Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Trent University associate professor Dr. Rayf Shiell recalls physically circulating through the classroom of his friendly second-year Physics classes, having spontaneous chats with students before and after class, and being able to tell from a look of slight uncertainty that he needed to explain a concept more clearly.
Like universities across the world, however, things changed at Trent following the emergency orders earlier this spring, and Professor Shiell and his colleagues used their resourcefulness and resiliency to quickly adapt their classes, methods and teaching styles for online delivery helping students successfully finish the winter semester.
Zoom became the new normal and Prof. Shiell recalls quickly adapting to use the platform for students to join the online classes or watch the recorded session afterward.
Quizzes also had to be adapted so Prof. Shiell decided to post them to Blackboard shortly before each session. Students answered question-by-question in real time through email, to which Prof. Shiell replied with either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ If needed, he provided a more nuanced reply, allowing student engagement similar to what happens during his in-person classes with their pre-class answer-until-correct quizzes.
Through Zoom’s chat feature, students sent questions directly to Prof. Shiell and he learned to reply to all so the whole class could benefit. In addition to the new logistics, Prof. Shiell had to focus on keeping students as engaged as possible through the screen.
Student Terra Pahlke says Prof. Shiell’s open communication helped the course run smoothly and she was thankful Trent opted for online classes so she could continue learning the material without interruption.
All of the lessons learned during this unprecedented time will continue to drive Trent’s course development, as well as approaches to teaching and learning, in fall 2020. With safety as a top priority, Trent is moving forward with its multi-access plan to offer predominantly online and remote courses as well as some in-person learning for small groups with appropriate safety measures in place.
Find more information about Trent Forward – our plan for a safe return to campus life this fall with multi-access learning.