Spring 21 Instruction Ideas

Go to Takeaways from the Fall 2020 Student Learning Experiences Survey

Fresh Ideas for Maintaining Social Distancing for Small Group Work

Creating opportunities for students to work together in the classroom while maintaining safe social distancing can be challenging. As the weather improves, there may be more opportunities to move some class activities outside, but there are also ways to work together in the classroom in safe ways.

Download a printable copy of Fresh Ideas for Maintaining Social Distancing for Small Group Work

Considerations

  • Acoustics: Think about what your room can handle in terms of people hearing each other
  • Remind students about your expectations for social distancing, even if people are vaccinated. Be very clear and specific. Students should know exactly where they should be arranged during activities. Use tape or post-it notes on the floor if needed
  • Model safe behavior by staying masked and distanced
 

Creative Communication Methods

  • Have students write or place post-it notes on physical whiteboards (giving them clear instructions about distancing)

  • Have students write notes back and forth, or exchange journal entries or papers for feedback
  • Have students make flashcards and then quiz each other
  • Have students convey ideas by drawing diagrams, pictures, concept mapping

    • e.g., Charts, graphic organizers, tables, flowcharts, Venn Diagrams, timelines, sequence maps, story maps, hierarchy maps, mind maps
  • Pair in-person students with online students using video conferencing

Live Collaborative Tools for Small Group Work

Rotations and Stations with Protocols (if safe, depending on room and class size)

  • Gallery Walks: Have half of the students stand 6 feet from their displayed work or a list on the wall and the rest of class rotate every few minutes to view, discuss, or write. Everyone should be spread out enough to be safe but still hear each other. Place markings where students should stand
  • Inner stations and outer stations: Arrange the desks/tables on the inside with places to write comments. On the perimeter, set up spaces to write comments on the walls. Have students go back and forth writing while in the middle and then to the perimeter opposite their partner, while maintaining distancing (please be sure to return furniture to its original configuration to help the next class maintain safe distancing)
  • 4 Corners: In small classes, put only 2 to 4 people in each corner of the room to discuss while being distanced. Place markings where students should stand

Takeaways from the Fall 2020 Student Learning Experiences Survey

In November 2020, the Office of the Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education (OVPUE) asked undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to provide feedback about the teaching strategies instructors used in their Fall 2020 online and in-person classes with remote students. Derived from the most consistent and salient survey responses and supported by evidence-based teaching practices, we offer these instruction ideas and resources for faculty consideration, recognizing that you may have employed some of these practices as well as other strategies not included below. Join the Faculty Online Community for Teaching facilitated by the Center for Teaching Innovation to share additional ideas and/or questions (if you have already signed up, click here to go to the community).

Explore the OVPUE Fall 2020 Student Learning Experiences Survey results.

Online Synchronous Classes | Asynchronous Classes | In-Person Classes with Remote Students | Socially Distanced In-Person Classes


Online Synchronous Classes

Download a printable copy of these Instruction Ideas for Online Synchronous Classes

Provide opportunities for students to interact with you and each other both in and out of class

When students are comfortable with you, they are more comfortable learning, participating, and sharing in the learning environment.

Be flexible as students may have new or different needs related to remote learning in a pandemic

Remote teaching and learning require patience in co-creating a learning community.

  • Acknowledge the current challenges caused by the pandemic and show compassion (see Setting Expectations & Connecting with Students)
  • Allow students to miss or drop one assignment/test of their choice (see Promoting Academic Integrity in Remote Teaching)
  • Demonstrate your empathy (e.g., check-in with class to see how everyone is doing)
  • Use assessments that offer some flexibility regarding due dates and participation expectations and that remove means for students to violate academic integrity (e.g., open book exams, group projects)
  • Provide a short break during longer classes
  • Do not increase the workload beyond what you would require if the course were in person; refrain from posting extra videos and assignments and exceeding the scheduled class time

Use Zoom features and other instructional technologies

Effectively using learning technologies can improve the online teaching and learning experience for your students.

  • Show writing/typing in real time to provide in-person class feel
  • Encourage students to turn on their cameras to increase engagement, create a sense of community, and help students stay focused - but be understanding of students who cannot (see Inclusion in Online & Hybrid Settings)
  • Use Canvas Discussions or Ed Discussion to answer student questions
  • Rely on TAs to moderate chats, provide technical assistance, and lead discussion sections

Provide clarity to enhance understanding of course structure and course concepts

Clear, consistent communication is an important part of successful online teaching. Your students will need information about how your class will work and what they are expected to do.

  • Provide as much clarity and transparency as possible about the weekly schedule, course expectations, learning goals, assessments, and grading rubrics (see Communication Tips)
  • Maintain an easily navigable course organization in Canvas (e.g., minimize tabs and pages to find announcements, due dates, and assignments)
  • Check in with students regularly to assess whether they understand course concepts and create materials or exercises to help students understand the concepts (e.g., ungraded quizzes). See Practice with Feedback
  • At the start of a new lecture, give a brief summary of important points from the previous lecture
  • Slow down when teaching complex concepts

Post course materials, such as lectures (videos or PowerPoint presentations), online

Learners are more likely to make cognitive connections when information is presented in multiple modes (See Online Teaching).

  • Record lectures and post in a timely manner to allow for review when needed
  • Post course materials online, ideally before class meets

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Asynchronous Classes

Download a printable copy of these Instruction Ideas for Asynchronous Classes

Post course materials, such as lectures (videos or PowerPoint presentations), online in advance

Posting in advance allows students additional flexibility in engaging with course materials.

  • Post materials according to a consistent schedule so that students know when to expect them
  • Post materials incrementally to avoid overwhelming students
  • Provide good quality videos of course lectures; slow down and avoid packing too much content into each video (See Pre-recorded Lecture Tips and Recording Lectures for more information)
  • Create short video segments rather than long video recordings
  • Maintain materials online for a determined period of time for students to reference later
  •  Keep total recorded lecture length to allotted class time (i.e. as if synchronous in-person)

Provide regular forums for discussion/Q&A to enhance understanding, accountability, and connection

Students working in small groups often learn and retain more. Also, group work provides students a sense of shared purpose that can improve morale and increase motivation.

  • Provide regular forums using Canvas Discussions or Ed Discussion for students to post questions and receive answers
  • Respond to student questions in a timely manner (see Communicating with Students Online)
  • Regularly schedule opportunities for students to interact online synchronously with the instructional staff, such as in office hours
  • Offer one-on-one office hours

Hold synchronous course content review opportunities

These reveal how and what students are learning during the course and often inform next steps in teaching and learning

  • Provide weekly overview of the material to be covered and review upcoming assignments due 
  • Post recordings of review sessions
  • Regularly provide opportunities for students to check their understanding of concepts/materials (e.g., ungraded quizzes - See Assessing Prior Knowledge and Measuring Student Learning for additional ideas)

Design opportunities for students to get to know one another and the instructional team

In inclusive learning environments, students feel that their contributions and perspectives are equally valued and respected.

  • Assign students to study groups or project groups
  • Encourage creation of a course group chat
  • Post a course list of students in order for students to contact one another
  • Encourage students to sign up for the Learning Strategies Center’s Study Group matching service
  • Make introductory videos about the TAs
  • Show the primary instructor’s face in videos, even if minimally, to promote connection

Additional Instructional Strategies

  • Select assignment deadlines so that students in different time zones do not have late evening or early morning deadlines (see Setting Expectations and Connecting with Students for more information)
  • Communicate frequently about upcoming due dates, assignments, content, frequently asked questions, etc.
  • Minimize posting extra videos that add to class time
  • Encourage students to watch course videos on a regular schedule so as not to fall behind

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In-Person Classes with Remote Students

Download a printable copy of these Instruction Ideas for In-Person Classes with Remote Students

Provide opportunities for students to interact with you and each other

When students are comfortable with you, they are more comfortable learning, participating, and sharing in the learning environment.

Help online students keep up with course materials and engage in the course

In the online environment you will find that students attend and engage in the class with a variety of different skills and comfort levels (see Facilitating Student Engagement Online).

  • Encourage online students to stay current with course materials and actively participate in class by regularly checking in with them and seeking their contributions in class (see Communication Tips)
  • Work to ensure that online students are treated equitably when compared with students participating in person in regard to both instruction and assessment
  • For students living in time zones that require them to participate asynchronously, provide alternative ways to earn their participation grade
  • Be mindful that some students will have less time to complete assignments based on the timeliness of posting class recordings and assignment deadlines set to Eastern time
  • Regularly check the Chat for online student questions
  • Pay close attention to technical issues that may affect online student participation in class
  • Slow down when teaching complicated concepts, as online students may find it more difficult to follow than in-person students

Post course materials, such as lectures (videos or PowerPoint presentations) online

  • Record lectures and post them in a timely manner to allow for review when needed
  • Post course materials online, ideally before class meets

Be flexible as students may have new or different needs related to remote learning in a pandemic

It is important to acknowledge the effects of the broader social climate and physical environment on students’ lives and education (see Inclusion and Accommodation resources).

  • Acknowledge the current challenges caused by the pandemic and show compassion
  • Demonstrate your empathy and, to the extent you are comfortable, check-in with your class to see how everyone is doing personally
  • Use assessments that offer some flexibility regarding due dates and participation expectations, and that remove means for students to violate academic integrity (e.g., open book exams, group projects)
  • Provide a short break during longer classes (but remind students to maintain safe distancing)
  • Do not increase the workload beyond what you would require if the course were solely in person and refrain from posting extra videos and assignments and exceeding the scheduled class time

Use Zoom features and other instructional technologies

  • See Zoom features for more information on ways to incorporate them into your teaching
  • Encourage cameras to be on to increase engagement, create a sense of community, and help students stay focused (but be understanding of students who cannot)
  • Use Ed Discussion, Cornell’s new discussion platform, to answer student questions
  • Rely on TAs to moderate chats, provide technical assistance, and lead discussion sections. In courses without TAs, Classroom Assistants can help moderate Zoom chats and provide technical assistance (see TA Resources).

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Socially-Distanced In-Person Classes

Download a printable copy of these Instruction Ideas for Socially-Distanced In-Person Classes

Model good public health and safety practices

Help students feel comfortable in the classroom through these practices:

  • physical distancing
  • mask wearing
  • minimum to no shared physical handling of class materials
  • self-cleaning surfaces using available supplies

Provide opportunities to make your course interactive, allowing students to get to know you and one another

Students working in small groups often learn and retain more. Also, group work provides students a sense of shared purpose that can improve morale and increase motivation. In inclusive learning environments, students feel that their contributions and perspectives are equally valued and respected.

  • Encourage group work in class and/or assign students to study groups or group projects (see the Learning Strategies Center’s Study Group matching service)
  • Change the seating periodically so that students can interact with different classmates
  • Use polling, such as Poll Everywhere, to engage students in course material
  • When weather permits, schedule field trips or hold class outside (while maintaining distancing)
  • Share some personal information so that students can get to know you
  • Offer a sufficient number of in-person office-hours

Be flexible as students may have new or different needs related to remote learning in a pandemic

  • Acknowledge the current challenges caused by the pandemic and show compassion (see Setting Expectations & Connecting with Students)
  • Allow students to miss or drop one assignment/test of their choice (see Promoting Academic Integrity in Remote Teaching)
  • Demonstrate your empathy (e.g., check-in with class to see how everyone is doing)
  • Use assessments that offer some flexibility regarding due dates and participation expectations and that remove means for students to violate academic integrity (e.g., open book exams, group projects)
  • Provide a short break during longer classes (but remind students to maintain safe distancing)

Provide clarity to enhance understanding of course structure and course concepts

  • Provide as much clarity and transparency as possible about the weekly schedule, course expectations, learning goals, assessments, grading rubrics, Covid policies (see Communication Tips)
  • Maintain an easily navigable course organization in Canvas (e.g., minimize tabs and pages to find announcements, due dates, and assignments)
  • Check in with students regularly to assess whether they understand course concepts and create materials or exercises to help students understand the concepts (e.g., ungraded quizzes - see Practice with Feedback)
  • At the start of a new lecture, give a brief summary of important points from the previous lecture
  • Slow down when teaching complex concepts

Post course materials, such as lectures (videos or PowerPoint presentations), online

Learners are more likely to make cognitive connections when information is presented in multiple modes (see Online Teaching).

  • Record lectures and post them in a timely manner to allow for review when needed
  • Post course materials online

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