CITL Teaching and Learning News: March 27, 2020

Mar 30, 2020, 08:46 AM

CITL Physical Office Closed

The main CITL physical office will be closed until further notice. CITL staff are still available to help: you may send an email For assistance specific to transitioning to online instruction, visit thecontinuity of instruction web page.

CITL Teaching Certificate Program Updates

The deadline to submit applications for a CITL teaching certificate is April 15. With instruction and CITL consultation moving online, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • If you still need to get your class observed for a certificate, we can still conduct an observation of your online instruction, however you plan to do it. Contact to request an observation.
  • You may not be able to submit your application in person or through campus mail by April 15. You may instead email your completed applications to Lucas Anderson at You will need to scan your completed application and attach it to the email, and also attach as separate files any other required documents, such as reflective essays, examples of original work, or a teaching philosophy statement.
  • If you are missing any signatures of CITL staff on your application, you may submit the otherwise completed application and we can provide signatures upon receipt of your application.
  • If someone outside of CITL helped you complete a requirement, such as a faculty member observing your class, and you did not get their signature on your application, ask that person to email Lucas affirming they helped you complete the requirement.
  • With regret, we will not be holding our annual certificate awards ceremony. We will devise a way to get your certificates to you, but we won't have specifics to share until closer to May.

Draft List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent

The Draft List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent for Fall 2019 continues to be available at However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the final list will not appear in The Daily Illini on April 2 as originally announced. The final corrected version will still be available at the above URL on this date. 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 TA Monthly Gathering: Spring Semester Suprises

If you're anything like the rest of us, I'm willing to bet that your semester hasn't unfolded quite the way you expected. At the next meeting, we’re hosting a casual chat on Zoom for graduate instructors and teaching assistants about our challenges and triumphs as we move our teaching online. Does the new format encourage different types of learning than the work you'd originally planned? How have you shifted your approaches and expectations as a result of this change? Wins, losses, fears, and exasperations are all welcome at this informal discussion.

The Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning hosts this series of IFLEX Monthly Gatherings on the third Wednesdays of the month from 4 - 5 p.m. Invite a friend or two, and ask questions, get ideas, or just hang out. E-mail with any questions.

Sponsor: Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning


Date: Wed. Apr. 15, 4:00 – 5:00pm

Instructor Voices
Wendy Yang

Creating Emotional Engagement in Online Courses

Often the first thing instructors think about when teaching is “What shall I teach?” Content is important, but another important consideration is how to create emotional engagement with our students. This is even more essential in an online environment. Wendy Yang, departments of Plant Biology and Geology says, “As online instructors we may never meet our students physically, but we can still make personal connections with them. Even small details like where we record our videos can make a big difference.” Watch this video to see what she does.

CITL Events & Workshops
Monday, March 30
The Power of Presentations: Enhancing your Slides for Teaching and Engagement
10:00 A.M. - 11:00 A.M., Online:
Speaker: Jamie Nelson, CITL
Teaching Tips

An Adjusted Humane Syllabus - "Nobody Signed Up for This": One Professor's Guidelines for an Interrupted Semester

(From The Chronicle of Higher Education) Brandon L. Bayne was trying to plot out a plan for a disrupted semester when he took a big step back. He was planning to revise the assignments for “Religion in America,” a course with 120 students, predominantly juniors and seniors. But he realized that he first wanted to write out some guiding principles. He came up with five, including “the humane option is the best option” and “we cannot just do the same thing online.” Each principle has several subparts. Though he drafted the list for his own use, Bayne decided to share it with his students — and on social media, where it has resonated with instructors of all kinds who are working to connect with students under the same unprecedented circumstances.

Five Ways to Promote Student Autonomy in Online Discussions

(From Faculty Focus) “Write an initial post and then reply to two of your classmates.” These are the standard requirements for students participating in online course discussions. Discussions in an online course play a vital role in creating substantive interactions, aiming to capture the spirit of discourse in face-to-face settings. This, however, can look and feel like busy work, making the purpose of online discussions unclear to students. The standard blueprint is safe but has been exhausted. “Initial posts” can be counterintuitive—in essence, they require students to complete small writing assignments individually before giving other students feedback on their work (Liberman, 2019). How can we think outside of the box of posting and replying when it comes to these discussions? One way is to use online discussions as an opportunity to promote student autonomy and ask students to be active participants not only in how they respond to class discussions, but how they initiate them. Here are five considerations for promoting student autonomy while also breaking the online discussion mold.