Fall 2020 Academic Experience

Last spring faculty were required to convert their face-to-face classes to remote delivery under emergency circumstances created by the pandemic. This fall, faculty will offer a mix of face-to-face, blended, and online designed to support courses that will provide Wake Forest’s signature learning opportunities. We recognize that technological fixes will only take us so far. The challenge of teaching in a new modality is ultimately pedagogical, not technological. Instead of trying to force “what we’ve always done” into an online space, this moment calls on us to rethink the way we teach from the ground up. What does research tell us about how students learn in a digital space? How can we create the kind of engaged, relational learning for which we are known in new modalities? How do we continue to provide equitable and accessible support for students in a variety of locations and circumstances?

Faculty in all disciplines across the College are working with the Center for the Advancement (CAT) this summer to create their fall courses. The CAT is providing the resources, training and support to help Wake Forest faculty design and develop courses that can be successful in any mode of delivery: face-to-face, online or blended. The University’s exceptional teacher-scholars are committed to outstanding teaching and student-faculty engagement. Wake Forest has made an intentional commitment to invest in the development of our teachers this summer by creating Peer-to-Peer Learning Communities for faculty to help prepare and share innovative pedagogies.

Guiding principles:

  • Community: Build community among colleagues; between students and faculty; and among students. Faculty are committed to building and sustaining a community in a digital space and fostering engagement with students regardless of course modality.
  • Equity: Use culturally-sustaining pedagogy and ensure coursework is accessible to all students regardless of where they are and when they can participate.
  • Evidence: The latest research on teaching and learning informs the University’s approach and practices.
  • Design: In planning courses, the goal is transforming teaching and learning.

Teaching modalities:

  • Online: All content and learning activities take place online with no required on-campus activities. All content and learning activities may be delivered synchronously (during any of the pre-existing scheduled class times), asynchronously, or some combination of these.
  • Face-to-Face: All regularly scheduled class meetings occur in-person/on-campus for all students in the class.
  • Blended-Traditional: Core content is delivered online, asynchronously, and is complemented/augmented by in-person/on-campus sessions for faculty-student engagement. All enrolled students participate in all asynchronous online aspects of the course. In smaller cohorts, students also participate in in-person sessions, with these live sessions taking place during regularly scheduled class periods.
  • Blended-With Online Pathway: Core content is delivered online, asynchronously, and is complemented/augmented by a combination of in-person and synchronous virtual sessions for faculty-student engagement. All enrolled students participate in all asynchronous online aspects of the course. In smaller cohorts, students also participate in regular “live” sessions. Blended-online pathway courses must include both in-person/on-campus small cohort sessions and synchronous online small cohort sessions (with the latter constituting the “online pathway” for a cohort of students who cannot be on-campus).
  • On-Campus: Refers to academic activities taking place on any WFU campus in WS (Reynolda & Wake Downtown).
  • Live: May be an in-person/on-campus class session/activity OR a synchronous virtual class session/activity. In either case, the students and faculty are engaged in real-time interactions together.
  • Mixed Curriculum: Refers to a course schedule that may contain a combination of different course modalities, including face-to-face, blended, and online.
Fall 2020 Teaching
Time to prepareThree Months
Faculty Development, Resources and Community SupportThis summer, the University launched a comprehensive set of support options for faculty that include online modules, reading groups and workshops. A collaborative program of Peer-to-Peer Learning Communities will help all faculty prepare for online, in-person and blended teaching, while preserving the unique character and excellence of the Wake Forest teaching and learning experience.
Course Content and DeliveryFaculty are choosing a variety of course modalities to enhance the learning experience. Faculty are transforming their courses to incorporate planning for face-to-face, blended and online instruction before classes begin. Faculty are being prepared to design resilient/flexible courses that can be delivered in any modality.
Student ExpectationsStudents will be introduced to online elements of a course from the beginning and expectations will be clear regarding participation in online activities, discussion and in-person classes.
Assignments/ProjectsAssignments can be rethought and redesigned to meet learning objectives and take advantage of online media to produce blogs and websites, engage in meaningful class discussion, work in pairs or small groups, develop videos and multimedia and use web-based presentation and sharing technologies, as well as a host of other engaging options. Many faculty are designing courses with low stakes quizzing, problem sets, case studies and other effective high-level learning assessments.
Commitment of FacultyFaculty are committed to creating the kind of engaged, relational learning for which Wake Forest is known and will have the tools, experience and support to do this. They are excited about this opportunity to redesign their courses in ways that will be exciting for students and facilitate their learning.
Digital learning toolsFaculty and students will now have the option of using Canvas. This Learning Management System provides rich supports for faculty and students alike, including built in audio and video so that both faculty and students can engage in other ways than just text response.

Faculty will be able to create and engage with students with tools such as Camtasia and Zoom to create video content. To provide more social engagement, they can use Hypothesis and VoiceThread. Faculty have access to multimedia support through grants and digital project resources.

Other digital opportunities to create and engage can be explored with WakeSites and Adobe Creative Cloud.
Teaching or technology?Both. Because the challenge of teaching in a new modality is ultimately pedagogical, not technological, the University is intentionally investing as much in teaching as technology to provide exceptional learning experiences. Faculty are transforming courses and redesigning courses to provide exceptional learning experiences. As faculty teach in a digital space, they discover ways to enhance the quality of their face-to-face classes, too.

Faculty have had and continue to have opportunities to learn how to use the technology more effectively with a variety of training opportunities offered throughout the spring and summer.