We recognize that faculty are often time constrained, so we want to keep this guide simple, concrete, and actionable.
In this section, we encourage you to think about redesigning your course by taking a backwards approach. Being intentional about your course design will benefit the student learning experience. Rather than putting the focus on the instructor or the research, designing a course that is learner centered that takes into consideration how people learn is beneficial for all involved. Students will get more out of the content, and faculty will have a enjoyable teaching experience with desired outcomes from students. This will inevitably improve the quality and outcome of your teaching.
To your right, we have provided links to worksheets that may provide fruitful for designing your course online.
Below, we have broken down course design into these 5 steps:
What is the Goal?
What do I want my students to know as a result of my course? What behavioral changes do I want to observe in my students?) When you begin with the end in mind, you can be flexible with the way the course is being delivered.
What is the Final Assessment?
Next, how can you assess students understanding of their material most effectively? Often referred to as ‘capstones,’ it is a good idea to think about the final large assessment as the pan-ultimate goal you want your students to achieve, and structure your class time around the capstone.
Having frequent low-stakes assessments distributed over the course of the semester is also an effective way for students to engage in learning.
What Feedback Can I Provide?
What kind of feedback would be most helpful to students as they progress towards mastery of your course material? Formative and summative feedbacks allows students to reflect upon their learning, making room and space to grow and improve.
How often can you provide feedback?
How can you grade student work fairly? (Particularly important when grading projects that involved creativity and design.)
What Content Should I Use?
Curate your content with readings, worksheets, problem sets, field trips, guest speakers, and the like. A helpful way to think about organizing your content is outlining your class content into themes or modules/units.
Think about building modules that build up to your final learning goal for your students.
What Pedagogy Is Most Effective?
Utilize best practices of teaching (known as pedagogies) in your classrooms. Students respond to classes in which the learning is designed to optimize their learning.
What method of teaching would work best on my students? Is my class scaffolded (learning is gradual with a lot of reviews)? Does the class facilitate student participation and engagement (‘action learning’)? Is the learning situated within students background knowledge (‘contextualized’)? Is the class project-based/ problem-based?
Additional Considerations for Teaching and Learning Online Courses
When building your course, it is advisable to build with accessibility in mind. If you understand the principles of accessible web practices and know who to apply them as you build your course, not after, you will save yourself hours of work by avoiding accessibility remediation. For example, PDFs that are scanned as images may be readable for sighted students but would not be useful to students who depend on a screen reader for their content. Having to remediate a slide deck or PDF that is a scanned image can take hours. It’s better to avoid that in the first place. Luckily there are many resources at Berkeley that will help to ensure that your online course and your content is accessible.
- Digital Learning Services Accessibility Hub
- Intro to Course Accessibility
- Using the Ally Tool in bCourses
- Are You an Inclusive Instructor? Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning
- Culturally Relevant Teaching Gloria Ladson-Billings
- Online Equity Rubric, Peralta Community College District
Incorporate Universal Design for Learning
Popularly known as UDL, Universal Design for Learning is a design framework that has been adapted to teaching and course design. When followed, the principles in UDL will ensure that your teaching is inclusive of all learners’ abilities and backgrounds. Yes, accessibility will fall within UDL, but UDL can also encompass equitable learning environments, for example. Today, students are forced to learn in situations that may not be optimal, whether they are in difficult domestic situations, do not have access to the proper technology, or are under considerable stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic. By following some of the guidelines in the UDL framework, you will be creating a more equitable learning experience for your students.
Not all students may be equipped with the technological gadgets needed for a seamless transition to remote learning. It is essential to create an inclusive and equitable learning environment where all students can learn.
UC Berkeley is committed to providing high quality education to our diverse background of students in equitable and inclusive ways.
Here is how you may ensure equity and inclusion in your remote teaching:
- Conduct a pre-class survey.
In addition to getting to know students more about their education background, prior knowledge and skills, and business experience they bring to class, you may want to survey students about their technological gadgets they may be using, and if there may be barriers to learning.
- Plan for remote teaching aligned with technological tools available for students.
Please sign up for a consult with us to figure which tools may be the most appropriate for your students. We can assist you in providing material to make your classroom technologically inclusive and equitable for all students.
- Adopt inclusion and equity as a pedagogical mindset.
Let what you’ve learned about your students inform your pedagogical decisions and actions, ask yourself if it is inclusive of all your students and their needs. Include a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statement in your syllabus to communicate your goals to students.
Sign up for a 1:1 Consultation here.
Teaching & Learning Resources
Teaching by the Case Method may require specific skills to best implement within the classroom.
Take some time to think about each elements that comprise a single classroom experience. Putting purposeful thought and intentionality upfront will go a long way.
- Knowing your students
- Leading in the Classroom
- Learning Environment
- Measuring Success
- Teaching the Case Study Online
This website provides detailed description of what it means to teach via the case study: Harvard Business School Teaching with Cases
To learn more about teaching with case studies online, check out this resource.
Consider pedagogy, a way to teach content that takes into heavy consideration of how people learn.
Best practices indicate adult learners learn best when the material is:
Engaging (allow for heavy participation)
Contextualized (provide a context)
Situated (easily relatable to their situation)
Skills based (competencies which lead to jobs)
Project-based (rather than lectures).
Consider these two books:
How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School. (2000) National Academies Press.
Ways of Learning. (2014) Alan Prittchard.
bCourses Can be an Ally
Announcements are a great way to open the lines of communication between you and your students when you want to communicate something about the course, and you want that communication to be centralized in an easy to access place. Searching for important information through an email thread can be frustrating so it’s nice to have communication that is available to everyone simply by clicking the link in the navigation panel.
Announcements can be used for the following reasons.
- Send out a welcome email to your students during the first day/week
- Reminder for upcoming due dates
- Outline the expectations for the upcoming week
- Include links to useful websites and articles
- Share exemplary discussion comments and replies (this could possibly elicit better student responses in the future)
It’s important to note that although Discussions are a student engagement and assessment tool, that there is functionality within the tool that allow you to guide the conversation, to refocus tangents, and to provide clarifications.
Canvas guides (bCourses) have identified two types discussion forums (using the same tool of course): focused discussions and threaded discussions.
Taken from the Canvas Resource page What are Discussions,
Focused Discussions are relatively short-lived interactions that tend to disappear as the course progresses, such as a weekly forum for questions related to that week’s activities.
Use a Focused Discussion for single posts and related comments. One discussion leader typically posts a message and multiple learners comment on it. Participants may leave a side comment to a reply, but cannot develop the conversation beyond two layers of nesting.
When looking at Discussion Forum settings, you’ll notice that there is no box to click to make it a focused discussion. What makes it a focused discussion is the way you apply the tool and the parameters set around it. For example, weekly discussions in every module are focused because they’re aligned with a specific module or week, have a due date, and will be closed for comments after that due date. Let’s look at the difference with a threaded discussion.
Again, getting back to the Canvas resource,
Threaded Discussions lend themselves to the refining of complex ideas. Responses and different lines of inquiry that can be quickly navigated due to its hierarchical structure. Threaded Discussions may be long-standing spaces for thoughts that persist throughout an entire course.
Use a Threaded Discussion for multiple posts and related comments. One or more discussion leaders post a message and multiple learners comment on it with the freedom to create any number of related discussion topics and comments (infinite layers of nesting).
The passage implies that the difference between a threaded discussion and a focused discussion is that threaded discussions lend themselves to “infinite layers of nesting.”
Again, the difference is in how the tool is used and how the experience is facilitated. For example, if you wanted your course to have nothing but focused discussions as they are embedded in the modules, you can remove the Discussion link from the navigation panel in your course. However, if you want to have longstanding threaded discussion boards, you can leave the link in the panel and post your discussions in the Discussions Index Page of your bCourse site and not in the module. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you if you wanted to do both.
Providing feedback to student student work can be done in several ways.
First, as an instructor you can moderate discussion forums to highlight key points or themes. Not only does this increase social presence online, but it’s a way to gather indirect feedback on how your students are doing.
Assignments and Speed Grader
Using the Speed Grader, you can you provide feedback to student submissions through the comments box, or you can annotate directly on a document if one was submitted.
See the SpeedGrader Overview Video
Use feedback in quizzes
When creating quizzes, you can provide feedback for correct or incorrect answers. See How do I add feedback to an Assessment Question in Quizzes?
- Understanding by Design Grant Wiggins and Jay McTigh
- The Science of Learning, U.C. Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning
- Student’s Readiness to Adopt Fully Remote Learning D. Christopher Brooks and Susan Grajek
- Faculty Readiness to Begin Fully Remote Teaching D. Christopher Brooks and Susan Grajek