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2020 Fall Teaching Resources from the Remote 2.0 Committee: Getting Started with JayFlex

Curated resources for faculty reviewed by members of the Remote 2.0 subcommittee.

Overview

JayFlex is a multi-modal way to deliver a course to students at Washington & Jefferson College.

  • Part of the contact time occurs in a classroom or laboratory.
    • Students studying remotely attend via video conference, have alternate online contact time, or a combination thereof.
  • Part of the contact time occurs online for all students.

The amount of time spent in the physical space or online is determined by the instructor.

  • It may lean toward the classroom.
  • It may lean toward online.
  • It may balance the two modalities.
  • It can be converted to remote learning with relative ease if health conditions in the state or region deteriorate.

Instructors can handle in-class meetings in two ways.

  • All students meet together.
  • Students are divided into two or three sections.

As with the face-to-face and remote delivery systems, those parts of class sessions or video conferences on which students will be assessed should be recorded for purposes of equity for remote students; alternate online contact time and instruction must be offered if recordings are not provided.

Why "JayFlex"?

It is a shortened form of "W&J's Flexible Teaching Modality."

Where to Start: Design for Online

The best strategy for ensuring the needed flexibility is to reconceive your syllabus. Do not think of it as a face-to-face daily syllabus with some online components. Instead, we recommend “design for online” and then move some parts into the classroom.

  • Outline a course suitable for remote delivery that satisfies your course’s student-learning outcomes.
  • Think in larger units. If you normally plan a syllabus in daily units, think instead of three to five units, each consisting of a few weekly modules.Or just go straight to a sequence of weekly modules. 

Start filling in the details (content, activities, assessments) for each module. As you do, think about

  • Synchronous versus asynchronous. Which must be done collectively in "real time" and which can be managed on individual schedules? The more of the latter, the better.
  • ‚ÄčIn-person activities. Which will be done in a classroom, with arrangements made to include remote students or alternate online versions provided?
  • Online activities. Which will be completed by all students? Which platforms will be used? Sakai? Teams? Zoom? Slack? Skype? Try to keep things simple; do not try to use them all.
  • Accountability activities. What methods will ensure "attendance"  and "engagement" in the online portions of the contact time, if asynchronous? For example, assign a low-stakes multiple-choice quiz or writing prompt based on material in a required video.
  • What worked last time? Recollect which parts of last spring’s pivot to remote teaching proved engaging for students and use them again.
  • High-touch. How can high-touch practices be incorporated into online contact time as well as classroom time? 

Try to keep the modules within a unit parallel. Structure is extremely helpful for students.

  • For synchronous activities, stick to a schedule for activities: the same day and time for a classroom meeting, a video conference, or a live chat.
  • For asynchronous activities, do likewise: same day and time for deadlines (accountability activities, quizzes, blog posts). You can use time slots outside of the usual working day, but be available to answer email queries on those days in case something goes wrong or a student has a question. (If you don't read email on Saturday, don't set deadlines for Saturday night.)

Suggestions

  • Determine on a method by which you will communicate with students and advertise it.
    • The opening announcement needs to be on Sakai, however.
  • Think about starting each week with a post, email,or video outlining the week's activities.
    • You probably do this in class at the start of the week anyway; you need a digital equivalent.
    • Yes, it's "on the syllabus," but redundancy is always a good idea in these strange times.
  • We recommend you drop laptops-in-class bans and adjust your attendance policy. Both “in-class work” and “attendance in class” are going to look different. Nor do we want ailing students feeling pressure to come to class. 
  • Think about moving assessments and activities online rather than having them classroom-based for the on-campus students and online for the remote students. It is easier to keep all students on the same track.
  • You may sometimes need to develop different assignments for in-class and remote students, but think about offering both options to all students rather than making separate tracks through the course. 
    • Example: participation in a required in-person discussion could be matched with contributions to a required online discussion board (both count as contact time, by the way). See the LibGuide page on discussions for further suggestions).

Room Sharing (the W&J Time Share)

The JayFlex system model allows for an efficient use of our suddenly limited space. College spaces can be used by multiple instructors teaching in the same time blocks.

Some examples:

  • In the MWF 1 pm slot, three courses of roughly the same enrollment time-share a classroom.
    • Course A meets in person on Mondays
    • Course B gets the room on Wednesdays
    • Course C gets the room on Friday.
  • In the TH 9 am slot, Course A, a large class, has been divided into two sections. Course B, a small class, has not.
    • Course A, section 1, meets in the room for the first hour of the Tuesday slot.
    • Course A, section 2, meets in the room for the second hour of the Tuesday slot.
    • Course B meets for the entire two hours on Thursday.

Why Start at the Remote End of the Spectrum?

Why should a JayFlex course be initially reimagined as a remote course rather than the usual in-person course?

  • It will help you account for those many logistical matters physical distancing will make difficult:
    • distributing syllabuses and handouts;
    • administering quizzes and tests;
    • collecting papers and assignments;
    • holding office hours;
    • doing paired or group work.
  • It will help you ensure equity for students learning remotely who may face
    • technological challenges;
    • an inability to access physical resources in our library or on campus.
  • It is easier to move online activity into a classroom than vice versa. 

JayFlex