I hope this finds everyone well, and finding something to enjoy in the cooler weather and all the rain. Lots and lots and lots of rain. On a related note, please know that if you or your family are looking for a quiet place to swim, my basement is available.

Moving right along . . .

The bulk of this newsletter will focus on various Summer Academy events, plus a few extras:

First and foremost, if you missed last week’s session on lessons learned from the sudden pivot to virtual instruction, you can view a video of that session. Opening with thoughts from Drs. Brian Alexander, Nadia Ayoub, and Sarah Horowitz, the session featured lots of tips on making the virtual classroom a productive learning environment for our students. Among the ideas that were mentioned:

  • Using debates to engage students and enliven discussion
  • Embedding short videos in the quiz function of Canvas with pre- and post-questions (sometimes graded, sometimes not), to ensure students receive crucial course content
  • Allowing opportunities for students to process the pandemic in the context of your course content
  • Requiring that each student attend at least one online office hour
  • Flipping the classroom, so that asynchronous videos cover course content and synchronous meetings are used to work through the nuances of more complex materials and problems
  • Encouraging students to take screen shots of discussion prompts before sending them into breakout rooms

Again, the video for that session is available at summeracademy.academic.wlu.edu, along with all other recorded videos from Summer Academy.

By the way: be sure to check out the chat for several of these sessions, particularly the one on lessons learned. Once you’ve started the video you’ll see several icons in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Just to the right of the CC icon is a small item that looks like a tablet. Click on that, click on Resources, and then click on the item labeled GMT. This will allow you to save the chat to a selected folder.

Second, just a reminder about upcoming sessions:

  • Tomorrow, Thursday 18 June, from 12-1:30, Dr. Pamela Tracy will be leading a session on effective communication in a virtual environment. Though communication may seem like a simple task, even in the best of times ensuring that students understand what’s expected of them and can negotiate the terrain of our courses can be challenging. Dr. Tracy has a degree in Communications and twenty years of experience teaching in a virtual environment. Her talk will frame the issues for us, and offer some practical tips. To sign up, go to go.wlu.edu/summeracademy.
  • Coming next week, Academic Technologies is running several useful sessions:
    • “Crafting and Grading Quizzes, Assignments, and Discussions in Canvas,” Tuesday, June 23, 10-11:30
    • “Effective Online Course Design with Canvas,” Thursday, June 25, 10-11:30
    • “Canvas Basics,” Friday, June 26, 10-11:30
  • Also next week (Weds, June 24, 1-2:30), Dr. Mays Imad will be holding a session on trauma-based pedagogy. Dr. Imad, a geneticist and bio-ethicist, will talk about the biological implications of trauma for student learning, as well as offering some advice on how we can adjust our teaching to counter these challenges. If you’re interested in knowing more about Dr. Imad’s work, here’s a short recent piece she wrote. If you’re interested in signing up for her event, please visit go.wlu.edu/summeracademy.

Third, something to have on your radar: Flower Darby, who co-authored “Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes“, will be giving a workshop, sponsored by CICV (Counsel for Independent College in Virginia) on Friday, June 26th, at 10:00 a.m. In her talk, she’ll distill eight key points to enrich learning in a virtual environment. Sign up for the workshop – registration deadline is June 25th at 5:00 PM. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Also, read this recent piece by Darby on low-tech ways to communicate in a virtual course.

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding any of these events. And please be well.