Hi Carleton instructors,

It’s us again, your Teaching and Learning Services team. We’re still here—here to talk, here to listen, here to help you sort out issues, here to help you bring your teaching to the next level.

Maybe you love teaching online (or you’re at least cautiously optimistic about it), or maybe you feel like you’ve spent the past month patching one hole after the next in a leaky boat that you’re desperately trying to row to shore. Either way, we’re here for you. We (still) offer workshops, mentorship, course design support, tech support, and more.

Before you tackle that pile of midterm grading or switch into full hibernation mode during this Fall Reading Week, take some time to rest and reflect.

  • Check your bandwidth. Are you struggling to keep up? If your course is feeling overwhelming, try to cut down/out any content or ungraded activities that don’t contribute to your learning outcomes. An empty “catch-up” class at the end of the semester might give everybody some much-needed breathing room.
  • Check your students’ bandwidth. Are you assigning multiple hours of lectures, dozens of pages of readings, and multiple assessments every week? Be realistic about your course workload. If your course outline allows for it, make your assessments more flexible (e.g., “best of” structure). And remember to keep recorded lectures short!
  • Pay attention to what’s working. Have you noticed your students are contributing to discussions more than in face-to-face classes? Are cuLearn quizzes saving you time and energy? Get feedback from your students or do a self-scan to help you pinpoint what’s working (or not) so you know what to keep and what to toss. Consider sharing your successes on our blog.
  • Make necessary changes now. Are you flooded with emails from confused students? Is your weekly marking unmanageable? Take action sooner rather than later. Clarify assignment descriptions or add an “Ask your Instructor” forum to keep your inbox clear(er). Use a rubric or marking guide to grade assignments—it’ll pay off, we promise. If you’re not sure what to do, sign up for a one-on-one consultation with us or attend one of our drop-in sessions or workshops. We have tips, tricks and tools galore to help make your life easier.
  • Winter is coming. We don’t want to stress you out, but the winter term is coming and it’s going to be online. Be strategic—what have you learned or done this term that you can integrate or copy to next term? Use our handy course design guide to get a head-start on winter planning and this checklist to gauge your progress. Our top tip: keep it simple.
  • Remember, you’re not alone. Teaching can be isolating in “normal” times—these days even more so. Talk to us, your colleagues, or your Faculty Teaching Mentor, or join a Welcome to My Online Classroom session to meet and learn from other teachers. If you’re struggling, or see a peer or student struggling, please prioritize getting the support you need.

With more virtual hugs,

All of us at TLS

Interested in contributing to our blog? Please email tls@carleton.ca to find out how.