Strategies and Tools for Fall Class Planning

The Coulter Faculty Commons often entertains questions throughout the summer about ideas for fall teaching. Here, we share some of those commonly asked questions and our responses.

Q. Can a shift in the syllabus verbiage encourage a better learning environment?
A. Ken Bain, who conceptualized the term “the promising syllabus,” argues yes, in his book What the Best College Teachers Do. You can find an excerpt – and strategies for incorporating self-determination theory into a course, visual design elements, and more, on the Montclair State University website. You can find his book in the WCU library.

Q. What can I do in the first week of class to keep my students engaged all semester?
A. A professor from the University of New Mexico, Gary Smith, has shared a strategy he used on the first day, after many years of feeling his students were only learning at a surface level.

On the first day of class, he asked his students the following question: “I’d like you to think about your college education and this course in particular. Which of the following is most important to you?

1. Acquiring information (facts, principles, concepts)?
2. Learning how to use information and knowledge in new situations? or…
3. Developing lifelong learning skills?

He writes about the back-and-forth negotiation – and the wonderful outcome it had on his students and his course – in an article entitled First-Day Questions for the Learner-Centered Classroom (Smith, 2008). A highly recommended reading!

Q. Am I required to use the WCU syllabus template?
A. The WCU syllabus template has been offered for many years as a single document/place where institutional policies are maintained and updated. You may also point to students to the Academic Toolbox, where academic resources, technical resources, and campus resources are maintained and linked to. Find the link in the left navigation menu of any Blackboard course.

Q. Is there anything new in the WCU syllabus template for fall 2020?
A. Yes, and they have been substantial. Over the past few months, the Coulter Faculty Commons has been steadily making changes to the university syllabus, based on the impacts brought about by COVID. In May, we included a statement about the use of Respondus Lockdown Browser and Lockdown Monitor, including instructions for students to download the software. In June, we provided the university statement on the wearing of masks (this was revised again in August to include faculty processes when students are non-compliant). In August, we also published an update to the Course Recording and Broadcasting sub-section. The two major changes are 1) the need for faculty to obtain student waivers (to adhere to FERPA), 2) the particular need for waivers if faculty intend to use a video for a governed research project (outside normal class use case), and 3) language in a faculty syllabus if they intend to use Lockdown Browser or Lockdown Monitor.

Q. Have there been recent changes to the CFC Syllabus webpage?
A. Yes. In early August, we added a MWF and TR calendar document for faculty to use and distribute to their students. These are for fall 2020. We also added a link to Rice University’s Course Workload Estimator tool, to help faculty allocate hours and minutes to each activity, assignment, or lecture in an assigned week for a course in development (note: this tool is useful at any week in the term, for what lies ahead in a class). Due to the shift in online and remote teaching, we have had a lot of questions about “how much work is too much?” This tool helps you decide.

Q. Do I need to include all the institutional policies in my syllabus?
A. As stated above, if your syllabus includes a statement pointing to the Academic Toolbox, then you do not need to include those statements in your syllabus.

Q. What technology will be available in my classroom?

A. Upgraded Audio Features in Standard Classrooms
The Instructional Technology Team has been hard at work all summer trying to meet as many of the unprecedented needs of this coming fall as possible.  The CFC wanted to highlight a few things for faculty who are just returning to the university to teach hybrid courses.

As part of the preparations for hybrid teaching in WCU classrooms, additional audio connectivity was installed to allow for the use of a personal microphone, as well as to assist in the use of common software tools using the classroom audio system.

These enhancements include:

  • Expansion of the feed from the existing wireless lapel microphone to feed into audio recordings in Zoom, Panopto, and Blackboard Collaborate.
  • A Standard XLR Microphone Connection
  • Handheld XLR Microphones that are being distributed to the departments by the Provost’s office

For more information

 

The Instructional Technology Team and the Help Desk will have technicians available during the first two weeks of classes to troubleshoot issues.

Q. If I choose to record my classes, what responsibilities do I have?  Can students record me without my permission?

Students may make visual or audio recordings (Recording) of any class related content, using any approved recording device (e.g., smart phone, computer, digital recorder, etc.) upon the prior permission of the instructor and subject to the following restriction(s).  The Recording, along with the video capture of visible course materials (e.g., visible PowerPoint slides and/or visible lecture notes), shall be limited to the student’s personal, course related, educational use and shall be subject to all applicable copyright laws and institutional policies.  The student may not transfer, transmit, or otherwise disseminate the Recording to any third party, including classmates, without the permission of the instructor.  Any violation of these restrictions, or any other restriction verbally communicated by the instructor, may subject the student to the provisions of the WCU Academic Integrity Policy, the WCU Code of Student Conduct or both.

Meetings of this course may be broadcast and/or recorded. Broadcasting and recording are intended to complement the classroom experience. Instructors may broadcast and/or record courses for pedagogical use, student reference, to meet the accommodation needs of students with a documented disability, or any other reason deemed appropriate by WCU and/or the instructor.

Any recording of class that includes the image or voice of a student, or reference to the student’s name, would be considered FERPA, thus, protected. If faculty intend on making the recording available for future viewing (any viewing that is not live),it will require a waiver by each student.  The waivers may be collected by email or as a Blackboard discussion board post or assignment with the following statement attached: By sending this email (by replying to this discussion board, by completing this electronic form – any use of WCU official identity verification) and typing my name below I acknowledge I have read and fully understand the terms of the VIDEO CONSENT AND RELEASE FORM FOR CLASS RECORDING and hereby release the University as stated in the Form.

If a student refuses to sign the waiver, then their likeness may not be included in any video made available. In other words, they would need to be excluded from video and not allowed to ask questions. If this happens faculty would be able to grade consistent with syllabi. In other words, the faculty member has the right to penalize the student by lowering their grade for not participating.  The faculty member is also free to create alternative assignments at his or her discretion.

Course recordings will be available to students registered for the course pursuant to applicable university policy and instructor preference.  All broadcasts and recordings are limited to personal, course related, educational use and may not be transmitted, transferred, distributed, sold, or posted on social media outlets without the written permission of the instructor. Unauthorized transmission, transfer, distribution, sale or posting of the broadcast and/or recording for any purpose other than the student’s personal, course related, educational use is not permitted. Students are expected to follow appropriate university policies and maintain the security of passwords used to access recorded materials.

If the Lockdown Browser and Monitor are being used, it is necessary that the instructor have both a syllabus statement and a waiver on file.

Any course recordings for purposes beyond the normal conduct of a course (promotional videos, videos related to a governed research project, etc.) will require an additional waiver and appropriate approval (such as IRB approval).

University Policy 122

For a more detailed version of when a waiver might be needed see:

Policy Considerations of Classroom Technology Use

Q. What are the supported synchronous streaming platforms?

Blackboard Collaborate and Zoom.  There is limited support for Microsoft Teams, but it is not recommended for virtual course meetings beyond small groups at this time.

For more information see the Guidelines for Technology Use at WCU

Q. I’ve heard that the CFC isn’t recommending synchronous meetings with students physically present and at a distance?  Why is that?

Research and experience guide us to note that trying to hold class with a small group while trying to moderate interaction with students at a distance will lead to an inferior experience for everyone, including the instructor.  There are advantages and disadvantages to using synchronous and asynchronous activities in online and hybrid learning; in most cases, asynchronous activities provide the best experiences for students.  In our testing scenarios, attempts at synchronous activities using Zoom or Collaborate resulted in less-than-desired experiences, and were not comparable to using Zoom in a private meeting space.

We must recognize that mixing one group with synchronous digital technologies and one group with live synchronous meeting will increase both instructor and student difficulty (i.e., just turning on Zoom for the half of the class who isn’t physically in the classroom).

Consider whether your arrangements and the limitations of the technologies are equitable for all students.Particularly consider whether your activities are appropriate given the computer requirements for students in the university and in your department. Consider the student experience, including their access (or lack thereof) to sufficient broadband speeds.

 

 

 

 

 

LMS Governance Committee Recommends Avoiding Online Proctoring Solutions

The LMS Team have had several requests to launch online proctoring tools.  We researched the issue and presented the options to the LMS Governance Committee.  The committee, after consideration of the market leader, Respondus, put forward the following recommendations related to proctoring tools.

 After discussing the advantages and disadvantages of these products and remote proctoring at large, the LMS Governance Committee voted unanimously to not adopt the Respondus Lock-down Browser and Respondus Monitor with the following justification: 

Respondus Lock-Down Browser is a custom browser that locks down the testing environment within a learning management system.  It is used for securing online exams in classrooms and proctored environments.  

Analysis and Conclusions

  • Not an appropriate solution for online exams given at a distance as it only locks down the browser on one device. 
  • Does not prevent using multiple devices to look up information and collaborate with others using another device. 
  • Does not encourage authentic assessment. 

Respondus Monitor uses a student’s webcam to video them taking the exam.  

Analysis and Conclusions

  • More resource-intensive to implement – The LMS team will not be able to have this in place immediately. 
  • Will create duplicative work – will need to pay for the continued license and will have to go through the implementation again with the new LMS. 
  • Student privacy concerns – Students did not ask to go online or agree to video themselves. There are ethical concerns about student privacy.
  • Bandwidth resources concerns – We are already hearing of students having bandwidth issues and issues of exams being submitted as incomplete when students are using their phones to take exams in Blackboard; this will increase when they are also recording themselves. 
  • No budget to extend usageRespondus is offering their tools for free only through July of 2020. 
  • Ignores Academic Integrity Task Force recommendation. 
  • Does not encourage authentic assessment.

The LMS Governance Committee also voted unanimously on March 27, 2020 to deliver the following message concerning any type of video remote proctoring: 

 The LMS Governance Committee strongly advises all faculty to NOT require that any students record themselves taking any assessment.  This includes not using Zoom, Panopto, Youtube or Blackboard Collaborate for recording. The Coulter Faculty Commons is assembling resources on how to create alternative assessments that can be used in various disciplines. 

LMS Governance Committee 

Jonathan Wade – Senior Educational Technologist, Chair
Amy Davis – LMS Analyst
Annette Littrell – Associate Chief Information Officer / Academic Engagement & IT Governance
Eli Collins-Brown – Director, Coulter Faculty Commons
Jon Marvel – School Director EMPM/Professor
Kenneth Chapman – Tech Support Specialist
Lee Nickels – Director Assessment & Instruction Technology, CEAP
Scott Barlowe – Associate Professor
Siham Lekchiri – Assistant Professor 

Getting Started with Microsoft Teams for Education

Getting Started with Microsoft Teams for Education

A series of free, live, online training classes designed to get you up and running quickly

Microsoft is excited to host a series of free, live, online training classes designed to get you up and running with Teams. If you’re a faculty, admin, IT Pro, or student, you’ll find a class that’s right for you. Join us to see Teams in action, get your questions answered, and interact with our live instructors. For more training opportunities, including on-demand versions of live training, check out our on-demand end-user training.

Click a session below to sign up:

Say hello to Microsoft Teams: What is Microsoft Teams? Join us for this 30-minute orientation to discover what Teams is and how it can work for you.
Run effective meetings with Teams: Learn how you can leverage Teams for your pre, during, and post meetings experience.

 

Using Microsoft Teams

Did you know that you have one of the most advanced collaboration suites available to use with your students?

The WCU license of Microsoft Teams allows you to create a collaborative classroom light space that your students can access through their Smartphones or their computers.

Every part of Teams other than synchronous video chat does not rely upon a persistent and strong connection and so can be a part of a low-bandwidth continuity of instruction plan.

If you want an overview of how Teams works there is a great on-demand video available from Microsoft here.

Microsoft also offers faculty training on the Microsoft Educator Center including Transform Learning with Microsoft Teams

 

Call for Presentations is open for the Summer Institute for Teaching & Learning (SITL)

People meeting and brainstorming

The Coulter Faculty Commons invites all faculty and instructional staff to submit a proposal to present at the Summer Institute of Teaching & Learning, to be held in Hunter Library May 19 – 21, 2020.

 

 

 

Call for Proposals is open February 3 and closes February 28, 2020

The theme of this year’s event is Student Engagement with three sub-themes (tracks); Inclusive Pedagogy, Engaging the Online Learner, and Active Engagement in the Classroom.

  • Inclusive Pedagogy will include a nationally known keynote speaker and workshop facilitator, as well as possible opportunities for 75 minute sessions or 2.5 hour sessions.
  • Engaging the Online Learner will be a 1.5 day workshop (May 20 – 21) led by Dr. Eli Collins-Brown, director of the CFC. We have opportunities for a panel of experienced online faculty (including adjuncts) to share best practices the afternoon of May 20.
  • Active Engagement in the Classroom is open to all faculty and instructional staff to submit proposals for 75 minute and 2.5 hour workshops.

We have room for 2 – 3 spaces for each session time frame. There are three formats:

  • 2.5 hour workshop
  • 75 minute presentation/workshop
  • A panel of Expert Online Instructors (part of the Engaging the Online Learner track)

This is a great opportunity to share the excellent work you have been doing in the ‘classroom’. Questions? Contact Dr. Eli Collins-Brown.

Submit Proposal

Call of Proposals is open February 3 and closes February 28, 2020

Quick Course Diagnostic Review – October 2019

October was a busy month for educational development at the CFC for Excellence in Teaching and Learning as we provided one of our primary teaching and learning services: a Quick Course Diagnostic for 16 different courses across the university with class sizes ranging from under 18 to over 200 and faculty in every stage of their career. It can be hard to know how to meet your students where they are at. Sometimes the only indication there is a problem can be an apparent lack of engagement in the classroom or poor performance on assignments. Is this the student? Is it the course? Is it the teacher? It can be hard to tell, which is why the Coulter Faculty Commons offers a Quick Course Diagnostic in the middle of every semester. The QCD helps to peel back the layers of course design, student motivation, etc… to find out where a change can happen to make the course meet the needs of the students. 

Whenever faculty request a QCD, a team from the CFC comes to visit the classroom to collect data from the students. In an anonymous survey, students rank their course experience from best to worst and describe why they made their selection. As might be expected, most courses end up somewhere in the middle of the scale with an average score just slightly above a 3.5 on a scale of 1-5. One of the reasons these courses tend to score above average is that the faculty who ask for the QCD are the kind of teachers who are responsive to the needs of their students, who want to learn, and who are willing to adapt in order to create a high-quality learning environment.  

Student insights range from observations about testing, reading load, clarity of assignments, accessibility of the professor, and even systematic issues that go beyond the individual classroom. It is no surprise that students usually know more than they let on and are very happy for the chance to contribute to the value of their learning experience. Often their reports align with hunches the professor already had, but now there is real data to work with and the CFC can partner with the faculty to develop creative solutions to learning challenges that are now clearly defined.  

In addition to describing their experience with the course, its content, the activities, readings, tests, technology, etc., students indicate what they are doing to contribute to their own success and imagine what they could do to support their own learning more effectively. Studies have shown that taking just a few minutes to reflect on their participation in the learning process helps students to recognize that education is a partnership between faculty and students, and many times this question by itself can help to increase engagement with learning (Hurney, Harris, Prins, & Kruck, 2014). 

After the data collection process is complete, another team at the CFC transfers the information into a digital format, runs some statistical tests, and performs a basic qualitative analysis of student responses. We take hundreds of pieces of data collected from your classroom and transform it into useful charts, insights, and suggestions for how you can take another step toward excellence in teaching and learning All of this folds into a report for the faculty that includes a selection of the data alongside key recommendations from the educational development team at the CFC. When the report is ready, the faculty and the education specialist from the CFC meet to review the results and explore potential strategies for moving forward. 

In March we will be offering 12-16 faculty the chance to participate in a quick course diagnostic. These weeks represent the midpoint of the semester, which gives you a chance to revisit your course design and facilitation strategy and make some changes mid-semester. If you think you will be interested in this service, reserve your space today by submitting a few details about your spring course using the link below. 

http://affiliate.wcu.edu/cfc/qcd 

 Reference 

Hurney, C. A., Harris, N. L., Prins, S. C. B., & Kruck, S. E. (2014). The Impact of a Learner-Centered, Mid-Semester Course Evaluation on Students. The Journal of Faculty Development; Stillwater, 28(3), 55–61. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1696856596/abstract/58BDCD459BA472EPQ/1