Moving to online teaching
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mount Allison introduced a hybrid of both online (scheduled and unscheduled) and in-person classes for the 2020-21 academic term. Faculty and staff members have worked over the past several months to prepare to teach their students, wherever they may be.
While many changes have been made to the University's physical space to accommodate classes, labs, and studio activities safely, students will also see a number of changes for online content, an area in which Mount Allison does not have a long history.
"Students are seeing a lot more content and interactive features on Moodle," says Keagan Hawthorne, the educational technology consultant in Mount Allison's Computing Services Department. "Instructors from across the University have been using the platform's full range of activities, including more ways to present content, connect with their students, and encourage student contributions virtually."
Moodle and Microsoft Teams are the two primary media used for online courses.
Sociology professor Toni Roberts ('90) moved his classes online for the fall term. Roberts teaches courses in sociology of youth, digital sociology, and environmental sociology.
"I chose to design my classes for online, asynchronous delivery to ensure they are as accessible as possible," says Roberts. "There are a lot of misconceptions about online learning, but I think it's really important to build and maintain a classroom community, even if you can't all physically be in the same space."
Roberts is using Moodle as his main teaching platform and has been taking advantage of specific features in the technology to ensure student participation in class.
"The H5P technology in Moodle allows you to embed questions within your lecture for students to answer," he explains. "This kind of feature helps keeps students engaged in the material and accountable when taking a class online."
Roberts is also co-chair of the Maple League's Teaching and Learning Committee and played a key role in this summer's launch of the Virtual Maple League Teaching and Learning Centre (V_MLTLC). The centre organizes regular sessions on online teaching and learning for Maple League faculty and staff members as well as students. Workshops and presentations from the member schools — Mount Allison, Acadia, Bishop's, and St. FX — took place throughout the term.