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By M. Sidury Christiansen, PhD
UTSA 2021-2022 Next-Gen Provost Fellow
Associate Professor, COEHD Bicultural Bilingual STD

This week our Teaching Tip comes from Dina Drozdov, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in COS. Dina teaches large introductory courses in Astronomy for all majors at UTSA. 

Dina explains that she strives to create an inclusive environment in all of her classrooms because of the diversity of students’ backgrounds, majors, learning styles and needs she has in any given class. She has taken advantage of Academic Innovation multiple workshops and professional development courses such as Innovation Academy and is about to complete the ACUE course on Inclusive Teaching for Equitable Learning. She suggests 5 tips to create an inclusive classroom regardless of the modality (face to face, online synchronous/ asynchronous, or hybrid). 

Watch Dina explain these tips.

Dina found that adapting what she already used when teaching face to face to online environments was very easy once she learned about UTSA licensed tools such as Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Polling and PlayPosit. She also found she could keep the same level of engagement in her online classes by incorporating automatic emails from the “announcements” and embedding Padlet into Blackboard. Dina emphasized using a diversity of modalities to reach all types of students, who may have different learning styles, preferences, abilities, and needs. Finally, Dina showed how crowdsourcing documents for “how to succeed” in her class is advantageous for students. She provides these resources along with UTSA resources such as tutoring center, writing center, counseling, etc. to help the student as a whole.

Dina explained that including representation from all cultures and languages in her lectures, teaching materials, and examples is paramount in the success of her students. She explained that astronomy, just as many other subjects, is cultural, so providing a variety of examples where students can see their languages and cultures represented was advantageous and helped foster deeper connections with her subject.

Recently, UTSA opened the new Student Success Center, where you can find a lot more resources for students. Additionally, UTSA already offers educational licenses to PlayPosit and Padlet, and Academic Innovation offers grants and support for video captioning. Taking the time to explore these resources could provide you with ideas on how to adapt an activity you know works well in the classroom to online environments. Do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with a staff at Academic Innovation to get guidance on how to make the change.