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E-Learning and Instructional Support

Kresge Library, Room 430
100 Library Drive
Rochester , MI 48309-4479
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Office and Virtual Help: (248) 805-1625

Faculty become students to learn about class engagement

Fri Jun 11, 2021 at 12:03 PM

Oakland University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning recently put faculty members in the students’ seats. Through a series of virtual sessions, the faculty members were introduced to community-building activities through hands-on activities and breakout sessions. They participated in actual activities to see how they worked to build student engagement. Facilitated by Christina Moore, virtual faculty developer from CETL, and Jess Tess-Navarro, instructional designer in e-Learning and Instructional Support, the sessions not only gave faculty the chance to try some new activities, they were also able to engage with each other providing interdisciplinary experiences. 

“We wanted to practice community-building activities in an online format, both to get to know fellow OU faculty, reflect on teaching and everyday lives and consider how the activities could be adapted for every classroom,” said Moore. The activities were provided by Equity Unbound and OneHE

In the first session, Moore and Tess-Navarro started off with a Wild Tea activity. They created open ended questions for participants to answer in the chat. To demonstrate the activity another way, they provided a small list of questions and sent participants into breakout rooms to short discussions. 

Moore said the small groups and verbal responses will encourage explanation and further discussion. 

“These types of activities provide more space for connection and idea generation in online courses,” said Moore, during the first session. 

Another activity involved participants sharing the meaning of their names, and another was to share an item from in their house that holds great importance. 

In the second session of the workshop, Moore and Tess-Navarro started with PowerPoint Karaoke. It is an improv activity in which a volunteer gives a presentation on the spot with images they have never seen before. (If you want to see this in action, watch the recording. Lorise Grey, assistant professor in the School of Education and Human Services, took on the tasks and handled it well.)

There was also a spiral journal activity and an exercise in collaborative storytelling, where students work in a breakout room to build a story around a prompt with everyone contributing one to two sentences at a time. 

The third session included a “choose a plant” activity, which focused on the participants feelings in the moment and also a critical thinking exercise to break out of binary thinking. These activities were done in a synchronous environment, but could be adapted for asynchronous classrooms or situations as well. 

The three sessions were recorded and are available from the CETL Workshop and Events webpage. There are also detailed handouts, which give links to the individual activities and more information.