In “What Does Teaching Online Look Like at Georgetown,” faculty who have been experimenting with online teaching tools shared their experience with Canvas, Blackboard, and Moodle through three rotating discussions. The goal of the discussion was to help faculty who are novice or still hesitating about online teaching to achieve better understanding about the affordance and challenges of online education tools available at Georgetown.
Lynn Ross from McCourt School of Public Policy and Meg Cohen from the School of Continuing Studies showcased their courses on Canvas and discussed their successes, challenges, and innovations. In particular, they highlighted Canvas’ usefulness for case studies and group collaboration, as it facilitates automatic group division, collaboration, and task management. Although group collaboration always seems to be a challenge for online education, their experience demonstrates that Canvas is able to simulate face-to-face interactions through functions such as its built-in discussion board, video/slides commenting tool (VoiceThread), and synchronous video conferences (through Big Blue Button), all of which work together to allow both students and teachers to review lectures, discussions, and progress at any time. With the affordance of Canvas, Ross was also able to show a number of taped interviews with policy experts in Washington, through which students got to know how theories learned in class are applied in the real world.
Melody Wilkinson, Joyce Knestrick, Helen Brown, and Kathryn Ellis from the school of Nursing and Health Studies shared their experience with Kiddom, a tool that helps instructors flip their classroom through synchronous video conferencing, screen sharing, instant commenting, and polling. In a flipped classroom, instructors are able to embrace the face-to-face interaction of traditional classrooms, while also making space for distance learning, digital archival, and active learning.
Glenn Williamson and Giovanni Carnaroli from the School of Continuing Studies have been teaching both on campus and online and use their experiences to critically compare campus teaching with online teaching. When discussing challenges faced by faculty when teaching online, Williamson and Carnaroli often find it difficult to use their chosen platform, Blackboard, for facilitating instant feedback, group collaboration, and progress monitoring. However, one of the benefits of online teaching is that such platforms make it easier for faculty to share resources and collaborate. For example, Williamson developed his online course with a team that shared standardized syllabi, assignments, and course materials. In additional, Williamson also discovered that he gave students higher and more consistent scores in his online class, which he attributes to the fact that students felt more obligated to ask for period feedback from him rather than waiting until after grades are assigned, as often happens in face-to-face courses.