Face-to-face: Identify and prioritize which course activities require or are best-suited for face-to-face, in-class delivery. These might include activities that involve hands-on observation, oversight, coaching, practice, delivering feedback in real-time, or evaluation. Other activities that benefit from face-to-face interaction include real-time problem solving, deep analysis or discussion, product or design critique and refinement, and evaluation of important skills or techniques. Examples may include wet labs, engineering labs, musical performances, clinical skills, or artistic technique.
One strategy to consider with regard to face-to-face activities is to schedule high-priority in-class experiences early in the semester, before the potential for a possible late-fall COVID resurgence is more likely.
It will also be important to plan ahead for how your in-class activities might be transitioned to an online delivery format in the event that the university is required to suspend face-to-face class meetings again. Use the Canvas learning management system to upload your syllabus, course materials, lectures, and to create and grade high-stakes assessments throughout the semester can simplify a possible transition to fully online delivery. You can sign up for Canvas training or review Canvas resources on the Canvas@Pitt website.
Synchronous remote teaching and activities: If you have remote students who are participating in live, in-class sessions, it will be important to thoughtfully consider how they will engage with the in-class activities and interact with you and the other students in class. For classes with a large number of remote students, it is generally helpful to have a teaching assistant or other support person available to help monitor questions, virtual hand-raises, and chat from the remote students. If no support person is available, plan periodic breaks (while students engage in independent work, for example) to check in with synchronous remote students. Breakout rooms can be used to promote interaction and collaboration among remote students.
For ideas on how to engage students in active learning in a synchronous blended classroom, see Vanderbilt’s page on Active Learning in Hybrid and Physically Distanced Classrooms.
Consider supplementing instruction by offering virtual office hours, synchronous discussion sessions, and synchronous question and answer sessions to provide an opportunity for students to ask questions, clarify confusion, and interact remotely.
Synchronous online sessions can also be used when face-to-face class sessions are not possible. Short remote lectures, class demonstrations and, synchronous discussions or problem solving sessions are all good ways to engage students in real-time virtual class experiences in the remote environment.
Asynchronous online content: Determine which of your existing course activities and assignments can be delivered asynchronously. Video recordings of lectures broken into 5-10 minute segments, demonstrations, worked examples, produced video content (e.g., TED, YouTube), and procedural steps work well in the asynchronous environment. In addition, reading assignments, writing assignments with peer critique, student projects, problem sets, discussion posts/responses, and narrated PowerPoint, are also well-suited for asynchronous delivery. In many instances, your current content and activities can be converted to asynchronous delivery without the need to develop new content or materials, and once created, these resources can be used in blended synchronous classes as well. More important in the current environment, if the university is required to suspend face-to-face class meetings in order to comply with public health mandates, asynchronous content should be able to be easily used without modification. For information about how to create online content, sign up for Canvas training or review Canvas resources on the Canvas@Pitt website.