Each year, graduate teaching fellows design and facilitate a workshop as part of their work with the Center for Teaching. In this Q&A, we feature Austin Holland, a PhD candidate in the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences.

Austin’s workshop, Creating Community in Virtual Classes, will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 30.

Why did you select this topic?

As many instructors are aware, building a community learning environment is vital to having impactful classroom discussions, but creating it can be difficult. That challenge has only increased with the shift to virtual teaching and learning during the pandemic. Because of this new challenge, I thought that discussing strategies to build a community learning environment would be a useful topic. 

I have been teaching my discussion sections virtually since March 2019, and there have been many lessons learned along the way that I will share with participants. I view the workshop as an opportunity to help educators at the university facilitate the best possible virtual learning experience for our students.

What knowledge or skill do you hope participants gain?

After completing the workshop, participants will understand some practical strategies to create an engaging classroom experience online. More specifically, the workshop will discuss a mixture of course design techniques and class activities to help community building in the classroom.

Is there anything else you'd like people to know about the workshop?

This workshop will not only offer techniques to enhance virtual learning but also provide time for thoughtful reflection on lessons learned from virtual teachingI believe that these experiences can be applied to improve our in-person instruction as well.

Register for Creating Community in Virtual Classes.