September 9, 2020
Volume 4, Number 2
Build Community and Presence in the Remote Instruction Context
With the shift to remote instruction, teaching strategies and interactions with students has changed dramatically. Faculty accustomed to building community in a face-to-face environment need to find alternative strategies to connect with students. One of the simplest strategies to connect with students in the current context of remote instruction is to simply check in with students and ask how they are doing.

Both faculty and students must adjust to the new learning environment in many ways. Jobs and income may be disrupted for many students. In addition to working on classwork at home, faculty and students may be supervising children and their learning activities or tending to the needs of older relatives or neighbors who must limit their social activities. Some might be experiencing symptoms.

Create a mechanism for students to tell you how they are doing and what is and is not helping them learn. Acknowledge that this is no longer “business as usual” and discuss the steps we can take as a community to make this work as best we can.
Whenever we try something new in a course (and we are all trying lots of new things now), it is always a good idea to ask students how the new learning experience worked for them. This is not a “customer satisfaction” survey: Don’t ask whether students liked the experience (few of us like what is happening these days). Instead, ask whether the changes helped them learn. Ask what modification would help them learn better. When possible, make adjustments that make sense and promise to improve the learning experience.

Other strategies to build community and promote learning
  • Write explicit and clear instructions for your expectations for assignments. For example, what should students write for an initial post in a discussion thread and what should they do differently when they post a follow up post? Explain what you expect in a thread that is a discussion (and exchange of ideas) rather than a series of independent posts.
  • Communicate the why for an assignment. For example, what is the purpose of posts to a discussion thread? What should students learn from the exchange of ideas in the discussion thread? What skills will they practice? Must they learn to support assertions with scholarly evidence (versus posting expressions of opinions or feelings)?
  • Create variety in the prompts you create for discussion posts. Avoid using the same-old-same-old “comment and respond to a question” format for every discussion thread.

Consider alternative assignments to engage students:
  • Keep “lectures” short. Divide an hour-long lecture on three big ideas into three short videos, one devoted to each big idea. Shorter recorded material is kinder to internet bandwidth, which may be limited in students’ homes. Create short demonstrations. For example, record a screen capture of yourself searching for articles in a library database, solving a problem and showing step-by-step work on a tablet or white board.
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by Claudia J. Stanny, Ph.D., Director, Center for University Teaching, Learning and Assessment, University of West Florida
What I Love About Teaching Campaign
Hello Educators,
We are looking for your response to the question "What I love about teaching?"

Take a few moments to share your response by clicking the link below:
Events on Campus
Here are opportunities for students (and maybe you) on campus:

MSU Event:
  • Resume Lab - Today, Wednesday, September 9, 2:00pm to 4pm.
Your resume is your personal marketing brochure, and a strong one is your ticket to an interview. Drop in and let the professionals in Career Services assist you in constructing a strong resume. Start from scratch or bring a draft in electronic form. All Career Services . events for the Fall 2020 semester will be held virtually. Make sure to check your MSU email account and the Career Services Facebook page ( one week before each event for instructions and access links.
CPE Touch Base Tuesday

On Tuesday, September 1, 2020, the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) invited Morehead State's Distance Education and Instruction Design office to present the Online Teaching Workshop to the public colleges and universities in the state. The presentation was well received and thanks goes to all those that participated in the development and delivery of the workshop.

This workshop was a collaborative effort between Faculty Senate, Distance Education & Instructional Design, the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning and the division of Undergraduate Education and Student Success. Special thanks go to David Flora, Xavier Scott, Lesia Lennex, Michelle Kunz, Lucy Mays, Nettie Brock, Daniel Maitland, Laurie Couch, and Daryl Privott.

The Online Teaching Resource can be accessed through Blackboard.

For additional information and questions contact
ASU + GSV Virtual Summit
September 29 - October 1

The Dawn of the Age of Digital Learning
For more information on the summit and to register click here

If you plan on attending the summit, let me know so we can build a plan.
Magna (Online) Webinars
24/7 Educator/Professional Development for Faculty
Featured Webinar:

In Blended Courses, What Should Students Do Online
For instructors interested in exploring blended learning, deciding which course elements to teach face-to-face and which to address through online technology can be a major stumbling block. Learn a framework for making those essential educational judgment calls.

This webinar explores:
  • Bloom's Taxonomy
  • Class Guides
  • Engagement

Benefits of Magna Webinars:

  • Each webinar takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.
  • All webinars are available on your schedule since they are online and easily accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Webinars include supplemental materials such as bibliographies and handouts.
  • Certificates of completion are available for professional portfolios and Faculty 180.

Accessing Webinars:

These licensed Magna resources are available through a password-protected website. For access, educators need to:
  • Log into MSU’s employee portal;
  • Look under the My Classes (Blackboard) section for the Magna Training Site;
  • If Magna isn't showing up in your list of courses, please send a request to be added to
  • When you click on the Magna Training Site, the Blackboard shell will open. Select Magna Campus and then launch the LTI link, select 20-Minute Mentor Commons. After selecting 20-Minute Mentor Commons, choose Teaching Blended or Flipped then Blended Learning. Choose the featured title.
Ambassadors for Excellence in Teaching
Morehead State University