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FAll 2020 Instructional Modes

Strategies and Best Practices for Implementing Instructional Modes

Fall 2020 Instructional Models

Explore the suggested models for the fall 2020 semester.

University COVID-19 Information

The latest information on Penn State’s pandemic approach.

Keep Teaching

Fall 2020 resources for Penn State faculty.

Zoom Info & FAQ

Resources and FAQ for using Zoom.

Flexible Instruction Teaching Guide

Curated resources to support flexible teaching.

Student Communications Recommendations

Resources and FAQ for using Zoom.

Delivery Modes

In an attempt to offer the highest degree of flexibility to students and faculty, the University announcement about Fall 2020 courses did not mandate a particular delivery method for courses under 250 students. This page explains four basic delivery modes (the fourth of which has several options) and enumerates considerations for each.

Four Flexible Instructional Modes

Overviews of each delivery mode can be found at the University’s Keep Teaching site. For more detailed definitions of each mode, see the University’s instructional options table. For considerations pertinent to each mode, see Considerations below.

Considerations

In-Person Mode

In this classic mode of instruction, students and faculty are physically present in the same space for the duration of the course.

Lecture

Presentation-style lectures continue as normal.

COVID Modifications
  • Use instructor microphones to be heard through masks.
  • Plan accordingly, given that physical classrooms are larger than normal (and with fewer students) to accommodate social distancing.

In-class Activities

In-class activities, completed individually or in small groups, continue to engage students and utilize the available resources of the classroom.

COVID Modifications
  • Observe social distancing.
  • Eliminate (or allow on a limited basis) sharing of hardware, paper, and other equipment
  • Use online collaborative tools (e.g., Google docs, Piazza, CREATE, Office365) to facilitate small group electronic discussions or electronic exercises if small group discussions are too difficult.

Group Work

Group work continues to bring students together to meet various learning objectives during class or outside of class.

COVID Modifications
    • Observe social distancing for in-class work on team projects.
    • Eliminate (or allow on a limited basis) sharing of hardware, paper, and other equipment.
    • Provide or suggest online group collaboration spaces to encourage social distancing outside of class.

Facilitate student group formation, collaboration, and team building with assignments and technical tools (such as Canvas, Microsoft Teams, Box, CATME, Google docs, etc.).

Assessments

The development of quizzes, exams, and other assignments continue to measure student learning.

COVID Modifications
  • Avoid handing out or collecting papers and other items in class.
  • Consider how quizzes, exams, and other assignments can be collected and feedback returned electronically.
  • Eliminate (or allow on a limited basis) sharing of hardware, paper, and other equipment.
  • Assign students to record class project presentations outside of class, piecing together individual video segments.

Attendance

Participation in class activities supports overall success in the class.

COVID Modifications
  • Consider using online discussion forums, rather than daily attendance, to monitor participation.

Remote Synchronous Mode

During remote synchronous instruction, an entire class participates at the same time but from different locations. Advantages of this technique include the ability to instantly interact with others. This type of instruction is best for faculty and students who prefer direct connections and benefit from the social motivator of being prepared for a particular class time.

Lecture

Presentation-style lectures continue as normal.

Considerations
  • Do not require students to use webcams during remote instruction.
  • Adopt a camera-optional practice for teaching through Zoom. A camera-optional approach respects student issues such as equity (e.g., some students may not have cameras on their devices), safety and security (e.g., some students may be deployed on active military service, or in need of safety or privacy), and religious beliefs.
  • Employ polls, chat, and self-check questions to determine students’ understanding of the lecture. (Note: You will not have a visual of student expressions and body language to gauge understanding.)
  • Record lectures and make available for students who miss class.
  • Collect information on whether students are connecting from different time zones, and provide exceptions for those far outside Eastern time zone to participate asynchronously.

In-class Activities

In-class activities, completed individually or in small groups, continue to engage students.

Considerations
  • Facilitate discussions through Zoom breakout rooms for in-class group discussions. Instructor and TA/LAs circulate among rooms to check progress and ask questions to promote deeper thinking.
  • Use screen sharing for hands-on components (e.g., labs, programming).
  • Use Zoom annotation and white board tools to facilitate hands-on activities and discussions.

Assessments

Since students cannot be monitored while they are completing assessments, strategies should be employed to mitigate threats to academic integrity.

Considerations
  • Consider multiple low-stakes quizzes/exams that can be done online or different assignment types that can also evaluate students meeting learning objectives.
  • Assign students to submit pre-recorded videos of their individual assignments (e.g., talking through their coding assignment) to be assured of academic integrity.

Group Work

Group work brings students together to meet various learning objectives during class or outside of class.

Considerations
  • Facilitate student group formation, collaboration, and team building with assignments and technical tools (such as Canvas, Microsoft Teams, Box, CATME, Google docs, etc.).

Attendance

Participation in class activities supports overall success in the class.

Considerations
  • If requiring attendance, the attendance policy may require some nuance to provide flexibility for those who experience COVID-19-related absences.
  • Consider using online discussion forums, rather than daily attendance, to monitor participation.

Remote Asynchronous Mode

Asynchronous courses offer students the ability to participate in the course at any time or location – completely online with no scheduled meeting times. Students are given weekly deadlines and expected to plan their time to achieve these milestones. Modifications are necessary when adopting this type of course template for residential students. The asynchronous remote structure works best with students who exercise self-regulated learning strategies.

Lecture

Lectures are recorded in advance and shared with students.

Considerations
  • Make recordings in your home or office with individual viewers (not a group setting) in mind.
  • Add personal elements, so that students get to know you.
  • Do not correct every instance of imperfect speech, as students appreciate familiar and natural, rather than formal, speech.
  • Consider the following options:
    • Use screen capture with audio narration.
    • Script your presentation to create a succinct video that can be watched multiple times for initial understanding and further review.
    • Break videos into chapters to keep the content focused and allow for students to easily find segments of your lectures. For example, one chapter might provide an overview of three main concepts; another might contain lecture material on the first concept, etc.; and another might preview the lesson’s assignments that follow.

Individual Activities

Individual activities allow students to engage with course content through knowledge checks, practice, and critical thinking.

Considerations
  • Plant reflective prompts in the lecture video.
  • Consider embedding a quiz in the video using Kaltura.
  • Add reflective prompts to other assignments in the course.
  • Assign practice problems or study questions (ungraded).
  • Consider the order of operations when inserting individual activities (e.g., first read, then do individual activities, then meet to discuss group project).

Group Work

Group work brings otherwise unconnected students together to meet various learning objectives.

Considerations
  • Facilitate student group formation, collaboration, and team building with assignments and technical tools (such as Canvas, Microsoft Teams, Box, CATME, Google docs, etc.).
  • Encourage groups to meet synchronously to work on project deliverables.

Assessments

Since students cannot be monitored while they are completing assessments, strategies should be employed to mitigate threats to academic integrity.

Considerations
  • Consider multiple low-stakes quizzes/exams that can be done online or different assignment types that can also evaluate students meeting learning objectives.
  • Assign students to submit pre-recorded videos of their individual assignments (e.g., talking through their coding assignment) to be assured of academic integrity.
  • Set deadline constraints with some flexibility built in for assignments and homework.

Attendance

Attendance is generally not required, as participation in the course is determined by completing assignments.

Mixed Mode

This mode of instruction affords the greatest level of flexibility, but requires reflection on several design considerations (below) before adopting a particular strategy.

Mixed instruction includes some combination of:

  • In Person + Remote Synchronous
  • In Person + Remote Asynchronous
  • Remote Synchronous + Remote Asynchronous
  • In Person + Remote Synchronous + Remote Asynchronous

Lecture

  • Space: What affordances do you have given the available classroom space/technology?
  • Comfort: How comfortable are you with conducting lectures through in person, remote synchronous, or asynchronous instruction? To what degree would you want to mix the three options?
  • Purpose of Recording: To what degree are you planning to record lectures to connect with students who miss synchronous class sessions, replace in person class sessions for everyone, or act as a supplement for students seeking additional clarity?
  • Engagement: What are the constraints for the interactive components you might include for in person, remote synchronous, and asynchronous instruction?

In-class Activities

  • What are the trade-offs for students when participating in activities for in person, remote synchronous, and asynchronous instruction?
  • How many of your designed activities can be done individually?
  • How many of your designed activities need to be done in small group settings?

Group Work

To what degree to you expect your student groups to work together through in person and remote synchronous meetings versus asynchronous meetings?

Assessments

  • Quiz/Exam: How would you execute quizzes/exams to protect against threats to academic integrity in your class?
  • Assignments: How much are individual assignments and group projects dependent on synchronous collaboration in class?

Attendance

Is it important that students participate synchronously (in person or remotely) in the course?

  • What will students gain from synchronous interaction, whether student-to-student or student-to-faculty?
  • Is there something about the demographic of the students (e.g., first-year students) that makes attendance particularly important?
  • Is there something about the nature of the content (e.g., concepts build on previous ideas) that makes attendance particularly important?
  • If requiring attendance, the attendance policy may require some nuance to provide flexibility for those who experience COVID-19-related absences.
  • Consider using online discussion forums, rather than daily attendance, to monitor participation.

Resources

Use these resources to learn more about tips and best practices for teaching in a variety of instructional methods:


*NOTE: This page will be continuously updated as more information becomes available. Please check it regularly for the most current resources.

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