Developing Discipline-Related Teaching Strategies
CEP 820 - Teaching Students Online
During the fall of 2019, I took the course CEP 820 Teaching Students Online with Dr. Anne Heintz and Marissa Zhu.
This class specifically addresses how to effectively teach students of any age in an online class. As my students are college age, I focused my time learning how to teach students over the age of 18 in my field of study, communication. There are many challenges to teaching online including student engagement, facilitating activities, and providing learning opportunities for students. There is more “behind the scenes” work in an online class than in traditional face-to-face courses. Additionally, some of the activities or assessments that are used in face-to-face courses cannot be easily adapted to an online format. As such, CEP 820 provided resources and content about these challenges and taught us to be effective online teachers (and learners). This course is particularly helpful for instructors who have never taught online before and for those looking for a deep dive into online teaching. The instructors provided materials for all learners and teachers for all age groups. The importance of online courses has become particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic as all of my courses have moved online. In sum, CEP 890 gave me invaluable resources in order to create an effective learning environment online.
I have provided the syllabus for this class as well as a screenshot of the D2L page I created as my final course project. If you would like access to this D2L page, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I can add you to the course page (must be MSU affiliated).
The course syllabus illustrates the variety of topics covered in CEP 820 and highlights the importance of learning how to effectively teach online. Each unit included materials that were instrumental in crafting online courses. These materials included links to helpful websites or journal articles, practice problems, and examples of exemplary work in that unit’s focus area. Each unit was scaffolded, meaning work from past sections was useful in future sections. The course content built up and worked together to help the students form a comprehensive knowledge base of online teaching.
The screenshot from the D2L page includes my final project for CEP 820. This project asked us to apply what we had learned throughout the class into our own course design. I created four complete units for an introductory course on interpersonal communication. This task allowed me to practice the skills I had learned throughout the course in a safe environment with encouraging constructive feedback. I received comments from the instructors and from peers which was an extremely helpful process. I also learned about specific tools that are useful for online instruction such as the checklist feature in D2L and how to use programs such as Camtasia to make my videos more enjoyable and accessible.
Interpretation & Reflection
This course was INSTRUMENTAL in my success teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. I solo taught a course for the first time during the spring 2020 semester. The transition from face-to-face to online was extremely difficult, but it was made so much easier with the resources and experiences from CEP 820. I was able to effectively and quickly transition to the online format in a way my students could adapt to. I have continued to teach the same course since then and have found myself constantly improving. I always go back to the lessons I learned from this course and feel very grateful that I took this class when I did.
I have received very positive feedback from students regarding the structure of my online courses. The integration of checklists and course organization gleaned from CEP 820 has been extremely influential in my success.
A recent student wrote, “I wanted to send you a quick email because I am really enjoying this class and learning a lot. You are doing an amazing job with the structure and I really appreciate how the workload is not busy work but focused on the material. As well as this, I think it's awesome that you can achieve a good grade if you put in the work. It is very motivating to do all of the readings and pay attention to the lectures when you know that you can actually get a good grade. In my other COM classes I have had many frustrating experiences with having either a crazy amount of busy work, or unreasonably confusing exams no matter how much you study and those being the only grades for the class. I just wanted to let you know that you are doing a fantastic job with the class and I'm so thankful to have you as a professor!”
I think this quote encapsulates how well the skills I learned from CEP 820 translated to my own online teaching.