Equity in Action Spotlight #3

Faculty Info

Name: Jennifer Brown
Academic Program: Mathematics
Average Number of students per section:
Featured Course:

  • Math 105: Pre-Calculus (taught asynchronously)

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

No, not until March ’20

What practice or technique have you implemented in your course?

I have incorporated several UDL (Universal Design for Learning) principles into my course design.

I present information in course announcements both in writing and via video message whenever possible. In each of my Canvas Modules, I provide an overview of the goals and activities for the week. Students are assessed in a variety of ways: for example, annotation activities using the Hypothes.is tool and graded discussion board activities, in addition to traditional multiple choice quizzes.

Why did you choose this approach?

The T.H.R.I.V.E program, which I completed during Summer 2020, introduced me to UDL practices and the rationale behind them; and it made a lot of sense to me — especially in an asynchronous environment — that students should have options for how they accessed information and material for the course, and that their assessments should take on a variety of forms.

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

Prepare ahead of time as much as you possibly can. Pre-record lectures, if you’re teaching asynchronously. Re-use material in Canvas courses from Fall 2020 and Spring 2020 where you can. If you aren’t already doing this, design your current course content for re-use (e.g. don’t mention dates in hard-to-edit places). The reason for this — besides preserving your sanity — is that the less you feel pressured by time, the more you have mental space to intentionally design your course using (among other things) UDL principles.

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

Make yourself a schedule, and find a classmate or friend who will support you in holding yourself accountable to it. You then return the favor. Bonus if you can find a study buddy whose schedule resembles yours. In addition to holding time in your schedule for synchronous lectures, work, and other time-specific obligations, you should pencil in time for watching videos for asynchronous classes; reading the textbook(s); working on assignments; and attending online tutoring and/or office hours. Try watching asynchronous lecture videos with a classmate or two (one of you can share your screen). Then you all can take note of any areas of confusion, and maybe go to online tutoring or office hours together.

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

  1. A comfortable desk/chair combination.
  2. A good graphics tablet/stylus setup. I use an inexpensive XP-Pen model.
  3. A working knowledge of how to use the basic Canvas tools effectively.

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