UM Educators Selected as Inaugural WOW! Fellows of the faculty

By Pam Starling

University of Mississippi

Marc Watkins, Associate Professor at the Department of Writing and Rhetoric, is one of the first WOW! Faculty Fellows at the University of Mississippi. The three 2022-23 grantees will lead workshops and learning communities that share ideas and collaboration for engaging online learning during this academic year. photo submitted

Online teaching can be a process of continually exploring and adapting new digital options and understanding student needs.

Three University of Mississippi faculty members plan to address these areas this academic year as they work to create learning communities where other UM teachers can share productive elements of their online teaching experiences.

Beginning this fall is the Wow the Online World, or WOW!, Faculty Fellow program run by the UM Academic Outreach Office and Ole Miss Online.

The program is a way to highlight innovative achievements and strong teaching practices from online teachers, and to disseminate that information among Ole Miss faculty members as they gather in learning community roundtables.

The grant program was started so that online teachers have time and resources to offer their expertise to other faculty members, said Mary Lea McMillian, associate director of academic outreach at UM.

“WOW! The program began to highlight and share ideas that are truly compelling and exciting in online pedagogy,” said McMillian. “Most courses at UM have some sort of online element built into the curriculum; This could be a product of COVID, but we also see the additional benefits of these types of interactions with student learning outcomes.

“Through these faculty-led workshops, UM teachers have the opportunity to learn about new and advanced techniques or technologies that they can use in their own classrooms. They will share ideas for integrating these tools as they participate in learning communities created specifically by UM teachers for UM teachers.”

The first three WOW! Faculty grants were awarded to Katerina Berezina, Associate Professor of Nutrition and Hospitality Management; Carey Bernini Dowling, Associate Professor of Psychology; and Marc Watkins, Associate Professor in the Writing and Rhetoric Department.

Watkins launches the program with the first WOW! Workshop “Open Pedagogy in the Digital Classroom” offered at 10am on September 12th in Lamar Hall, Room 323. The workshop will also be accessible via Zoom and will cover the inclusion of student-created Open Pedagogy activities, course tutorials and Open assessment tools.

“I understand the myriad of challenges that faculty and students face when taking an online course, but regardless of the modality, I know that online spaces enable students to engage and learn,” said Watkins.

“Introducing this pedology practice into my own online courses has helped foster engagement between students in peer-to-peer learning and helped them make connections to how they learn in online spaces.

“I believe that my faculty peers can benefit from the innovative classroom pedagogy and strategies that we will cover in our learning community.”

Watkins’ second workshop and learning community, Planning for Future Disruptions: Resilient Teaching Beyond the Pandemic, will be held October 17 at 10 a.m. at Lamar Hall, Room 323, as well as via Zoom.

Every WOW! Faculty grantees will offer two workshops this academic year, either in person or virtually, and two round tables that will accompany the topic they are presenting.

Berezina will share how she implemented design thinking into online hospitality management courses, as well as the benefits and engagement that comes from offering a variety of assignment modes.

“I’ve seen the benefits of how design thinking can be applied to the classroom, and I’ve collected student feedback on my NHM 376 course to create student personas, identify pain points, and improve student experiences in future semesters ‘ said Berezina.

She also hopes to share information about the benefits of incorporating a variety of teaching and learning tools, such as B. virtual escape rooms, to be able to pass on in the curriculum.

“While a virtual escape room can be built like a video game, it can also be built using Google Suite products like Google Slides and Forms,” ​​explained Berezina.

“These tools are available to all professors and students at UM, and adding virtual escape rooms can be an interesting way to diversify the learning materials and exercises used in the course. Additionally, they provide a fun way to summarize and apply what students have learned.”

Berezina will lead the discussion on “Facilitating Remote Collaboration” on September 27th at 10:00 am, followed by the workshop “Applying Design Thinking to Online Courses” on October 25th at 10:00 am.

Presence and availability for students is a cornerstone of Dowling’s online psychology courses.

“Even though I have online classes with over 100 students enrolled, I have worked to create a sense of community for the students and implemented several methods to help them learn to communicate effectively with me and their classmates,” she said.

Dowling will lead workshops in the spring semester focused on getting the most out of Blackboard and keeping online students engaged.

“Student withdrawal can be an issue in both face-to-face classes and online classes,” she said. “It’s important that we work together to prevent the pullback and figure out how to effectively stop it when we see it starting.”

Dowling’s workshops will take place in February and March next semester.

To find out more about this year’s WOW! Workshops and Learning Communities for Faculty Scholars or to register click here.

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