Teaching during times of potential disruption may require flexible thinking about how instructors can support students in achieving a course’s core learning objectives. Be patient and consider switching tactics if something isn’t working. While you might not be able to teach something exactly as you may have imagined, you can get better results and save time by keeping a few core principles in focus:
1. Identify what is MOST important for students to learn to successfully complete your course. What are the 1-2 core outcomes of your course that you most want students to be able to accomplish by the end of the semester? Which assessments are key measures of those 1-2 outcomes? Organize your teaching around the achievement of those top outcomes, and put all else aside.
2. Foster predictability. Keeping a clear pattern to how you will facilitate course sessions and engagement with students will reduce confusion. Even if specific class sessions need to be reduced in frequency, maintain a pattern of when students can expect to engage with you and with each other.
3. Maintain the same tools and approaches to communicating and convening with students (when possible). Consistency is key. Do not try to introduce teaching approaches or tools that are unfamiliar to you or your students.
4. Explain what support for students will look like (e.g., in office hours, via e-mail). Be very clear with students about what support for their learning will look like in all possible venues where instructional interaction typically takes place (in person and online). Students may feel confused and uncertain about how they can get help, so the clearer your instructions are, the more certainty students will have about how to succeed in the class for the remainder of the term.
5. Find the most up-to-date guidance on resources for supporting instructional continuity on the Keep Teaching webpage. On this page, you’ll find links to a number of valuable resources on getting support quickly and easily. You can always send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org or request bCourses help by emailing email@example.com.
Communicate Plans Frequently and with Familiar Tools
- Provide a plan for course communications and communicate with students via official and familiar university channels. When you are making an announcement or need to communicate with the entire class, consider using:
- Berkeley email (i.e., bMail)
- bCourses announcements or “Inbox” email
- Ed Discussions
Remind students that you will be the primary point of communication if GSIs are unavailable.
- Encourage students to ask you questions using Ed Discussions, email, or bCourses Discussion Forums. Think about which of these tools will work best for you in managing an influx of communications, and publicize that to students as the preferred mode of communication.
- Consider hosting Zoom-based group office hours so that multiple students can attend without worrying about space.
- If you host multiple office hours, consider creating themes for some of the hours (e.g., how to organize a paper, solve difficult problems for exams, review a complex topic).
- Consider asking students to use standardized email subject lines to reach you. If you are teaching high-enrollment classes, request that if students reach out to you with a question that they consider using a template so that you can easily identify their messages and group them together to write a single reply to all who have the same question. An example of a standardized email subject line is:
- COURSE NAME/NUMBER - QUESTION ABOUT <topic, something="" happening="" in="" class,="" administrative="" issue="">. If you do this, provide students with categories for the subject lines.
Make Course Materials Easily Available
- Post lecture notes in bCourses. That way, students can review content independently or use them to complete assignments.
- Record lecture-based class sessions and post to bCourses. Options for recording lectures that make it easy to post to bCourses include Course Capture (must be in a capable room),Zoom, or Kaltura recording tools (Kaltura Capture desktop recording app or Express Capture web recording app). Berkeley IT has support resources on understanding recording and storage options for Zoom meetings and webinars (link is external), and sharing Zoom recordings in bCourses using Kaltura(link is external). If you would like to learn more about some practices for pre-recording lecture-based content to make it available asynchronously, check out the Remote Instruction Guide's module on Creating Audio and Video Instructional Materials.
Be Transparent about Grading Expectations
- If homework grading will be delayed, post sample solutions or annotated examples of exemplary work, along with a short description or short video of “common successes and pitfalls” that you can glean from quickly scanning students’ homework.
- Consider alternative approaches to assessing attendance in meetings/sessions. If part of students’ grades depends on meetings, sessions, or labs that you don’t lead, try to establish alternative ways for students to earn that portion of their grade and communicate that plan to students. If you need to make any adjustments in bCourses Assignments or Grades to reflect these changes, check out the guide on Getting Started with bCourses: Assignments & Grading (link is external)and Best Practices for Adding, Editing, and Grading Assignments(link is external)
- When possible, post grades and grade progress to bCourses. Being transparent about how students are progressing through the course will be a stress relief when possible. When it's ready to submit grades, see Berkeley IT's guide on how to export grades from bCourses to E-Grades in CalCentral.
Maintain Student Engagement and Collaboration
- Create a structured online discussion (by section groups, if appropriate). Consider creating an online space for students to interact asynchronously (e.g., via online discussions in Ed Discussions).
- Consider creating forums or chat threads for different categories of questions (e.g., administrative questions, concepts from the week, grading). You can use bCourses Discussions or Ed Discussions to create forums that all students in your class can access.
- Annotate a reading together asynchronously. Ask a section or group of students to comment on a particular text in Google Docs. Be sure to check the “sharing” settings before you share the link to the Document to ensure that students can comment on the document.
- Create a self-grading online quiz allowing multiple attempts and provide information about where students can find relevant information
- Check out the Digital Learning Services team’s page on setting up Quizzes on bCourses.
- Explore more options for designing effective assessments and engaging students with active learning in the CTL’s Course Design Guide.
Hold Review Sessions
- Create a way for students to submit questions about exams and organize questions/responses thematically using tools that are familiar to you and your students.
- Encourage students to use or choose from common categories of questions (i.e., the “big ideas” that you have defined from guiding principle #1) so that you can sort questions into groups as you put together responses.
- Consider different formats for hosting “review sessions” that provide all students with access: create an FAQ, video response, reply to discussion forum questions, live review session on Zoom and record/share. Please avoid hosting review sessions that will not be accessible to all students (e.g., review sessions during any time other than the scheduled class times, unless the session is recorded and shared).
Manage Final Assessments (Tests, Papers, Projects, Etc.)
- Explore options for final assessments beyond high-stakes exams. The CTL has advice on a variety of approaches to final assessments.
- Consider any modifications to final assessments in alignment with your course learning outcomes. You may decide to alter the scope of your final assessments. Be sure to make any alterations in alignment with your course outcomes; if students can achieve roughly the same outcomes with a multiple choice exam instead of a short answer exam, that is a reasonable modification. If students can achieve your course outcomes by writing a term paper outline instead of a full term paper, that is another example of a reasonable modification.
- Communicate any changes to the final exam, project, or term paper format. If you are changing the format of an exam from short answer to multiple choice, let students know and provide them with examples of the modified assessment as soon as possible. For an exam, this could mean providing sample exam questions. For an essay outline, this could mean providing an outline template or example. One-time changes to final assessments can be approved by the department chair (without requiring approval by the Committee on Courses and Instruction (COCI)). The Office of the Registrar should be notified of final exam format changes.
- Implement scalable strategies for providing students feedback. Try setting up automated feedback in an online quiz, creating a short video that highlights common successes and challenges of student work, or creating a short audio memo that provides students feedback in response to common student questions.
- Use rubrics to communicate clear grading expectations. A rubric can be used to provide standardized feedback on student work and give students clarity on how they’re being evaluated. See the CTL’s guide on writing an effective rubric.
FAQs: Potential Graduate Student Strike, 2022
Q: What should I do to ensure that students have access to portions of a course to which GSIs contribute, such as discussion sections?
A: The key principle here is that all students should have the same access to course materials. Faculty can, for instance, record materials that might be covered in section and share this recording via bCourses. Faculty can also create focused synchronous online discussions for students focusing on particular questions, problems, or areas of exam preparation.
Q: If some GSIs want to work and others do not, can I reallocate work to the available GSIs?
A: Potentially, within limits. GSI duties are outlined in the work agreements completed and signed by departments/faculty and GSIs at the beginning of the quarter. Duties must fall within the established work agreements. Faculty must also be cognizant of the number of hours of the GSI appointment and cannot assign work that would exceed the appointment hours. Faculty must also honor GSIs’ right to strike and cannot be perceived as exerting pressure on GSIs.