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LVAIC Continues Community Book Read, Culminates with Author Presentation

July 2, 2020, @ 11:38 AM

Continuing its weekly virtual community book read of Small Teaching Online by Darby and Lang, LVAIC hosted nine different online synchronous discussions with faculty from across the LVAIC community. Nearly 200 faculty member participated in this program, joining for a 90-minute online presentation by book author Flower Darby.

During the question and answer session with Flower Darby, participants had the opportunity to send in live questions for Darby to address. Darby began by offering an overview of the viewpoint of students entering an online learning environment comparing it to walking into a dark, silent classroom. In this mindset, she outlined her presentation into three categories: challenges with online teaching and learning, motivation and why online teaching is important, and strategies to begin the process of designing and teaching online.

Darby took three separate breaks between the content, modeling one online teaching strategy, wherein she answered live questions. One of these breaks was after covering the challenges and motivations and the second and third were between the outline of either different neuroscience-based strategies for online teaching.

Challenges, Darby explained, include general isolation and the feeling of lack of guidance that students feel while learning remotely. Beyond this, anxiety during this point in time continue to strain cognitive processes. Remaining flexible will allow faculty to overcome these challenging circumstances. Typically, in order for students to be successful in learning online, they must have well-developed executive functioning skills. Now, faculty must help students develop these qualities. Simultaneously, faculty must find ways to gain enjoyment and energy from teaching as that fulfillment reflects back on the students.

Regarding strategies, Darby offered an outline of multiple frameworks for faculty to consider. All of these frameworks, however, include a theme of culturally responsive online pedagogy. Faculty must recognize the cultural challenges our nation is facing and incorporate that acknowledgment into the classroom. These frameworks include the following:

  • Community of Inquiry Framework: Effective online courses must have a social presence, a cognitive presence, a teaching presence, and an overall emotional presence.
  • Universal Design for Learning Framework: Creating accessible content for courses benefits everyone, not only those who need accommodations.
  • Surface Backward Design: Create a plan for learning from the destination and plan the path and journey to learn that content backwards.

Darby explained that creating strategies for online teaching should happen in smaller increments while acknowledging that approach is especially hard at this time. Overall, her recommended strategies include the following:

  • Create a welcoming tone: Include ice breakers or online scavenger hunts for students to begin feeling a social connection. Write in an encouraging tone of voice.
  • Convey caring and support: Invite and allow students to choose to disclose personal challenges as they navigate this difficult time.
  • Bring your passion to create the atmosphere: Create positivity into the classroom and it will spread to students’ emotions and improve cognition.
  • Design for emotion: Please learning activities that are relevant to course content but also bring fun and enjoyment into the lesson.
  • Assign a goals contract: Allow students to take ownership of their learning by outlining two goals for their learning, one action they will take to help them be successful, one challenge that may arise, and one strategy to overcome that challenge.
  • Nudge selected students: Create a personal one-on-one dialogue with students who you notice are struggling with quizzes or assignments.
  • Activate prior knowledge or experience: Recalling information allows for easier retention of new information.
  • Provide the framework: Outline guiding questions for readings or create a space for students to take notes or fill in information to follow along to work through the content with structure.

With this outline for approaching the fall semester and online teaching overall, participants shared questions, comments, and challenges they anticipate or have experienced in this transition. Darby offered an expertise for online teaching that allowed for participants to think differently about plans for virtual learning.

View the details for this program, including the full recording of the presentation, on the LVAIC websiteContinue to stay informed of future LVAIC programs by joining the LVAIC newsletter mailing list today.

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