No one really knows what is to come for Fall 2020. Will social distancing work on campus? Will courses have to go fully online again? What we do know is that we need to be ready for anything. It’s exhausting to think about. The mid-semester shift to fully online courses in Spring was disorienting and extremely stressful for faculty, staff and students. Not only with the shift in teaching and learning but with home life, possible loss of employment and fear of illness. There was no time for redesigning courses. We lacked staffing and adequate tools to assist, deadlines changed and synchronous web meetings were technically challenged by bandwidth and family obligations. With many bumps and bruises, we made it through to the end of the academic year. As we decompress over the summer, anxiety still lingers. What’s next?
Due to the pandemic, the university was able to acquire some helpful tools to assist with online course development. Honorlock for exam proctoring, Tier 1 Canvas support for 24/7 technical support and Panopto for secure video development, storage and sharing. Learning and implementing these tools with limited time was extremely challenging. The ID Team continues to develop use of these new tools and to investigate other online solutions that can best assist in online learning. And we will continue to offer training throughout the summer. But educational technology can only assist in supporting faculty in online pedagogy. Faculty will need to redevelop methods of communication, engagement and assessment that maintains equivalency in academic rigor between online and in-class environments without fully knowing how students will respond.
A flexible solution that is getting a lot of attention lately is the HyFlex model, developed by Dr. Brian Beatty (2010) at San Francisco State University. HyFlex is a hybrid format for a face-to-face course that allows students to participate in-class or online. Unlike a traditional hybrid course where activities are split between specific in-class and online sessions, HyFlex courses combine course activities to work simultaneously, so students can choose their learning environment throughout the semester. Developing content that transfers between the two learning environments with the same pacing and outcomes seems daunting. Though, there is an expectation that all courses at La Salle be prepared to shift to online within 24 hours. And there will be limitations on in-class spacing and interaction. Creating a fully online course AND a face-to-face course is a lot to process with mixed levels of digital experience and the pressure of an earlier semester start date. There is no definitive solution that works for every instructor or subject. Solutions such as, flipped classroom activities, online labs, or digital textbook resources, take time to implement. But there is a necessity for dynamic online components that give students the choice of attending online and in-person synchronously or online asynchronously.
To assist faculty in reworking their courses, an online template has been imported to all Fall courses as a framework to guide faculty in creating an online component to their face-to-face courses. Navigation is set up in weekly modules to allow students to have a consistent user experience between courses, so there is no question of how to find resources and assignments. University policies and support information are already in place. And Zoom and Panopto are accessible through the course menu. The ID Team is offering recurring two-week training sessions in “Designing a Flexible Course,” for a quick introduction to building a flexible course in Canvas. We are also offering a facilitated version of “Growing with Canvas” which is split into two weeks of introductory use of Canvas and two weeks of more advanced tools. See the Canvas Dashboard for registration information. These training courses coincide with online pedagogy presentations being offered by DLSI. For one-on-one support, make an appointment with the ID Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.