Inclusive Online Teaching at Columbia University

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Amanda Irvin, Senior Dir. of Faculty Programs and Services at Columbia University’s Center for Teaching and Learning joined the podcast to discuss their student research from their past year of emergency remote instruction, and how to design more equitable engagement in our online classrooms.

Every opportunity we engage withstudents is an opportunity to create just a little bit more connectionbetween us and the students between students and their peers betweenstudents and the content. You're listening to enrolment growth,university from helic education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and romant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to an roman growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect edu podcast network, i'm ericwilson with helic education and we're here today with doctor amanda urbansenior, director of faculty programs and services at columbia, universitycenter for teaching and learning amanda welcomes the show. Thank you so much.I'm happy to be here really through that you're here and here to talk aboutinclusive online teaching, but before we dig into that, can you get listenersa little background on both columbia university and your role? Thereabsolutely columbia, university and the city of new york is located in new yorkcity. It's a large research institution with both graduate and undergraduatestudents, and i am in the center for teaching and learning, which is acenter on campus, that serves faculty graduate students, the teachingcommunity in any capacity that they might need support when they're,facilitating learning for columbia, students and so the columbia c tl isdriven by a foundation of critical practice, inquiry, experimentation,reflection, we really promote pedagogy, that's inclusive learner, centered andresearch based and we love working with the teaching community. I love thatbackground. It's a perfect background to help facilitate and lead and drivethis conversation, a man. Perhaps the level set this conversation for ourlisteners today. Do you think that winning the online education game isprimarily about translating the very best in person curriculum we can findto an online format? Is that the game? It's such a great question. I would saythat the answer is yes and no, and so what i mean by that is, if we're takingthe very best in person curriculum, i would assume that that very best is acurriculum. That's designed with really solid course, design foundations and,in my experience, the tenants of solid, effective course design. That's learner,centered, an inclusive translates pretty nicely from in person, teachingand learning to online teaching and learning the principles of backwards.Design, asking instructors to start with their goals and mind. Considerwhat we would like students to know...

...value or be able to do by the end of acourse and then working backwards from there thinking about assignments andassessments and what content you need to cover all in service of thoselearning goals. I think that approach works really well for both in personand online construction, where things become a little fuzzier, and this iswhere i say like yes and no or yes, and maybe is that if we take an in personcurriculum and then try to transfer it full bore or wholehog and from the souths, you have to forgive me to an online format. Then we run the risk of ignoring theaffordances that online methodologies offer because we're taking a curriculumthat was designed for an impersona methodology. It relies on face to faceinstruction in person interactions with students being in the same physicalbuilt space with your students and relies on technology, of course, butmost usually technology. That's used day synchronously. So when students arenot in the same room with their instructor or technology that can beimplemented in the classroom, so things like projectors or clickers or gosh,even a white board or a chalk board, is considered technology, but the onlineworld is we all learned in a really acute way over the last few and a halfhas different different affordances. The chat function, for example, wheni'm working with faculty now is they think about moving back to in personinstruction. They say i don't want to give up the chat, and there was so mucha rich engagement from students in the chat. How do i replicate that in a faceto face experience or students have certainly said? Well, youkeep recording lectures because it was so helpful for us to go back and rewatch them when we had questions and so thinking about what it might mean todesign an online course from the get go. Knowing that it's going to be online,not something that needs to be adapted. I think we could apply some of thosereally solid course, design principles that i was talking about earlier andalso bring in the really exciting, innovative things that we might do. Ifwe know from the very beginning, we're going to have a chat or a synchronous.Engagement is definitely possible or recording lecture videos. How can wereally use that to our advantage? So you know yes and no or yes and yes, when we think about all the differentfactors that go into a successful classrooms on which we may have underconsidered when we transitioned some that you were trying to steal from whatwe learned last year, what was your potentially biggest takeaway from thestudent responses you received...

...regarding the remote instructionexperiences this past year? What were the ones that surprised you that youwere? You were surprised of their importance, such a great question. Ithink overwhelmingly. The most influential student response that i heard- and weheard this over and over again- is to trust your students and the center forteaching and learning has undergraduate student colleagues. Wehire student consultants as our students, his pedagogical partners,program and they're available to work with faculty and faculty, whatever likean undergraduate to revet their syllabus or an undergraduate to observetheir teaching, and in talking with some of these undergraduate studentcolleagues, i was really struck by the emphasis on trust, and i think thiscame out in a variety of ways. You know the first was around checking in withstudents about how online learning is going for them, and we saw that veryearly in that in the move to this emergency remote teaching early in thepandemic of you know. Where are you where you located? What do you have areliable internet connection, or do you have a space where you can set up forclass time, etc, etc and believing them when they say you know, i don't have areliable connection or i can't get online during class time, because i'min a different time zone now- and that's two am for me and then checkinghim periodically with them about how things are going- that the collectionof formative feedback from students is something that we've always advocatedfor because you get so much real time. Information for students about you knowwhat's helping their learning, what's maybe impeding they're learning? What'sgoing really really well that they'd like you to keep doing, because it'sreally helping them learn? I do think that we saw the trust issue amongstudents and instructors or between students and instructors come to a headaround the very large debate that we saw nationally and internationallyabout procuring software and students really and faculty alike. Consideringthese options and then many ultimately deciding that changing the assessmentmethods to something that would be just as a reliable assessment of learning,but that wouldn't necessarily rely on this type of for lack of a better termsurveillance. I think the issue of trust really came out there and issomething that i think folks will carry forward and- and i just want to say aquick thank you to all of our student consultants in the columbia center forteaching and learning, because they had such rich conversations with us aboutthese and and just a shout out to my two colleagues, susanna cloth and jamiekim who oversee this program, because without them we wouldn't have any ofthese extraordinary contributions. You mentioned a couple of these, but i'dlove it to be top of mind as we better...

...prepare for this moving forward or whatare some of those digital and technology and equities and the onlineclass room. That institutions really need to be mindful of tech things weneed to solve. For that. We might take for granted that the that, of course,students have these and we don't have to worry ourselves about this. Such agreat question- and i know you asked about digital and equities, but i oftenthink of just in equities in general, because in some ways the digitalinequities- and i don't want to give the impression that by any means theseare easy to solve, for, but sometimes the digital inequities are easier tosolve for some other things. So issues that immediately came to theforefront where things like a reliable internet connection, personal devices that students mighthave that could run the software. There were some students who couldn't runzoom on personal laptops and for a lot of institutionss. That was the sinchronos method they used to connect. I think one of the digital inequitiesthat surprised people, especially faculty, is that most folks don't haveprinters in their home anymore and i'm a fairly late millennial, but i alsodon't have a printer. So i'm always surprised when someone asks me, but i know that there were students,especially in disciplines where you have to show your work. So youmight need to write something by hand, whether it be a formula or whether itbe lab notes and that without the use of a tablet, you know writing on paperand then scanning and uploading would be or printing it out and then scanningand uploading would be the go to method, but most folks didn't have scanners orprinters. So it took some creativity in terms of how to make this work and alot of, i think, a lot of screen shots and a lot of photos that we took withour phones then turned them into pdf. So definitely if there were to be aplanned move to promote teaching or online learning,these would certainly be things that folks would need to think about inadvance, and i do want to say that there areother inequities things like home spaces or family care or child care. It are much harder to solve for andsometimes it's not about a solution, but rather about a practice ofgenerosity or practice of transparency. Sometimes, students need to have theircameras off and it's not because they're not paying attention, butrather because they're managing something really challenging at home,and so those in equities, i think, are more challenging and definitely requireour attention in the same way for sure. Let's talk about being inclusive inregards to community, specifically when we're transitioning and migratingonline. What does healthy community facilitation look like not just makingcommunication channels and tools...

...available, but intentionallyfacilitating community? What does that look like at its best? I love that youused the word intentionally in your question because my answer was going tobe a needs to be intentional and it needs to be transparent to your veryexcellent point: it's not just about creating channels and tools, but ratherin taking the time making the time to facilitate and build community. I thinkmany of us who were facilitating learning online very quickly becameaware that you lose those moments that we had taken for granted in a face toface classroom or a face to face learning environment where you are inthe room with students and you're just chatting about your weekend or aboutyour day. So you missed the opportunity to check in with students as to humanbeings. You miss the opportunities, sometimes to see their faces if theylook upset and there's not the very easy turn and talk to your partnersituation that a lot of us through like to encourage students to engage witheach other, often rely on, and so it's important to do it intentionally onlinebecause it's not as though it can't happen, but rather it's not going tojust happen on its own. And so i am a big advocate of starting communitybuilding at the beginning of a class and then carrying it through the entiresemester. We build community with students throughout all sixteen weeksor eight weeks or fourteen weeks, however, long year together, becauseevery opportunity i have a colleague rebecca the ted who says that everyopportunity we engage with students is an opportunity to create just a littlebit more connection between us and the students between students and theirpeers between students and the content, and so you can either create a littlebit of connection or if you miss those opportunities, youcan create a lot of distance, and so the work of facilitating the thiscommunity building generally happens in three areas, and we have some resourceson our website that talk about this, but primarily community buildinghappens in three arenas that are either social. So these are the traditionalice breakers that get students to talk about themselves. What's your name,what's your major, why did you choose this class? That could even be you know,other fun ice breakers, like the sound track of your life, like what are fiveto ten songs that represent you, but then they're also medicity, communitybuilders that ask students to think about the ways they learn or debrief.After an assignment and talk about what was challenging about it, what wouldthey do differently next time and then finally, content based activites soasking students to think through their...

...favorite course or their favoritediscipline to think through connections between what's happening in this classand what's happening in their major mapping out concepts that are centralto the course so community building goes way beyond the get to know yougames that i think we tend to focus on at the very beginning of a semester andcan be like baked in to an entire course to provide those moments thatare definitely connected to your course content, but also give students anopportunity to connect with each other and with you and the content in a verydifferent way that emphasizes sort of person. First engagement, you know,let's talk more about this idea of working toward equitable engagementwithin the online classroom, especially when you're dealing with the class ofstudents potentially on very different sink and acing schedules. It's a greatquestion, and so i think, as we look forward to a return to more in personengagement with students. I know many people are thinking about the oneor two learners or maybe a different institutions, half of the class or themajority of the class might be to the assumed so you're. Now, in a situationwhere you are in a physical classroom with some of your students and thenother students are joining remotely, and so how do you create an equitableexperience for these two groups and i think quite rightly, step number. Oneis creating community focusing on that community building, welcoming alllearners setting tone by establishing community agreements that reallytransparently outline the expectations of both in person and remote students,and if you can do that with your learners, that's even better, becausenow everyone has buyin into how these courses can work together. The secondis a focus on making materials and learning experiences accessible, and soby that i mean sometimes the actual documents we share in our learningmanagement of system, making sure that they can be read by screen. Readersmaking sure that things that you might hand out in class are also available online, perhaps continuing class recordings, so that folks, who are in the room, can watchthe recording just the same way that folks, who might be joining the zoom,can watch the recording and then finally thinking about the ways youengage students during class time during those synchronous moments,planning activities that are accessible to both, maybe even thinking about waysthat the students in the room can connect with the students who are onzoom. So you know, if you could ask all of your students in the room to bring adevice in a headset. They could even be in breakout rooms with students who arejoining the zoom, helping just bridge...

...that divide and making it clear thatwe're all one burning community and trying to get past. This idea that folks in theroom, are having one experience when folks online are having a verydifferent experience, had a wonderful stuff. Finally, anynext steps advice pr institutions looking to move to more intentionallyinclusive online teaching, based on your teams, findings and research. Thispast year, where should they start? First? I think that first step dependson where you're starting from, and so my first recommendation is to get asense of what's already happening on your campus start, a conversation pull together folks from differentdisciplines, different offices, different levels of administrationcoming together, i think, and talking about what is already happening on acampus in terms of inclusive teaching and where you like to go is, i knowfrom experience, can be a slow process because it requires it requires a lotof partnerships and out reach, but it is so important and it's so worth it,and then the second thing to keep in mind would be to know that this is along game, that there are inclusive teaching an inclusive practices ingeneral, a focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice andhigher education. These are not. These are not easy questions and that we'remaking commitments that will extend, hopefully for years in the future, andit will be adaptable that they will be able to expand in contract as the worldaround us changes as our institutions change. There are lots of resources outthere, lots of folks in the field of educational development, to work onhelping support institutions and instructor as the samemove towardsinclusive teaching. We have a lot of resources on our website. We have thefirst ever global mok dedicated entirely to inclusive teaching andhigher education. So there are resources available to you, but i thinkthe first step is to figure out. Where are you starting from? Where would youlike to go and then making a plan? And i say it as though it's just as simpleas that, knowing of course it's one of those picks that is simple, but noteasy for easy, but not simple, but i think really coming together as acommunity. First is an important for step. This a great first step dauntingas it may be amanda. Thank you so much for your time today. What's the bestplace for listeners to connect with you or your team, but they have me followup questions absolutely so. Our website, which is cpl doc lumbia, do edu, has aton of resources that are totally available to the public. If they'd liketo reach out to the center for teaching and learning, we have an email address,columbia, c tl at colombia, don edu and...

...i, of course, would be happy to takeany sort of emails or increased. My personal email, which is amanda, dourban at columbia done to you, awesome a man a thanks so much for joining ustoday. Thank you so much for having me attracting today's new post,traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helic educationsdata driven enterprise, wide approach to enrolment growth is uniquely helpingcolleges and universities thrive in this new education, landscape and helixhas just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook,with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's mostpressing, enrolment growth challenges download it today for free at heloseducation com play book, you've been listening to enrolmentgrowth university from helis education to ensure that you never missed anepisode subscribe to the show in itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thankyou so much for listening until next time, e.

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