I have been reflecting on the types of students we have in our classrooms this term, especially as it relates to their level of “comfort” with technology as their primary tool for learning. “Comfort” is a tricky word in this context. For most of us as instructors, we learned in an environment completely or mostly devoid of technology as we know it today. In middle school, the first PET computer I learned on required me to insert a cassette tape and wait up to an eternity for the program to load. Then came the first Apple computer, dot matrix printers, and the rest is history.

The difference between “then” and “now” is pretty obvious when it comes to technology. Think about the difference though, between Gen Z students and millennial students. The last birth year for millennials is 1996, with Gen Z-ers born in 1997 and beyond. (I’ve heard that those born today may be called “Gen C.” I can’t even imagine what life will be like for them yet). Continue reading

The last three weeks have been…interesting. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we would be where we are, but nonetheless, here we are. My inbox has been flooded with questions from students, questions from faculty, strategies from teaching organizations and our Center for Teaching and Learning, IT, OSU-Cascades’ Leadership, and the Provost’s office. My head has mostly been spinning trying to reconcile all of these “tips and best practices” with actually delivering an individual lecture to my students in a way that will keep them engaged and learning. The implementation of the strategies is what ultimately matters the most.

At this point in our collective “learning how to do this,” I would like to provide a platform for us to share with each other what we are doing as an OSU-Cascades faculty, to engage with and teach our students. Please share freely what you have learned during this past week of content delivery that might help someone else. What did you plan or try that bombed and what has been successful so far? What will you change and how will you do it better? What are you planning to do that you would like some feedback on?

Please share anything from a technology tip to a paradigm shift. You can click “reply” and post to the blog page, OR you can email me directly and I will compile a list this week. I will share our collective thoughts via email or something else internal for those who don’t want their comments publicly viewable. If you have a document to share I will post it to Box for the group to access. Let’s hear it!

As someone who has spent the last two weeks trying to figure out how I would retain quality and meaningful experiences in a very hands-on lab class, I thought I would share a few thoughts about how to take on Spring term 2020.

  1. Our students are looking to us for leadership. The best message that we can send is that we’re all in this together, we’ve got their back, we’re all trying to figure it out, and everything won’t be perfect but we promise to do the very best job that we can.
  2. Keep the lines of communication open with your students. Make sure now more than ever, that you are available to help them. This includes frequent Canvas Announcements and making sure your email address and phone number are easy to find. I have a Module in Canvas that displays my Zoom office hours link and contact info.
  3. Focus on the long-term goals of your class. More than ever, keep “the end in mind” in every lecture, assignment, and assessment. Involve your students by explaining your long-term goals, what you’re changing and why what you are focusing on is so important…and this applies very much to the next one…
  4. Remember that LESS IS MORE. Depth over breadth could not be more important than it is now. Less reading, less content, and more focus on connections, reflection, and application will keep your students engaged and progressing in your class.
  5. Give yourself a break and stay humble. This situation is far from ideal, we have not had an entire summer to plan for this, and most of us have never taught this way before. You may have an assignment that fails, technology may fall apart, and students may get frustrated. Prepare to be flexible. Be kind and gracious to yourself and to your students. We’re in this together and growth, while difficult, is always a good thing.

Your Dean’s Team is here for you and Corvallis (learn@oregonstate.edu) has stepped up their efforts to support you and our students. Reach out and lean on us and each other. We will come through this stronger and more united than ever!

We are fortunate at OSU to have a robust Center for Teaching and Learning with skilled support staff to help us prepare our courses for delivery in multiple modalities. If you have not yet explored some of these options, please do this NOW in preparation for Spring term so that you’re ready to launch your class in a revised format if needed:

For a FULL list of ideas and resources, please visit: https://learn.oregonstate.edu/keep-teaching. Continue reading

In several of my classes I have students complete projects of some kind. My WIC class requires a research paper and other faculty in my program have students write large research papers as well, so I try to spice up my “project” options whenever I can. I have found that students are more invested in their final product when they are allowed some choice and creative license around what that final product looks like.

In my aging class, I assigned a final project where groups of students were asked to demonstrate their knowledge about how to work with older adults with various physical limitations. I gave them several prompts indicating what their final project must contain (exercise instruction with and without modification, progression, special considerations for the particular limitation, etc.) but allowed them to demonstrate that knowledge in a paper, Powerpoint presentation, video, podcast, or in any other format that I approved ahead of time. Continue reading