Join the Fall Conversation on Blended Learning!

Women's Building OSUWondering how to engage students in blended courses, now or in the future?

Academic Technology and CTL invite instructors and tenured/tenure-track faculty who teach Corvallis and Cascades campus courses to join a small, cross-disciplinary faculty cohort and explore blended learning and ed tech during Fall term. The group will have lively, interactive meetings twice a month via Zoom.

This is a great opportunity to learn from your peers as well as CTL and Academic Technology staff in a supportive environment. As Lyn Riverstone, one of the co-facilitators noted about a similar learning community she led last Spring, it “provided a comfortable place share, ask for ideas, complain, or whatever we needed” at a challenging time.

It’s no secret that upping your skills at teaching in a blended format will benefit your teaching and your students in remote and on-campus teaching modalities as well.

Professional development funding is provided! See the Call for Proposals.

Brief proposals (5 min.) are due Wed., Sep. 23. Space is limited; apply now.

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New Guides to Blended and Remote Teaching

OSU Memorial UnionJust in time for a Fall term in which most Corvallis and Cascades courses will be offered in either remote or blended formats, two new Center for Teaching and Learning tutorials walk you through the design and teaching of courses in these challenging modalities.

Successful Blended and Remote Course Design, Part One and Part Two, are eight-minute videos that provide evidence-based strategies, resources and tips for creating blended and remote courses that will foster student success in your Fall ’20 courses. These tutorials cover a range of topics such as deciding how to blend asynchronous and synchronous learning activities, aligning course elements with learning outcomes, using formative assessment and establishing instructor presence outside the physical classroom.

These tutorials reinforce the concepts introduced in Remote Teaching = A New Kind of Blended Learning and Remote Teaching = Blended Learning: Part 2

If you’re just getting around to building a Fall course site in Canvas, streamline your work by using the OSU Remote and Blended Teaching Canvas Template.

See the CTL website for a full array of resources and services to support your Fall teaching!


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Implementing and Assessing Collaborative Group Work

The term group work is most often associated with any form of learning activity where students work together. However, there are two approaches to group work. Cooperative learning is an instructional activity that involves students working together in ad hoc groups within a class period to achieve a learning goal (Major, 2015). Examples include the classic Think-Pair-Share, jigsaw, fishbowl and various in-class small group activities. In collaborative group work, students work together on a multifaceted project for an extended period of time. The task is too complex for one person to complete, so students work together in small groups to create new knowledge and by so doing contribute to each other’s learning.

The benefits of collaborative group work are well documented (Budhai, 2019; Freeman et al. 2014; Hodges, 2017). Yet, students and instructors tend to resist long-term group work. The resistance seems to hinge on a common conundrum. Students, especially the highly-motivated ones, are not happy about sharing a common grade with team members who may not pull their own weight in accomplishing the group task (Allan, 2016). Meanwhile, instructors are confronted with the question of how to grade group work equitably given the free riding problem (Anson & Goodman, 2014; Brooks & Ammons; Huang, 2018). This common concern is surmountable, and these two infographics show how.

In the first one, I provide a framework for planning and implementing a successful collaborative group work experience for students. Here, the structure of group work subsumes seven key components. Each component is illustrated with related workable strategies. The second infographic focuses on how to grade group work fairly and equitably using the principles of positive interdependence and individual accountability (Johnson, Johnson & Smith, 2014). In this format, the instructor uses a mechanism that includes a common grade and an individual score. The instructor assesses group product, but individual grade is predicated on confidential self and peer-evaluations of each member’s contributions to the project.

The goal of collaborative group work is not just to produce a product. Rather, the higher purpose is to inculcate in students pertinent teamwork, communication, leadership, problem solving and critical thinking skills which are highly regarded in the workplace. Therefore, constant monitoring and assessment of group process matter. Implementing and assessing collaborative group work may place planning, coordination and time costs on instructors and students, but the eventual benefit capital outweighs the costs.


Allan, E. G. (2016). “I hate group work!” Addressing students’ concerns about small-group learning. Insight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 11, 81-89.

Anson, R., & Goodman, A. J. (2014). A peer assessment system to improve student team experiences. Journal of Education for Business, 89, 27-34.

Brooks, C. M. & Ammons, J. L. (2010). Free riding in group projects and the effects of timing, frequency, and specificity of criteria in peer assessments. Journal of Education for Business, 78(5), 268-272.

Budhai, S. S. (2019). Designing effective team projects in online courses.

Freeman, S., Eddy, S. L., McDonough, M., Smith, M. K., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., &Wenderoth, M. P. (2014). Active learning increases student performance in science, engineering, and mathematics. Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America, 111(23), 8410–8415.

Huang, L. (2018). Students riding on the coattails during group work? Five simple ideas to try.

Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Smith, K. A. (2014). Cooperative learning: Improving university instruction by basing practice on validated theory. Journal of Excellence in College Teaching, 25(3&4), 85-118.

Major, C. (2015). Choosing the best approach for small group work

Funmi Amobi is an instructional consultant in the Center for Teaching and Learning. She provides pedagogical support to faculty through 1:1 consultations, mini workshops (Sparkshops) on teaching-related topics, dissemination of infographics on evidence-based instructional practices and co-facilitation of faculty learning communities.

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CTL is excited to announce our fully remote New2OSU program!

New2OSU impacts student success by accelerating the effectiveness of those who are newer to teaching and/or OSU. Completion of the program may be used as evidence of professional development and teaching effectiveness. Participants are asked to commit to a three-term intensive program requiring (on average) 3 hours per week.

New2OSU has recently been overhauled to offer you a fully remote, gamified experience including microcredentials (digital Badges) through Badgr. By exemplifying the strategies we teach and offering customizable learning pathways, New2OSU can support you no matter where you are located or what modality you’re teaching in.

By the end of the program participants will have developed the knowledge and skills necessary to build supportive, inclusive, interactive, and instructionally sound learning environments. Through readings, videos, workshops, mentoring, teaching observations, discussions, reflection, and challenging learning tasks, participants learn about and demonstrate effective teaching practices.

CTL only accepts 20 applicants per term on a first-come, first-serve basis. As we reach capacity, we will be happy to reserve your name on our waitlist for our Winter cohort. New2OSU launches this fall on Monday, September 21 with the start of Week Zero.

Spots fill up quickly. REGISTER NOW!

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Extended Deadline: Apply by Sep. 15 for Blended Learning Community

fernsSummer is slipping away, but there’s still time to apply for the Fall ’20 Blended Faculty Learning Community.

You’re invited to join this faculty learning community to explore educational technology and blended learning. Academic Technology and CTL invite all instructors and tenured/tenure-track faculty who teach credit-based Corvallis and Cascades campus courses to apply.

Instructors with limited comfort or experience using blended teaching approaches or ed tech are particularly encouraged to apply.

Professional development funding is provided. Space is limited, so see the Call for Proposals for the streamlined proposal process and apply now!

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A Framework for Engaging Students in Synchronous Class Sessions: Interactive Lecture

A Framework for Engaging Students in Synchronous Class Sessions: Interactive Lecture

There is a plethora of strategies and activities for engaging students in the remote learning modality (Amobi 2020, Chick, Friberg & Bessette 2020; Martin & Bollinger, 2018). In a national survey of faculty during the spring COVID-19 pivot, 63% of participants identified student engagement as a major challenge in the transition to remote teaching. In addition, 74% of the same population affirmed that student engagement would be a major instructional priority in fall 2020. How will faculty deliver on this important pedagogical goal? Here is an example.

In this infographic, I present a comprehensive model for planning and implementing a synchronous class session instead of just focusing on engagement activities per se. Interactive lecture is a framework for teaching that combines engaging, focused presentations with active learning activities to promote student learning (Major, 2018; Milner, Kotlicki & Andrzej 2007). It has been used to great advantage in in-person classes, and is applicable to engaging students in synchronous class sessions on Zoom as well.

The framework is organized around three major components that should be included in class planning: Pre-planning, Process, and Close.

Pre-planning focuses on the need to develop the mindset and a workable action plan for making the classroom an inclusive learning environment for all students. It also emphasizes the importance of articulating the purpose of the learning before class begins. Students will be different in the fall. Given the times of trauma and upheaval that we are living through, it is more urgent than ever for instructors to elucidate the purpose and rationale of the learning material.

Process represents the body of the synchronous session. It begins with an emphasis on establishing instructor-learner interaction with students as soon as they begin to log in to the class. Gooblar (2020) reiterates the need to establish mutual trust with students. In other words, make the classroom an inviting and a safe place for students as they are arriving in class. Once class begins, focus of capturing students’ attention and centering it on the learning.

Next, build on the strong beginning with a clear, focused presentation of a chunk of content. A ballistic continuous exposition delivery method will only sap out the engagement momentum (Bruff, 2019). Interactive lecturing exemplifies agile teaching where brief chunks of content are interspersed with engagement activities that involve students in applying what they have learned. Student engagement is not an exclusively instructor initiates-student responds-instructor evaluates (IRE) form of interaction. Rather, it is a three-way approach that encompasses instructor-student, student-student and student-content interaction. This is the essence of real interactive lecturing.

Close indicates that a powerful teaching process calls for a purposeful wrap. The momentum that has been generated during process will be lost if the class ends abruptly or if the last few minutes are taken up with housekeeping announcements. Therefore, it is important to debrief the session with a closing bookend to consolidate student learning. This way, the closing bookend of one class becomes the bridge to the opening bookend of the next class.


Amobi, F. (2020). Four Strategies for Facilitating Group Activities in Remote and Hybrid/Blended Classes.

Bruff, D. (2019). Intentional tech: Principles to guide educational technology in college teaching. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press.

Chick, N., Friberg, J., & Bessette, L.S. (2020). What the research tells us about higher education’s temporary shift to remote teaching: What the public needs to know, from the SoTL community.

Gooblar, D. (2020). Your students will be different this fall.

Major, C. H. (2018). Engaging students through interactive lecturing. NEA Higher Education Advocate, 36(5), 6-9.

Martin, F., & Bolliger, D. U. (2018). Engagement matters: Student perceptions on the importance of engagement strategies in the online learning environment. Online Learning Journal, 22(1), 205-222.

Milner, B., Kotlicki, M., & Andrzej, R. G. (2007). Can students learn from lecture demonstrations? The role and place of interactive lecture experiments in large introductory biology courses. Journal of College Science Teaching, 36(4), 45-49.

Funmi Amobi is an instructional consultant in the Center for Teaching and Learning. She provides pedagogical support to faculty through 1:1 consultations, mini workshops (Sparkshops) on teaching-related topics, dissemination of infographics on evidence-based instructional practices and co-facilitation of faculty learning communities.

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RAP ON: A Crisis Preparedness Kit for Educators

About the author: Sydney Tran is a Health Psychology PhD student studying the effects of objectification on women’s well-being. She is passionate about equity, diversity, and inclusivity in improving mental health and well-being. This is part of our series of Research Advancing Pedagogy (RAPblogs, designed to share the latest pedagogical research from across the disciplines in a pragmatic format.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) provide individuals with new means of distributing and receiving content. The growing number of ICTs has been particularly popular in higher education institutions as instructors enhance students’ learning experience through the use of ICTs. A recent pedagogical trend has been to replace traditional face-to-face (F2F) learning strategies with “blended learning”, blending F2F learning with web-based activities (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004; Lopez-Perez, Perez-Lopez, & Rodriguez-Ariza, 2010). As ICT advancement continues and gains popularity in its relation to blended learning and e-learning, many researchers are reporting best practices for optimizing the use of ICTs in student learning (Azizan, 2010; Garrison & Kanuka, 2004; Qu, Wang, Liu, & Zhang, 2008). However, much of the current literature focuses on the long-term, systematic development of pedagogical tools and considerations associated with using ICTs for blended and online learning. Research on the implementation of blended learning and switch to online learning in times of emergencies and crises are sparse, and this becomes an issue when institutions, instructors, and students are ill- prepared when an emergency strikes (Mackey, Gilmore, Dabner, Breeze, & Buckley, 2012).

What did they do?

In 2010, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the Canterbury region of New Zealand and was followed by several large aftershocks throughout 2011. While no buildings collapsed and no serious injuries occurred on the University of Canterbury (UC) campus, the university was forced to close for several weeks. Many buildings were closed temporarily for reconstructions, while others were closed indefinitely. During this time, faculty members collaborated to revise and redesign current teaching methodologies to adapt F2F courses to be conducted online. In a time of uncertainty and panic, five educators from the UC gathered and employed a quick- response research (QRR) method to discuss, record, and reflect on their experiences as they were redesigning their teaching strategies. Quick-response research may be most useful in times of emergencies or crises because it focuses on “understanding the meaning of exceptional events or daily events in exceptional circumstances from the perspectives of those being studied” (Michaels, 2003). In the case of the Canterbury earthquake, implementation of the QRR method allowed the educators to actively record their experiences as the post-earthquake environment continued to change. A thematic analysis was then conducted to understand the common themes of the educators’ concerns and experiences.

What did they find?

The thematic analysis of the educators’ accounts indicated four common themes: communication, learning design, community, and teaching and learning spaces associated with four distinct phases of response. Phase 1 spanned three weeks, during which the university was closed, and was characterized by a preparation for the recommencement of teaching. During this phase, educators first experienced an initial reaction to the emergency situation and underwent a recovery process before beginning the process of redesigning the teaching and learning space.

Communication was the top priority and greatest challenge throughout this phase because although the university did not experience any infrastructural damage, major city damages left many staff and students without power (limiting telephone and Internet access). Phase 2 was said to last about one month and was characterized by the recommencement of teaching. Some educators launched courses to be completely online and others implemented blended learning by assigning web-based activities to complement on-campus F2F sessions in tents. Given the overwhelming post-earthquake circumstances, educators were met with the challenge of creating an environment conducive to learning, while being mindful of the diverse fears and experiences of the students. Phase 3 was characterized by continued adaptations and redesigns during times of greater uncertainty. The Canterbury region continued to experience large aftershocks throughout 2011 that further damaged some city infrastructures and led many students and their families to leave town. During this phase, the campus had reopened and many courses began F2F sessions again. To accommodate the diversity of circumstances each student was facing, the university did not mandate attendance, and instead, encouraged students to “manage their own blend of learning experiences by opting into campus or online classes depending on their circumstances and irrespective of their official course enrollment status” (Mackey et al., 2012).

Phase 4 of response to this particular emergency situation is characterized by a review and reflection of the experience of redesigning a course in a condensed time-frame. The authors describe this final stage to be on-going, in which faculty and staff interact with other institutions, organizations, and colleagues to collaboratively develop a resilient teaching program that is well- prepared for any future unplanned interruptions.

What does this mean for us?

 While the emergency situations are non-identical, the instructional challenges that many educators have faced and continue to face amid the current COVID-19 pandemic parallel those encountered by the educators of the UC, namely: the need to juggle several roles (e.g., parent, sibling, instructor, etc.), the inability to access office and teaching resources, establishing and/or maintaining supportive relationships with others, all while being mindful of students’ diverse needs and circumstances in relation to the emergency situation. In reflecting on the educational obstacles associated with the Canterbury earthquake, instructors at the UC found that willingness to collaboratively address the challenges and document the teaching changes made the institution, as a whole (i.e., instructors, staff, and students), more resilient to future academic adversity in times of crises.

Mackey et al. (2012) concluded their paper by highlighting several key questions to consider when preparing instructors and students for a switch to blended or remote learning in an emergency or crisis. These questions, complemented with the personal accounts of how UC educators addressed them, should be taken into consideration as department and institution heads address their own academic program challenges associated with the pandemic. In doing so, institutions will ensure that its educators are well-equipped to triage future academic interruptions.


Azizan, F. A. (2010). Blended learning in higher education institution in Malaysia. Proceedings of Regional Conference on Knowledge Integration in ICT. (Vol. 10, pp. 454-466).

Garrison, D. R. & Kanuka, H. (2004). Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. Internet and Higher Education, 7(2), 95-105. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2004.02.001

Lopez-Perez, M. V., Perez-Lopez, M. C., & Rodriguez-Ariza, L. (2011). Blended learning in higher education: Students’ perceptions and their relation to outcomes. Computers & Education, 56(3), 818-826. doi:10.1016/j.compedu2010.10.023

Mackey, J., Gilmore, F., Dabner, N., Breeze, D., & Buckley, P. (2012). Blended learning for academic resilience in times of disaster or crisis. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 8(2), 35-48.

Qu, Y., Wang, C., Liu, F., & Zhang, X. (2008). Blended learning applying in university education. In International Conference on Hybrid Learning, Hong Kong.

I am a Health Psychology PhD student studying the effects of sexualization on women’s well-being. I am passionate about equity, diversity, and inclusivity in improving mental health and well-being.


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Engaging Undergraduate Students with Research

Each year, many new and returning OSU undergraduates look forward to engaging in forms of experiential learning beyond the classroom. Engaging undergraduates in research, for example, is central to OSU’s Strategic Plan 4.0, and has been shown to lead to a wide range of personal and professional gains for those who participate (Kuh, 2008; National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2015). However, remote teaching and learning makes it difficult for students to secure important connections with faculty engaging in research outside of class time.

While some feel that the quality and availability of undergraduate research experiences is threatened by the transition to remote teaching and learning during the global pandemic, we are seeing inspiring cases across campus where faculty mentors are continuing to provide students with high-impact research experiences. Click here for a collection of strategies OSU mentors are currently using to keep their undergraduates engaged in research while working remotely. It is our hope, by providing a list of examples, other faculty will be inspired to continue engaging their students in research projects, where possible, during this challenging time. This is a live document – feel free to contribute!

CTL and the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, & the Arts (Office of URSA) are committed to supporting faculty who are willing to continue engaging undergraduates in research remotely. To this end, we have launched the Research for Undergraduates Network (RUN), which is intended to be a space for undergraduate research mentors (faculty, graduate students, & post-docs), and those who facilitate undergraduate research programs at OSU, to collaborate and share promising practices. In addition to the programming offered through RUN during the 2020-2021 academic year, the Office of URSA has a new page devoted to resources for undergraduate research mentors, including a sample mentoring agreement, a list of publications with undergraduate authors, guidelines for how to hire a student receiving Federal Work Study funds, and a description of our new Undergraduate Research Mentoring Awards.

If you are wondering how to get involved as an undergraduate research mentor this coming year, consider submitting a summary to participate in the 2020-2021 URSA Engage Program (those with all types of faculty appointments are eligible to serve as mentors, including professional faculty). Below are the five major steps involved in selection for the URSA Engage Program.  

  1. Faculty submit a mentor summary form by October 19, 2020 (you will be asked to outline a remote contingency plan).
  2. The opportunities submitted by faculty will be posted on our website for students to view on October 23rd.
  3. Students will read through mentor summaries and reach out to faculty mentors they are interested in working with. Students and faculty will then discuss shared interests and whether they want to work together on a project.
  4. Faculty will ultimately decide which student(s) they will allow to move forward with an application to the URSA Engage Program (i.e. students cannot apply until they have a mentor secured).
  5. Students who have secured a mentor will then apply to the URSA Engage Program. Student applications will be evaluated by the Office of URSA.

As educators, we must think creatively about how to ensure students are still able to benefit from participation in undergraduate research, despite how different these experiences may look. If you have any questions or want to brainstorm ways to make your research accessible to students remotely, we are here to help.


Author Bio: Dr. Sophie Pierszalowski is the Associate Director for Undergraduate Research at OSU and oversees OSU’s Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and the Arts (Office of URSA). Sophie is a researcher and practitioner committed to developing and delivering equity-minded undergraduate research programs and resources that are accessible to students across all disciplines and demographics.


Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges and Universities.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2015). Integrating Discover-Based Research into the Undergraduate Curriculum: Report of a Convocation. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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Getting Ready for FALL 2020

With August waning, Fall classes loom on the horizon. While many teaching faculty and students bemoan the absence of face to face learning opportunities this Fall, it is reassuring to know for sure what modality classes will be conducted in. It is a lot easier to plan an entire term when you do not have to worry about switching from one format to another. We have also learned a lot from remote delivery efforts in the Spring (see a list of problems and solutions here).

The OSU Keep Teaching Team, featuring the efforts of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Academic Technology, and Ecampus, have a suite of useful aids to help course preparation. Here is your quick guide to what is at your disposal:

Get CCOMFE: Remote teaching involves many curve balls. It is more important than ever to design courses to build community, and increase engagement. OSU’s guiding principles for Fall align with our pedagogical prescriptions to be CCOMFE, Compassionate, Clear, Organized, Multi-faceted, Flexible, and Engaging.  Feel like a pedagogical booster shot to get you ready?  Take this.

Start Here: Explore the self-paced Designing and Teaching an Effective Remote/Blended Course Canvas workshop site. This is the primary way to access many resources (this site will feature in college workshops).

Want content for your Syllabus? See the “Communicating with Students Before Classes Even Begin” and sample syllabus linked in Organizing and Writing Your Syllabus.

Consider contacting your students NOW: Students are wary about Fall, help them out. Two sample letters for your modification are available here Sample Student Letter – On-Campus, and here Remote.

Key Tips

All the best for a great Fall!!

Regan A. R. Gurung, Ph.D.
Interim Executive Director
Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)


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Supporting Your Fall Term Students

Waldo Hall at OSUTimes of transition and change can be overwhelming. We know the entire OSU community is experiencing some form of change right now, and that students in particular may be feeling overwhelmed as they anticipate fall term. We also know that students trust the advice and resources they hear about from you. This puts you in a unique position to support students throughout the term. As you prepare for fall, I’d like to highlight one way you can clarify the availability of resources to students in your courses.

One starting point is integrating the “Where Do I Go for Help?” page into your Canvas course site as a module page.* This page emphasizes a range of support for students—including support for technology, accommodations, academics, and COVID updates—and provides direct links to resources. While not a comprehensive list, the page provides key connection points to reduce the burden of identifying and navigating to resources, and to help students reach out. Including this page on your Canvas course site provides a great opportunity to normalize and encourage resource use.

Beyond this “Where Do I Go for Help?” page, if you want to support a student but are unsure of available resources or don’t have time to talk through resources with students in the moment, you can always connect students with the Academic Success Center. We’ll help students locate and connect with resources across the university. Students can visit our website to connect with us via email, phone, Zoom, or live chat (coming in September).  Thank you for partnering with us to connect students to information and resources to support their fall learning.

*Directions (2-min. process): To import “Where Do I Go for Help?” into a Canvas course site, go to the homepage of any of your Canvas courses, and click on Import from Commons at the right or bottom of the window. Now you’re on Canvas Commons, where you can search for “Where Do I Go for Help?” and select the “Oregon State – Where Do I Go for Help?” card. Then click on the blue Import/Download button on the right and choose the course into which you would like to add the page. Click on the blue Import into Course button down at the bottom of the page. Voila! Now you can add this page to a module in the course, either to your first module (e.g., “Getting Started”) or in a resources section you have created.

Please note that the “Where Do I Go for Help?” page is also part of the OSU Remote and Blended Teaching Canvas Template. If you’ve imported this template into your Canvas course, then you already have the page in your Start Here module.

Clare Creighton is Director of the OSU Academic Success Center.

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