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Summer Shorts Supports Faculty Exploring Instructional Technologies

Design by Katie Harris.

The 2021 Summer Shorts was the 22nd annual premier event hosted by DELTA to provide local higher education instructors with best practices for new and existing technologies to improve student success in their courses. From Aug. 5-12, sessions were held in person and online to share tips and tricks for teaching with Moodle, Panopto, Zoom, Google Jamboard, PlayPosit, Gradescope and more. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges and opportunities for instructors over the past year and a half. For some instructors, settling back into teaching both online and in-person classes while maintaining COVID-19 precautions meant adjusting their course delivery methods to suit their students’ new needs. This year’s Summer Shorts aimed to inspire and guide instructors to exercise their “creativity under pressure.”

COVID-19 posed challenges for the Summer Shorts event itself, but it led to unexpected benefits.

“Despite the roadblocks COVID-19 threw our way, the DELTA team still made things work. Live streaming and holding in-person concurrent sessions went off without too much of a hitch,” Program Coordinator Jenn Scoggins said. “Reduced in-person attendance because of precautions led to the ability to extend participation to non-NC Staters!”

Attendees of the 2021 Summers Shorts learned many useful tips and were inspired by the sessions they attended

“I learned several ideas from experienced instructors on how to set up assignments and activities to engage students,” said Carlos Goller, associate teaching professor in NC State’s College of Sciences.

“The idea of adding humanity to your course and your syllabus is powerful. I have certainly been sharing that with faculty and will also give a workshop in the spring,” said Heidi Echols, instructional designer in NC State’s Poole College of Management.

One of the most impactful parts of DELTA Summer Shorts is that it gives faculty not only knowledge of instructional technologies and strategies but encouragement to share it with their colleagues and utilize it in their own work.

“I’ve been able to think through HyFlex course options and have used some of the ideas for a DELTA Express Grant, which was just awarded,” said Carrol Warren, teaching assistant professor in NC State’s College of Education. “I’m eager to implement some of the ideas exchanged during DELTA Summer Shorts. I have already incorporated Google Jamboard into my online course and look forward to including Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles as I move forward with course design.”

Many attendees enjoyed renowned Instructional Designer Flower Darby’s keynote speech about teaching remotely, caring for students’ mental health and using instructional tools to do so.

“I really liked Flower Darby’s tip to ‘Do More in Moodle’ in order to help in future preparations to be flexible between teaching online and teaching in-person. Flower also argues that students will be more engaged when they are more connected to the class,” said Kerri Brown Parker, director of Media and Education Technology Resource Center (METRC) in NC State’s College of Education. “I am making sure that all of our content is in Moodle and encouraging others to do the same. I am also attempting to have more check-ins with students and opportunities for them to provide feedback.”

The 2021 Summer Shorts was a success for DELTA and the higher education community as a whole.

“Everyone who was part of Summer Shorts 2021 demonstrated creativity under pressure! We had speakers who delivered their presentations in a HyFlex fashion, and for many of them, this was their first time doing so,” said Interim Senior Director of Digital Learning Stacy Gant. “We had several ‘make it work’ moments due to new technologies and the ongoing challenges of COVID, but everyone dug deep and worked together to create a wonderful, collaborative learning experience.”

“DELTA Summer Shorts is a wonderful example of NC State providing guidance and support to faculty who teach online. The benefits aren’t only applicable to online teaching but also in-person and hybrid courses as well. Because of DELTA Summer Shorts and the amazing DELTA team, I was able to enter the fall semester with new ideas and confidence,” Warren said.

In the coming years, DELTA hopes to continue helping instructors at NC State and beyond use instructional tools and strategies to improve student success.