CAFÉ sessions for FASS e-learning journey

NUS Arts and Social Science lecturers are preparing for online lessons

For many, part ofthe excitement and joy of going to university is the interaction and exchange of ideas in the classroom. Yet, with the current COVID-19 situation, this aspect of university life has ceased. Lecturers all over the world have been grappling with how to deliver quality classes in virtual space without compromising on the quality of student experience. To help with this issue, a group of NUS Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) instructors has started a series of sharing sessions aimed to help colleagues move their classes online more effectively.

The effort came from the Career Advancement for FASS Educators (CAFÉ) Committee, which was inaugurated early this year as a platform to help Educator Track instructors with their career and pedagogical development. Ever since the faculty announced plans to move teaching in the coming semester online, in order to fulfil the safe distancing measures, the committee has decided to use its capabilities to address the anticipated challenges.

They set up weekly Zoom sessions with two aims. The first is to facilitate the sharing of methods for instruction, discussion, or assessment online, by instructors with experience using them. The second is to provide an open forum for the airing of questions and concerns about online teaching. Through the sessions, CAFÉ hopes to help FASS colleagues prepare for a fully online semester this coming August.

Speaking of the motivation behind the initiative, NUS Japanese Studies Associate Professor Christopher McMorran, a member of CAFÉ said, “These are uncertain times for many of us, as we try to continue to provide the same high-quality learning experience FASS students expect. We need an open, non-judgemental forum to share ideas, brainstorm new approaches, and debate what online teaching and learning can and should be. We also want to help colleagues create a new routine early during the break, so they can begin thinking now about how to retool their teaching for the first semester. Ideally, this will help create a community of educators who support each other during the current pandemic and beyond.” 

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Dr Park shared tools on how to flip online classes

In the first session held on 3 June 2020, Dr Park Mihi, Senior Lecturer from the NUS Centre for Language Studies shared with participants how she utilised tools such as Panapto and Zoom to deliver a “flipped classroom”. By pre-recording her lectures and requiring students to watch them before the class meeting itself, Dr Park was able to use precious class time for more engaging discussion and student interaction.

“In the time of Covid-19 and the disrupted teaching ahead, the sort of questions the series is addressing has gained a new pertinence for everyone involved in education. We have only had a first session but the vibes are good, with open sharing and openness all round,” said Dr Ivan Kwek, Senior Lecturer at NUS Sociology.

Other CAFÉ sessions are already being planned throughout the months of June and July, as FASS instructors prepare for the new semester.

By NUS Arts and Social Sciences


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