Preparing for Anything
I don’t think I would be alone in saying that preparing for the fall 2020 semester has been the most difficult challenge I’ve faced in my time as a faculty member. On top of the normal summer activities of making sure my courses were up-to-date with any financial reporting regulatory changes, there were new technologies and teaching methods to learn and consider.
“I appreciate the Bradley community for the hard work they’ve put in.”
It was a daunting task to design effective courses that could be taken in a hybrid format by some students and in a fully online format by others. It also needed to be flexible enough to switch seamlessly back and forth between hybrid and fully online as the situation on campus might demand.
I spent much of the summer focused on developing new skills and planning the structure of my courses. I attended the Fundamentals of Online Design (FOLD) course offered by the Learning Design and Technology department. This two-week course covered best practices in online course design and provided training on some of the available software tools to improve and promote interaction in online courses.
In addition, I completed a self-study course designed to help Bradley faculty learn how to use the new learning management software (LMS) adopted by the university. Finally, I took advantage of opportunities to exchange ideas with other Bradley faculty, including participating in faculty forums sponsored both by the Bradley Faculty Engagement Team and the Foster College of Business Research and Teaching Committee.
When designing my courses, I tried to maintain two types of engagement: engagement between myself and the students and engagement between the online and hybrid students. In order to increase interaction among the students, I designed a group project for each of my courses and set the groups so they contained a mix of online and hybrid students. I created a group landing page in the LMS where group members can communicate and collaborate.
Other techniques I’m using to maintain engagement include using video conference software to bring remote students into the classroom and to bring all students together periodically for a synchronous meeting. I also use it to hold office hours so I can have face-to-face conversations with any student in the course.
The technology allowed me to create two-part assignments where students answer the first part on a discussion board and help each other get to the correct answer. Then, they submit the second part individually to me so I can provide feedback. For another assignment, I ask students to record videos of themselves so their classmates can respond with feedback.
I know it has been a struggle for all Bradley students, faculty and staff to adjust to the nontraditional schedules, new technology and continued uncertainty. I can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate the Bradley community for the hard work they’ve put in, the overall willingness to be flexible, to have patience with each other and to support each other in this difficult situation.
Associate Professor, Accounting and MSA Academic Director