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Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Preparing for Fall Teaching – Five Steps to Designing a Physically Distanced/Hybrid/Remote Course

This post is part of a series on preparing to teach in the fall.  For the first post in the series, see here.

As I mentioned in my first post, I’ve spent a lot of time this summer reading books and attending webinars about remote teaching.  A week or so into this deep dive, however, I found that I was overwhelmed.  Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience.  There are lots of great tips out there, but it can feel like drinking from a water hose.  We’re told to learn more about our learning management systems, keep our videos short, offer flexible options for students, have a good online presence, experiment with new assessment techniques, caption our videos, along with so many more tips.  They were all good ideas, but it was too much.  I wasn’t sure where to start. 

I needed a broader framework, so I took a step back and tried to fit this information into five concrete steps to redesigning a physically distanced, hybrid, or remote course.  This post introduces these steps, and I’ll go into each step in more detail in future posts.  Approaching the fall using these steps feels a lot less overwhelming, at least to me.

Here are the five steps I will be talking about:

Step 1: Identify your learning objectives. This isn’t the most exciting step, but it’s hard to design a good course in any learning environment without being really precise about what you are trying to achieve. 

Step 2: Figure out how you will assess and engage students in these new learning environments.  This is a staple of integrated course design, but it’s particularly challenging when we are teaching in new environments that may well change during the course of the semester.  Some tried and true techniques won’t work, so it’s important to have a robust plan.

Step 3: Determine how to build connection and community in your courses.  Connections develop more organically in traditional classrooms, which means we’ll have to work harder to build these connections in the fall.

Step 4: Develop a communication strategy.  This fall will continue a period of upheaval for our students, both personally and in the classroom, so we will need to make our expectations and agenda for the course even more visible to them.

Step 5: Create a plan to support all students.  Students fall through the cracks more easily when we are not in traditional classrooms, so we need to be more deliberate about supporting students in these new learning environments.

I’m a visual person, so I created this image, which sets out each step as a separate layer in redesigning our courses.


Layers of Distanced Course Design

These steps intentionally take a broader view of course design than a lot of the other resources out there.  I’m not starting with the choice between synchronous or asynchronous or the details of particular tech tools.  That information is important, but it has to fit into the bigger picture of your course design.  I’ll include some of this information in the various steps, but I don’t think it should drive the discussion. 

My next post will focus on the first step of identifying your learning objectives.  If there are specific topics or ideas you want me to cover in the future, let me know in the comments!

Posted by Jessica Erickson on July 8, 2020 at 10:34 AM in Remote & Physically Distanced Teaching, Teaching Law | Permalink

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Posted by: John Kevin Bustria | Jul 9, 2020 8:20:28 PM

I will be teaching a 1L class (BA, which is a required class at my school) online this winter in two 75-student sections. I would welcome suggestions for how to do that. My learning objectives are the same as they have been in the past -- teach some law and give students some practice and some tools for digging deeper into what cases mean and what what the law ought to be. I would like my students to be able to read a case and come to a considered view about whether it was correctly decided or not.

Posted by: Douglas B. Levene | Jul 8, 2020 1:36:25 PM

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