Teaching synchronously online poses unique challenges for encouraging thoughtful participation.
Buddhi Lamsal instructs his FS HN 471 class inside a Physics Hall photo by Chris Gannon
CELT Teaching Tip • August 28, 2020
Encouraging thoughtful participation
Teaching synchronously online poses unique challenges for encouraging thoughtful participation. The ability to foster student participation is especially true if you teach a face-to-face course simultaneously with students attending the course online. We asked ISU Faculty (and surveyed the literature) to share these strategies for engaging students.
  1. Build community. It is challenging to volunteer an idea if you do not know the others in your class. Consider icebreakers where students first discuss in smaller groups of students in online breakout rooms. Then, use collaborative signals in the large group, such as thumbs up or hands raised, to cue "I agree" or "I have a question." (Megan Myers, World Languages and Culture).
  2. Communicate expectations. Tell students in advance that you expect them to participate in the discussion. If possible, provide the prompt before the discussion. Rather than beginning discussion within the large group, start with 5-15 minutes in smaller person breakout groups. Instruct the students to determine a recorder (i.e., a student with first name closest to the letter Z or the person with the most significant number of pets) who would then share one idea during the whole class portion of the session. (Amanda Baker, School of Education). 
  3. Use collaborative notetaking tools. For large or small group exercises, create a shared notetaking tool, such as Google Docs, with the prompt and space for breakout groups to type their responses. At the end of the activity, the participants have a crowd-sourced list of ideas or notes. This action also allows the instructor to clarify any misconceptions or call on a student group to elaborate on particular items. (Idea contributed by many! Monica Lamm, Chemical and Biological Engineering and CELT Faculty Fellow, Clark Coffman, Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology and CELT Faculty Fellow, and Karen Bovenmyer, CELT). 
  4. Consider not discussing! If you want to get a "pulse" on the students' knowledge or attitude in the class, consider strategically using the chat window or a poll rather than large or small group discussions. Pose a question for the students to respond to in the chat window. Or display a problem with plausible solutions. Ask students to use the emoticons on Webex or Zoom to "vote" for the correct answer. (Lesya Hassall, CELT).
  5. Explain the why of discussing. Lastly, inform students that you value their perspectives and explain why you ask for their participation—seeing the why behind discussions can positively influence their participation.

Have an idea to share? Email it to celt@iastate.edu, and we will include it in our Instructional Strategies.

With a joy for teaching,

Sara Marcketti, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
Stay up to date on the Fall 2020 Planning Guidance for Academic Affairs Faculty

Michael Bugeja

In our teaching tips, we will be highlighting the work of successful instructors from across Iowa State University. We have asked them to share their ideas for successful teaching and learning, and share their favorite CELT program.

Dr. Michael Bugeja, Distinguished Professor, Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, has spent 17 years at Iowa State. His advice for teaching:

I use the Canvas “Discussion” tab for extra credit and increased engagement and interaction with students. Typically I post on the Discussion page my published works in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, the Des Moines Register, Iowa Capital Dispatch, and Poynter, among other publications. I also have two book/research sites where I post articles, for the public: Interpersonal Divide and Living Media Ethics.

Those are copied to the Discussion tab and students are given extra credit for reading and reacting to the articles. Here’s the official notice in my syllabus: “Extra credit: Canvas Discussions: One way to earn extra credit is to participate in the discussion tab on Canvas. If you post a 100-word or more response to a discussion, you can earn up to 5 extra points with a maximum of 50 points on all discussions in the course of a semester.”

The class maximum point attainment is 1000, so in actuality, this is a small allotment. Nevertheless, as I tell my class, it can mean the difference between an A- and an A or a B- or B, etc. 

To view how this works on Canvas, here is a screenshot of a previous JLMC462 Media Ethics class, a capstone course in the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.
As you can see, viewing the participation capsules on the righthand side of the picture, several students have taken advantage of the extra credit. (The photo only shows 8 of some 40 discussion posts with almost everyone in the class posting replies.) For a close-up look at how this works, see this Chronicle of Higher Education article titled “And for extra credit, read a physical book.”

Eight students chose this article to read and respond to with enlightened posts that also enhanced my own awareness. This is a benefit of the practice, too. Sometimes students disagree with what I have written and present counter arguments. I am always respectful of differing viewpoints. I also monitor responses for bias or inappropriateness. Sometimes students will respond to what their peers have said, so monitoring and teacher replies are essential. That said, in the several years I have been doing this, no student has had a response edited or rejected by me.

View an example of responses to the above article, with names of students whited out for privacy.

I have found that the Discussion tab not only fosters more student-teacher interaction but also allows students to see my own research and opinions on a variety of topics all associated with media ethics. That is important. Teachers do not want to post articles expressing political views or personal issues. The goal is to select articles that affirm or enhance course content. 
Sometimes student posts give me ideas for new articles on my book sites or in my research. In fact, the Chronicle piece was written when a student in my Technology and Social Change class asked if the required book for a paper could be a print rather than online one because his phone had too many distractions, hindering reading comprehension.

Student-teacher engagement is the key to comprehensive learning. Moreover, the teacher does not have to hear pleas from students for extra credit assignments when one is built into the course, as this is. If students complain late in the semester about grades, I ask whether they have taken advantage of this feature. That puts the onus on them to read and respond in a manner that is fair to every student in the class, as no one gets preferential treatment.

What CELT program, resource, grant, etc. would you recommend and why? 
I recommend “Consultation and Classroom Observation,” which provides feedback to instructors on teaching techniques. I have recommended this site as a past director at Greenlee and now as mentor to instructors. Feedback is essential to continue excelling in the classroom, and this is a wonderful resource.

Upcoming CELT 2020 Programs
CELT offers face-to-face one-off workshops/webinars, longer-term teaching and learning circles on selected topics, and facilitation of teaching and learning communities. Our program listing with descriptions and registration information may be found on the corresponding page on CELT’s upcoming events page or CELT’s programming schedule via ISU’s Events Calendar website.
Webinar, White Supremacy and Nationalism in Education (Jeremy Best)
September 9 (3:20-4:20 p.m., register via Webex)

White supremacist ideas never really disappeared from America’s campuses and schools, but in the last decade the ideas of White nationalists and other White supremacists have reemerged as a more vocal and dangerous influence. The advocates of these ideologies are deeply immersed in the mythologies and conspiracies of their movement.
This situation often puts those who would stand against White supremacy expressed as White nationalism at a disadvantage. Communities committed to fighting White supremacy and White nationalism can be empowered with basic content and strategies to more effectively re-balance the contest.

This session will aid in this correction by introducing key vocabulary and concepts of contemporary White nationalists and White supremacists; by giving guidance on identifying the coded and un-coded language and symbolism of White nationalist and supremacist ideas; and by presenting best practices for addressing the presence of nationalism and supremacy on campus and in schools.

Join Dr. Jeremy Best (Assistant Professor, History) as he discusses how to build content competence and practical confidence by presenting scenarios to address hypothetical and real examples of White supremacy and nationalism in the classroom, on campus, and in other settings. Visit Jeremy Best’s webpage.
Tera Jordan
3-Part Series: Reflection, Retooling, and Renewal: Strengthening your ability to be a more effective graduate student mentor
Dr. Tera R. Jordan, Assistant Provost for Faculty Development, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, is a facilitating the following topics:
  • Reflecting on one's mentoring experiences, Sept. 11 (1:30-3 p.m.)
  • Sharing mentoring philosophies: A panel discussion with Margaret Ellen White Award Recipients, Sept. 18 (1:30-3 p.m.)
  • Alignment, trust, and inclusiveness, Sept. 25 (1:30-3 p.m.)
The Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching series is brought to you by Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching.
A call to action: Striving for racial justice in academic biology (7-part series) is an initiative sponsored by the Society for the Advancement in Biology Education Research (SABER) focused on promoting awareness, understanding and commitment to change academic biology environments to be more inclusive and strive for racial justice in STEM education. All talks will be posted on the SABER website following the event.
Co-sponsored by Arizona State University’s HHMI Inclusive Excellence Project, SEISMIC Collaboration, and University of California Santa Barbara.
Where to go for support
A red button with a question mark and Help in white writing
For help with the Canvas, contact Canvas Support via the ?Help menu in Canvas:
  • Chat with Canvas Support use the live chat tool
  • Ticket support. Open the ?Help menu in Canvas and click Report a Problem
  • 24/7 phone support. Call 515-294-4000 (listen to prompts to connect to Canvas support).
  • Find answers to common questions in the Canvas Instructor Guides.
  • Use the resources in the NEW Canvas @ ISU site (https://bit.ly/canvas-isu)

For technical support, contact the ISU Solution Center:
  • Email solution@iastate.edu
  • Call 515-294-4000 and follow the prompts to receive support from Solution Center staff

To receive one-to-one assistance for teaching with technology, contact the CELT Instructional Designers
  • Connect with our CELT instructional designers for support or pedagogical consultations by emailing celt-help@iastate.edu; this will also create a ServiceNow ticket for easy tracking.
  • Additionally, you may wish to contact one of the support units directly. Please note which program, department, or college each unit serves and contact the unit for your area.
Prefer a Print version? (To do)
To view the Teaching Tip as a printable document with the web addresses, download the CELT Teaching Tip for August 28, 2020 (PDF) (https://bit.ly/31DUiep)