Online and Hybrid
Many of us can now say we are online instructors after Spring 2020. My experience teaching online is more complex: I have taken graduate coursework on online writing instruction, published on OWI, and have forthcoming presentations on OWI at CCCCs. I have considered at length the theoretical and practical pedagogical choices surrounding the unique environment of online and hybrid classes. For a written breakdown on how I use both asynchronous and synchronous modalities, please visit my OLOR: Online Literacies Open Resource publication: "Content Delivery for Remote Learning: An Accessible Approach that Combines Asynchronous and Synchronous Learning."
"The course is new, fresh, and innovative to say the least. Learning in this class rewires my thinking of the real world and provides me the resources to comprehend a rhetor's purpose, argument, and use of literary strategies. In learning, Ms. Stark is motivational yet practical, she justly illustrates the long-term goal of the class. I value her relatability and honesty as it relates to her instructional methods."
"As of recently, Ms. Stark has done a phenomenal job in incorporating peer review and group dialogue. Such initiatives distress our current situation and bring life to the course."
"Ms. Stark adapted to the online format in the most effective and clear way. It was clear what was expected of us each day, and I was rarely confused about the instructions. I loved that she [cut] our class in half for zoom calls in order to have a more one on one experience."
As an online and hybrid instructor, I build my courses from the ground up using goal based and kairotic design (Snart, Cummings et al.). Since the environment of the online classroom is unique from its face-to-face counterpart, my pedagogy also shifts to better adapt to the needs and the demands of this space. I do this by focusing on the following:
Developing interactive and accessible content
Fostering community through instructor-student and student-student interactions
Assessing students’ progress regularly and making course adaptions as needed.
Developing Interactive and
As OWI Principle 1 insists, accessibility should be at the core of our online courses. Students should be able to not only physically access the material, but the delivery and consumption of the course material should be intellectually and mentally accessible for students as well. The main way I have found to accomplish this is through multiplicity. I produce multiple formats of lesson plans, assignment sheets, and instructor-student communication that students access depending on which best suits their needs. For example, for each video I create—either more formal, like a content delivery video, or more casual, like a weekly introduction video—I close caption the video, design it in a simple manner to prevent cognitive overload, and I provide a text-based script.
The videos, especially for content delivery, are also interactive. I embed activities for students to do as they are consuming the video so that they become active participants in their learning process. They can pause, rewind, or watch the videos as many times as needed.
Fostering Community Through Instructor-Student-Student Interactions
Asynchronous instruction seems to be the new normal for online courses, but as an instructor who values learning through social construction, I ethically include synchronous activities in my online courses. By doing this, students are better able to build community and recognize that writing and learning are not isolated undertakings. They better develop audience awareness as they share with their peers, and they learn through engagement and collaboration. I do this by creating small peer groups at the beginning of each term. Students sign up for groups that best fit their work schedule, and they work with these core group of students all term. They participate in group Google Hangouts, collaborate in Google Docs, and consume and comment on each other’s work.
Assessing Students' Progress Regularly and Making Course Adaptions as Needed
Though I believe there can be a lot of prep work completed before a term begins, I practice regular assessment and draw on Cummings et al.’s kairotic design. Similarly to face-to-face courses, each cohort of students learns at their own pace. By regularly assessing where students are in their learning process, I can better adapt the materials and the pace to best serve their needs. These assessments are carried out through anonymous questionnaires, regular and timely reading and feedback on their low and high stakes assignments, and a more formal midterm progress review. After the assessments, I create new or additional videos and activities, and I address course concerns in my more casual weekly introduction videos.
Successful Learning and Ethical Teaching
Adequately preparing and carrying out online instruction is both timely and intensive. However, that should not override creating a course that is accessible to students’ individual learning needs and that is best suited for the unique environment of the online space. Ethically teaching online requires an adaptation of pedagogy and not simply a transfer of in-person teaching. Doing this successfully requires a theoretical grounding in online curriculum and practical knowledge of technology and tools.
This syllabus for first-year composition accounts for the unique environment of online learning by being explicit and clear about how to access and engage with learning materials.
The course schedule shows my philosophy in action: there are introductory course videos--showing students how to participate in the class--and detailed class lessons that guide synchronous discussion and describe asynchronous activities.