Inside Higher Ed: “Yes, Your Zoom Teaching Can Be First-Rate”

Stephen Hersh, a faculty member and former advertising executive, outlines six steps for how you can create a community of active learning online if you “use the medium.”

What did all this do for the learning process? Zoom became a way to implement active learning, the style of instruction in which students participate in the process rather than playing the role of passive audience. Active learning can make it easier to learn, and easier to remember what they have learned. To make this happen, this was my checklist:

  1. Talking less. Zoom was just not friendly to a talking head. I thought of my mini lectures not as events in themselves but as introductions or kickoffs to small-group work sessions.
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  3. Motivating students to come to class prepared. We can’t ditch live lectures without replacing them. My students loved the booklets I handed out, which basically enabled them to take in quickly the material that I would have explained if I had done a conventional lecture. When students encountered the material in several forms throughout the course, it helped make the concepts stick. I could have quizzed them on the reading before each class, but it turned out not to be necessary — they made it clear in the discussions they had done the reading.
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  5. Using Zoom rooms. To apply Andy Warhol’s adage, on Zoom everyone is famous for 15 seconds. In small breakout rooms, they can take ownership of the ideas, identify what’s not clear to them and what they disagree with, and test how far they can run with the material on their own. They can think critically and build their skills, applying the ideas to solve problems.
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  7. Varying the rhythm and structure. Zoom is the ultimate in low production values, but we can compensate with variety. So, I emulated the structure of a television variety show, but rather than using this structure to deliver jokes, I delivered a canon of social science theories. After each major idea, I asked students to go into a breakout room to apply the concept to analyze a situation or solve a problem. For example, when we studied cultural anthropology, I asked them to teach the others about a personal experience they had as a member of a cultural group such as an ethnic, racial or religious group, or a gender or gender identity group. I tried to keep each breakout discussion to about five minutes, because students told me the conversations tended to be less productive if they went on for much longer than that. As they said in vaudeville, “Leave them wanting more.” With this format, I was able to move on to something else before Zoom fatigue set in.
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  9. Adopting the right mind-set and attitude. If you believe Zoom teaching is inherently worse than classroom teaching, it will be. If you can wrap your mind around the exciting possibilities of Zoom — or just give it a fair try — you’ve taken the first step. There are many ways to cultivate Zoom enthusiasm and make it infectious. For example, think: Why do I love this field to begin with? How can I express that on Zoom?
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  11. Continuing to evolve the format with input from students. Throughout the quarter, I asked the class what was working best on Zoom. Aside from just asking, you might consider using polling tools like PollEverywhere.com or Slido (which is at sli.do). Speaking of trying things out and evolving, if you’re not comfortable with the technical aspects of how Zoom works, seek help!

Zoom has its drawbacks. It is not very welcoming to students who lack a good internet connection or a private place to study. It can leave everyone feeling disconnected, and it can trigger Zoom fatigue. But when used thoughtfully, Zoom can be the setting for transforming a class into an active community of teacher-learners.

Read the full article at https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2020/07/08/faculty-member-and-former-ad-executive-offers-six-steps-improving-teaching-zoom

“TO ZOOM OR NOT TO ZOOM”

My university, like most universities across the country and globe, is struggling with a range of questions about how to operate during the pandemic this coming fall. I’d like to address two of those questions:

1) Is a zoom classroom inferior to a traditional classroom?

2) Should professors decide whether to conduct their classes traditionally or by zoom?

The short answers are: no and yes.

Read more at Chris Gavaler’s blog, The Patron Saint of Superheroes 

Adobe Creative Cloud at-home access for students ends on July 6th

As the Spring semester comes to an end around the world, Adobe has notified us that the grace-period access to Adobe Creative Cloud Desktop Apps will expire on July 6th.

After that date, students’ entitlement level will return to the level prior to the March 19th release date, i.e. they can only use Adobe Creative Cloud apps on lab machines on campus. (Students will still be able to access Adobe Spark, however.)

Note that at-home access did not include any storage, so students will not lose any assets. Because Adobe will not be emailing students, please inform them of the expiration date. 

Contact the ITS Information Desk at 540.458.4357 or help@wlu.edu if you have questions.

Save the Date! LACOL 2020 Mini-Workshop (June 15) based on the book “Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes”

Webinar: Small Teaching Online with author Flower Darby
Date and Time: June 15, 11:00am – 12:30pm EST
Location: Zoom
Registration: REGISTER BEFORE MAY 18th!

Small teaching is a phrase coined by Professor James M. Lang to describe an incremental approach to improving instruction. In 2019, instructional designer Flower Darby and Lang teamed up to apply small teaching principles to the online realm.  The result of their collaboration is an essential volume for any educator, “Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes“.

As a highlight of the LACOL 2020 virtual workshop,  Darby will lead an online mini-workshop, exploring small steps with big impacts for students.

The book recommendation is excellent – a lot of useful suggestions which would take years to figure out.

-Dr. Natalia Toporikova, Washington and Lee University, biology professor and online data science instructor, summer 2019, 2020

Establishing presence and social learning through multi-modal engagements and reflective meta-cognition are effective techniques for *any* class, both face-to-face and through the internet.  Communicating the underlying whatwhy and how of learning is especially important for online learning success.  And, like any important new skills, acquiring these capabilities takes planning and practice.

See also:

“Liberal Arts Teaching Online in Zoom” Online Webinar: Tuesday, March 17 and Thursday, March 19

Join a live LACOL webinar and hands-on practice with five experienced liberal arts teachers from Swarthmore College, Vassar College, Williams College, and Washington and Lee University.  This team regularly collaborates to deliver online/hybrid classes for the liberal arts.

Many liberal arts colleges are asking faculty to consider how they may temporarily move their teaching online as part of emergency preparedness in the face of COVID-19 or other disruptions to regular classroom teaching.  Tips and guides are circulating, and faculty get lots of support from their local IT and teaching and learning centers.

This interactive Zoom session will highlight five liberal arts colleagues (including our very own Moataz Khalifa, Assistant Professor and Director of Data Education, and Assistant Professor of Biology, Natalia Toporikova!) to explore the ways they’ve learned to teach effectively online while maintaining a liberal arts approach that emphasizes personal interactions and critical thinking. Bring your ideas and questions!

Webinar Hosts
Webinar Hosts

Two live sessions: 

  • Tuesday, March 17, 2020 – 1:00pm-2:00pm EST
  • Thursday, March 19, 2020 – 11:00am-12:00pm EST

Recordings will be shared afterwards.

Webinar Agenda:

  • Min 00 – 10: Welcome and Self-Introductions
    • Learning goals for this session
    • A little background about the LACOL summer online class
  • Min 10 – 35: Hands-on practice in Zoom 
    • Encouraging Student Participation
    • Sharing Screens / Remote Screen Control
    • Using the Chat panel for conversations
    • Breakouts – great for small group work and discussion
  • Min 35 – 45: Group reflections on keeping a liberal arts approach online that emphasizes personal interactions and critical thinking
  • Min 45 – 55: Open Discussion / Q&A

Sign Up: https://forms.gle/HxRbWe5cvMubcZzA7 
Additional Resources: http://bit.ly/lacol-teach-online

LinkedIn Learning: Coronavirus and Learners Working From Home – Suggested Courses

person using gray laptop. Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash.

Due to the current situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak, many organizations are taking precautions regarding the health and safety of their employees.  LinkedIn Learning has recommended topics related to successfully managing change and working remotely. 

Here’s a list of LinkedIn Learning courses (you must sign in with your W&L credentials) you can leverage to help in this admittedly crazy climate if you are impacted:

Need help accessing LinkedIn Learning? Contact the ITS Information Desk at 540.458.4357 (HELP) or email help@wlu.edu.

Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands

6 engagement strategies for creating temperament-inclusive classrooms

How to Care for Extroverts, from The Introvert’s Dilemma blogIn every classroom, students offer a mix of temperaments: extroverts, introverts, and ambiverts. Some crave sensory stimulation and are quick to speak up, while others are highly sensitive to noise or visual distractions and prefer conversing one-on-one in a quiet, calm environment. 

In “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, New York Times bestseller author Susan Cain outlines a value system of the “extrovert ideal,” in which individuals that work well in teams, socialize in groups, and prefer action to contemplation are the ideal student.

Embracing the extrovert ideal is a grave mistake, says Cain. Many of the world’s best ideas are fostered by introverts, who fuel their learning with observation and engaging in deliberate practice alone. 

Poll Everywhere recently suggested 6 classroom strategies to reach introverted students:

  • Institute “Think Time”
  • Write Down Responses First
  • Pairs, Small Groups, Singles
  • Offer Different Paths to Complete an Assignment
  • Be Available
  • Perform Anonymous Polling

How to Care for Introverts, from The Introvert’s Dilemma blogIt’s definitely worth a read!

Need a Poll Everywhere account?

No problem! Contact the ITS Information Desk at help@wlu.edu, call 540-458-4357 (HELP), or stop by the Main Level of Leyburn Library!