Resources and work tools

SFU’s Centre for Educational Excellence ready to help instructors transition back to campus

August 30, 2021
Three staff from SFU’s Centre for Educational Excellence are facilitating a Sept. 2 workshop on learning from remote instruction. From left to right: Alyssa Muzyk, Megan Robertson, Zoe Morris.

For the past eighteen months, classes at SFU have looked a little different. From Zoom lectures and modified syllabi to Canvas discussion groups and online office hours, SFU’s instructors have put immense time and energy into adapting their courses for a virtual environment. And as we transition back to in-person classes this fall, instructors might be wondering which of those changes could—or should—be incorporated into their regular teaching practices.

An upcoming workshop hosted by SFU’s Centre for Educational Excellence (CEE), entitled “LETS* Learn from Remote Instruction: The Good, The Bad, and the Pets Who Interrupted Zoom Sessions,” will explore just that by highlighting data collected from SFU’s Learning Experiences Transition Survey (LETS), which captured more than 6,000 undergraduate student perspectives of remote learning during COVID-19.

“What CEE learned from LETS was that different students had vastly different experiences of learning during the pandemic,” says Zoe Morris, an associate director within CEE’s Curriculum and Instruction Division and one of the workshop facilitators. “Still, we were able to identify themes in the feedback, especially around aspects of remote learning that students felt were beneficial and would like to see carried through into in-person classes.”

One major point of feedback coming out of the LETS survey centered around the theme of accessibility. Many respondents who identified as students with disabilities noted that innovations such as lecture recordings and remote office hours made a positive difference in their learning experience. While Morris acknowledges that tackling the topic of Universal Design for Learning in the classroom may feel daunting, she encourages instructors to start small.

“We know instructors are tired,” she says. “And we always want to balance their current capacity with student feedback. In the case of lecture recordings, for example, we’ll discuss some easy ins to that, like creating audio recordings with a digital recorder, or simply setting up your laptop facing you and hitting ‘record’.”

The workshop will also provide an opportunity for instructors to reflect on their own experiences of the pandemic and discuss their ideas with other instructors. And if you’re unable to attend, never fear—CEE provides a number of ongoing services for SFU instructors, including one-on-one support when it comes to assessments, course and curriculum development and more.

“Our recent faculty needs survey revealed that instructors are thinking a lot about how to support students as they transition back to campus, but that instructors are also seeking ways to be resilient themselves,” says I-Chant Chiang, director of CEE’s Curriculum and Instruction Division.

“CEE is responding in a variety of ways to support instructors during this transition, including inviting speakers to discuss faculty resilience, workshops on trauma-informed pedagogy, hosting themed coffee hours for instructors to connect, and creating a library of tipsheets with practical strategies to use in the classroom.”

"As a former instructor, I know teaching can feel isolating. But you don't have to do everything alone,” adds Morris.

“Our team at CEE is here to think with you, to talk about design and implementation, to ask questions you might not have considered. That’s the work we’re passionate about, the work that drives us. And we’re excited to keep doing it while we navigate these changes together.”

To learn more and register for the Sept. 2 workshop, “LETS* Learn from Remote Instruction: The Good, The Bad, and the Pets Who Interrupted Zoom Sessions,” click here. You can learn more about the support services offered by SFU’s Centre for Educational Excellence on their website.