Flexible, Resilient and Trauma-Informed Teaching | Albright College

Teaching Students with Academic Promise in Times of Disruption

Teaching students with academic promise is one of the purposes of Albright College. Our longstanding commitment to educating students of academic promise in a community where individual students enhance their ability to learn how to learn, to approach challenges from multiple perspectives, to cross boundaries both in and outside of the classroom, and to make connections with intellectual confidence. This is especially important during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Flexible, resilient and trauma-informed teaching and learning practices along with rich course design allow us to respond rapidly and effectively. Flexibility, resiliency and TITL may include being prepared to use multiple course modalities (in-person, hybrid, or asynchronous); employ technology tools to maintain relationships with students and ensure continuity in their learning; being ready to distinguish “must-have” learning objectives and activities from “nice-to-have” ones that may be reduced or eliminated to focus on those of primary importance and having a familiarity with trauma-informed teaching and learning principles (insert link here).

This resource aims to offer helpful strategies and tips to help instructors to design activities for in-person or synchronous online, hybrid and asynchronous online modalities, review considerations for instruction, suggested technology tools, best practices for success, campus support resources and more.

For additional support, reach out to Digital Learning and Innovation, Director of Teaching and Learning and Associate Dean of General Education.

Academic continuity is paramount if you are teaching to students that are in your classroom, but some may be participating via video-conference. Planning begins with asking yourself questions about the preparedness or you, your students, and your course if unexpected issues arise. The goal is to restructure your course in a way that helps your students get the support they need if they cannot be in-person and to meet the most essential learning objectives.  As you design your courses, think about how you will address continuity for each instructional activity.

Hybrid: A Fusion of In-Person & Asynchronous Online Instruction

There has been a large increase of courses offered in a hybrid format at Albright College. Hybrid courses are typically a 50/50 mix of in-person and asynchronous instruction. Some refer this to a “Flipped Classroom,” but does not necessarily include all the practices of that classroom dynamic. In this format, many instructors combine in-person and online elements for a blended approach to teaching and learning. By design, this integrated approach accommodates more learning preferences with added flexibility and more options for learning.

Asynchronous Online – A Robust Virtual Experience

Day courses that are offered during Summer/Interim along with evening courses employ a significantly different environment than the other two modalities. Intentional, well-designed and Albright QM certified courses involve an immense amount of planning and preparation and should mimic the in-person/hybric course in every way possible.

For the purposes of this page, we present the topics focused on All Modalities and Hybrid/Online(Asynchronous)

Ensure that the course content is updated for the current term, all items are functional and published on time.

  • The course syllabus needs to be updated for the current term including the instructor information section and any updated policies such as communication, attendance and grading.
  • Due dates and times need to be inserted for all graded activities.
  • Course should be published no later than one week before class start date so students can purchase materials and get familiar with the content.

State and implement course policies that are sensitive to all students.

  • Create a consistent deadline schedule and allow at least one weekend for recurring and large assignments/exams.
  • Allow late submissions and be open to the needs of your students.
  • Apply Trauma-Informed Teaching and Learning Principles into your course policies and expectations.

State and implement a clear communication policy that supports the pace and structure of the course, including:

  • A 24-hour response time on business days
  • Information on scheduling office hours and time for assistance

This sets the tone for the class and communicates that you are aware for their needs for feedback.

Provide timely notice to students about changes to course materials, due dates, procedures or your availability.

  • Use course announcements frequently to communicate with your students and announce important updates.

Provide grades and meaningful feedback before the next assignment is due, including graded discussion board activities.

  • Students thrive on timely and consistent feedback to understand their progress in the course and apply feedback before their next assignment.
  • Return all materials within 3-5 days to ensure maximum impact.

Demonstrate instructor presence by using course tools to engage with learners and to encourage active learning.

  • Instructor presence is a strong indicator of student success and satisfaction.
  • Canvas course tools, email and other external tools should be used intentionally to communicate and encourage active participation in the materials.

Cultivate a community among online students by facilitating regular and meaningful interaction between learners.

  • Play an active role by participating in and facilitating student to student interaction in discussion forums like you would an in-person course.
  • Check in with group project groups and other areas of collaboration if they are used in the course frequently.

The tone and content of your communication is positive with the intent of supporting students through challenges and encouraging a growth mindset.

  • Use emails, announcements, discussion board posts, feedback on assignments, etc.

Check in with students who may be struggling and refer students to the appropriate departments on campus for assistance.

  • Observe student progress and make frequent check-ins with students who are unresponsive and not turning in assignments.
  • Be responsive when students reach out about any topic, not just academic concerns.
  • Document these interactions in Aviso for follow-up.

Make facilitation choices that support diverse students and make each student feel welcomed and valued.

  • Welcome the students, refer to them by name and with the appropriate pronouns.
  • Highlight student successes and achievements
  • Encourage students who feel like they don’t belong.
  • Respect/honor diverse student identities, experiences and perspectives.

Explicitly draw connections between in-class and online learning activities to blend learning across modalities.

  • Make intentional connections and identify those connections for students.

Example: Students might summarize an online discussion in class that launches an in-class group activity that leads to a follow-up writing assignment online. SCAFFOLDING

The strategies below are specific to our hybrid and online courses.

Clear introduction to the course and logical, student-centered navigation so that students find what they need which reduces frustration. This helps students avoid missing important instructions or assignments.

Essential:

  • Module template is used with all materials for that module housed with that module (as opposed to a laundry list of files)
  • Syllabus (PDF) for printing and Course Information area used to highlight important pieces of the syllabus and due dates in one place.

Exemplary:

  • An introduction video introducing the professor and course.

An Albright course is an Albright course no matter what modality it is taught in. Learning outcomes are the roadmap for the course and should include module outcomes as well.


Essential:

  • Online and hybrid courses meet the same course learning outcomes as face-to-face courses.
  • Assessments (assignments, exams, projects, discussions, etc.) are aligned with course/module outcomes, content and cognitive level.

Exemplary:

  • Learning outcomes are measurable and observable (avoiding ambiguous verbs).
  • Module outcomes are provided.

Clear expectations help students succeed. Assessments are aligned to outcomes to ensure that outcomes are being met. Using a grade early/grade often approach helps students monitor progress and know if they are on track for success.

Essential:

  • Assessments (assignments, exams, projects, discussions, etc.) are aligned with course/module outcomes, content and cognitive level.
  • Grading policies are stated clearly (listing grading criteria and supplying rubrics)

Exemplary:

  • Assessments are varied, including formative and summative assessments.

Materials for online and hybrid courses should be created for the audience of both hybrid and online students. Online students feel at a disadvantage when they are given recordings of on-campus activities or lectures. Research shows that using best practices for presenting instructional materials helps students learn more effectively by using active learning strategies where students perform meaningful actions involving course content and then reflect on their learning.

Essential:

  • Instructional materials are in alignment with course and module objectives.
  • Instructional materials drawn from other resources are copyright-free and accessible by all students.
  • All multimedia is designed and produced for an audience of online and hybrid students.

Exemplary:

  • Instructional materials are cited and appeal to all learning preferences (readings, audio, visual, multimedia, etc.)
  • Online lecture content is brief and integrated into the course activities such as interactive components, discussion questions or quiz questions.
  • Long lectures should be chunked into 15-20 minute segments.
  • Module introductions and conclusions are provided.

Research shows that active learning strategies and the three forms of interaction (student-content, student-instructor, student-student) are most effective in online and hybrid courses.

Essential:

Three forms of interaction are present:

  • Student-Content: discussion boards, readings, video, research projects.
  • Student-Instructor: discussion boards, responses to assignments, inclusion of Q&A forum.
  • Student-Student: discussion boards, group projects, peer-reviewed assignments.

Exemplary:

  • Active learning (meaningful action and reflection).
  • Multimedia is used to address main concepts especially the most challenging ones.