Faculty members spent much of summer preparing for teaching during pandemic

Instructors challenged to rethink virtual teaching and reach students online 

When UW-Green Bay instructors began planning their teaching for fall 2020, their focus was on learning, especially in the context of the online environment forced on colleges and universities by COVID-19.

A good portion of their summer was spent learning the software needed to present information, but also on teaching online in stressful times, said Caroline Boswell, associate professor in Humanities and History, and director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL). Funded in part by money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act, and in part from a grant from the University of Wisconsin Systems Online Learning Initiative, the training helped instructors adapt to the new normal of teaching during a pandemic.

The new training, she said, focused not just on the pedagogy of how to teach a course, or even the nuts and bolts of how to deliver a lesson online, but on how instructors can reach students when their presence is mainly digital.

Boswell said nearly 130 instructors participated in the two sessions. The first session trained instructors on how to use Canvas, the learning management system for the University.

“We want to ensure that faculty feel confident using Canvas and know how to use it to communicate with our students,” she said.

The second, more advanced training was a two-week course in which instructors learn about how they can reach students—either by breaking up their online lectures, or creating online group assignments or even redoing their lessons to ensure that all students have access to it.

“The second part of the training was to help faculty think about how we can create full course citizenship for all of our students including students who may not be able to attend for a certain period of time because they are ill or they need to take on caregiving (for a family member or loved one), or that they’ve had to move back home, and their job schedules have changed. We have to be responsive to that,” she said. “And it’s also asking them to think about how issues around equity, inclusivity, and accessibility that are exacerbated within this context. Many students entered the semester online or having classes that are both in person and online, and they may be less familiar with learning in that environment. If our principle presence is digital, how do they know that we’re there for them and that we understand?”

The training takes into consideration everything from keeping students engaged in classes, to facilitating learning across a broad array of pandemic related situations by allowing groups of instructors learn from and work with one another to come up with solutions.

Jessica Van Slooten, associate professor in English, Writing Foundations, Women’s and Gender Studies, Humanities, and the co-chair for Women’s and Gender Studies program, said she was re-evaluating everything in terms of what could engage her students and make them successful.

“The way I would usually teach is face-to-face in a classroom…(using) a lot of active learning techniques and group work and students stopping to write some things,” she said. “I wanted to think about how I could translate those things into this online format. I was most concerned about my first-year writing class because these are all brand new college students, and they come with a wide variety of writing abilities and experiences. I just wanted to create a class that would allow all of them to be successful.”

To do that, she eliminated traditional methods, like selecting a book for the class to read and use to generate writing prompts, and replaced it with shorter writings, TED talks and podcasts for her students to consider. Additionally, she said, she would assign four main papers, and a variety of shorter pieces, that they will be able to select from to turn into a larger, much more developed piece at the end of the semester.

“They could turn it into a letter or podcast or even a video,” she said. “I just want to get them to think that writing has a lot of uses, in the broader world. And, hopefully that will also make it more relevant for them. So, I felt like that really translated well into an online format.”

In order to help students be successful, she said, it was important to be flexible.

“One of the resources that we shared in our trainings over the summer was this document that mapped out different kinds of learning activities along bandwidth requirements,” she said. “It really encouraged me to think about making sure that most of the activities I do are low bandwidth. Because we have a lot of students who don’t have great access for one reason or another, and I want them to feel like they can complete the class.”

Understanding that students are struggling with disruptions—from jobs and family to having to drive to a Starbucks in order to get internet access—helped Alan Chu, assistant professor in Psychology and chair of the Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology masters program, to consider equity when designing his class.

“I think the equity is a big piece that we’ve been talking about because not everyone has the same access at home,” he said. “Back in the spring when everything got moved online, some of my students told me that they had to drive to a parking lot next to a Starbucks just get the WiFi to do their homework. And I heard about some other students having to use their cell phone to write a whole paper. So, I did quite a bit of thinking and planning, to lay out some of the ways I could make my class more equitable.”

Chu also attended several conferences to learn more about using what he already knows about psychology to help his students.

“In the spring, I was including some of the positive psychology concepts into my classes,” he said. “In the discussions before class begins, I will ask them to list three things that they are thankful for before we go into the detail about the chapter discussions. And the students said it was great for them to be able to connect with other students in a way that is not about the course, but about life in general… some of them said it was helpful for them to be more positive in that and in other life challenges that they were experiencing.”

The advanced training also covered how to make information accessible for students by captioning videos, or making videos of classes that students could access on their own time frame. Instructors also worked on adapting how students can complete their assignments in order to not create more barriers to success.

And while the changes to the courses designed over the summer may be applicable to life during the pandemic, Boswell said she sees the changes to a more student-centered approach to learning to be something more permanent.

“When instructors put together their classes, they were also thinking about the positionality of their students. They are thinking about deadlines and whether or not they actually make sense in the context,” Boswell said. “Are deadlines absolutely necessary, or are they kind of creating a barrier for students who might not be able to meet a deadline, for example, because their Internet isn’t working that day… or they have to share a computer with their siblings, and they didn’t get to choose who wins in those sorts of things. I think that a lot of that kind of thinking—about how the world structures your class—will definitely have long-term implications.”

Story by freelance writer Liz Carey

Blackboard Collaborate changed ‘link sharing’

A recent update to the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra videoconferencing system changed the procedure for sharing a link to a session recording. It was previously possible to simply select “copy link” in a recording’s options menu and share that link, but the recent change now requires the recording owner to change an access setting before the copied link will allow viewers to watch the recording. This change only affects newly created recordings; existing links from recordings created before Sept. 5, 2020 will continue to work without additional action. The new Collaborate Ultra recording sharing procedure can be found in the UknowIT knowledgebase article at https://uknowit.uwgb.edu/99344.
Collaborate Ultra is used by several departments for video meetings outside of UWGB courses, so CATL wishes for the Log to amplify this message beyond our usual constituents, if possible. Without knowledge of this change, users will likely continue to use the old method for sharing and be surprised when their audience reports that they cannot access the recordings.

DLE (Digital Learning Environment) is now Canvas

In partnership with GBOSS, the Office of Academic Advising and Retention, and Web Development, CATL has rebranded what used to be the Digital Learning Environment (DLE) page to be simply named “Canvas.” Students, staff and faculty will notice that the “DLE” link at the top the UWGB home page and other UWGB sites has been replaced with a “CANVAS” link. The newly branded Canvas page contains the same Canvas login link and resources in the familiar layout that our patrons are accustomed to. This change was enacted to make it easier for students, faculty, and staff to find the Canvas login page. Since the days of D2L are now officially over, we no longer need to use the more-encompassing, yet less-self-evident “DLE” name and web address for this site. CATL advises faculty to update their syllabi with the new web address for the Canvas login page. Web Development has implemented a redirect that will take people using old DLE links to the new sit, but it is still important for faculty to make these updates and help get the word out to students. As part of the rebranding, the pages contained within the UWGB Canvas site have been updated and improved to make support resources for Canvas and its supporting tools easier to find. We hope this change makes it easier for new and returning students and employees to find the Canvas login page.

UW-Green Bay’s CATL welcomes new, but familiar, faces

The CATL herd is growing! The Center is welcoming some familiar faces as new team members. Many of you already know Scott Berg from his role as electronics technician for IT, Client Services; Berg will be joining CATL as its new LMS (Canvas) Administrator. Nichole LaGrow, UWGB’s distance education coordinator, has joined the CATL team. Nathan Kraftcheck, already a member of the CATL team, will be transitioning to the role of an instructional designer.

CATL Advanced Training Opportunities mid-July through August

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning is offering advanced training opportunities starting mid-July that will be co-facilitated with faculty partners. All eligible instructors will receive a $1,000 stipend for completing the training. Check out the cohort themes and two-week session dates to sign up or learn more.

 

Reminder: D2L access will permanently expire on June 30

A message from CATL… In normal times, the end of life for D2L would be a significant event. These days, it almost seems like an afterthought. If you’ve put off retrieving your material from D2L, or are just hearing about D2L going away now, don’t worry, CATL has your back. The information below will help you retrieve and store the materials you may still have left in D2L.

But make no mistake, D2L will shutdown permanently on June 30, 2020 at 11:59 P.M. After this time nobody will be able to access material. The servers which contain D2L will be dismantled and all data will be lost.

Logging in

You may still use the same link as always to log into D2L.

Course materials 

Downloading a course will get you a clean copy of the course; student work will not be part of the download. See the next section for information on how to obtain student information.

We have created instructions for downloading a course from D2L to upload into Canvas.

You may need to create a “blank” course in Canvas to store your old D2L courses.

Retrieving student work 

Downloading a course will get you a clean copy of the course; student work will not be part of the download. You may wish to download student work or your gradebook if you anticipate that students may wish to contact you for letters of recommendation or if they still have outstanding incompletes in D2L.

Here are instructions for downloading your gradebook in D2L and for downloading submissions to a dropbox in D2L. You are also able to download quiz statistics and reports.

As always, feel free to reach out to CATL with questions as they arise.

Program Accreditation Requirements 

If your program accreditation process requires D2L course materials for review or other artifacts, please also consider how you will preserve that content. You may wish to reach out to CATL for advice.

To contact CATL with questions, email CATL@uwgb.edu.

 

Thank you from CATL

A note to instructors from CATL: “CATL usually hosts an Instructor Appreciation Event at the end of the semester to recognize you for all your great work. This semester we have had to create the social distancing version. In this special Thank You Thursday version of our Teach Tuesday publication the CATL team provides a video salute to all of you. Watch our Top 10 List of what students have most appreciated about their instructors this semester and read a semester-end appreciation letter from Interim Director Kris Vespia. From the entire CATL team, THANK YOU!”

 

Webinars on end-of-semester assessments

The week of April 13, 2020 the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning will conduct webinars on how to do end-of-semester assessments for alternative delivery. These webinars will start at 10 a.m. 2:30 p.m. and go until April 17. Topics include: how to give a multiple-choice exam, how to provide accommodations to students with disabilities, how to give an essay exam, and more. Please see the “Teaching Remotely” page for login information and the complete schedule. We will also post recordings of the webinars on the “Teaching Remotely” page for those who cannot attend.

Reconnect with colleagues through ‘Coffee Klatches’ today, 1 p.m.

Human connection is one of the things that makes the academic life worth living. While you’re busily reconnecting with students, The Center for the Advancement of Teaching & Learning (CATL) also wants to help you re-connect with each other. CATL is organizing a series of “Coffee Klatches,” where your colleagues will be offering answers the question: “What are you doing?” with a series of curated discussions.

The next discussion will be Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 1 p.m. with Tara DaPra, who will be answering the question “What are you writing (journaling)? The rest if the scheduled discussions:

-What are you watching? David Coury, April 14, 1 p.m.

-What are you playing, Bryan Carr, Julialicia Case and Chris Williams, April 16, 1 p.m.

-How are you engaging? (politically, socially, etc.), Alison Staudinger, April 21, 1 p.m.

-What are you cooking/baking? Jemma Lund, April 28, 1 p.m.

If you have a suggestion for a future “coffee klatch,” feel free to email catl@uwgb.edu with suggestions.

Reminder: Web resources can help with alternate delivery

CATL has some resources to help you move to alternative delivery:

UWGB “teaching remotely” page: You have a wealth of online documents and videos to help with alternative delivery. CATL: https://www.uwgb.edu/remote/faculty-resources/ UW System Keep Teaching: https://media.uwex.edu/keepteaching/

Course Checklist: Use the checklist to focus your energy as you re-launch your course

Canvas module: Personalize this module we created to communicate key changes about your course and to gather information on how your students’ lives have changed. To import the module into your course, first log into Canvas and then click on the link to it in the Canvas Commons (an online repository for Canvas material).

Advising Time? Try Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
As you meet with students for advising for Fall classes, consider meeting with them using Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. You can create an “Advising” session in any of your classes in Canvas or set up a session in the My UW Portal and share one link with all of your students. You can create the session with a beginning date and time (e.g., April 1 at 9 a.m.) and leave it “open-ended.” One of the nice features of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is that you can share your screen with the student if you’re using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, so you can bring up their Academic Requirements report or the Schedule of Classes and look at those together. Happy advising!

24/7 help – 

Canvas support: Not sure how to add a discussion in Canvas? Having trouble with the Gradebook? Your first resource can be to call 1-855-652-0700 or live chat

Qualtrics support: https://www.qualtrics.com/support/

Blackboard Collaborate help:  https://help.blackboard.com/Collaborate/Ultra/Moderator

Outage and Update Information: Suspect an outage or larger-scale problem? Check the status of Canvas, Kaltura, and Blackboard athttps://www.uwgb.edu/digital-learning-environment/dle-status-updates/

Recorded webinars: We offered webinars on specific topics the week of March 16th. We recorded them, and you can access them here: https://www.uwgb.edu/remote/faculty-resources/

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