CITL Teaching and Learning News: March 13, 2020

Mar 13, 2020, 11:27 AM
Click here to see this online
Special message regarding transition to online instruction

On March 23, 2020, the University of Illinois is suspending face-to-face instruction. Many units across campus are devoting resources to ensure continuity of instruction as instructors transition to online teaching. Please review the recommended strategies and resources available to you to make this transition.

Emergency Instruction Considerations

  • Use tools you are familiar with whenever possible
  • Use the lowest bandwidth option that meets your instructional needs. University systems will be strained during this emergency; using lower bandwidth options helps prevent systems failures
  • Ensure that your online teaching methods are FERPA-compliant
  • Synchronous class components should meet at regularly scheduled times
  • Be prepared to work with DRES if you have students requiring accommodations to access your course materials online
  • Review your syllabus to determine any necessary timeline, policy, and assignment changes
  • Communicate with your students and TAs right away, informing them of the upcoming changes and your expectations


If you need assistance implementing a remote teaching strategy, please review the Online Content Creation Guides on the Instructional Continuity website, and reach out to the appropriate support contact.


There are many training sessions in the coming days to cover the various online teaching strategies and tools available. Please consider attending one, or multiple, of these events to prepare for your course changes. Trainings can be attended in person or via Zoom. Click here to see what events are coming up to help you transition to online instruction.


Draft List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent

The Draft List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent for Fall 2019 is available The final list will be in the Daily Illini on April 2. If your course is missing, check your instructor report against the criteria in the draft List. At least five students must have completed relevant item(s) and you must have filled in the relevant release bubble on the Faculty Request Form. For questions or corrections, email ices@illinois.eduor call 244-3846.

iFLEX Monthly Gathering

The IFLEX Monthly Gathering is hosted by the Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning, and generally meets on the third Wednesdays of the month in 172 Armory from 4 - 5 p.m. Any graduate students interested in active learning and teaching in interactive classrooms are always welcome to join us for snacks, tips, and conversation. This semester, we have begun a collaborative slide deck filled with helpful contributions from attendees during our monthly themed conversations, which can be found at March’s gathering was moved up due to spring break; if we are not able to meet in person for April’s gathering, we will host a virtual discussion. E-mail if you have any questions.

Instructor Voices
Professor Shelly Schmidt

Using VR to Build Empathy

Dr. Justin Leiby (Accountancy) sent Master's students from his Risk Management & Innovation course to CITL's Virtual Reality Lab to complement in-class work on empathy-building. "Understanding decision makers’ emotions is a crucial skill in business, especially for a subject like risk that people experience so idiosyncratically," says Dr. Leiby, "VR was an enriching, fun, and powerful exercise of our empathy muscles."

CITL Events & Workshops

Want to see what workshops and events are coming later in the semester? Look at our full calendar for more information.

Tuesday, March 17
Designing Cooperative Learning Experiences
11:30 A.M. - 1:00 P.M.,join online via Zoom
Speaker: David Favre, CITL


Tuesday, March 24
Grading Fairly and Efficiently with Rubrics
9:30 A.M. - 11:00 A.M., registrants will be sent a link to join online
Speaker: Lucas Anderson, CITL


Monday, March 30
The Power of Presentations: Enhancing your Slides for Teaching and Engagement
10:00 A.M. - 11:00 A.M., Room 172, Armory Building (Innovation Studio)
Speaker: Jamie Nelson, CITL
Teaching Tips

Ten Ways to Overcome Barriers to Student Engagement Online

(From Online Learning Consortium) Student engagement is a concept often discussed in education and an abundance of research exists on the topic. Student engagement is something instructors want to see and feel in their classrooms. Generally, student engagement tends to be viewed as the level of interest students show towards the topic being taught; their interaction with the content, instructor, and peers; and their motivation to learn and progress through the course. Online learning presents new challenges when compared to a traditional classroom because students are separated from their instructor by a computer screen. How can we engage our students in the content, learning activities, and assessments? How can we prevent feelings of frustration or isolation and keep them motivated? These questions are frequently asked by online instructors looking to maintain the same levels of engagement they see and feel in their face-to-face classrooms. Here are the strategies to try.

Organic Online Discussions: Saving Time and Increasing Engagement

(From Faculty Focus) I used to dread online discussions as much as many students do. However, after implementing a simple change, I was as eager to join my online discussions as I was to talk with my students in classroom conversations. The modification is easy: I adjusted the structure of my online discussions from students starting threads (you know the drill, post-and-reply-to-two) to the instructor starting them, which creates a more organic discussion structure similar to classroom conversations. This simple modification, along with asking open-ended questions from the deep end of Bloom’s Taxonomy, creates discussions that support student learning and engagement with the material and each other.