective online courses complemented by optional face-to-face sessions that enrich the online learning experience. The resources provided to support faculty throughout the Summer 2020 preparation and Fall 2020 delivery of courses are geared toward this approach.
Rest Easy: Good Teaching is Good Teaching
Certainly, this will be a new world for most of us – faculty and students alike – but here is the good news for any faculty who might be feeling anxious or unsure of their ability to adapt to this new modality: Good teaching is good teaching, no matter the format! A few “basic ingredients” can provide the foundation of an effective learning experience whether it occurs online, on-ground, or via a blend of the two:
Instructor presence in online courses has been linked to student learning, motivation, and satisfaction (e.g., Baker, 2010; Blignaut & Trollip, 2003; Richardson and Swan, 2003). Strong instructor presences is achieved online much the same way it is in on-ground courses; instructors who
- are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their subjects,
- “show up” to class, whether it occurs in a physical classroom or Canvas shell,
- provide timely feedback,
- are responsive to student questions and issues,
- and solicit student feedback and implement changes based on feedback
have a positive impact on students in their courses. Instructors who design and deliver engaging learning experiences and who personalize learning fare well in any format.
Effective course organization is always important, but becomes even more important in online courses because students usually don’t benefit from the structure of regular class meetings. In a sense, they must navigate the course on their own. They may work through components at slightly different times and at varying pace and may not be able to get immediate help if they do not understand how to best navigate content, assignments, etc.
Engaging content and learning activities
Taking a learning-centered approach to course design and delivery calls us to present content in engaging ways and provide active learning opportunities. Ideally, we want students to want to come to class, right? Moreover, we want them to interact meaningfully with the content, with us, and with one another once they do. These are the same goals we should have in mind in approaching online or hybrid courses and the good news is that many of the techniques to keep students interested, motivated, and involved in on-ground courses can be translated online, though many move from occurring synchronously to occurring asynchronously.
Effective instructors focus on the best possible ways to evaluate student achievement of learning outcomes. Many, if not most, assessments that we use in on-ground courses can be translated online and, in cases where translation isn’t feasible, instructors may find creative and interesting ways to assess student learning that may not have occurred to them before.
If you strive to deliver on these four elements of teaching in your on-ground courses, there is no doubt you have what it takes to succeed in an online or hybrid format. The Learning Academy, Lindenwood Online, the Lindenwood Library, the Writing Center, SASS, and others are here to provide you with resources and support you might need as you make the transition.
Before you get started exploring our resources and opportunities for support, consider viewing this testimonial from Ana Schellmann, Professor of English in the School of Humanities, who has dedicated herself to continuous learning so that she can improve her ability to deliver courses online.
Video Testimonial from Ana
You might also check out this Faculty Focus article on Finding Meaning in Your Online Course Delivery for more inspiration.
Baker, C. (2010). The impact of instructor immediacy and presence for online student affective learning, cognition, and motivation. The Journal of Educators Online, 7(1).
Blignaut, S., & Trollip, S. R. (2003). Developing a taxonomy of faculty participation in asynchronous learning environments-an exploratory investigation. Computers and Education, 41, 149-171.
Richardson, J. & Swan, K. (2003). Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students‟ perceived learning and satisfaction. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7(1), 68-88.