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Faculty Guide for Online Teaching


Note from the Dean's Office [updated 5/18/20]

The resources compiled in this guide are extensive, covering material developed at SAIC and dozens of institutions in a variety of contexts. Library staff are continually working with faculty and the Computer Resources and Information Technologies (CRIT) team to update this guide and are especially interested in ideas or best practices developed by SAIC faculty which directly address SAIC’s unique curriculum. Consider this a resource-in-progress, and reach out to us if you would like to participate in its development or have resources to share.

In this guide, you’ll find information on both synchronous and asynchronous approaches to remote instruction. While both should be explored, we strongly urge all faculty to build the foundation of online teaching from asynchronous instructional resources. Asynchronous instruction utilizes activities and work which do not depend upon faculty and students being in direct contact at any one particular time, including the meeting time assigned to the previous on-campus version of a course. For the time being, we must collectively set aside the notion that a class must meet together for three or six hours a day to function. 

Asynchronous approaches are far more congruent to the circumstances facing both students and as we continue teaching online. As faculty develop revised and remote curriculum, consider those students who may:

• now reside in time zones significantly different from Chicago and those of other students in class 

• have significantly fewer hours of time available for study as a result of shared living spaces and fewer communication resources

• lack access to reliable, let alone high-speed, internet

• face extreme economic pressure due to personal or familial job loss

• reside in unstable housing with people who may not be supportive of the time they need to spend on their studies and/or creative practice

• And lastly but most importantly, always keep in mind that all students and all of us continue to contend with increased levels of distraction and anxiety as we navigate life amidst a pandemic.

In addition to this guide, here are a few more ideas to orient faculty towards developing remote learning curriculum infused with creativity, flexibility, and empathy. 

• Take the ideas you find here and then look at your existing curriculum. Ask yourself what works best about the class you teach on campus, then examine why these components are so successful. Even if you can’t reproduce this curriculum remotely, you can produce online curriculum that works along the same lines

• Acknowledge that you will need to re-consider your own priorities. Many students were overwhelmed by the amount of work it took to navigate converted Spring 2020 curriculum in an online context. Scaling back is an important part of taking a course online

• Consider how to best break up your content into chunks which are smaller and more suited to students who can only work for brief stretches, and make sure there is a balance between delivered instruction and student-driven work time

• Be sure to program in time for you to be in direct contact with students. This is where synchronous instruction comes in, in terms of videoconferencing with the class, small groups, or hosting individual office hour meetings for each student. Contact can also come asynchronously, via email check-ins or engagement in class-wide discussions. In an online setting, it’s critical that your students hear from you regularly, and connect with you in predictable ways

If you have any specific questions about how to develop online curriculum that is suited to the current context, do not hesitate to reach out to your department Chair, or the Deans or Associate Deans of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies, respectively.

Thank you for the work you are doing in support of our students.