Will Styler's Homepage
Will Styler

Assistant Teaching Professor - UC San Diego

Resources for Faculty moving to Online Teaching

This is intended to be a helpful guide for faculty moving to online teaching. There are many such guides out there, but this one is focused on the kinds of classroom interaction often used in the social sciences. Please email suggestions and ideas and comments to wstyler@ucsd.edu.

Last updated: June 25, 2020 at 11:30am

General Guides

Feedback from Spring 2020 Online Teaching

This feedback was collected from students in two classes in Spring 2020, based on their experience with the quarter overall. Mind you, this is from (and to, anonymously and in person) one instructor, and the usual provisos about sample size and selection are a thing. But as anecdata, it might give some insights.

Students felt their learning was improved by…

Humor

I can’t tell you how excited I am that the instructor can mute all and not allow participants to unmute themselves. This is zoom gain at its finest from an ASL instructor’s point of view!

Oh no! How do I do…

Everything the way I had been planning it before the online announcement

Live Lectures and Class Sessions

Take Attendance

Asynchronous Lectures and Video Playback

Clickers

Small-Group Discussion

Homeworks and Quizzes

Discussion Sections

Exams

Paper Submissions

Distributing Handouts or Files

Office Hours

Accommodate students with disabilities

Discourage Cheating and Maintain Academic Integrity

Work with students who don’t have a Zoom-capable device

Discourage ‘Trolling’ and bad behavior on Zoom

Although these things are hard to completely prevent, it’s worth being aware of it, and being ready to act decisively if it ever comes up.

Course Formats

Although the conventional approach can still work, in my experience, ‘lecturing’ is even less effective than usual in an online space, and conventional exams that rely on proctoring and assume closed books and no collaboration are someplace between ‘difficult’ and ‘fantasy’.

So, although you’re not expected to change everything all at once, it’s not a bad idea to consider whether alternative, online-first class structures might fit your needs better.

A Sample Asynchronous Class

Imagine a MWF 12-1 class. Normally you might spend those three hours lecturing, and then have students do homework in the rest of the time. Then perhaps a proctored midterm and final. Something like 50% Homework, 20% Midterm, 30% Final exam as a grading split. This not only requires a lot of lecturing, but also relies on Zoom to be operable 3 days a week, and fails if this isn’t tue. A different approach might be to make more of the work asynchronous, like so…

By doing this, students are able to get the material, have their comprehension tested, engage with analysis or other relevant skills, complete assignments, and have their knowledge tested, but with only one synchronous period. And so long as the total time spent for students is not hugely greater or lesser, the administration at UCSD is fine with it. For sample syllabi (which are far from perfect and will change as I improve them), see my LIGN 101 syllabus and my LIGN 113 syllabus.

You’ll note, by the way, that this is akin to the idea of a ‘flipped classroom’, where lectures are asynchronous and classtimes are active and focused on analysis and discussion. So, although it may feel crazy and new, it’s not new at all.

Specific Tools

Using Canvas

Pro-tips

Other people’s guides

Using YouTube to upload lectures

Particularly if Kaltura (a.k.a. the Canvas Media Gallery) keeps crashing, you might consider uploading videos to YouTube for students, who can then watch the video without a canvas login and on their cell phones or tablets or computers. Here’s the process:

Getting Started on YouTube

Pro-Tips

Using Zoom

Pro-Tips

Other people’s Guides

Using Gradescope

I recommend using Gradescope for grading both online submission assignments as well as assignments that would conventionally be done on paper. The only strength of Canvas is in grading long-form papers (as the annotation tools are better).

Pro-Tips

Other people’s Gradescope Documents