Sustaining Connections With and Between Students Spotlight #3

Faculty Info

Name: Monica Duran
Academic Program: Education
Average Number of students per section: 24
Featured Course:

  • EDUC 320: Education in Modern Society (two sections)

Had you taught online prior to the rapid shift to virtual instruction in response to COVID-19? 

No, not until mid March ’20.


What practice or technique have you implemented in your course?

Google JamBoard: Using JamBoard in break-out rooms, and as an option to respond with asynchronous tasks. JamBoard use during break-out rooms provides more structure during discussion, allows for a concrete assessment tool (even when used informally), allows students to be more engaged, and it is easier for the instructor to monitor progress of all groups, rather than checking in on one break out room at a time.


Why did you choose this approach?

Quite honestly, I included the use of JamBoard because it is engaging and is easy to set up and implement. I read about JamBoard in a THRIVE email, watched the short introductory video, and attended the brief training offered. Before including JamBoard into our synchronous time, I assigned that same short video to all of my students. It was, at most, a 10 minute investment and we easily added a new tech tool to our repertoire that students are enjoying and everyone found easy to use.


How have students responded to this practice or technique?

Students responded positively to JamBoard. None of my students had used it prior to my course – we did one practice JamBoard in break out rooms to get comfortable. Since then we have used it to respond to a variety of content based topics. The students have used it in a free-form manner, and have also used it with Venn diagrams and Frayer models. I have also included it as a response option for some asynchronous tasks.


Describe any change in your own philosophy of teaching and learning due to virtual instruction?

I have always felt very strongly about engaging students in their learning and my courses have always been very interactive. Virtual instruction has heightened the need for engagement and the importance of that engagement varying and not just being a discussion. Virtual instruction has also strengthened my firm belief that education must be about relationships – and it takes significantly more effort to develop those in a virtual environment.


When courses resume on our physical campus, will this practice transfer to your in-person classes? If so, why?

I absolutely plan to include JamBoard into face-to-face instruction. Learning needs to be engaging and interactive – the more tools I have to do that, the more engaged and successful my students can be. It also provides students an additional way to engage and demonstrate their understanding. As an education instructor, it is crucial that I model good teaching practices all the time, whether we are virtual or in-person.


What’s your advice to EDUCATORS preparing for a virtual Spring 2021?

When we transitioned last March to virtual a colleague, who had significant asynchronous teaching experience, shared a course with me and advised me to not get overwhelmed and attempt to replicate everything in her course. I heeded that advice, adding elements one at a time as I became more comfortable. I would pass along that same advice – it has served me well and allowed me to build my virtual teaching repertoire incrementally and successfully. Also, I would advise people to find a “teaching buddy” – this is all much easier when you are in conversation with someone else who is walking in your shoes.


What’s your advice to STUDENTS preparing for a virtual Spring 2021?

To students, as they prepare for the spring semester, I would say that organization and a schedule are paramount for success. Most importantly, though, grant yourself (and your instructors) patience and grace.


Is there something you plan to change for Spring? What and why?

Adjustments for spring are minor – taking a critical look at the positives and negatives of the current semester and tweaking things where they are needed. In regard to JamBoard, I will certainly include that earlier and implement it into more asynchronous tasks.


Which 3 resources and/or tools do you consider essential to effective virtual instruction?

  1. Google (all of it: slides, JamBoard, docs, forms,)
  2. Zoom (for synchronous and for recording lectures)
  3. VoiceThread (easy way to engage – good combination of visual and audio)

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