Resources for larger (online) classes

Below are the resource for teaching larger classes I revisited in order to revise my syllabuses this semester. I am including in this review some teaching basics – docendo discimus. The pointers listed are applicable to online, networked teaching. This post is listed under the Systems Design because it references design thinking, which I outlined here.
Berkeley’s considerations for large lecture classes
Teachers cut down on the material presented and focus mostly on: key points and general themes, difficult material, material not available elsewhere, examples and illustrations, material of relevance. Teachers frame material in terms of issues/problems, not factual information and phrase in terms of a question. Teachers have students ask and answer questions, summarize, identify ‘muddiest points’, explain material to juniors.
Berkeley’s discourse and sensemaking in large lectures
Students identify, help each other with, underline ideas and create concept maps – identifying the relationship of ideas – in response to a focus question.
Carnegie Mellon’s page on using concept maps
Teachers create a focus question for the concept map for which students identify relevant concepts and then revise, drawing multiple and hierarchical connections, clarifying the meaning of given concepts.
Harvard’s 20 ways to make a lecture more participatory
Teachers begin the course with questions to ascertain where students are by asking them to identify: some of the relevant debates; how __ is interpreted and what more is needed to come to an understanding; a certain perspective on __ ; some examples of __ ; the image students have of __ ; factors of/reasons for__ ; a list of up to 10 __ ; __ and the __ it addresses; steps in __ and which steps __ .
Cornell’s group work and collaborative learning – esp. group work
Teachers establish ground rules in a course by introducing them and asking for feedback, referring to them throughout, especially re. heated topics – making sure, if there is group work, that groups establish their own rules and revisit them as well.
Cornell’s large courses
Teachers use a hook and visual agenda with meaningful sections and summaries in every class (or every class video).
Indiana’s Middendorf and Kalish paper on ‘changing up’ lectures
Students again generate questions, including exam questions, find illustrative quotations and illustrations to support (and, I add: as alternatives to) a given position. Students identify something concrete that stands out, ask others to provide missing points, then analyze together. Students identify the value lines of a controversy.
University of Maryland’s teaching large classes
This resource contains a nice list of descriptors of what constitutes quality learning. It also makes a suggestion that could be used as a way of gauging online attendance: teachers have students ask or answer questions about the course (see the first entry above as to why this might be effective in this context) Teachers remember to emphasize the purpose of the course throughout. Segments of the course should not be longer than 15-20 minutes (in my experience, I would say, 15 minutes, tops, for lecture segments when online). To allow for difference in learning styles, teachers ensure exercises range from, e.g. role play to problem solving.
The struggle of huge teaching loads sans TAs and the gamefication (via publication points) of higher ed is real. I have yet to experience the golden mean of time-to-task management. My biggest challenge is teaching two courses with an enrollment of 150 each. Please reach out if you have helpful resources of your own, including on publishing strategies. May this be a fruitful year for us all!

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