Teach.dce Blog

Course Design Spotlight: Illustrated Branching-Scenario

persona sketches for branching scenarioCourse Design Spotlights highlight innovative projects that members of the Teaching and Learning team work on with DCE faculty through the Teach Partnership program. This spotlight highlights a partnership with Perkins School for the Blind to design a branching scenario that allows learners to make choices and experience possible consequences in a low-stakes environment.

 

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Assessing for Learning

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What is the purpose of the assessments in your course? This is a simple question that can be hard to answer, particularly when the assessments we include in our course are ones we inherited from previous courses, textbooks, or ways we learned the content ourselves. Instead, I encourage you to ask yourself: What do I want to know my students can do after they’re done taking my course? Do they have space to practice those skills in class?

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Preparing for Your Fully Online Semester

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Harvard Extension School classes will be fully online for the 2020-2021 academic year. While the Extension School has provided online learning opportunities for our students for decades, we also know the experience will be much different this year. Many of you will be teaching from spaces you weren’t expecting to teach from and using technology you’ve never used before. The reason why we’re online — a global pandemic — means you and your students alike will be juggling many things in their lives. What does all of this mean for your class?
 
Above all, it means listening to and asking for feedback from your students is especially important this semester. On a regular basis (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly), survey your students about what is going well in the course, what they’re struggling with, and what else they’d like to tell you. You’ll learn more about your class then you ever thought possible. It’s also likely you’ll be doing something for the first time this semester and student feedback is useful as you adjust your class for this fully online world. 

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How to Use Your Canvas Site and Why It Matters

Photo of door up close Your Harvard Extension School course has a Canvas site that goes hand-in-hand with your class sessions. Think of Canvas as the door to your classroom — it’s a unified space for you to share resources, communicate with your students, and assign grades. It’s a space for your students to submit their assignments and access readings. Above all, Canvas gives your students access to you, your teaching staff, and classmates. Here are some reasons using Canvas essential features helps make a course successful:

 

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Managing a large HELIX Classroom: Part II: Class Discussions

Birds flying in a flockHELIX Classroom allows your students across the world to feel fully included in your classroom. HELIX Classroom enables you to connect meaningfully with all your students, but what happens when your course is big? In this series, we’ll discuss best practices for teaching in a HELIX Classroom with a large number of students. 

If a lot of your students are joining over Zoom, you may be able to see some students raise their hands via video but not all. Here are some ways you can manage participation when a lot of students are joining your class via Zoom.

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Managing a large HELIX Classroom, Part I: Active Learning and Student Community

Birds flying in a flockHELIX Classroom allows your students across the world to feel fully included in your classroom. HELIX Classroom enables you to connect meaningfully with all your students, but what happens when your course is big? In this series, we’ll discuss best practices for teaching in a HELIX Classroom with a large number of students. 

The classic active learning technique, the think-pair-share, can work just as well in your HELIX Classroom. In think-pair-share, you pose a question to your students and invite them to turn to their neighbor to discuss the answer. The class then discusses the question together. While teaching in HELIX Classroom, you can have your in-person students turn to each other and break your Zoom students into breakout rooms. 

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Spotlight: Student Engagement in Large Courses

Spotlight lightbulb

The Challenge: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology (BIOS E-1A), co-taught by Professors Casey Roehrig and Zofia Gajdos, focuses on principles of cellular biology. The course is part of an introductory series of courses that fulfill medical school requirements for one year of introductory biology.

The course typically has high enrollment given that it’s a core requirement for medical school and is part of several Extension School degrees and certificates. A challenge of teaching this course is balancing the demanding nature of the course content with the number of students. Providing ways for students to feel motivated, bring the course content beyond the classroom, and monitor their own learning were important aspects Professor Roehrig wanted to create for her course.

 

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Fostering Community In Your Course

Leaf representing community

Community is an essential piece of your course. It builds student engagement, persistence, and increases the potential for student success. Developing student community might be a natural process in an on-campus classroom. Students can talk to each other before class starts, turn to their neighbor when working on class activities, and can check in with the instructor after the class is done. But what happens when some or all of your students are joining your class are online?

Building community in an online course is even more essential to student success. Online students can feel isolated or frustrated when there are no easy ways to connect with their instructor or their peers. But, creating a learning experience beyond watching videos or sitting in isolation necessitates purposeful planning in your course.  Here are some ways to create community in your course:

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