Dimitri Stathopoulos, a program coordinator in the School of Science Engineering and Technology (SET), encourages faculty to “leverage the collective wisdom of your colleagues. Everyone here is so positive and willing to contribute. Don’t try to do it all when you have a team beside you ready to help”. He attributes his success in his teaching to the community of colleagues, as well as ongoing professional development.
Regardless of delivery mode, Stathopoulos believes the foundation of teaching includes making connections with his students. This can be developed through a shared passion like music, as well as expressing passion for what he teaches. Dimitri uses connection activities at the beginning of a new topic that students can relate to. The use of connection activities captures the students’ attention and gets them thinking about the upcoming topic. This allows new knowledge that the students gain to be better understood, retained and retrieved as it is cemented with existing knowledge – this is referred to as elaboration in the learning sciences (The Learning Scientists). For example, Dimitri might ask students to reflect on the process of doing their favourite activity – like laundry. While nobody really loves doing laundry, we are all familiar with the concept and can relate to getting your whites their whitest with the solubility of various compounds. Or when starting on the topic of gasses in the course, he might ask students to reflect on their experience scuba diving, breathing or drinking from a straw and relate this to pressure – or by sharing videos such as this Atmospheric pressure crushes 220 litre drum (Experiment) to get students interested.
Dimitri likes to keep the atmosphere of the virtual classroom fun. In a remote environment, he creates this environment by engaging with students in the ten minutes before the start of the class. This includes discussing common interests or simply asking students what they are interested in at the moment. To create a sense of community in his courses, he will start by learning about his students and their interests through discussion boards, which is a great way for kicking off a new semester. Stathopoulos uses breakout rooms without an agenda or topic at the beginning of synchronous sessions to allow students to connect with one another in a safe space. He’s found that this unstructured conversation space has made students more open to participate in class as they already have their microphone on and/or are already engaged with the class.
Dimitri notes that the revisions that he’s integrated into his teaching during remote delivery – including new ways of presenting information – will remain. He encourages use of open educational resources (OER) with his students, such as textbooks like those available from Openstax. Check out the Library’s OER toolkit for repositories and more information! Stathopoulos plans to continue using online communication and collaboration platforms. OneNote is an example of a technology that Dimitri notes as having a positive impact on his teaching and his students’ learning. Dimitri reflects, “I have learned that this program [OneNote] allows me to share handwritten and typed information with students in real time”.
Want to know more about OneNote? Microsoft is hosting an asynchronous course on using OneNote for education! Check it out here. All DC faculty, staff and students have access to OneNote as part of Office365.