When Wright State University moved to remote learning in March to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning became a nerve center of instruction for remote teaching.
During the spring semester, CTL provided training and remote teaching programs that enabled faculty to quickly transform their in-person courses to an emergency remote teaching mode.
“We had to develop creative ways to scale our services to the masses while still maintaining quality, timely and pertinent responses,” said Lisa Kenyon, faculty director for CTL and associate professor of biological sciences.
For the summer and possibly fall semesters, CTL has shifted to higher quality remote, hybrid or online teaching using best practices and preparedness.
“We have been building on the established initial remote programs and broadening the impact by providing multiple remote training programs to faculty with various levels of expertise,” said Kenyon.
The Center for Teaching and Learning offers instructional design services, classroom consultation, grant support, writing boot camps and workshops on course design, educational tools, classroom management and other topics. The CTL offices are located in room 023 in the tunnel below Dunbar Library.
CTL experienced an exponential rise in faculty requests for assistance from the beginning of spring semester in January to March, when Wright State moved to distance learning in response to the coronavirus. In March, CTL had 1,062 faculty interactions compared to 342 in January.
“With very little lead time, CTL rose to the occasion and helped faculty through the process of transitioning a great many classes from a face-to-face to a remote format this spring,” said interim Provost Douglas Leaman. “The feedback from those helped was very positive, and students benefited from the improved quality of the end product.”
In response to the increased need for assistance, CTL has developed and is offering the following programs:
Online Teaching and Learning Community
A professional development opportunity offered by CTL’s instructional design team, this seven-week program is intended for people who wish to learn more about online learning and includes 16 to 24 faculty at one time. It is designed to give participants a better understanding of how to design, develop and teach quality online or hybrid courses. The course offers seven online modules, optional weekly face-to-face deep-dive sessions and a culminating online final presentation. The course is full for summer session but may be offered again in the fall.
Shu Schiller, associate dean of the Raj Soin College of Business, took part in the Online Teaching and Learning Community course spring semester.
“The community allowed me to learn from my peers, whose expertise and teaching areas cover a wide range of topics,” said Schiller. “Seeing their best practices and hearing their ideas inspired me in designing my course and teaching. The experience was invaluable. I am already applying many of the things I learned to my own classes.”
Tips and Sips: Remote Teaching Happy Hour for Faculty
A virtual safe space for faculty to grab a drink, get a snack and drop in on a Collaborate Ultra session to share successes and challenges around the transition to remote teaching and learning. Faculty can chat with others who may be having common experiences. Potential topics may include alternative assessments, virtual labs, online active learning, equity, summer teaching preparation and work-life balance. The program remains open during the summer semester.
Remote Teaching Plus (RT+)
“Now that faculty have more time to devote to the development of their fall courses, we offer this extensive summer program for faculty to use these upcoming months to prepare,” said Kenyon.
This program enables faculty to engage one-on-one with an instructional designer and receive dedicated instruction and feedback to produce a custom, organized remote teaching course shell. Faculty will come away with a pedagogically sound course in Pilot-based best practices in instructional design and Quality Matters guidelines. Faculty will still be required to create their own content, but they will be able to utilize the instructional designer they worked with as a “coach” throughout the term. This summer initiative is full, with 50 faculty, but a waiting list is available.
Laura Luehrmann, director of the Master’s Program in International and Comparative Politics, said that with an emphasis on pedagogy and the latest research on remote learning styles and assessment, CTL helped faculty enhance their classes on very short notice.
“As we plan for the post-COVID situation, our faculty will be equipped with a diverse toolbox of skills and platforms that will enhance all of our classes,” she said.
Remote Teaching Drop-In Help Sessions
These Collaborate Ultra Drop-In sessions provide assistance to faculty for urgent matters or issues that arise during the week. The open sessions offered twice a week enable faculty to meet with an instructional designer to ask questions about remote teaching, such as learning activities, assessments or instructional technologies. These sessions will be offered again fall semester.
“I know many faculty in my department are huge fans and can experiment and expand their teaching due to the support and information they receive from CTL,” said Ayşe Şahin, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
Şahin said CTL not only offered a remarkable number of workshops on remote teaching but also recognized that a crucial need for many faculty members is to have virtual “blackboards” where teachers and students can write out the mathematics they are thinking through.
“It’s a perfect partnership,” she said. “CTL listens to what faculty needs and provides the best solution they can, and sometimes educates us in alternatives that we did not even know existed.”
Core Services and Resources
A comprehensive list of online resources is available to faculty on the CTL website. A webpage dedicated to Remote Teaching Tips and Resources includes upcoming webinars, workshops, recordings, tutorials, links and articles.