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Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning offering ‘flexible teaching’ resources, 3 blockbuster events

August 10, 2020

With the focus for the coming semester turning to “Flexible Teaching,” NIU’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning is ramping up faculty supports.

CITL has lined up blockbuster events and programs on flexible teaching strategies and also has launched its new Flexible Teaching website, chock-full of resources for faculty.

NIU is offering a mix of fully online, face-to-face and hybrid courses this semester. Teaching efforts will be notably different than the Keep Teaching emphasis of this past spring, when courses suddenly pivoted to online teaching and learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Keep Teaching effort was an emergency, quick move,” CITL Executive Director Jason Rhode says. “With Flexible Teaching, we’re purposefully thinking ahead to the fall. We’re being more deliberate in being flexible to student needs and encouraging faculty to be flexible in their teaching designs.

“Importantly, Flexible Teaching relies on the same learner-centered principles that our faculty have long used in their course designs, although it’s now adapted for a digital environment,” Rhode adds.

Fittingly, the Flexible Teaching website has replaced Keep Teaching as the go-to resource for faculty. CITL has been holding workshops for faculty all summer, and the center is expecting to draw large audiences for three upcoming virtual events:

  • From Super Simple to Deeply Engaging: How Video Can Be Used to Transform Teaching to Build Connections with Students. This two-day Teaching Effectiveness Institute will be held Thursday, Aug. 13, and Friday, Aug. 14. Participants will learn how to use video to support flexible teaching and learning in face-to-face, hybrid or online courses. Professor Michael Wesch of Kansas State University will deliver Thursday’s keynote address, sharing his experience using video to transform pedagogy and engagement in his online courses. NIU Communication Professor Laura Vazquez will deliver Friday’s keynote, titled: “Taking Video to the Next Level: Storytelling, Engagement, Pedagogy, and Social Justice.”
  • Fall 2020 Teaching Assistant Institute. The week-long institute will begin Monday, Aug. 17, and feature a mix of live online discussions and pre-recorded videos as well as asynchronous activities to promote connection and community. Topics to be covered include engaging with students, culturally responsive teaching, teaching online, teaching socially distanced labs, reducing barriers for students with disabilities and more.
  • Preparing to Teach Online. This self-paced, pre-recorded online workshop opened this week. Participants will learn practical strategies and best practices in delivering an online course. The workshop features topics that will help you establish efficient grading and workflow practices and prepare you to create a welcoming learning environment in which you can communicate and interact with your students.

Faculty can register on the Flexible Teaching website for these and other upcoming workshops on topics such as getting to know Blackboard Ultra, creating video quizzes, holding virtual office hours and tips for conductive live online classes.

New workshops on classroom streaming topics such as lecture capture and teaching for both in-person and remote students will also be available. Additionally, recent workshop recordings can be viewed on topics that include welcoming students to your online environment, managing your online presence and supporting student success in virtual learning.

The Flexible Teaching website also includes:

CITL also will continue to provide a Help Hotline (call or text 815-797-2477 or email [email protected]) and opportunities to connect with knowledgeable experts.

“Flexible teaching is teaching and learning that’s agile, that provides choice for students and that helps them engage with their instructors and peers,” Rhode says. “We’ve had a great response from faculty throughout the summer, and we want them to know the CITL will remain available throughout the semester with a wealth of programs, resources and services to support their flexible teaching efforts.”