Welcome to Fall 2020

Welcome back, dear faculty!

I would like to use this first Tuesday Tip to introduce myself and some of the resources in Faculty Development.

My name is Chiara Ferrari, and, as of July 13th 2020, I am the new Director of Faculty Development. I am a Professor of media criticism in the Department of Media Arts, Design, and Technology, and I am eager to support your needs throughout this academic year!

Towards this end, I encourage you to explore our webpage and to participate in our programs and forums.

In particular, I want to direct your attention to two opportunities in support of online learning and teaching:

  1. Digital Pedagogy FLC: there is currently an open call (Google Doc) for a faculty learning community led by Dr. Kim Jaxon. The deadline to submit applications is September 3rd.
  2. Go Virtual Community: all faculty are invited to participate in the Go Virtual Community asynchronously in Google Currents and synchronously in weekly Zoom meetings. Meetings are scheduled every Wednesday from 11 am to 12 pm, starting tomorrow, August 26th. Join us to share your questions, needs, and ideas about online learning. Dr. Jaxon shares some instructions on how to join Currents (the video has no audio).

Additional resources and programs will be shared with all faculty as soon as they become available. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me for any questions! You can contact me at cfferrari@csuchico.edu.

While I realize that this year is a particularly challenging one for instructors, I cannot tell you how amazed I am at the efforts that faculty have put into course design, innovative pedagogical practices, and in general, towards supporting students in this difficult transition to our virtual environment. I am proud and I look forward to serving you this year!

Design Your Course Backwards

The Cheshire Cat told Alice in Wonderland that if she didn’t know where she wanted to go, then it didn’t matter which path to take. Getting somewhere specific requires knowing the destination. This same concept (starting with the end goal in mind) applies to creating or modifying a course. In the book, Understanding by Designthe authors suggest three steps for creating a course using Backwards Design (i.e. designing from back to front – see model below). Note that determining what to actually teach is the final step.

  • Identify the desired results. Determine what students should know and be able to do by the end of the course (i.e. the course objectives). Consider national, institutional, or department standards and clearly define the desired outcomes.
  • Determine acceptable evidence. Determine how you will know when, and to what degree, students achieve these results by using formal and informal assessments (e.g. written work, demonstration, community project, dialogues, exams, etc). With clear results in mind, consider what facts/principles/skills/characteristics students need to demonstrate to you so that you can assess, and then grade, their learning.
  • Plan learning experiences and instruction. Determine what learning experiences will best equip students to achieve the desired results. What will need to be taught, and in what order, throughout the semester? Build materials and gather resources needed to accomplish these goals (e.g. lesson plans, PPT slides, active-learning projects, field trips, labs).

If you want help designing courses (face-to-face, online, or hybrid), the Technology & Learning Program has instructional design consultants available to assist you. Click here to request a consultation.

Design a Sensational Syllabus

Welcome to the Fall ’18 semester!

I hope this e-mail catches you while you’re developing or revising your syllabi this week. This document can be one of your most effective communication tools. A syllabus sets the tone for your course (Harnish & Bridges, 2011) so be mindful about what tone you wish to set as you create it. Here are three tips to ensure your syllabus effectively communicates what you want it to.

  1. Make it Inclusive  – Scan your syllabi for content that could potentially be exclusive, and thus perhaps inaccessible, to some student groups (e.g. first-gen, low-income, international, certain genders, athletes etc.). Consider a reading list that includes diverse authors. Consider allowing students to purchase previous (and thus cheaper and more accessible) versions of a textbook. Consider allowing students to vote on the sequence of some parts of the curriculum as suggested in the book Why Students Resist Learning. Most importantly, be sure that all sections of your syllabus meet accessibility requirements (see attached tips and contact info for assistance)?
  2.  Introduce Yourself –Sure, office location and e-mail address are important to mention, but consider including a photo of yourself along with a few sentences about your hobbies, where you’re from, something unique about you, etc. Academic achievement is linked to student-teacher connection (Konishi, Hymel, Zumbo, & Li, 2010) so anything you can do to strengthen that connection is a solid investment in your students.
  3. Be Aware of Bloat – Is your syllabus more like a novel? It can be tempting to include every bit of information a student could possibly need along with a series of disclaimers addressing any and all possible scenarios. A syllabus shouldn’t read like a smartphone’s Terms & Conditions that few people ever read. If a syllabus is long enough to discourage reading, then it ceases to be a communication tool. Aim for the sweet spot of including adequate and relevant information without overloading students.

Have a wonderful first week of classes!