Building KU's Teaching and Learning Community

Just in time
Juhi Kidwai, Speech-Language-Hearing

I had the opportunity to join the Center for Teaching Excellence GTA Flex and Online Teaching program during the summer, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program setup was timely, just prior to the fall term when I was developing materials for an online semester with students who possibly were in different time zones. 

The Flex and Online Teaching program was neatly laid out as a Blackboard course. The course included a Flexible Teaching Guide that gave an in-depth introduction to a flexible course setup and student support. As a participant, I learned through three essential modules on online and flexible teaching and wrote a reflective journal entry after each module. In addition to the essential modules, I could choose among three out of 12 modules that were in line with my teaching goals for the fall semester. I submitted a colorful, engaging syllabus as a final product for this course.

Another important part of this program were the group meetings organized by Kaila Colyott, where GTAs could learn from faculty with established online courses. The meetings included a display of course materials, online setup of activities, and a very useful question and answer section. I talked to faculty and other GTAs for input about setting up my course materials in a detailed online format and make them visually appealing and easier for students to grasp and get through all the content. A great takeaway from these discussions was handling all the technology-interactive features in Blackboard and Zoom. Additionally, I got effective tips and tricks to keep students engaged and provide support for them without meeting them in person.

Even though the online course wrapped up in the beginning of the fall semester, Kaila has continued to organize discussion sessions with GTAs that I have found to be very useful for community building and preservation of my mental health. In addition to that, these discussion sessions provided suggestions on how to do mid-semester surveys and follow up with students about how the course activities are helping them achieve the learning objectives.

In addition to guidance that enabled me to set up an engaging syllabus, layout my Blackboard course in modules with graphics to break the monotony of text, setup an introductory video for my students and establish open communication with them, I received $500 for my participation. The monetary award boosts my confidence, and the program is a great addition to my CV.

News & Notes

CTE Learning Community:  Teaching at a Predominantly White Institution

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Visit the Flex Teaching sitewhich provides help for creating flexible courses that can shift between in-person and online.