Students walking across the Pentacrest on a rainy spring day

In fall 2021, the University of Iowa will reconvene as an in-person learning community, carrying with us the experiences, challenges, and changes brought on by the past year. As we look forward to a fall semester that is contextually different from previous in-person semesters, it’s important to consider the impact this will have on instructors and students. For instance, instructors may want to incorporate trauma-informed instructional strategies or leverage the tools learned during virtual teaching in a face-to-face context. 

The Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology will facilitate events throughout the summer to help instructors get ready for fall. Instructors can also request one-on-one consultations. In addition, we’ve curated resources on relevant evidence-based teaching strategies, offered assistance with implementing teaching technologies, and collected other useful information for preparing to return to university classrooms.

This page includes information on:

Leverage Virtual Strategies in a Face-to-Face Classroom

While intentional, evidence-based teaching strategies are crucial in any context, instructors can carry forward the lessons learned from virtual teaching and learning to inform future teaching practices.

  • Loved Zoom chat? To encourage student engagement in activities, use the minute paper (a 60-second, low-stakes written response to a prompt) to ask students to reflect on a discussion topic. Students can share their paper or use it for their own reflection.
  • Loved Zoom polls? Add online clickers (the university-supported option is Top Hat) or “analog” (paper) clickers, which Dr. Edward Prather demonstrates in a videoDownload and print paper clickers for your students, or they can make their own.
  • Loved seeing students' names in Zoom? Use name tents to display student’s names.
  • Continue to use shared folders or documents where students can synchronously collaborate on their work and reflections.
  • Consider using teaching technologies to facilitate course plans.
  • One way to foster a reflective teaching practice is to inquire into students’ learning behavior. To discuss the implications of learning analytics, email OTLT Research & Analytics.

Enhance Clarity: Transparent Course Framework

During virtual teaching and learning, student feedback on surveys indicated that clarity and transparency were helpful to students. Evidence shows that making course context and procedures more transparent increases students’ academic confidence and sense of belonging.

  • Clearly communicate the course learning goals and procedures (e.g., course schedule, due dates, and policies) in the syllabus and at certain points in the semester.
    • Consider using transparent assignment design, an equitable teaching strategy that addresses the learning needs of underrepresented students and first-generation students, to create an inclusive learning environment.
      • Instructors can use the transparency framework to explicitly state the purpose, task, and criteria of assignments and course activities.
      • The TILT website offers examples and resources, along with a template and a checklist for designing transparent assignments.
  • Using frequent, low-stakes formative assessments helps calibrate students’ learning and gives instructors a chance to reflect on and adjust their teaching activities.
  • Consider providing a space for students to share their thoughts with peers and for instructors to share updates.

Assessment Alternatives

Assessment involves collecting information about students’ learning; it works best when it is aligned with course learning objectives and activities. Assessment alternatives help instructors consider options other than closed-book written-format exams. Review a flowchart from Wake Forest University for ideas.

Trauma-Informed Instruction

Watch a 15-minute presentation from Sara Nasrollahian, assistant director in the OTLT Center for Teaching.

Keep in mind that students’ experiences are varied and linked to regions or contexts where the crisis differs significantly.

Inclusive Syllabus Elements

To foster a trusting learning environment,

Learning Spaces

As instructors contemplate ways to interact with students in the classroom, they may want to review room configuration and available classroom technology.

Classroom Guides

Classroom guides provide documentation for the 324 technology-equipped University Classrooms across campus.

Tours and Technology Demonstrations

Instructors who want to visit a specific campus learning space can request a classroom tour or schedule an on-site demonstration to visit unique learning spaces and interact with classroom technologies, such as A/V systems, Mersive Solstice Pods, and WolfVision document cameras.

Teaching Technology

Summer is a great time to prepare a course to incorporate new technology to meet course learning goals or to review best practices for teaching with technology.  

Instructional Technology Training

Visit the upcoming events page for a list of scheduled technology trainings, or watch previously recorded training sessions on a variety of topics, such as Gathering Student Feedback or Using ICON to Deliver a Well-Structured Course.

SITA Consultation

The student instructional technology assistant group, or SITA, consists of select UI graduate and undergraduate students who work with instructors to enhance teaching and learning through successful integration of technologies. To schedule a consultation, email or book a time using Microsoft Bookings service

EdTech Tips in 10

Learn about instructional technology from current University of Iowa students in EdTech Tips in 10, a podcast created by members of the SITA group.