I ultimately learned that there is so much to gain from our current remote university context that can inform the way we approach inclusive teaching
Ann Thuy-Ling Tran, summer DTEI fellow and fourth-year grad student in Comparative Literature, shares her thoughts on the importance of the DTEI's fellowship opportunities.Ann Thuy-Ling Tran is a fourth-year graduate student in the Department of Comparative Literature, studying race, popular culture and new media. She teaches synthesis writing through the topic of “Race and Technology” in the Academic English Program.
As a DTEI fellow this summer, I worked with Dr. Qian Du in the Academic English program. One of the major projects we completed was developing technology diagnostic forms to better address international students’ access to course materials and platforms (Canvas, Gmail, Zoom, TopHat, YuJa 2.0, etc.), with time zones, general connectivity, and VPN issues in mind. Given the context of remote learning, we were driven to be intentional about how to approach active learning. As instructors, our teaching philosophies are generally guided by active learning principles, but the shift to the remote learning context prompts each of us to put them into practice beyond group work. Where peer-to-peer learning in groups may have constituted one of the major ways we incorporate active learning in the physical classroom, the increasing need for asynchronicity, as well as being cognizant of not mandating attendance, audio, and video due to privacy concerns, pushes for active learning strategies to be implemented in all our class materials – from lecture PowerPoints, informational handouts, quizzes, lecture videos, class documents, discussion posts and more.
To name a few of our projects, we transformed class handouts and lecture PowerPoints to be more interactive by creating fillable informational diagrams for key course lessons, condensing lectures into strategically shorter clips, and integrating quizzes in our lecture materials so that students can still actively engage in class even while doing so asynchronously. Purposefully preparing for remote instruction this summer has made me consciously reflect on how I may not have been incorporating active learning in the physical classroom as much as I could have. I think we can be much more deliberate in constructing course materials in a way that both foregrounds active student participation and highlights the knowledge that they bring with them to class in all our course materials. I ultimately learned that there is so much to gain from our current remote university context that can inform the way we approach inclusive teaching and active learning as we all continue forward in our teaching careers.
I understand that these newer fellowships like DTEI were created, in part, in response to job uncertainty brought on by the current global pandemic. Like many others, I have had to take on child-care duties for family members who are essential healthcare workers since March of this year. At that time, the scarcity in summer work opportunities had me questioning how I would financially sustain myself through the summer. But summers have long been financially precarious for graduate students through the unfunded four-month-long stretch. I believe that these newer summer fellowship initiatives should continue beyond the pandemic as it is a step in the right direction that prioritizes graduate students’ financial stability as well as forefronts more intentional preparation for our students’ fall quarter.