Strong Instructional Practices
About Strong Instructional Practices (SIPs)
The University of Texas at San Antonio appreciates and practices Inclusive Excellence. A significant part of inclusive excellence is instructional practice that supports the social and academic achievement of all students. Below are five Strong Instructional Practices (SIPs) that may assist you in your online course development and delivery.
“Equity” is a word that seems to be tossed around a lot in higher education these days. But what does it mean? And how can we promote equity in the classroom or in our student services interactions? UTSA prides itself on being very diverse—doesn’t that mean we already practice equity? It is safe to assume that people on campus want to do the right thing, but sometimes the “how” of equity work eludes us all.
Creating a Human Component in Human Learning
If you spend any amount of time online, you’ve surely seen the common CAPTCHA phrase, “I’m not a robot” with a check box below confirming your humanity. But how about in our online classes? Are we robots or are we humans? Do students know there is an actual flesh-and-blood being on the other side of their computer screen or do they believe there is some sort of robotic presence that answers emails and grades assignments but doesn’t go much beyond that? How do we establish our humanity online, and how do we encourage our students to engage on a different, more meaningful level in an online course?
Establishing a Strong Social Presence Online
Our youngest generation attending college now, Generation Z, is considered the “loneliness generation,” in part because of the vast time spent behind a computer screen using social media as a means to interact with peers; another contributor to their loneliness is the lack of meaningful interpersonal connections overall. Online interactions can never take the place of face-to-face interactions, but there are strategies and techniques that can be incorporated into your online course to increase student-to-student interaction, create more meaningful connections and decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Using Active Learning Strategies in Online Courses
The trifecta of effective online instruction comprises social presence, instructor/teaching presence and cognitive presence. Cognitive presence is a combination of active learning, critical thinking and reflection. Most people learn best by actively working with new concepts and ideas, rather than passively reading about them or watching a video. Critical-thinking skills help learners think through concepts to construct knowledge and make decisions.
Culturally Responsiveness Online
Have you ever thought about your social presence and that of students when teaching an online class? Have you thought about the messages you send to students in the online environment? Do they feel like they belong? Do they feel like they are being heard? Do they feel like they are a part of the learning process?
Crafting Meaningful Goodbyes
This spring, we quickly moved our classes online and campus was closed down due to COVID-19. Though we have continued to work and teach together, many of us did not get to say goodbye or formally celebrate our time together as part of our larger departmental or University community. In addition, we are all experiencing the isolation and stress of sheltering in place, job loss, health fears, housing insecurity and more. Saying goodbye is important and hard under normal conditions, but our current context makes it even more important that we say goodbye intentionally and provide students the opportunity for celebration, closure, connection and purpose.
Maintaining Community During a Pandemic
It seems like maintaining community in our new virtual reality would be a tough challenge. But one of the great ironies of the coronavirus crisis is that social isolation has brought us together in local, national and global society – each person in their own home but clearly and markedly together. How do we create and maintain community, though, when we are all dispersed throughout the city and never come together in person?