UHD Resources Continue to Support Online Teaching, Learning
By Mark Kramer
Over the past seven months, the modes of instruction have seen their share of transition due to the pandemic. In March, classes went solely online. At the start of the fall semester, instruction has been delivered either online or combined with on-campus sessions.
To be sure, there have been many changes – but centers such as UHD’s Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence (CTLE), the Technology Teaching and Learning Center (TTLC) and the Office of the Provost have provided resources for faculty to assist in the successful delivery of instruction.
One of the major initiatives implemented in the continued transition of online instruction for faculty and staff included the creation of the Keep On Teaching and Learning website.
“The CTLE and TTLC have made links accessible through training resources for faculty through the Keep On Teaching and Learning site as well as their own home pages,” said Dr. Jerry Johnson, Associate Vice President for Faculty, Research & Sponsored Programs. “Representatives from these groups, along with the Online Education Taskforce, Faculty Senate Executive Committee and Dean of University College recommended updates for the site with the fall 2020 semester in mind.”
Through the Keep on Teaching site, faculty can access online learning materials and training through TTLC, tools and resources for teaching and working remotely, CTLE services and programs, Instructional Technology training and events, and required Blackboard Foundations Training. The site also includes an area for learning resources for students in its Students Learn Online section. In this section, students can access academic, financial and additional support services such as advising and counseling.
In preparing faculty and staff for the fall, CTLE held live webinar sessions where they were introduced to the tools and practices of remote instruction. The Online Teaching Passport program was introduced at the end of the spring 2020 semester and continues this fall to prepare faculty for 2021. To date, 70 faculty members have completed the Online Teaching Passport program, with an additional 55 currently enrolled.
According to CTLE Director Dr. Gregory Dement, applications will be accepted soon for participation in the Online Course Development Initiative (OCDI), offering a framework and stipend support for individual faculty redesigning or creating new online courses. Details will be posted in the near future on the CTLE website.
Another ongoing initiative is the UHD Certificate in Evidence-Based Instruction and Course Design, which was launched during the 2019-20 academic year. This program will continue with virtual workshops leading to digital credentials that can be stacked to earn micro-credentials and ultimately the certificate, which comes with a $500 stipend. This certificate series covers all aspects of teaching and learning, with an emphasis this semester on the noted teaching circle topic groups.
UHD Associate Professor of History Dr. Gene Preuss said he has found the CTLE workshops beneficial and allowed him to create a systematically organized and appealing course design.
“Over the past year, I’ve been taking professional development courses offered by the CTLE and have learned how to design a much more structured course online,” he said. “I’ve learned how to integrate those concepts that I was already familiar, like backward-design, soft-skill development, and scaffolding assignments, and use them together in a way that allows students to learn and practice the historical skills and apply critical thinking skills that they need to be successful in the course.”
Dement said additional online workshops are offered throughout this semester and a complete list of offerings can be found on the Faculty Resources website. In addition, CTLE is offering live online sessions on pedagogy, instructional design and feedback on remote instruction during its virtual office hours.
Providing support to faculty and staff are CTLE Assistant Director Georges Detiveaux and team member Brian Baldwin, who meet regularly on a one-on-one basis via Zoom for consultations on course design, facilitation and multimedia needs. Video Production Specialist Richard Galvan and Graphic Designer Courtney Banks also support faculty in creating instructional video and graphic design components for their courses.
“We encourage our faculty and staff to take advantage of the many resources available to them through CTLE and through the Keep on Teaching and Learning website,” he said. “I am excited from the response from the faculty and I know it creates a positive learning environment for our students.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.