Accolades and Congratulations
Dear, dear CETL blog readers: I think that you should all join me in a big round of applause for Dr. Jung Ha Kim. Not only did she just finish teaching her first ever online course, but she also graciously, carefully, and caringly guided 130 students through the semester. Yep, you heard that right: 130 students.
So, how did this brave professor get to the point of teaching a gigantic course as her first online experience? How the heck did she manage to foster a rigorous, relatable, and socially-just community of learning with such numbers? And, what did I learn along the way?
The Story Begins
Jung Ha first came to the CETL in Fall of 2016 in her role as Director of Undergraduate Studies. Justin, Will, and I worked with her to develop and deliver a series of discussion-based, flipped-methodology pedagogy sessions for GSU sociologists interested in going hybrid or online. As a participant, Jung Ha openly expressed her mixed feelings about teaching using alternative modalities after many years of successful teaching in the classroom. But, being the brave scholar that she is, she pushed through her fears and volunteered to experiment with an extra-large course community for her first experience with online learning. And so we began working together designing her SOCI 1101 course in June 2017 for a January 2018 launch.
The Design Process
In many ways, my experience working with Jung Ha reflects a signature CETL design experience. We both started with empathy as we got to know each other during several initial, open-ended meetings. This series of conversations led us to a variety of insights over the Summer that we transformed into a number of commitments to future students. These included:
- Embracing a more socially-just approach to design, teaching, and learning
- Increasing rigor without creating an insane grading load
- Nurturing caring, vulnerable engagement
From here, we pondered over possible course experiences, developed interesting writing and scholarship opportunities, rewrote the syllabus 8 times, destroyed the syllabus 12 times, rewrote the syllabus another 3 times, worried, jumped with joy, and built a course together. Somewhere in there we also applied for and won an Affordable Learning Georgia Grant, which was an amazing addition to the experience. We also had the opportunity to share our the course design at the USG’s Teaching and Learning Conference in April.
The Finished Course Design
So, how did we enact our commitments? Well, the finished course worked a little something like this:
*Fostering Care necessarily happens in pre-, during-, and post-course work
Teaching & Learning
“When you’re doing it for the first time, your ignorance makes you courageous!” – Dr. Jung Ha Kim
Happily, the semester was a success. This doesn’t mean that everything went smoothly: It didn’t. We experienced a good bit of student anxiety at first over the level of scholarship required, as well as concerns over the nature of working in small groups online. However, Jung Ha, her students, and I worked hard, together, to make the experience the best that it could be. I think that a big part of the success was due to open, caring communication between everyone involved in the class community. In that spirit, here are a few student voices that we collected and that Jung Ha shared with the group at Midterm using a modified version of the CETL’s GIFT technique:
- “The writing assignments help me better my understanding of the textbook, and the assignments help me better my writing skills”
- “Honestly, the best part of this course is being able to communicate with everyone else in it. Everyone’s peer review offers different perspective and help me understand the course even better”
- “[I would like] more readings from outside the book”
- [The grading process was] “slow during Modules 1 and 2”
- “[To help improve the course for other students’ and my professor, I will] be unbiased in my reviews of papers and take my [peers’] criticism well. Hopefully [I will] be able to give my professor good information that can help future students, too”
So, you’ve heard a lot from me and a bit from the students. What did Jung Ha think about the experience? Here are a few of her insights:
Overall, everyone involved in this project grew and evolved before, during, and after the semester. My hope is that the students who took this class continue to use their newfound skills in collaborative course design and caring community-based inquiry. I also hope that Jung Ha and the rest of the wonderful folks in the Sociology department continue working with us.
Jung Ha and her department have been wonderful partners with us here in the CETL. Look for more of their courses to go online this fall and beyond as they work with my colleague Joju Cleaver to reimagine their courses in artful, caring, and careful ways. If you’d like to learn more about creating or transforming your program, check out our recent post So You Want To Start A New Program!. For ideas on how to get started online when you don’t have time to do a full design, check out Help: I’m not ready to teach this online class and the semester is starting TODAY!. Please do get in touch with us with any of your teaching and learning needs.
Sarah Hepler is the Manager of Instructional Design at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Georgia State University. In her spare time, she enjoys cobbling her own shoes from discarded hopes and dreams.