Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fall 2020 semester was a success in many ways, including learning about new pedagogies and enabling students to continue progress toward their degree, largely due to faculty efforts to adapt their courses to the mix of in-person and online students. I have also heard that this mixed modality was a challenge, especially for courses where student-centered discussions were a key element. For Spring 2021, we have significantly reduced the number of these courses, and still, the modality has offered perspective on alternatives for the future.
Allan Gyorke, our assistant provost for educational innovation, offers one alternative to consider for the Spring 2021 semester, that is to teach your course in a flipped learning format, where you pre-record your presentations and require students to watch those ahead of class meetings. Then you can use your class meetings to alternate between meetings with on-campus students and meetings with your remote students. This format allows you to focus entirely on one group or the other and creates improved opportunities for discussion and learning activities such as research and case studies.
For example, he offers the comparison below:
A Fall 2020 Tuesday-Thursday course:
Tuesday class meeting: on-campus students mixed with online students
Thursday class meeting: on-campus students mixed with online students
Both days would have content presentation, discussions, and activities
A Spring 2021 Tuesday-Thursday flipped course:
Tuesday class meeting: on-campus students in person
Thursday class meeting: online students exclusively online
Content presentations (at least 75 minutes in length) would be pre-recorded and would replace one of the weekly class meetings. The course meeting days would focus on discussions, demonstrations of problem solving and activities with either the on-campus or the online students.
While the flipped learning approach requires up-front work to pre-record your content, that content can be used repeatedly in future semesters. In addition, the flipped learning approach can lead to better educational outcomes when more class time is spent on discussing and applying course concepts. It's possible to apply this approach to small portions of a course as a way to test the format and get started.
To learn more about the flipped learning format and other options for supporting your Spring 2021 courses, you can participate in one or more of the workshops at the following link: https://dli.dcie.miami.edu/events/index.html or you can read the Flipped Learning Guide.
Wishing you the very best start to the new year and the spring semester.