Online Teaching Workshop

you we're starting this afternoon with the reflection reflection on practice to talk about online teaching and we are very fortunate to have with us Carol tightly from the library the school of Library and Information science it's a current work in synchronous online working with synchronous classes it goes way back from to Indiana when she started teaching online in Indiana so she was sharing with me that she has been teaching online for almost 17 years now so she has a lot of experience of what to do in synchronous classes and I am very glad that she is willing to to share her experience with us today the plan for today is carol is going to tell us her story and kirk her work and how she manages this synchronous classes and we have also distributed if you didn't get it yet they you should have we have one hand out like this that the purpose of this is what the purpose of our meetings is just to reflect on what we do in the classes and I wonder how many of you are teaching online okay the idea is that if you are teaching online is that you use this this handouts to think about what you do in your synchronous session we have a few questions we're going to work with the first to put the first two questions are for you to think now and then after Carol gives her presentation we're going to have some questions for her and then again reflect on your own practice and then we are going to discuss your own reflections so i will read a little bit of Carol's biography and and then I will give the microphone to Carol Carol teaches courses in comic readers I sorry media literacy and Youth Services librarianship and I do recommend Google Carol there are wonderful things that she does with comics part of her scholarship focuses on the intersection of young people comics and library particularly in the United States in the mid 20th century her research has been published in journals including the journal of american society for information science and technology her research on anti comic advocates frederick word man was featured in the new york times another media outlets thank you cannot believe in here thank you I'm glad to be here I'm hoping that my mic level is okay great so as Norma mentioned I've been teaching distance courses for a very long time and I want to share a little bit about my work some tips I don't claim that anything i have to share with you today is particularly novel or maybe even best practice but it's something that these are all things that work for me they are practices that I'm continually evolving so I want to start out a little bit about me my experience with teaching online I've been at Illinois since 2007 and before that I had much too long doctor'll tenure at Indiana where I was also teaching full time as a lecturer I taught primarily distance courses there in a variety of formats oh as Norma mentioned I've been teaching distance courses since 1997 and I took distance courses even before that my first experience was taking correspondence courses as an undergrad which is still an effective technology depending but when I started teaching distance courses at Indiana we were using a locally developed system called virtual Indiana classroom that started out it was a video conferencing system we had students who would arrive at anywhere between four and six sites somewhere in the state of Indiana I had students in the room with me and it was one-way video beginning and two-way audio and then we changed a two-way video and two-way audio it kept getting more fascinating and complex over time but I got very adept with camera control and making slides to use on a document camera and supporting students that way here at Illinois we've gone through two systems when i started at kiss liss we were using a local system and we have switched now to using Blackboard Collaborate and that has been quite a revelation in terms of my practice in distance teaching it has been the platform that has allowed me to have the closest thing to a face-to-face class that I've experienced so far I also i have some background in cognition and instruction as a doctoral student have a doctor'll minor in that so i've thought about these issues from that perspective as well at indiana i also for seven years was director of distance education for the library schools program at indianapolis so we did all of the distance education program we had about 300 students in that I did advising and faculty support and faculty development that kind of thing so I've worn a lot of hats in that but my approach quite simply is I think a design based approach when I think about what I want to do in an online classroom I am a big advocate of being purposeful and intentional of thinking very clearly about content and content I mean broadly in terms of the conceptual knowledge based content the content also in terms of activities I very much want to think as I put together my synchronous sessions how I want students to be different at the end and it's the same conversation I have with myself when I teach a face-to-face class so each semester here I typically teach one face face class and one distance class and sometimes such as in the fall semester typically it's the same course Todd in two different modalities and that's a little bit challenging the way we handle distance courses at guestlist is that we meet for two hours a week instead of two hours and 50 minutes and then we have all of our students come to campus for a full day each semester in fact yesterday was my full day with my comics readers advisory students so we spent seven hours together in the classroom and that augments of what we do weekly and they also have some additional expectations for offline work so it ends up being equivalent I think but it's not quite the same experience across both modalities but what I would encourage you to do first of all is simply not to focus on the technology and instead focus on the students the technology is a means to an end so forget about it as much as you can at the beginning and think about what would I like to have my students accomplish how do I want them to be different and then figure out how you can make the technology work with you to accomplish that so I want to spend a little bit of time going back to the agenda I've come up with sort of three categories of practice that I engage in so creating a supportive environment encouraging engagement and extending the classroom and I want to start with creating a supportive environment so we use moodle as a course infrastructure for all of our courses and is that what yeah okay all of our students regardless of whether their distance or on campus expect at this point for there to be a moodle space that's developed for all of my students but especially for my distance students i feel that the Moodle is a substitute for the brick and mortar classroom so it's very important for me to provide as much structure and as much content as I can from the very beginning of the semester because we're not always going to meet until maybe halfway through the semester face-to-face so I want them to come in and see what's possible so typically how I organize my Moodle space at the top in addition to the information about the course I put course documents class forums and I always have two in particular one is a general or open discussion forum that stays there I may have additional open discussion for elsewhere in the Moodle and then a questions space and I try to encourage students at any point that they have questions about logistics assignments the progress of the class to post there and that I don't have to be the only person to answer those questions that i found is really important I check the space every day sometimes multiple times a day and I have the questions sent directly to me via email but there still may be people who beat me into that space and who can provide the answer I go on and I put all of the spaces for class assignments any additional resources I have and then each week of the course looks something like this so in the Moodle space there's a question and I have found that it's really useful for my students it's useful for me as I plan my instruction to organize each week around questions instead of topics it doesn't work for everyone but it works for me so I include my readings with links out I'll talk about this class extension more in a it and then sometimes I'll have additional resources it's also where I post my class notes and slides which I try to do typically in at least an hour before class some students like to have those notes and slides printed out so that they can take their own notes on them as I teach but sometimes they are not equivalent some of my classes are very heavily image-based and Moodle does not support that very well it's too cumbersome for people to download so I usually have a PDF equivalent that strips out some of the images for that so making the environment from the start a welcoming supportive environment during each class there are two things i do i always try to do one is on my slides i provide the agenda again I think this provides the visual cue for what it is we're going to be talking about I always had my agenda with the central question for the week as a reminder this is what we're going to be discussing and trying to work towards I did the same thing in part for this presentation I always begin each class with questions and comments this is in part to build rapport but this is so students can ask me questions if they have questions about the class I share updates in terms of grading or events that I think they need to know about that kind of thing but I also invite students at the beginning of each class to share their experiences that they've been to conferences or professional development workshops anything like that is fair game sometimes because I teach classes with a focus on young people in libraries sometimes it's about a movie that they've seen that's relevant normal 22 hours the questions and comments often doesn't go beyond five minutes but sometimes it depending it might go a little bit longer than that this is also the time when I typically provide general class-based feedback on assignments instead of individual student feedback and I also give some feedback on class extensions and again I'll explain more about that in a little bit at the beginning of the semester one of the things i want to do is to make sure students understand how the technology works because i always have some students who this is not their first class using eliminate and some that it is so I want them to be confident and comfortable using the mic and reminding them that it's okay for them to speak in class which is really uncomfortable for some folks even more than in a face-to-face class so I give written instructions on a mic check activity and it's really a low by in just turn on your mic I call on you and you know you tell me your name and something else but I find that that gets people over this hurdle of I don't know I don't want to talk to these people I can't see fear I give similar sorts of instructions that I'll show in a minute the first couple of times I do small group activities because I want people to understand the process and how the space works again I think that just helps in making this environment friendly and supportive for learning I also we have both voice chat capabilities but we can also do tux text chat and I have heard that some instructors in my department discouraged text chat where students just don't engage that way I want them to this is part of a transcript from one class for two minutes this isn't even the full two minutes worth of text chat that came so I typically have 20 to 25 or a few more students per class and almost all of them are engaging in chat it's not always on target but they're responding to me they're responding to classmates and I'm I'm careful to stop maybe every five to ten minutes and take a quick look back and try to summarize look for questions I might have missed point out some key ideas that people have introduced occasionally I have a teaching assistant with me who can help monitor that but I don't know this yes ma'am sure right yes right no yeah so one of the things I find myself doing I've gotten much better about my own multitasking and being able to pay attention to what I'm trying to say and monitor what's going on on the text chat but one of the things I do find myself doing occasionally is just saying hey stop for just a second you all are way far off you know we I don't no one cares about whatever it is you're talking about right now let's come back to the topic at hand and usually that works and people realize that you know they just need a nudge back to whatever the topic of the class is I don't mind some diversion and I also do some check-ins regularly so one of the other things I do as I ask questions I try to get instant feedback so my strategy has always been just as a check-in that you're listening that you you know type in ! and that just helps people realize that someone's still there talking and they need to be more attentive so that's just a really fast way I think to make sure people are still alive one of the things I still haven't gotten used to is the idea that people can you know go wander off and maybe they really aren't there for the two hours i don't think that happens very often but i'm sure that it does from time to time so the chat can be a blessing and a curse at the same time I try to encourage engagement I mentioned the check-ins just with typing a bang but I also try to invoke regular questions that i put on my slides as moments to stop and reflect and then I encourage people to share either in text chat or verbally sometimes those are are more effective than others I also try to think you know how can I again replicate the kinds of activities I want to have in a face-to-face class in an online environment and so one of the things for instance in my youth services class that we deal with is this issue of understanding what books might be appropriate more appropriate than others for emerging readers and so I can't hold up a bunch of books for folks to see so I have found ways of bringing in scans or bringing in screenshots or other elements like that that provide us with talking points and these are pages for folks to talk about this is me prompting them to point out strengths and weaknesses for these kinds of texts we also have directed small group activities and as I mentioned with the mic check earlier the first one or two times I do activities at the beginning of each semester I provide more structured guidance so I create breakout rooms I typically try to create breakout rooms that this is kind of silly but they're often named after something relevant to whatever we're studying that week it's just another quick q to bring people back remember that people can use their mics not everyone wants to again so there are often in the breakout rooms a mix of people text chatting and talking orally and that's fine they've found ways of making it work students have access to a whiteboard and even getting them to be comfortable using that is difficult early on I have in previous classes even put up a lang whiteboard and asked people just to you know go type something type their name type their favorite book whatever it happens to be to get them over that hump and that I also use the whiteboard to coming back to the sort of the disengaging in text chat i will sometimes add in a blank white board and ask people to post you know anonymously a response to some provocative question and so that's a way to get more engagement as well I use a timer which is something that collaborate offers it's a countdown timer and I can always extend it but it gives students a visual reminder wherever they are in the space what needs to happen I give I tend to give very explicit task definitions again early on these will become more short-handed as the semester progresses but I want them to have a clear idea of what they're supposed to come away with we may not have a report back from each group each time it depends i may do I may ask Group A to report back on one particular element and not all of them sometimes I ask groups to summarize their ideas in writing and post them to the course space after the class or to email them to me and then I summarize or synthesize across the four or five groups and that provides an opportunity for talking one of the things I found really important is to make sure that these task instructions are also available in each of the breakout rooms because even if the instructions are short students sometimes don't have a very lengthy memory what they're supposed to do so if you put them in the breakout rooms it can be a good reminder most of my activities in the youth services class that I teach at a distance are fairly structured I also teach a course on comics readers advisory which is about thinking about comics as information artifacts understanding comics as a medium and then figuring out ways of connecting readers of all ages with comics that they might enjoy and each week we have a different set of readings that are all students selected and I give them opportunities at the beginning of each class to go into small groups and talk and share with what they've what they've read for the week to allow them to build their repertoire of comics understanding a lot of times I don't give them anything structure this is just them talking for 10 or 15 minutes but for some I will do really simple kinds of activities on the whiteboard so they'll still be talking about these more nebulous overarching questions but for instance when we talk about nonfiction comics I might put up a simple diagram learned a little learned a lot loved hated and asked them to write the titles of their comics and the quadrant representing how they felt about them and again this is something that I would pull these white boards back into the main discussion room at the end of the 10 or 15 minutes and everyone would have a chance to see what folks have been talking about I am cognizant that students have different modes different levels of interest in participating that not all students are going to want to be engaged in the synchronous class session in the same way that not all students want to be engaged in a face-to-face classroom in the same way one of the things I do to supplement participation to give students an option as each most most weeks not every week but most weeks i have what i call a class extension which takes whatever the topic is gives people some more resources and gives them a task or a response it's usually very practically oriented so it's getting them to think about think about a particular issue so taking a look at a library's collection for young people thinking about it in terms of users evaluating it that kind of thing looking at manuals there is a forum then each week for people to post if they have done this they can write their responses they can email them to me if they don't want to share them publicly but then as an instructor I go I read these each week I read the responses and I provide some summaries and these become talking points to use in that week's class so i can call out students directly and bring their experiences in and help them feel more engaged normal no they're for anyone so what I tell people is that you know I I want them to come be engaged and be active learners in the classroom but if it's an off week if they have to miss part of the class or they just they're not feeling vocal whatever it happens to be and they want to demonstrate their engagement and participation this isn't an option but I find that a lot of students choose to do this even yes yes oh these are these are almost every week usually the the first week of the class and sometime around Thanksgiving break I don't post class extensions no no but if you are if you have had an attendance issue if you've been quiet throughout the semester in the synchronous sessions whatever this would certainly help move your participation grade up so yes sir this is about 25 students not always not always when I was at Indiana teaching and I had class sizes anywhere from 30 to 65 students with no ta support so this is a this is a breeze comparatively I don't say that very many places because i don't want 65 students again but you know these are just short responses i also try to provide students with multiple opportunities in multiple modalities for contact so some students want to call me on the phone that's great i'm happy to do that but i also schedule online office hours if I need to I'm available through twitter or google chat or other kinds of avenues if students want to engage with me that way I've also found that there have been some instances where I've had to be gone for a conference or I've had I've been out sick or something and I've had to rethink what I'm going to do online that week because I don't have a voice all right I don't have an internet connection that will support this and sometimes what I just end up doing is holding an open office hours a couple of times in lieu of class where students can come and we can just talk and I tend to have really good response rates on that when that is the case usually this is like a once a year thing that happens when I lose my voice and so I usually have about two-thirds to three-quarters of the students show up for one of these time slots and they're eager to be part of that I try to have some little rituals to make the class again more inviting and more engaging to mark it as a class so one of the things I used to do that's harder to support I used to play music at the prior to class for about 15 minutes and it was always music that was themed for the week that's really fun to do for the comics class it's harder to do for the services class but I can make it work with the new collaborate system that's been made incredibly difficult because there's no good way to stream that audio to everyone so I've switched and I now post links to typically three or four YouTube videos again that are themed with the class that day and I find that a lot of students then start coming earlier and earlier and earlier to login so they have time to watch the video so it's a way to get them more excited about the beginning of class and make it fun another ritual I have is always posting some sort of comic or cartoon as the final slide and that may again seem really simple or silly but it's something that students began to look forward to and that's not necessarily active learning but it still invites a sense of engagement and interest and I think it helps extend the classroom and then finally the necessity of flexibility how many of you have had things go horribly wrong in a distance glass eye I have shown up in my classes and I when we were doing interactive video at Indiana I you know did some radio classes because there was no video capability for the night or the connections would drop 19 times in 3 hours here with eliminate and collaborate I have what I call robo Carol that happens for some reason almost an hour into every synchronous class which is the my connection whether I'm in my office or at my house or somewhere else my my voice streaming slows down so much that you know my students just start saying oh robo carols here so I have to log out and do an audio check again and log back in and that's a little ritual of sorts that has become humorous it's like robo carols back I have to wait for students to tell me that you know and there will be other issues so I just find that that the flexibility is key and being upfront and honest with students that you know things may fail badly spectacularly of for the course that day that you're trying something new you're not sure if it's going to work or are there storms coming through and you don't know that your connection is going to hold whatever it is I try to model for them that I'm taking chances and taking risks too because something that's really important for me is to help students understand that the classroom is there safe place to take risks before they go out in profession and I want to model doubt for them so I will leave it at this and I chose this cartoon this is an XKCD cartoon because certainly teaching online teaching at a distance is a process you can't fix it all in one night you might be motivated after you finish teaching one night either to go drink a bottle of wine or stay up all night trying to make it better so it just takes time and practice and thank you thank you kara and I'm using the mic for the recordings now that I like Mike but if we have questions we I have to pass on this this may be an unfair question given all the good content that you shared with us but to what degree is your approach scalable a lot of the discussion in our College has sort of center on the question that the the model of active learning that you present it is certainly student-centered and it's nice but in a way it still mirrors too much from a economic point of view or scale before it still mirrors what we do in a regular classroom so in a sense it is not online learning but perhaps a hybrid learning where we just move the interaction that we'd have in a in a classroom 22 to an online people don't have to attend how what's your sense of scalability of an active learning approach synchronously that that you've presented so I think the kind of model I'm presenting is workable up to say 40 to 50 students in a class setting I think beyond that it becomes not so much active as chaotic I think with online only classes which I've taught so asynchronous web-based courses you can still include elements active learning and those quite nicely and I've had fifty to a hundred students enrolled in some of those so again it depends but I agree this is not something you can do with a lecture course of 200 students or even a class of 30 undergrads I think undergraduate education is probably a little different beast I don't have I started out in life as a high school teacher so but I don't have undergrad teaching experience I think this works well for grad students because they're they tend to be a little bit more self-motivated that kind of thing but it might not fit for undergrads I guess I want to take Peters question and go in a slightly different direction this seems to me highly scaffolded so when I think about an engaged classroom it's student setting the agenda its students doing the reading leading the discussion bringing in the critical questions and responding to one another and I'm thinking about one of my colleagues who scaled that up in a way that that I don't even do i mean i'm setting the assignments but the students run the class right his is much more lateral and what I take to be really radical engagement which is its peer to peer group all the way and they may meet for consultation about how their projects are going but it's really their show how so it to me you're on the more structured and I thought I might think of his engagement I am guilty as charged I would love to do a class like you're describing i think if i had an opportunity to do a 10 or 12 persons seminar style class okay I'm not that brave I'm not that brave I would love to try something like that with a smaller group of students I have I changed how I structure courses over time I think primarily in response to students so when I have done more student driven learning activities and student driven course structures the students I teach tend to freak out and so I have backed off of some of that and I've gone back to some of the more instructor driven I I think it's interesting I don't know whether it's there's a there's a certain contingent of students actually that freaks out the most and it's the students who are practicing k-12 educators who are coming back to get their mls who are getting their school librarianship endorsement and I think they have had particular pedagogical experiences as learners it's not how they work in their own classrooms and they just don't like it that they make up about a third of the students that I have I have also found especially in the last three or four years that with students who are coming into our program straight out of undergrad without any kind of work experience actually need a lot more hand-holding than others and so sort of that dual impact has made a difference have you ever taught a class without a synchronous session and yes and how they were compared to the synchrony haven't seen to our synchronous sessions so the the class that I thought holy as an asynchronous web-based course was a grant writing course that did have a lot of peer feedback involved in it but because it was such a writing intensive class a writing and research intensive class us I think that functioned okay I don't think it would work very well for a lot of other courses it becomes too much like a correspondence class which is good for some things we are out of time for for your presentation but i have a last question as well since i have the mic I'm use it to ask the question how is how different is your face to face class to what your to your online class so I think what happens with the face to face class I actually use a very similar slide decks so the students see mostly the same content what happens with the face to face class I think I mentioned at the beginning our online sessions or two hours or face-to-face classes meet for two hours and 50 minutes and so what happens is that 50 minutes is used for discussion and activities and discussion is happening all the time in that in the synchronous online classes so I think we're getting the same level degree of discussion in the synchronous session that we do in the face to face it's just that it's happening simultaneously in the synchronous session and we need time beyond that in the face to face class but I also have more opportunities for different kinds of group activities and show-and-tell sorts of things that aren't as easily accomplished in an online setting Thank You Carol for sharing her experience and this if we'll be happy to have her if she wants to stay a little more this the idea of this workshop is to reflect on our own practices and as I said at the beginning we have two questions on one side of the sheet and a few questions in the back of the sheet that we would like you to think and we're going to discuss them the idea is that you think about those write a few words under the questions so that then we can collect this papers and see what people are thinking but you're also going to share with with the rest of us and your your thoughts on how your reflection how you do it and if you haven't done any synchronous teaching before you can skip question one but I will in a few minutes I will come back and ask you to share your thoughts with the person that you have next to you well we're having a very interesting discussion and I give you two seconds to finish your conversation and you're done we're going to now it was very interesting to hear the what what things from Carol's experience how it compares to our own experience and and what things we can apply or we hadn't thought about and I would like that every group tells us a little bit of their conversation I will start with my group and we were three in the group and we were talking about the we found the rituals an interesting way to start an end and the I like the idea I totally honest Allison Allison had a good idea that she says she would like to start or to end with something Illini like the marching in line I or something that would be what brings them to campus I like a little bit of campus life I thought that that was a good idea Oh from what we talked about your discussion yet well we found a lot of really helpful and useful ideas we both did like the rituals and having that something consistent and thinking about Moodle as a canvas and not just we have to do it in this way but you can move things around so that was that was liberating it's like we knew but we didn't know it so thank you for that yeah I camera yeah okay and just now we discussed yeah we would like this what you have presented very much but unfortunately I know we don't have such experience of online teaching and i specially like the way you mentioned about engagement of students over by providing music videos and whatever and the students you can come earlier than before another way is the modality 04 mmm of his chanting ideas where students or answering students questions and since i don't have such experience i ask of maybe you've a very silly question that is it does you appear on the screen video tab as well but I typically only do the the audio version during the first day of class I will come on with the videos so people know that there's a real person talking to them and you know give them a little tour my office whatever and then occasionally I might put the video back on at some other point during the semester but it's usually just the audio version of me but I had I had the privilege to ask questions I was mostly interested in an active active learning an active pedagogy should spawn another five years so there could be a lot of diversion and the question was how do you bring them back together and and also how many voices are actually lost phone in structure and structure we just talked to himself is not a problem and yeah I mean you told me you would well if voices are lost to send your documents but necessarily an octave technologies the good thing is that people get inspired but they also going off into all kind of direction so in online down that this problem any ideas of something that you will apply in a synchronous session that you had a photo I like a wonder ritual as well it's a question of presence really like that that's good i mean you make yourself present never thought about that before and i think i will have to think about much more how to deal with the depth horses breath issue century i am resolved and with an electronic whiteboard a lot but that's just one way i'm thinking more about different ways different artifacts like i like the grid for example that people can express themselves very quickly so they continue to collaborate they also possible exam reflection that's extension sorry the class reflection or extension activities in some ways help get at more depth if students choose to do those because it's a way i hope for people to synthesize the readings their experiences they don't have to do it before class so they could ostensibly do it after we've had lecture but then it gives them an opportunity to to think about those topics and ideas more deeply thank you carol and thank you all for participating in this session and we will collect your reflections if you don't mind and we will share with you by email the PDF the hand out of her presentation and we will also share Marie of what we learn from you in in this handout son

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