With online classes to be the rule during the upcoming fall semester at Sacramento State, faculty members are set to learn more best practices for successful virtual teaching. (Sacramento State Student Affairs)
By Dixie Reid
Members of Sacramento State’s faculty are packing their virtual suitcases for a summer camp experience meant to further prepare them for fall classes that are scheduled to be taught online because of COVID-19 considerations.
The University has committed $1 million in federal funding to Teach ON!-line Summer Camp, a new program led by the Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) and created in partnership with Information Resources & Technology (IRT) and the College for Continuing Education (CCE).
The funding comes from Sac State’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Security (CARES) Act allotment and will allow for as many as 800 faculty to attend a three-week-long session. Nearly 500 tenured and probationary faculty and lecturers have signed up so far.
Each faculty participant who completes Teach ON!-line will receive $1,000. The first session starts June 22, with the second beginning July 6.
“Teach ON!-line will provide me with the opportunity to really focus on the best practices of virtual teaching and help me better manage Zoom sessions,” said Tim Fong, professor of Ethnic Studies, who was among the first to sign up.
“I have taught hybrid and paperless classes for years and was always on the cusp of teaching fully online. Spring 2020 forced the issue,” he said. “A real outcome of COVID-19 might be that online delivery becomes the new normal for colleges and universities across the nation.”
Teach ON!-line Summer Camp will help faculty convert their existing classes into online or blended courses and guide them in ways to enhance the virtual experience for students.
“In March, faculty had just a few days to take their classes online and do the best that they could,” said Crystal Sims, CTL instructional designer who will serve as the Teach ON!-line camp director.
“But now, as we can be more intentional, how do we take those valuable interactions they had with students in the classroom, and move them online? Faculty want the support. They really want to know how to do it well.”
The goal of camp, said CTL interim director Sharyn Gardner, is “to provide resources, guidance, and information that faculty need and help them to get some of their courses ready for fall so that they will have the tools to build out their courses completely.”
CTL will bring in “camp counselors,” faculty who are experienced in online instruction and will be available throughout the training to mentor participants.
“One of the components of the program is to start building community,” Sims said. “So as faculty are feeling overwhelmed about putting courses online and feeling like they’re going through it alone, our counselors will be there to guide them.
“So we start building that community and the conversations will continue. Faculty will have that support across the campus.”