Teaching Tuesdays: Finding Your Instructional Community Online
The P3 Collaboratory is pleased to continue “Teaching Tuesdays,” our ongoing series on pedagogy in higher ed and on the RU-N campus.
Over the summer Teaching Tuesday series, we wrote a lot about the importance of helping students feel “seen” and reassuring them they are not alone during this fraught time.But what about us, the teachers? How can we build community around online pedagogy while working remotely? This week’s post suggests a few ways to break out of your home-office bubble and find your pedagogy “people.”
There’s No Place Like Home
Many of us dearly miss our ability to discuss teaching challenges with our disciplinary peers who, during pre-COVID times, had offices down the hall or short walk away. Even though we’re not regularly seeing each other in the halls, you should still turn to your colleagues and your departmental or disciplinary home for support and advice.
Beyond emailing or chatting informally with colleagues, now is a great time to commit to building a department-level conversation around teaching. Does your department or program have a standing committee on teaching? Is teaching regularly included as an agenda item in faculty meetings? Does your department plan its own professional development events? Finding the time and virtual space for a dedicated and sustained discussion on what constitutes high-quality remote instruction in your field benefits departmental faculty, instructors, and importantly, students.
In case teaching is rarely discussed in your program, it’s okay to start small! Even a simple undertaking, like circulating a shared google doc on disciplinary challenges/solutions for remote instruction, is apt to ignite a lively conversation around best practices and produce a useful resource for you and your colleagues.
Professional Organizations and Journals
Academic and professional organizations have responded to the pandemic and subsequent shift to remote teaching in a variety of creative ways. Some have created new divisions (e.g. SCMS+ for the Society of Cinema and Media Studies) or seen increased activity in long-standing teaching committees or divisions (e.g. Society for the Teaching of Psychology for the American Psychological Association). Others have generated resources pages or aggregators for the service of their members, for example the “Bringing Your Course Online” resource page compiled by the Modern Languages Association and the Remote Instruction news feed generated by the Association of American Law Schools.
If you haven’t visited any disciplinary “flagship” associations or journals webpages recently, it’s worth your time to see how these organizations are responding to our new teaching environment.
Academic Social Media
Just as useful as the formal responses from professional organizations are the more informal networks that academics have used for years to sustain disciplinary and pedagogical conversations on social media. Facebook groups like “Teaching in the Time of Corona” developed early in 2020 to address both the emotional complexities and logistics of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic; this group continues to crowdsource ideas and troubleshoot teaching challenges across multiple fields. There are also many discipline specific Facebook teaching groups to explore.
Similarly, participating in “Academic Twitter” can help instructors stay on top of conversations in their field in terms of both subject matter and teaching practice. If you’re new to Twitter, look for scholars with established Twitter accounts that you’d like to follow. It’s relatively easy to snowball from a short list of high-profile academics or departmental colleagues to a network of educators and researchers in your field. You can also explore the world of hashtags for a deeper dive. Relevant hashtags will soon become apparent, i.e. #twitterhistorians, #soctwitter, etc.
NOTE: YouTube, while less useful as a means of social connection, is invaluable as a repository for all kinds of teaching and technology tutorials.
Taken together with Rutgers-based teaching resources – for example, Teaching and Learning with Technology's offerings, the P3’s SMARTeaching series, the ACUE program (look for two new microcourses in Spring 2021!), Rutgers’ library resources and workshops, the on-demand training videos prepared by the Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) office at Rutgers-Camden, etc. – the resources for accessing or even GROWING community around teaching are all available to you, despite the distances that divide us.
Looking for other kinds of teaching support but don’t know where to look? Please send us a message and we will work to connect you to an appropriate resource.
Teaching in Higher Ed, podcast on (you guessed it!) teaching in higher ed
Tea for Teaching, podcast centered on informal conversations on re: innovative and effective practices in teaching and learning
Leading Lines, podcast on educational technology
The Learning Scientists, research and resources compiled by cognitive psychological scientists interested in research on education.
Want to share your pandemic teaching story? The Chronicle of Higher Ed is currently soliciting teaching narratives!
UPCOMING TRAININGS and EVENTS:
Dec 1, 9:30am (1.5 hrs): Creating an Inclusive Learning Environment
Dec 2, 10 am (1.5 hrs): Intro to Canvas, Part 1
Dec 3, 11am (1.5 hrs): Fundamentals of Designing Online Courses
Dec 4, 1pm (1 hr): Best Practices for Lecture Capture and Video
Brought to you by the P3 Collaboratory for Pedagogy, Professional Development, and Publicly-Engaged Scholarship at Rutgers University-Newark