Introducing Notes from the Field: A Blog Series

About this Series

This summer over 230 faculty participated in our Summer T.H.R.I.V.E program to support their preparation for a fully virtual semester. The letters in T.H.R.I.V.E. stand for:

T – Teaching & Technology
H –  High-Touch & Human Centered
R – Revised & Reenergized
I – Interaction & Impact
V – Variability & Vulnerability
E – Equity, Empathy & Engagement

As a team, Teaching and Learning Innovations (T&LI), hoped this program would meet the needs of faculty preparing to meet the needs of students. Designing one online course is time intensive.  But three or four or five online courses all at once? When we talk about essential workers, we cannot overlook the heroic efforts of Educators, from preschool to post secondary, who have kept teaching so students can keep learning and progressing.

We are excited to highlight the tremendous effort, creativity, and innovative thinking we as Learning Designers are fortunate to witness when working with faculty partners.  Please follow us over the next four weeks as we feature faculty who have inspired us through their creative approaches and diligent efforts to design and facilitate virtual courses. Representing a broad range of disciplines, online teaching experiences, and course modalities, faculty authors will share insights and examples from their virtual courses.  

Each week presents a unique theme followed by blogs written by our Learning Designers and invited faculty contributors. The schedule is as follows:

  • Week 1: Sustaining Connections With and Between Students
  • Week 2: Equity in Action
  • Week 3: Course Design and Organization
  • Week 4: Assessment, Alignment & Feedback

Without further ado, we kick off this series with a post by Learning Designer, Quality Assurance Faculty Lead, and Full-time English Lecturer, Rachael Jordan. 

Sustaining Connections With and Between Students Banner

Week 1: Sustaining Connections With and Between Students

One focus of T.H.R.I.V.E. was supporting our students as learners and how building both instructor presence and social presence helps with student motivation, retention, and engagement in our courses. In our Foundations Labs, we looked at how to use discussion boards, announcements, “nudges”, and more to connect with our students. We discussed Learner Info Surveys and early check-ins. In our Synchronous and Asynchronous Micro-courses, we looked at other tools for creating engagement and connection, from VoiceThread, to Zoom breakout rooms, to

This week, “Notes from the Field” will focus on Sustaining Connections with and between students. Each day will highlight practices, activities, communication, and even course documents that build and support student connection in a virtual community. Consider how each faculty contributor paves the way for social presence through instructor presence that lays the groundwork for student-to-student interactions and student-to-teacher interactions. Ultimately, this blog aims to showcase examples of the various ways instructors are creating and maintaining these important connections with their students, especially when we are in a semester unlike any other.  

This Theme’s Featured Faculty:

  • Tuesday | Bonnie Lavin-Hughes (Performing Arts) shares her success with Flipgrid and student engagement
  • Thursday| Benny Ng (Chemistry) shares his humanized Welcome video and syllabus activity using
  • Friday| Monica Duran (Education) shares her success with Jamboard and student engagement
  • Friday| Mary Woo (ESRM) shares her success in building community online through streaming and active learning.

As always, I’m inspired by my fellow faculty members and hope that you can find inspiration, motivation, and concrete ideas through examples from fellow faculty. Teaching (and learning) are collaborative acts and we hope that seeing examples from various faculty from across disciplines will inspire you too.

If you have any questions or ideas to share, please feel free to comment on the blogs. If you haven’t already, add your email below to subscribe to the TLI Blog so you don’t miss a moment of this journey!

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