Every great course starts with the students. The syllabus is created before I meet them and the way I teach and where we focus depends on their interests, inquiries, and learning needs. Below is a selection of recent syllabi that were created by me and approved by the sitting Chair of the time.
After a year of online teaching, and listening to the needs of the students who ask for more engagement, variety, and less reading, I have responded with a module approach.
Each class has a module that speaks to the topic, invites interaction, expresses the learning outcomes and/or the point of studying the issues, as well as other resources.
In the example (left), I include images and a silly online quiz to see whether you are a 'Dewey' (as in John Dewey) or a 'Thorndike.'
I have also created podcast lectures (and shortened synchronous Zoom meetings) so that students have less reading and less screen time. The podcasts have been positively received and students requested more of them. An example from the Dewey lesson is below.
I have also recorded myself reading a couple of the longer required articles. This is to encourage students to read/listen and engage with the material, but also with compassion for Zoom fatigue and general pandemic blues. Students report that this encourages them to go for walks and get out while they listen to their reading.
Slides in Synchronous Classes
Slides can be used in ways that are engaging, helpful with transitioning, and in keeping students (and the teacher) on track. It is important to allow for flexibility and create space for inquiry in my lessons, so I have been known to break from slides and locate other resources to assist students. I also make sure slides are accessible before class and I am currently switching from using Microsoft PowerPoint to Google Slides, as Google Slides is more accessible to students.
Creating Video Content
Although it is important for students to get off their screens, there are times when screens are necessary and/or helpful. I love to share videos to get students thinking about privilege or how the Triune Model of the Brain works.
But sometimes I can't find content that meets the needs of my students. So, I have started to create my own. To the left is a video lecture I created for my Camosun College students in Early Learning and Care. This video was assigned instead of reading, and it was followed up with a synchronous workshop.
Padlet & Podcasts
There are so many helpful, accessible, and creative online methods to enrich learning and promote engagement.
Padlet is a beautiful way in which to engage with each other and the ideas we are exploring. All students need is a link. I create a topic and Padlet wall where students can post pictures, video, audio, and words. The students enjoy this format far more than discussion areas on Brightspace.
It can be difficult for students to meet, and there are many assignments with group components. Padlet allows us to collaborate and share on our own time.
Another helpful resource for asynchronous time are podcasts. Many students already listen to podcasts and enjoy the opportunity to take class content on the road or for a walk. One podcast surrounding which I have had a particularly positive response is an interview Brené Brown does with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist.
Slido & Surveys
During synchronous meetings on Zoom or in-person, I use Slido to gauge student comprehension, interest, perspectives, and engagement. The students log-on and interact with a shared screen where we create word clouds (such as the one to the left), rank preferences or beliefs, answer multiple-choice questions, and more.