- About CEE
- Three students talk about academic integrity
- A different perspective on academic integrity
- Painting the bigger picture of academic integrity
- National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
- Reflections on Inclusion in the Classroom Week
- Fostering connection and practicing kindness
- Can you teach dance remotely?
- A student’s perspective: How two instructors created connection online
- Welcome to your new Zoom classroom
- Kevin Lam: “Students appreciate every little thing we do that shows that we care”
- Sheri Fabian: “I embraced a flexible approach”
- Sarah Johnson: “The biggest change I made was to switch to asynchronous delivery”
- Nicky Didicher: “I’m finding my job less exhilarating”
- Mark Lechner: “You have to be OK with things going sideways”
- Nienke van Houten: “They really valued my clear and upfront approach”
- How can we support remote instruction at SFU?
- Crowdmark: A more efficient way to grade student assessments
- The unexpected benefits of a shorter syllabus
- Photo gallery: Talking shop at Teaching Matters
- Watch the video: Faculty members discuss SFU's new instructor-led online course model
- Bridges and booster rockets: CEE's new senior director talks about teaching support
- Meet the Centre for Educational Excellence leadership team
- A biology instructor rethought her students’ role—and her own
- Photo gallery: SFU’s 24th Annual Spring TA/TM Day
- Photo gallery: SFU's 9th Annual Winter Warm-up
- If you build it, will they come?
- “My students didn’t look like they were having fun”: Three additions to the TA/TM Stories podcast series
- View the furniture, share your thoughts—online
- An upgraded Canvas Gradebook is coming in January
- Share your thoughts on the furniture in SFU classrooms
- DEMOfest presenter slides
- Photo gallery: 5th Annual DEMOfest
- Teamwork needs to be taught
- TA/TM Stories: Three new podcasts explore the teaching experiences of grad students
- Can it be done? A math instructor attempts to indigenize her course
- Answers to your questions about SFU's new approach to online education
- Photo gallery: The CEE Open House
- Do you know your faculty teaching fellow?
- Instructor-led online courses: How one faculty member prepared for the new model
- Photo gallery: SFU's 34th Annual Fall TA/TM Day draws a crowd
- Connecting people and crossing artificial divides: An interview with Elizabeth Elle
- Sessional instructors can now be included in online course evaluations
- Don't say this to your class—a student shares his experience
- How one lecturer is using podcasts to make course concepts more real in her online course
- Photo gallery: Rain, burgers and smiles at the 2019 President's Employee BBQ
- Five questions and answers about the creation of CEE
- A redesign made this course more engaging for students—and the instructor
- CPUTL: A graduate student describes her experience
- CEE Staff Login
Fostering connection and practicing kindness
For Hasina Samji, an assistant professor in health sciences, the past eight months have been about learning to provide a positive course experience for students within the constraints of the online environment.
While preparing to teach her HSCI 432: Seminar in Epidemiology this fall, she debated whether or not to deliver lectures synchronously. Her worry was that students in different time zones or with poor internet access might have difficulty connecting.
“Ultimately, with a smaller group (about 45 students), I decided to see if I could recreate important features of in-person instruction—like getting to connect with peers—and shift gears if it didn't seem like synchronous instruction [was] working well from the students' perspective.”
Halfway through the semester, synchronous delivery seems to be working, but Samji acknowledges that there are aspects of the in-person experience she misses.
No Halloween treats this year
“There is no substitute for the give and take between me and students, and for students within the class. I particularly miss getting to know the students outside of strict class parameters; for instance, learning about their interests, career plans and challenges as well. My students are often on the cusp of graduation, and I usually provide a lot more career guidance.
“Similarly, I bring in guest lecturers from applied public health settings—this year we've had three guest lecturers from the BC Centre for Disease Control—and they usually also share their career trajectories to provide context for students. That interaction is missing this year.
“I also didn't get to buy students Halloween treats like I usually do. And though we haven't discussed it, I imagine the students are feeling the Zoom fatigue we all are. Participation through the chat has been working relatively well—and possibly better for people who prefer not to speak up in front of a larger class.”
Practicing gratitude and granting extensions
Samji has been participating in a Well-being in Learning Environments pilot organized by SFU Health Promotion and the Institute for the Study of Learning and Teaching in the Disciplines (ISTLD). The pilot incorporates activities like weekly check-ins designed to support student well-being as well as qualitative interviews (scheduled for later in the semester) that will ask students about “what worked and what didn't.”
She is convinced that the effort to ask students how they are coping is important: “I think a lot of students' struggling is unfortunately behind closed doors, or computer screens in this case.”
Samji herself has relied on a variety of coping mechanisms.
“Conversations with my peers are helpful, and knowing that others are struggling with the same issues. I do my best to practice gratitude—shifting my focus from seeing roadblocks or frustrations to a more positive frame of mind—but this is an ongoing challenge. I will say, though, that I'm lucky to have my family around. I feel for students and others who are isolated/alone.”
Ultimately, the past eight months have taught her the importance of compassion.
“I laughingly shared with [ISTLD director] Sheri Fabian recently that I'm giving out extensions left, right and centre. Indeed, if students approach me for an extension, I often give even more time than they ask for. We are all struggling with unanticipated anxieties and challenges; let's be kind to each other if we can.”