July 2020
The Center for Teaching invites Vanderbilt faculty, postdocs, and graduate students to apply to its new Online Course Design Institute, a two-week online experience intended to help participants prepare to teach an online course. The Online Course Design Institute will be offered multiple times this summer and we are now accepting applications. You can hear more about the institue by listening to this episode of the Leading Lines Podcast where Derek Bruff and Cynthia Brame talk about its development.
During the institute participants will:
  • Develop a course plan for their upcoming online course, one that integrates learning objectives with assessments, assignments, and activities;
  • Build one or more sample modules for their courses, practicing the skills they will use to build other modules;
  • Plan strategies for helping their online students thrive, including strategies for promoting meaningful interaction, social presence, and equitable learning; and
  • Learn about the affordances of online teaching tools, identify tools that align with their goals, and develop practical skills using those tools.
How do I apply?
The Online Course Design Institute is open to all Vanderbilt faculty members with teaching responsibilities, as well as graduate students and postdocs who will be serving as instructors of record at Vanderbilt. Visit the Online Course Design Institute webpage for details and to apply.

NEW Online Course
Visits Program!
Seeing others teach can be a valuable way help us grow our own teaching practice. For years, the CFT has hosted teaching visits for Vanderbilt faculty, post-docs, and grad students to observe their colleagues’ face-to-face classes (such as during the Open Classroom event).  In hybrid and online courses, a significant amount of teaching is done digitally, in the way instructors organize their courses, communicate with their students, and foster student interaction. The Online Course Visits program is designed to allow Vanderbilt instructors to “visit” others’ Brightspace courses to observe these features.
Some hosts have also offered to discuss their course design choices via Zoom. If so, you will receive a Zoom invitation when you are registered as a guest in the course.
If you would like to observe a colleague’s Brightspace course, vist the program page to sign up!

During the university’s June 24th faculty town hall, CFT director Derek Bruff presented several strategies for adaptive teaching and active learning that faculty and other instructors might find useful as they plan their fall courses.

While some instructors will be teaching fully online this fall, others may find themselves teaching in classrooms where some students are present but physically distanced and masked, while other students participate via videoconference. This makes for a challenging teaching environment, but CFT staff have outlined some ways to foster active learning and student engagement in this kind of hybrid classroom. 
To learn more, read Derek’s blog post Active Learning in Hybrid and Physically Distanced Classroomsor CFT associate director Cynthia Brame’s blog post Structures for Flex Classrooms: Pros, Cons, and Pedagogical Tools.”
You can also view the town hall on YouTube, which features Derek’s presentation as well as a Q&A session with Mavis Schorn, professor of nursing and senior associate dean for academics in the School of Nursing, and André Christie-Mizell, professor of sociology and dean of undergraduate education in the College of Arts and Science. 
 Sign up for the
Brightspace Course
Template Workshop
The CFT has developed an online course template for online courses in Brightspace. If you are interested in learning more about the template to see if it might work for you, you can sign up for a one-hour workshop with Brightspace Instructional Technologist, Erica Brandon. Erica will walk you through the elements of the template so you can use it effectively, then provide you with your own copy that you can use to build your online course in Brightspace. 
The first workshop will take place July 13th at 3pm. You can sign up here.
For more information about this workshop and future offerings, keep an eye on the registration form and our Brightspace support workshops page.
Rethinking Assessment Strategies and Procedures
By Julie Johnson, Professor of the Practice of Computer Science, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Computer Science
With major changes planned for the fall semester, many of us have had to rethink our assessment strategies.  One aspect you may have overlooked is the handling of graded student assignments. A simple homework can generate a chain of contact among professors, graders and students. One way to reduce the complexity of what used to be a simple task is to use an online tool like Gradescope. This free tool facilitates student turn-in by accepting scans of handwritten or typed work. Once a student uploads their work, it can easily be accessed by instructors and multiple graders who can grade the work, mark it up, develop rubrics on the fly, re-evaluate your grading scheme and easily collaborate on all-things-grading without ever having to launch Zoom or handle papers. When grading is finished, you “hand back” student work by releasing graded assignments with the click of a button. Gradescope also helps you handle the inevitable regrade request by facilitating student requests, generating notification emails to you and the relevant grader and automatically opening and closing the regrade request time window. This can cut down on the number of office visits or Zoom appointments you might need to set up. Assignments can be template-based (worksheet style) or open-response (X questions—student’s use as many pages as they need), typed or handwritten, include figures or photos.
You can learn more about Gradescope by visiting their website. Or contact Julie Johnson in the EECS department. Julie and 7 of her colleagues have been using this tool for four years and would be happy to show you around.
Junior Faculty Spotlight:
Daniela D'Eugenio
Each year, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Daniela D'Eugenio, French & Italian, talks about some of the most useful lessons she has learned from the Fellowship.
As a Senior Lecturer of Italian in the Department of French and Italian and affiliated faculty for the Certificate in Second Language Studies, I have found the Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows (JFTF) program tremendously enriching during the 2019-2020 academic year. Although I had been in close contact with the CFT in previous years, I had never participated in a structured series of events to reflect on teaching practices, instructional choices, and assessment tools. Undoubtedly, the JFTF program has been one of my most rewarding experiences since the beginning of my appointment at Vanderbilt.
A “Made-in-Italy” Course
During the JFTF program, I worked on redesigning a course that I had proposed adding to the Italian program curriculum one year before and tailored the original syllabus to my own interests. This course explored different examples of the Made-in-Italy label and engaged in cultural, historical, and economic analyses of Italian brands and products in Italy and the US. It was designed to include a variety of topics from local and global perspectives that any member of my program could potentially teach, including fashion brands, design products, architectural styles, and popular music. 
Redesigning the Course
Throughout the JFTF biweekly meetings with my cohort, I restructured my Made-in-Italy course by focusing on my existing expertise on fashion and design and used the backward design approach to refine course objectives, assessment options, readings, activities, and projects. My main goal was to tap into my students’ interests, knowledge, and creativity through engagement with and reflection on Made-in-Italy fashion and design, all of which culminating in the course’s final project. Keeping in mind the CFT “Students as Producers” motto, I structured this project as a hands-on experience involving the creation of a fashion or design brand.
An Experiential Final Project
For the final project, I proposed different media that my students could use to present their fashion or design brand and invited them to pay attention to these media’s contexts of use and audience. I was excited to give my students the opportunity to select the medium they wished to use, for instance a webpage to present to a potential business partner, a podcast to launch during a radio program, a digital storytelling video for a hypothetical competition, a comic book for children, or a traditional academic paper. Through any of these options, the students creatively provide a detailed description, investigation, and presentation of the following aspects concerning the brand: its name, logo, mission statement, products, advertisement campaign, business-related functions, and local and/or international appeal. To prepare my students for this final project, I provided my syllabus with a list of readings on different topics, from fashion as art to sustainable fashion and design practices, from marketing to psychological strategies of communication.
A Scaffolded Approach
As a result of a stimulating conversation at one of the cohort’s meetings, I decided to scaffold the project in five different assignments during the semester designed to progressively allow students to develop their brand’s different components. For five consecutive two-day workshops, students collaborate on a specific aspect of their final project. On day one, they participate in a small-group jigsaw activity, in which they work on this aspect within their groups and then share their own choices with other groups. On day two, all groups present their brand’s aspect to the class.
Looking Ahead
The JFTF program has taught me the benefit of sharing my knowledge, as well as my ideas and plans with instructors who work in fields different than mine. Although this is something that I had been practicing before, I definitely realized its value in a more meaningful way throughout the program. I look forward to cultivating conversations about both my language and literature classes with current and future colleagues. I will miss being part of a cohort of such prepared, enthusiastic, and passionate teachers and researchers, and I am sure I will refer to the JFTF as a model of instruction and networking for many years to come.  
Teaching Assistant Orientation

Many graduate students are awarded teaching assistantships, and while teaching assistant (TA) duties vary across departments, they all demand considerable skill and knowledge. These duties can include grading, consulting with students during office hours, leading discussion or problem sessions, teaching labs, or giving lectures.
To assist new TAs as they prepare for their duties, the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching offers its Teaching Assistant Orientation (TAO) each August. 
  • Sessions offer effective strategies for the varied teaching duties assumed by TAs.
  • Participants at TAO also receive an opportunity to practice their teaching skills and receive feedback on their teaching.
  • Participation can make students’ work as TAs easier and will be a valuable addition to their curriculum vitae.
Due to COVID-19 and the need to practice safe social distancing, this year, TAO will be held remotely and will include a mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities spread across three days. New TAs will work in a small disciplinary cohort led by a Teaching Affiliate to learn about the skills and knowledge needed to be an effective TA in face-to-face and online learning settings. Participants should plan to dedicate approximately 3 hours each day to complete all synchronous and asynchronous activities.
Date: August 17, 18, 19
Time: 9:00-11:00 am via zoom, plus an additional hour to complete asynchronous learning modules
For details and to register, see the orientation page.
Did you know that Brightspace Support at the CFT can assist with online teaching questions beyond technical difficulties?

The Brightspace team has expertise in a variety of tools found in the Brightspace platform. We’d love to help with understanding how to use Brightspace tools to maximize student learning, choosing appropriate tools for your course goals, structuring your gradebook, and much more! We encourage you to reach out to the Brightspace Team at brightspace@vanderbilt.edu as you develop your online courses.
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