November 2020
New Synchronous Online Discussions Module Added to
CFT's Online Course Development Resource Site
The Online Course Development Resources website is designed to help faculty and other instructors design, teach, and revise their online courses, drawing on research, best practices, and existing resources from the Center for Teaching and around the web. We are always adding more content and recourses to the site.
The latest addition is a module created by CFT Assistant Director, Heather Fedesco that identifies the different ways you can incorporate synchronous online discussions as a way to include interactional activities into your online course. The module provides suggestions for incorporating group discussions into your videoconferencing. 
Users can engage with the resources on the new site in two ways: as a self-paced course, in which the site walks you through the course development process and provides you with information on a range of tools commonly used to teach online, or as an on-demand resource for questions on specific topics.
Visit the new Leading Synchronous Online Discussions page on the resource website.

Spring Journal Club:
Investigating Student Learning

In this journal club we will explore different approaches that college instructors can use to investigate how and what our students are learning. We will discuss research articles that illustrate how a range of methods can be used to understand our teaching and our students’ learning, considering benefits and limitations of the methods for answering our questions. We’ll discuss opportunities for presenting and publishing our own investigations, considering the norms and practices common to both the SOTL (Scholarship of teaching and learning) and DBER (discipline-based education research) communities.
By the end of the year, participants will identify a research question they are interested in pursuing in their own teaching context and an approach they may use to answer that question.
We plan to meet twice monthly. If you REGISTER HERE by December 31, you’ll receive an email in early January to solicit input about meeting times.
Open to faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students at Vanderbilt.

Join us for a secure testing Q&A Session all about Proctorio!
Do you have questions about using Proctorio, Vanderbilt’s secure testing software? If you plan to give a timed, secure exam using the Brightspace Quiz tool, using Proctorio in Brightspace provides a range of security options. Drop in for a Q&A session at noon on Monday, November 30th or on Tuesday, December 1st. The CFT’s Lead Instructional Technologist, Paige Snay, and Vanderbilt faculty member Elisabeth Sandberg will be available to answer questions and talk through issues with those who attend. Please register here just to let us know you are coming.
If you can’t make it to one of our two Q&A sessions but still want to know more about Proctorio, you can check out our on-demand resources or reach out by email to

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Event Focusing on Teaching Issues of Race and Racism
As part of the 2020-21 learning community on Teaching and Race, the Center for Teaching is hosting a meeting on the subject of resolving classroom conflicts about race. Discussions about race can be among the most challenging students can have in the classroom due to the issue’s intellectual complexities, political implications, and emotional dimensions, all of which can lead to difficult conversations and, at times, conflicts.
While conflict is necessary and productive for learning, it can also threaten to spiral into hostilities and incivilities that can disrupt learning and potentially do harm to students.
This conversation will be focus on how to manage conflict about race in the classroom and transform it, when possible, into moments of critical learning and growth.
Sharing their insights will be special guests, Jermaine Soto (Director of Faculty Development, Office of the Provost), Franklin Ellis, Jr (Director of the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence), and Graham Reside (Executive Director of the Cal Turner Program in Moral Leadership for the Professions, and Assistant Professor of Divinity).
Topics will likely vary but should include microaggressions, uncomfortable conversations, privileged identity exploration (PIE), intergroup dialogue, non-violent communication, and methods of fostering faculty presence. We hope you will join in the conversation.
Date: Friday, November 6th
Time: 2:00-3:30
Location: Attend via this Zoom link.

Teaching with Games and Simulations in a Pandemic
Games and simulations, both digital and analog, can immerse players in other worlds and give them experiences that help them see their own worlds in new ways. During this pandemic year, our world looks and feels very different. How can instructors use games and simulations to help students understand the world we find ourselves in? And how can we adapt games and simulations to teach in online and physically distanced environments to engage students in deep learning? 
In this conversation, we continue explorations started at the 2019 Learning at Play symposium and hear from three instructors who are teaching with games and simulations during this challenging fall semester.
  • Holly Tucker, Mellon Foundation chair in the humanities 
  • Shaul Kelner, associate professor of sociology and Jewish studies
  • Cait Kirb, Ph.D. candidate in biological sciences
  • Derek Bruff, director of the Center for Teaching and principle senior lecturer in mathematics
Date: Thursday, November 19, 2020
Time: 12pm to 1pm
Location: Zoom link to be provided to registered participants. REGISTER HERE

Instructional Design Consultations through iDesign
Vanderbilt University has partnered with the instructional design firm iDesign to make available a number of services to help faculty and other instructors prepare for online and hybrid teaching this fall. iDesign learning specialists are on-hand to assist with your course design and teaching effectiveness questions. If you have a question relating how to best implement a teaching strategy or best practice in your course, iDesign is here to help! Support requests can be submitted via or through the iDesign Faculty Resource Hub. You can self-enroll in the iDesign Faculty Hub. Self-enrollment instructions are here.

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