September 2020 Newsletter

September 4, 2020

Student Engagement in Online and Virtual Teaching

“Provide an uncommon experience for your students, and they will reward you with an uncommon effort and attitude.”

~Dave Burgess

As students and faculty have been dealing with the effects of social distancing and self-isolation due to the pandemic and quarantine, it is more important than ever to fully engage our students. It may take a little more pre-planning to engage our students in an online or virtual environment. So here are a few ideas:

Use students’ creative and exploring skills. Focus on what students already do well in the digital environment and build assignments around those skills and behaviors.

Use group projects. Create exercises and assignments that will help them not only reflect on their own perspectives, but learn from one another.

Interact with students. Comment on a shared document, drop into a chat room, and acknowledge students in live sessions.

Encourage questions. Encourage students to bring their questions to you in online office hours. This is one of the best ways that faculty can build working relationships with students.

Change things up. Consider teaching in smaller “chunks” — micro-lectures, interspersed with group work and silent activities. In online classes, keep the idea of micro-lectures, and try not to have videos longer than 10 minutes.

Draw on students’ individual experiences. Students online are occupying different physical spaces. Instead of ignoring that fact, encourage them to share their individual experiences and help them tap into those experiences for coursework.

TLF Announcements and Tools


Fall Book Groups

It’s almost time to sign up for book groups again. Check out this semester’s book list . Sign-up begins this week. Visit our website for changes to book group policy during Covid-19. The deadline to sign-up is September 25.


Tuesday Teaching Tips

These virtual events will showcase some of the best practices for teaching in virtual and online formats presented by the faculty members from all colleges. Presentations will be in the format of GIFTS sessions (Great Ideas for Teaching Students) with Q&A opportunities at the end of each showcase. You can find a schedule and a registration form on our website.

Panel Discussion: Innovative Teaching Grants on Social Justice

Join the Teaching and Learning Forum and the Provost’s Office for a Panel Discussion about the Innovative Teaching Grants that RSPG facilitates each semester. We encourage all innovations, especially those that involve social justice and inclusive excellence this year. The Innovative Teaching Grants are a great opportunity to reimagine your curriculum to be more inclusive and promote social justice. The panel will be made up of content experts on social justice, pedagogy experts, the chair of the RSPG Committee, and the Provost and Associate Provost. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to talk with and learn from these experts. Register here.

New Faculty Retreat

The Teaching and Learning Forum is pleased to invite you to the 2020 New Faculty Retreat "Take ACTION: Adapt, Collaborate, Teach, Innovate, Observe, & Nurture." New faculty members have been participating in New Faculty Academy throughout the summer, and we are excited to wrap up the academy with a virtual New Faculty Retreat on Friday, October 16! Visit our website for more information and to register for sessions.

We will have a special keynote presentation by Flower Darby, author of Small Teaching Online. ALL faculty members are invited to attend this session on October 16 at 1 p.m. Register here.

Adjunct Faculty Academy

COMING SOON: The goal of this program is to provide adjunct faculty with the essentials you will need to be successful as you teach your courses. Whether you are new to Weber State or just wanting to revamp your courses, there is something here for everyone. You may participate in all of the sessions or choose the ones that best suit your needs. More information to follow.

Teaching in a Digital Classroom Series

The Classroom Technology Services team has upgraded over 200 classrooms with new technology that facilitates lecture capture and live streaming of classes. Many of the courses designated as FLEX in the class schedule will be taught in these technology enhanced classrooms. This Teaching in a Digital Classroom Series is designed to build your skills for teaching in classrooms equipped with this new technology. The first 200 faculty members (contract, tenure track and adjunct included) who successfully complete the series will receive $100. Second round of stipends due date October 31.


Where can I find articles about engaging students online?

Creating EffectiveStudent Engagement in Online Courses

From Theory To Practice: Evidence-based Strategies For Designing And Developing Engaging Online Courses

Teaching to Connect: Community-Building Strategies for the Virtual Classroom

What resources does Weber State University offer for redesigning my courses for virtual and online delivery?

Redesign for Virtual-Online

Video Systems for Teaching

Collaboration Station

Teaching in a Digital Classroom Series

Examples of Experiential Learning Online

Chat with a designer M-F, 8a to 5p

A note from WSU Online on Course Design:

Did you know that the Instructional Designers at Weber State all have graduate degrees in the Learning Sciences? Did you also know that Canvas Administration and Support are the gears behind all of the functions in the Canvas Learning Management System, including it's hundreds of 'approved' integrations?

So, why should you care? Here's why...

There are many wonderful organizations and individuals out there ready to help faculty get through this challenging time, but are they versed in the research behind the practice? Bob the IT guy can help you find a YouTube video for your class, but is he versed in Mayer's Principles of Multimedia Learning? Sue down the hall swears she has the best course design in the world, but is she familiar with Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction? How about the colleague who has used Canvas all Summer, does he know about the new releases that may impact your course next week?

If not, maybe you should consider touching base with someone who does. Our Instructional Designers and Canvas Administration and Support are ready and willing to collaborate with you on your course design. Here's how:

  • Schedule a pre-semester course check-up with a designer by sending an email to
  • Send a Google Chat to Instructional Design ( if you have a quick question. A good example of a common question would be, "how do I structure group work assignments in a virtual or online environment?”
  • Contact the Canvas support desk at x6499 to discuss new Canvas features like Canvas
  • Commons, the Bulk Assignment Due Date tool, Zoom and Canvas integration, and Video Placement in Canvas
  • Schedule a Best Practice Course review for mid-semester to self-evaluate your course design, and then collaborate with a designer on how to make improvements based on your self-evaluation.
  • Take the self-paced, fully online, Intro to eLearning faculty development course.
  • Apply for the eLearning Certificate program in Spring 2021 (space is limited)

As you can see, we have many opportunities for faculty to collaborate with Instructional Design and LMS administration professionals. All you have to do is reach out...(I'm even open to a Zoom coffee/cocoa session if you just want to chat :) Happy Teaching and Good Luck this Semester!

We are here for YOU!


Director of WSU Online
Canvas Support 801-626-6499,
Instructional Design Support:, or Google Chat: Instructional Design


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About The Author

Rachel Cox

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