October 22, 2020

Law, Transformative Teaching worked together to prepare for fall semester

Colleen Medill, a professor in the College of Law, leads a lecture in McCollum Hall at the start of the fall 2020 semester.
Craig Chandler | University Communication

Craig Chandler | University Communication

The summer semester started off unlike any other at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with courses moving to remote instruction and faculty scrambling to adjust lesson plans.

Steven Cain and Jillian Manzer, instructional designers for the Center for Transformative Teaching, were helping faculty in the College of Business with semester planning when Anthony Schutz, associate dean of faculty and associate professor of law, caught wind of the dynamic duo.

“I did feel the need to reach out to these instructional designers and see what it was that they were bringing to the table, and pretty quickly I realized that they were beneficial to the things that we were trying to do at the law school,” Schutz said.

Schutz hoped the instructional designers would help improve the online offerings for fall over what was done as part of the switch to remote learning in the spring.

Center for Transformative Teaching instructional designers collaborate with educators across departments and programs to promote evidence-based, inclusive, innovative and effective teaching for all learners. Some services include one-to-one consultation for course design and effective practices, support for instructors to implement improvements in teaching, undertaking course redesign initiatives, and college- and department-specific development programming.

Schutz consulted with Cain and Manzer on how to engage instructors in the online process and how to set up programs such as Canvas in a way that would be helpful for students.

“The resources we have are not a directive, but scaffolding to build upon,” Manzer said. “We tailor advice to each college.”

Also working with Cain and Manzer was Chelsi Hayden, assistant clinical professor of law and director of the legal research and writing program. Hayden attended the two-week Summer Institute for Online Teaching, which aims to provide preparation and training focused on online teaching. She also consulted one-on-one with the instructional designers and attended several workshops.

When asked what Hayden took away from working with the Center for Transformative Teaching, she said “a lot about how to prepare an online course.”

“I also learned better ways to communicate with and provide formative assessments for my students that I will continue to use once we are back in the classroom,” Hayden said, listing examples such as how to structure an online course on Canvas, how to use basic HTML code to make the course structure and organization more apparent and user-friendly, how to use Canvas’ Module structure more efficiently, how to submit and return student work on Canvas, how Canvas can make formative assessment easy and less time-consuming, and ideas for building an online community.

“Working with the CTT has made me a better teacher because I can use technology to create a better course platform, which allows more time for me to focus on the individual student,” Hayden said.

The Center for Transformative Teaching offers monthly workshops to help instructors with online teaching and will be co-hosting the Fall 2020 Teaching and Learning Symposium on Oct. 23. Instructors interested in connecting with the Center for Transformative Teaching can find their college’s instructional designer listed on the website and register for the upcoming symposium before 5 p.m. Oct. 22.

More details can be found here.