This month in EDUCAUSE

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My name is Irene Knokh and I’m the EDUCAUSE ambassador for U-M. I share articles of interest, upcoming trends, and advocate on your behalf for EDUCAUSE.

Michigan faculty in EDUCAUSE: Return to the classroom?

Perry Samson writes in his article, “Students Often Prefer In-Person Classes . . . Until They Don’t,” that the situation is more nuanced than the expectation for everyone wanting to return to the physical classroom. He did some informal testing of this hypothesis in his Fall 2021 “Extreme Weather” undergraduate science requirement class. Students who did not do particularly well with remote options already had lower grades. In this class of 230 undergraduate students, Dr. Samson gave all learners the option to participate remotely, synchronously, or asynchronously, asked them how they participated in each session, and awarded participation points. Students were not penalized for choosing one method or attendance over another. 

Key takeaways:

  • With the pandemic and ongoing side effects, there are still lots of challenges. Students do not necessarily prefer to be in the physical classroom all the time
  • Given “reasonable” options, students prefer synchronous attendance 
  • Attendance in the physical classroom, NOT participation, dropped especially for upper-level learners
  • The only consistent factor was lower grades for students who missed over half of the class (regardless of the instruction/participation mode) 
  • Students welcome the flexibility of attending class remotely 
  • There is not much time for in-depth discussion and teamwork in a large lecture hall
  • Over 80 percent of students requested streaming services 
  • Students and faculty don’t necessarily have resources for their commitments outside the classroom—flexibility is a welcome option 

With that in mind, the discussion of Camera use in Live Remote Teaching is a huge topic. 

Revisiting camera use in live remote teaching: Considerations for learning and equity | EDUCAUSE

The authors encourage faculty to think about optimal uses for webcams in remote classrooms. 

Trust increases when you see your co-communicator, but is it a requirement to have the camera “ON” at all times? What are better alternatives to promote inclusion and equity?

Building trust, while important, also means having flexibility. For instance, not all students have access to a camera or a space they want their classmates to see, whether they share a space or are on their own. There may be roommates, family members, or any other reason for not wanting to be on camera all the time, such as disclosing a disability. 

Tips for building an inclusive remote learning classroom:

  • Explain the policy regarding camera use in the syllabus
  • Invite students to use the camera with an option to turn it off when needed
  • Built in-class community
  • Choose when you need camera activities; ask or invite the students to use the cameras for small groups but not the whole class portion 
  • Ask or invite students to use appropriate (give framework and guidance) avatars or pictures
  • Try non-camera options such as brainstorming in chat
  • I learned about the “Waterfall” chat option: Everyone types in chat and, on command, everyone presses “ENTER” once. Such an option is fun and more inclusive because everyone participates at the same time. All the comments show up at once
  • Find out about accommodations and support for students with disabilities; do not make assumptions. Share the resources with the students and your colleagues so that everyone is aware of available options

INCLUSIVE ADDIE: Initial Considerations for DEI Pedagogy | EDUCAUSE

This article is worth a read for everyone involved in education.

The Addie (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate) model is enhanced and expanded with inclusive cultural components:

  • Introspection
  • Needs 
  • Context
  • Lesson
  • Understanding
  • Supporting structures
  • Implementation
  • Values
  • Evolution 

Refer to the tables in the article for a discussion of each element and easier reading. 

The topics are varied, including a suggestion to think about geopolitics. Given the changes in dynamics between nations, instructors need to think about what complexities to work and collaboration can happen in a classroom. 

Accessibility is a critical factor and the writers emphasize the importance of balancing technology use with accessibility and cost-including technical support. 

For the future, I’m hoping that the authors explore how ageism is also critical in considering more inclusive course or workshop design. 

All resources on this topic are available on the Penn State Inclusive Teaching Site

Don’t forget to keep your eye on EDUCAUSE Showcase topics.

My blog on mentoring was published a couple of weeks ago in EDUCAUSE. Please consider mentoring through the University of Michigan IT Mentoring Program.

Everyone has a lot to learn and share.

“See” you next month!


If you have any questions about the content, tidbits you’d like to share, or anything EDUCAUSE related, email Irene Knokh, instructional design and technology consultant, Professional Development and Education for Nursing, or Chris Eagle, EDUCAUSE coordinator for U-M.