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Apr 08
Academic Integrity in Alternative Delivery

Does the move to alternative delivery have you concerned about student cheating?

Lisa Vogt.jpgRRC's Lisa Vogt, EAL Specialist with the Academic Success Centre, has been digging into this topic: “Leading academic integrity research shows that online delivery is low on the list of factors that contribute to academic misconduct."

That's a relief. Nonetheless, as Instructors we have an important role to play in creating a culture of integrity in our courses.

What can we do? Here are a few examples:

  • Talk about when it is ok to collaborate with peers and when it is not.
  • Teach the citation skills you want students to use.
  • Continue to create personal connections with your students and check in on them to be aware of their progress through the assignment you've set.
  • Model the standards of academic integrity by citing your own sources in your teaching materials.


A big piece for instructors is also well-designed assessments. Yesterday in Faculty Fridays, we learned some summative assessment ideas for alternative delivery. We also unpacked it further during FF@4 – our Tuesday and Thursday check in for faculty over WebEx. Here are best practices for summative assessments while also building a culture of academic integrity:

  • Create fair assessments that reflect what is being taught in the course.
  • Make assessments meaningful and authentic.
  • Offer choice and control where possible.
  • Avoid un-proctored multiple-choice exams, which allow students to cheat easily.
  • Avoid pre-published test banks or re-using previous assignments. The answers are out there online, easily searchable to educational institution, course and instructor name.
  • Consider allowing open notes during your assessment, with students citing where the information comes from.
  • Ask students how they know, rather than what they know. In other words, ask students to describe their learning.
  • Ask for self-reflection to bring awareness to how learning is happening.


Lisa aded this important takeaway: “Most of these recommendations are just as valid under normal circumstances as they are in alternative delivery. Instructors have more control than they may realize. By demonstrating their own integrity, maintaining connections with students, being flexible in stressful times, and possibly cutting back the breadth and focusing on depth, instructors can create a culture where academic integrity can survive. The area that is very particular to these circumstances is allowing students the opportunity to collaborate with people or reference materials in ways that they may not have been allowed before – if they cite where the information comes from."

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What are you doing to build a culture of academic integrity in your courses?

Apr 07
Revising Summative Assessments

Eric Swanson 2.jpgLast week Dr. Christine Watson interviewed Carpentry Instructor Eric Swanson via Webex. Eric mentioned a unique way he and his colleagues have revised their summative assessment plans.

We followed up with Eric to learn more.

Currently Eric's students are learning to install and waterproof a window/door. While the students can't demonstrate the skill, they have found another assessment structure.

Instead, the students have been asked to create an “installation manual" explaining all the steps and code requirements to install and waterproof a window/door.

Eric acknowledges, “The students lack the physical handling of the components, but we've never paused to confirm understanding of procedures to this extent before. We're confident our students are still positioned for success as future carpenters."

Further summative assessment changes include using the Quiz function in LEARN to administer tests. Eric noted that they chose to create new questions so they did not compromise existing assessments for future use. Recognizing that the quizzes are now “open book" they have adjusted the wording to ensure there is more emphasis on application verus recall.

“This is another way we are making up for the lack of skills demonstration at this time," added Eric. 

How have you revised summative assessments in alternative delivery? Further, stay tuned for tomorrow's Faculty Fridays post where will take a look at this topic from another angle - creating a culture of academic integrity during alternative delivery.

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FF@4

FF@4 is an opportunity for faculty to check in face to face with each other via Webex. Join us each Tuesday and Thursday at 4:00PM. Just like Faculty Fridays, FF@4 is voluntary. Simply join the conversation on days that are convenient for you, and when you are interested in the topics.

Today's FF@4 is brainstorming about creative ways to revise summative assessment. Here is the link to join the conversation!

Apr 06
Best Practices for Communicating with Students

It's been a few weeks now that we've been teaching in alternative delivery mode and I'm wondering what it must be like on the students' side of the desk, as it were. For example, I've heard that some have been overwhelmed by the volume of emails and other modes of communication they've received from their instructors.

Cordt Euler.JPGCordt Euler, Communication instructor, has streamlined his approach in order to address the “information overload" his students complained to him about.

“I sent out one email early on asking about technology challenges they might be having, but since then I've set up a discussion board in LEARN that they can post general questions to. The benefit is that the students see what each other is posting, and everyone can read my responses. It's more efficient than individual emails coming in to me and me sending out multiple copies of the same answer."

What best practices have you established for communicating with your students?

  • Do you check in routinely with email?  
  • Are you using LEARN in new ways?
  • Do you resort to cell phone conversations to work around low bandwidth?
  • ​What is your preferred mode of communicating – and does it match your students'? 


Please share your lessons learned and your best communication practices by adding a comment to the conversation.

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Apr 03
Friday Fun!

It's Friday. Do you need a chuckle? Check this out!

 

Do you have any favorite (and appropriate!) COVID-19 parodies? Sign in above and share the link below.

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Thank you to the dozen or so colleagues who joined our first FF@4 yesterday. While not to minimize the challenges of our new reality, we began by each colleague sharing a positive. We then took some time to discuss a current teaching challenge: students who do not use the audio or video function in Webex, and instead only communicate through the chat during a class.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, we'll host these check ins via Webex at 4:00PM. We'll promote the day's topic within the Faculty Fridays post on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as the link for that FF@4. You are welcome to join on a day(s) that work for you and for topics that are of interest to you. Join us!
Apr 02
Introducing FF@4

Faculty Fridays continues to grow. Last week we moved to Faculty Fridays Daily Edition, and today we're introducing a new feature to support you. Today we are pleased to introduce you to FF@4.

Have you ever heard the term “community of practice"? A community of practice is a group of people who share a common interest, skill or passion, and interact regularly in order to learn how to do it better.

Faculty Fridays is a community of practice. Our shared interest is teaching for learning in applied environments. We connect each week to celebrate and nurture good teaching at RRC.

If I'm honest, the blog is not enough for me right now. I find alternative delivery challenging. Not just because of all the new learning related to online teaching and tools. But also because I'm used to a very social job. As an instructor, I'm surrounded by people. And now, I have only my hubby and daughters (even though they are awesome!).

Are you feeling the same way? A bit isolated? Missing social interaction? Looking to still grow as an educator during this time?

Enter FF@4. Each Tuesday and Thursday, Amanda and I will host a face-to-face check in over Webex at 4PM. Consider it a way to wrap up your day, together.

Each FF@4 will have a slightly different focus. Perhaps a topic related to teaching for learning. Perhaps a fun social element. We'll announce the topic in the day's post.

Just like the blog, FF@4 is entirely voluntary. There is no pressure to participate. Simply join on days that feel right for you and when the topic interests you.

It might not be perfect to start, but as we've always said in this blog: we're working on progress, not perfection.

So, join us. Our first check in is today at 4:00PM. Here's a link to the Webex meeting. The focus of today's FF@4 is purely social. Let's give it a try!

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Sign in above, and comment below. How can FF@4 meet your needs?

Apr 01
Just Fooling!

March has lambs and lions, but April has only fools – although only on the first day of the month. toni-reed-VupdxmowTDg-unsplash.jpg
Happy April Fools' Day, everyone!

I had a colleague who enjoyed playing a prank on his students on this day; here's what he did.

He set a test for April 1st. He distributed the test that had questions right on the first page. They were tough questions, tougher than the students were expecting, but they all started to work their way through that first page. It was a challenge for them, as the material hadn't actually been covered in class yet.

The instructor let them sweat for about 20 minutes, then yelled out, “April Fools everyone. Turn to page 2 for the real start to the test!"

The students laughed and groaned in equal measure, and got on with the test.

How about you: Have you ever played a prank on your students on April 1st? Have your students ever played a prank on you?

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Photo by Toni Reed on Unsplash
 

Mar 31
Using Social Media to Stay Connected with Students

Many technology tools are available to us to keep teaching and learning going at this time, and some instructors are turning to social media to incorporate Facebook and Twitter into their toolbox.

Melanie Lee Lockhart, a Creative Communications instructor, has created a “virtual homeroom” on Facebook for her second-year PR class.

“The students already had been using a private Facebook group to collaborate,” Melanie explains. “My Facebook “homeroom” is an online gathering place where we can share updates about what’s going on, helpful resources, and questions and answers, where everyone in the class can see them. It more closely approximates the classroom environment where you can overhear other students’ questions and the instructor’s answers than LEARN does. But I’m not actually doing any teaching on Facebook - that’s happening over WebEx (for verbal, in-person information sharing and discussion) and LEARN (for handouts and links to other resources).”

Melanie uses the Facebook group to provide updates and coordinate logistics with respect to remaining classes & assignments; students are posting relevant information for each other’s benefit, too. “It’s a way of keeping them feeling connected and informed in a way they can openly engage with me and each other, like we do in class,” she explains. “And because it’s an administered “group” rather than my personal Facebook page, the students and I don’t have access to each other’s private Facebook content. That remains visible only to Facebook ‘friends.’”

RRC formally supports LEARN, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx as teaching and learning platforms for instructors and students, but there are many tech options out there. Being cognizant of privacy issues and long-term retrieval capacity of any information posted is important when choosing online teaching platforms.

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Are you using social media during this time to connect informally with your students? Sign in above, then join the conversation by posting a comment below.​


 

Mar 30
What Does Alternative Delivery Mean?

We're a week in to alternative delivery at RRC and are doing a quick refresher on the terms associated with online learning. Just a little check in to see if we are all using the same language.

Face to Face: This is the delivery option most of us are most familiar with. Instructors are physically together with students, interaction happens in real time, and an online Learning Management System (LEARN in RRC's case) supports this face to face delivery. Face to face with basic use of an LMS (ie. gradebook) is referred to as “web-enabled" delivery. Face to face with more collaborative tools like dropboxes, discussion forums, student online collaboration tools is called “web-enhanced" delivery.

Online Delivery: Within online learning there are two important distinctions: synchronous and asynchronous options. Synchronous means that learning takes place at a specific time, in real time. Those of you who have tried teaching via WebEx when your students are with you online in the moment are using synchronous online learning. An LMS can be used to augment synchronous sessions to provide grades, post course materials, submit assignments via a dropbox, etc. The other type of online learning is asynchronous. I'm teaching a course this way right now. The entire course is delivered online using LEARN, but we don't connect in real time. Rather, students can work at a time that is convenient for them (while still meeting deadlines, of course!).

Blended: Blended learning is some combination of the two above. Some face to face delivery, and some online modules delivered either synchronously or asynchronously, all while supported by an LMS. Usually, blended means that 20-80% of course content is delivered online. If it is less than 20%, it would be considered face to face, and if it is more than 80%, it would be considered online delivery.

I really appreciated Dr. Christine Watson's message when she said that alternative delivery will look different for different programs and services. I'm sure these options above only scratch the surface of what colleagues are doing now.

What does your reality look like? What kind of alternative delivery are you doing?

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Click “sign in" above right, enter your RRC credentials and share your program's approach.

Mar 27
Celebrating Success

Wanda Daza is an RRC Instructor, in the School of Continuing Education, Business and Management and supports the Administrative Assistant Certificate program.

In the Event Planning course, the students were preparing to present their mock event plan to the class. Under alternative delivery, Wanda quickly modified the assignment to be a virtual group presentation over Webex.

The students still met through Webex over study week to complete and rehearse their presentations. Once they were ready to present, they sent her an invitation, and off they went.

Wanda noted, “it is important to empower students with the virtual tools that are available to support their learning.”

Wanda Daza.jpgWanda shared that the presentations have been going very well.

“Students are learning so much through this process: not only new tools but also problem solving. I think adapting is important and valuable in their future careers.”

Well said, Wanda.

Are you looking to get started with Webex? Two colleagues from the Language Training Centre, Sherry Seymour and Linda Manimtim put together this video for students on how to join a video conference using Webex. Thanks for sharing!

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How are you using Webex to stay connected and collaborate? Click "sign in" on the top right, enter your RRC credentials and join the conversation!

Mar 26
The Learning Just Keeps Coming

Today's post gathers some first-hand experience of online teaching from instructors in the Math, Science and Communication department. Just about every one of us is a beginner in this new online teaching context, and we're learning something every day: Whether the experience is more or less positive, we are learning!

Smooth sailing

“My students have been amazing at getting organized. When I held my first Level 4 plumbing group, they had already discovered WebEx on LEARN and were hosting conferences among themselves!" Danny Hutchinson, math instructor

​“I had my LEARN discussion board up last Friday and my plumbing Level 3 students had already posted some good responses, so I'm hopeful this is going to work well." Patricia K Culleton-Koebel, communication instructor 

Learning on the fly

“A group of my plumbing students from my 9am class joined me in my 10am class for roofers. It seems that if I am online, anyone who has been invited can join. That's not necessarily a problem, but it's good to know. I ended up having a second class with the students from plumbing because no roofers answered the invitation to join me. It will take a day or two for students to figure things out. Don't expect everything to work perfectly right away!" David Bakke, math instructor

“I realized I put my WebEx classes on Hawaii time :) But I've changed that now!" Arlene Petkau, communication instructor

Successful workaround

“Several students have told me that they have only a phone to work with, no computers. So, I am being creative and accepting emailed photos of handwritten or texted work." Cindy Benoit, communication instructor 

Being kind to ourselves and others

“It's important to remember that we're going for compassion and creativity, not perfection in this new normal! Just seeing some students online and connecting with them online will make it a good day. It's all so new for all of us – instructors and students alike. Be kind to yourselves and your students." Amanda Le Rougetel, communication coordinator/instructor

“The win of the day is that we're alive and well. Take care everyone and thanks for being great colleagues." Mona Abu-Ghoush, communication and LTC instructor

What successes, workarounds or important lessons have you learned so far in our world of alternative delivery methods?

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For the past three years, Faculty Fridays has been a tool to nurture and celebrate good teaching at RRC. As we all move to alternative delivery options, Faculty Fridays is going daily to support our community of practice. If you have questions, best practices or story ideas, contact us at jacarmichael@rrc.ca or alerougetel@rrc.ca.​

RRC COVID-19 Links

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