During January 2022, Every Learner Everywhere and its network partners conducted its second Strategies for Success workshop series, which is designed to be an evergreen resource for higher education faculty who want to promote equity in the classroom with engaging and evidence-based use of digital learning tools.
The 2021 launch of Strategies for Success was designed to support educators at a time when the shift to remote learning was still fresh. Norma Hollebeke, Manager of Network Programs and Services for Every Learner Everywhere, says that a year later, there remains a high demand for introductory training around digital tools and online learning.
“We’re still in flux as to how much colleges and universities are going remote, going face to face, or somewhere in between,” says Hollebeke. “Faculty have to be flexible around that and will probably be using more digital learning resources going forward. And in any case, there’s a growing awareness of how equity for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and poverty-affected students is impacted by classroom practices and course design. The workshop series provides the tools and support faculty need.”
The 2022 Strategies for Success series, as well as the 2021 series, are available to watch on demand.
Professional development for all higher ed faculty
Hollebeke notes that while the emphasis of the Strategies for Success series is on online teaching and learning, these webinars are applicable to all educators who are using a digital resource in their classroom, whether that is face to face, completely remote, or some kind of hybrid.
That’s because today’s students are used to a certain level of technology as part of their education, says Hollebeke. “Pedagogically, we need to adapt to what students expect without losing the focus on the content.”
Hollebeke is especially interested in reaching contingent faculty with the webinars, because many of them don’t have the same professional development opportunities that permanent faculty do.
Additionally, many gateway courses are being taught by adjuncts. Gateway courses are key when it comes to influencing the outcomes of minoritized students, which means that supporting faculty for those courses to confront and reduce barriers to equity is especially critical.
Practical tools to address equity in the classroom
The theme of the 2022 Strategies for Success webinar series was using digital tools and evidence-based teaching practice to promote equity in the classroom.
Shifting to remote learning at the beginning of the pandemic exposed weaknesses in the system, notes Hollebeke, especially when it comes to online learning for minoritized students. Educators need both high-level strategy and tactical ideas for implementing tools in the classroom.
The webinar topics were chosen to provide faculty with specific examples and with tools and resources they can integrate immediately.
“Faculty want to be innovative,” says Hollebeke. “They want not only technology tools, but pedagogy they know will help their students. But they’re overburdened. These webinars were designed as mini bites of professional development so they can focus on student success.”
Highlights from the Strategies for Success series include:
- Love as Praxis: Discussing the Washington State Guided Pathways Initiative in Diversity, Equity, Antiracism, and Leadership (IDEAL) Fellows Program, presented by IDEAL’s programs’ co-developer and lead teacher, Dr. Jeremiah J. Sims. The presentation is a high-level overview of why equity matters in the classroom, and how Washington community colleges are reimagining how they support minoritized students.
- Starting with the Learner: Inclusive Instruction as Teaching with Social Justice, presented by Dr. Joel Amidon, Associate Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Mississippi, gives instructors workable steps for integrating social justice in the classroom and pedagogy. Faculty learn how simple changes, such as including a student survey or changing classroom layout, can impact equity.
- Engage! Using Adaptive Courseware and Digital Technology to Enhance Student Learning, is presented by Dr. Kerry MacFarland and Dr. Harmony Tucker, both chemistry faculty at Colorado State University. They draw from their experience with the General Chemistry program to recommend practical ways instructors can implement digital technology to help students master material. They show faculty how to use adaptive courseware to identify and communicate directly with struggling students.
- Online Teaching Strategies to Promote Equity and Inclusion, presented by Flower Darby, co-author of Small Teaching Online: Applying Learning Science in Online Classes, discusses equity-focused design and teaching practices. She provides practical ways to address barriers and inequities in the classroom and to enhance equitable outcomes through online teaching techniques.
- Formative Assessment as an Instructional Strategy: Using the Teaching Effectiveness Framework to Support Digital Learners, presented by Colorado State University instructional designers Tonya Buchan and Jennifer Todd, outlines ways to use frequent checks for understanding that double as engaging instructional strategies, without overburdening faculty with grading.
An ongoing series for continuing success
Hollebeke hopes the recorded Strategies for Success webinars will be evergreen resources for faculty working to improve their course design and teaching practices. But she also recommends experiencing them live when possible, since direct discussion with the workshop leaders has been valuable.
Her plans for future workshops is to make them even more interactive, with facilitators available for small breakout groups working on specific challenges and participants learning from their peers.
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