ID Showcase: Honors 136

Scaffolding the Online Seminar: Honors 136—Art, Entertainment, & Social Change

What to Expect in the Showcase

In this showcase, Lecturer Terri Anderson will explain and illustrate the genesis and process of scaffolding a seminar aiming for student success in a student-led online hybrid Honors seminar. Student performance is extraordinarily engaged and advanced; student response is overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Topics to be covered include:

  • How to scaffold student engagement in a seminar
  • The unique value of an entirely online hybrid seminar
  • How to effectively use the online format—including working with Zoom, using the chat bar, effectively using discussion forums, and so on
  • How to develop an original and challenging, yet level-appropriate and doable, set of materials
  • How to coach students through creating an effective presentation

Presenter Bio

Terri Anderson is a Continuing Lecturer with Sociology and the Honors Program. She teaches a wide variety of Sociology courses, including Introductory Sociology, Research Methods, Environmental Sociology, Sociology of Emotions, Self & Society, Social Psychology, Sociology of the Body, Sociology of Mental Illness, Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Family, Sociology of Education, Sociology of Mass Communication, Food & Society, and Hip & Cool: A Study of Distinction & Exclusion. She has developed three online hybrid seminars for the Honors Program: Art, Entertainment, & Social Change; Between the Species: The Human/Non-Human Animal Relationship; and Living Consciously: Philosophy in Everyday Life.

Following a 20+ year career of in-person teaching, Dr. Anderson has been teaching online since 2017, and is currently redeveloping her Sociology of Mental Illness course (cross-listed with Disability Studies) for delivery throughout the entire UC system via UC Online.

Selected Q&A from the Showcase

I like the iterative process you are planning to improve this course. How did you decide what to improve for each round of re-design?I address whatever problem seems most pressing at the time. For example, when the class was in-person, the biggest issue I saw was that students were not engaging in informed participation nearly as much as I wanted them to. So the next time the class ran, the students had a weekly assignment to respond to several of the materials in 1-2 pages. They would bring their responses to class each week, then spend about 10 minutes discussing their responses with one other student to warm them up. After that, they had much more to say in the group, because a certain amount of response had been structured into course assignments, and was quantifiable because it was in written form, which was more easily understandable as “graded.” However, these weekly written assignments became MUCH easier once the class went online, as they became the discussion posts, and the conversation was the responses to the posts.
Do you grade those discussions for each post, or is it more for participation?I grade each post based on amount of materials used in response to each of the two topics for the week (at least 3 per topic), and apparent depth of the post. It is not difficult to get full credit (2 points per week). The low-stakes nature of each weekly discussion forum relieves pressure to perform, making it easier for students to “play” in the discussion forum, which tends to lead to more interesting responses and collaborations.
What is your strategy to keep students on track and help them catch up?Students share their concerns with the instructor; and materials are not long; The instructor would invite former students to share their presentations and how they “survived”. Instructor also provided guidance in office hours, “hand-holding”. The presentation is high-stake, but it has been broken down and allows different ways to earn points. TA: For weekly work (2 points in discussion forum, 2 points for live participation), it is not difficult to earn full credit, but students must be consistently engaged. The presentation is much higher-stakes, but is scaffolded into multiple smaller (more doable) parts, each of which is clearly described and explained, and developed in collaboration with the instructor (me).

This Google Doc contains the comments, questions and answers collected during the showcase.

ID Showcase – Care Work – Disability Justice and Health Care

Nursing M172 & M172XP – Care Work: Disability Justice and Health Care

NURS172XP course site

This showcase highlights accessibility and engaged learning through the instructor’s experience designing a multidisciplinary two-course package. Community-engaged learning personalized disability care policy and caregiving practice through reflective relationship building. For instance, the course integrated Perusall to center disabled voices, deepen student preparation, and provide flexible engagement. It authorizes students to become creators of accessible information. By creating small groups called bird flocks, the course simulates carewebs that accomplish class activities. In addition, it structures community engagement through reflective relational logs, a field trip to the Momentum partner agency, attendance at the Ability Expo, and movies supported by the library mini-grant program, which creates a highly engaged learning environment for students. 

What to Expect in this Showcase

In this session, the instructor will share her experience designing a multidisciplinary two-course package that showcases accessibility and engaged learning. Course topics of accessibility and carework were mirrored in course design. Community-engaged learning personalized disability care policy and caregiving practice through reflective relationship building. Topics to be covered include:

  • Using Perusall to center disabled voices, deepen student preparation, and provide flexible engagement.
  • Authorizing students to become creators of accessible information.
  • Creating small groups called bird flocks to simulate carewebs that accomplish class activities.
  • Structuring community engagement through reflective relational logs, a field trip to the Momentum partner agency, attendance at the Ability Expo, and movies supported by the library mini-grant program.

Presenter Bios
Lauren Clark is a public health nurse and the Shapiro Family Endowed Chair in Developmental Disability Studies in the School of Nursing. She teaches health professions students to advocate for health equity and quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She works with the UCLA Tarjan Center and is on the Board of Directors of Disability Rights California.

Yuri Matsuo is a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner and a PhD student studying Down syndrome, aging, and family care. She is a Teaching Assistant in the Care Work community-engaged learning course.

ID Showcase – ENGCOMP 403

ENGCOMP 403 – Language Pedagogy: Form, Meaning, and Function

What to Expect in this Showcase

This Instructional Design Showcase will explore several online-synchronous course design elements that were developed during the pandemic and have been continually refined in the years after based on student feedback. Through the course demonstration, the instructor explained how the homepage and modules had been setup, discussed several student engagement solutions such as flipped course design, audio-video content packages, and interactive class sessions, and also explored a few effective feedback practices through audio-video feedback packages and extended zoom conferences.The specific items that will be covered are as follows:

  • Course Organization (Homepage Design & Module Setup)
  • Student Engagement (Flipped Course Design, Audio-Video Content Packages, and interactive Class Sessions)
  • Feedback Practice (Audio-Video Feedback Packages and extended Zoom Conferences)

Presenter Bio

Jeremy Kelley serves as the Associate Director of UCLA’s Writing Programs, UCLA’s academic home for both English composition and English as a Second Language. In addition to teaching both undergraduate and graduate language and writing courses, he teaches the language teacher training seminar for graduate student ESL instructors and mentors new graduate instructors through their initial teaching appointment. He also teaches the core language pedagogy seminar for the language-learner emphasis of Writing Programs’ Graduate Certificate in Writing Pedagogy.

ID Showcase – Bruin Learn Analytics

From Data to Action: Bruin Learn Analytics in Your Course

This showcase demonstrates the tools and reports Bruin Learn provides to data on student engagement, participation, and achievement. Through Bruin Learn analytics, the presenters explain how to measure how students engage with course activities, identify at-risk students and assess the effectiveness of teaching strategies. The limitations of analytics and how your course design will impact your ability to gather meaningful data have also been discussed.

What to Expect in this Showcase

You will learn about the tools and reports Bruin Learn provides to data on student engagement, participation, and achievement. Bruin Learn analytics can:

  • measure how students engage with course activities,
  • identify at-risk students and
  • assess the effectiveness of teaching strategies.

We will also discuss the limitations of analytics and how your course design will impact your ability to gather meaningful data.


Jason and Mark worked together on the recent LMS Transformation project that moved over 40,000 course sites from CCLE/Moodle into Bruin Learn/Canvas.

Mark Kayser is an Instructional Designer with the UCLA Teaching and Learning Center. In his work he has designed online and blended courses with a special interest in STEM courses and the unique challenge these domains pose to online learners. For the last 15 years he has also taught Mathematics courses at the collegiate level.

Jason Schaffer is an LMS Analyst with UCLA Bruin Learn Center of Excellence (CoE). Jason has worked closely with numerous academic partners to integrate 3rd party LTI tools, in addition to feature options in Bruin learn. He has helped support Canvas at UCLA since the inception of the CoE.

Selected Q&A from the Showcase

Can you explain more about the 30-day limitation? It sounds like the data will only reflect what happens in 30 days? Relatedly, will Canvas make a change to this limitation?The 30 days are a rolling window. The idea is for you to pay attention to the data throughout the course to make more real-time decisions based on real-time(ish) data. There are ways to download more data, but there are no plans that we know of for Canvas to change this limitation. The company does make frequent updates so we’ll see.
Can you clarify what weekly/online activities will be counted? Files, PDF are not counted. Those with participation are.
How do page views work with files (is it any different)? I’ve just observed page views being pretty low in a class with lots of files for readings. (But maybe students are actually not viewing them!)If the files are not a Canvas page, that won’t trigger in New Analytics.
In what ways could you miss a student not doing well who seems to be doing well as per the data?Consider implementing low-stakes assessments in your course design. For example, if you’re only giving a traditional high-stakes midterm, then you won’t see student progress until the midterm scores.
How can faculty learn about these powerful formative assessment tools, like tracking student engagement?Both the Teaching and Learning Center and the Bruin Learn COE offer consultation, showcases, workshops, and training:

Previous ID Showcases

Email TLC instructional designers

Contact the Bruin Learn CoE

Bruin Learn CoE Office Hours

Will New Analytics also include info from TA sites?The New Analytics are specific to the course you’re in – to see a TA site’s New Analytics, you can find them in that particular site.
What about the site from a Group Set? (When you create groups, this creates sites within the main site.) We will need to test this!
If you’re teaching an in-person course, how can you design your class site and teach it in a way to make use of New Analytics?Consider your goals for using analytics. You’d likely want to know if students are accessing the resources – so, for instance, you might want to embed the readings into a page so that you get page view data. You could also have some low-stakes assessments (pre-lecture quizzes etc) in order to get some data.
How does it count things like Perusall?New Analytics doesn’t cover applications originating outside Canvas, but many of these apps have their own data. For example, you can see Perusall’s data through the Perusall tab.

Each external third-party tool is going to be different in the data it provides.

Are Kaltura analytics available through New Analytics?Those analytics are to be found separately. In “My Media,” by clicking on the graph next to one of your videos, you’ll be able to see some data.Treat the analytics as “clues” and not absolute proof!
For the Canvas analytics, because of the 30-day limitation, does it mean it requires lots of effort from the instructor to track the data? What best practices would you suggest if they want to collect and use the data?Think of New Analytics less as a replacement for the info in the Gradebook and more like a temperature check. It is also not hard and fast evidence. New Analytics can help you reduce uncertainty about your course.

Your academic unit lead might have access to additional reports/data that are outside the course.

This is not about New Analytics, but do you have anything to say about the “time spent” value in the People tab? How would you interpret that info?This data point can be misleading because students can leave their Bruin Learn browser tabs open and not performing any course activity. On the other hand, if the value is super low it may indicate your student hasn’t logged in to the course site. It also lets you see if there was any access at all.

This Google Doc contains the comments, questions and answers collected during the showcase.

ID Showcase – Honors 37W and ChatGPT

A ChatGPT Experiment in Honors 37W

This showcase is an extension of an earlier talk Laurel Westrup gave as part of the Spring 2023 “AI in Action” event. It will focus on a specific use of ChatGPT in a Spring 2023 Honors Collegium Writing II course, “Sampling and Remix: The Aesthetics and Politics of Cultural Appropriation.”

Honors 37W, which focuses on cultural borrowing of many kinds, was an apt forum for discussion of generative artificial intelligence (Gen-AI) and large language models (LLMs) that draw on borrowed sources in order to create text. The instructor re-designed a staple course assignment to provide students an opportunity to try out and reflect on co-writing with a chatbot. The showcase will:

  • Provide context and a rationale for this particular use of ChatGPT
  • Discuss the assignment design
  • Review student responses to the assignment
  • Offer some thoughts on integrating ChatGPT into our courses based on this experiment 

Presenter Bio

Laurel Westrup is a Continuing Lecturer with Writing Programs and the Honors Program and the Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Writing Pedagogy (GCWP). She teaches courses across Writing Programs’ curriculum, from first-year composition and Writing II to upper division courses in the Professional Writing Minor, and she also teaches graduate pedagogy courses with the GCWP. She received a UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award in 2023.

ID Showcase – English Composition 2

English Composition 2 – Approaches to University Writing | Meta-Narrative and the Narrative Self

In this course showcase session, Shane Crosby will share his experiences, the pros and cons, of using a variety of Bruin Learn tools to actively engage undergraduate students in the content of a first-year composition course.

This showcase demonstrates how the instructor uses Bruin Learn to actively engage undergraduate students in a first-year composition course. Several essential Bruin Learn tools and features, such as homepage, modules, assignments, and gradebook, are discussed. The exploration of different tool settings throughout the course design process with the support of the Bruin Learn Center of Excellence is shared.

The tools reviewed include:

  • Home Page
    • Attendance, ebook integration, syllabi, course notification settings
    • eBook integration: They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing
  • Modules
    • Organization
    • The “getting started” / Course Resource module
    • Lock Until | prerequisites | requirements
    • New feature: dropdown arrow options
    • Creating all assignments from within the Modules(?)
  • Assignments
    • Creating grading rules
  • Grades / Gradebook Settings
    • When to make it available, pros and cons, likes and dislikes
    • Late submission policy considerations
    • Grade posting considerations
    • Advanced feature settings

Presenter Bio

Shane Crosby is a Continuing Lecturer in Writing Programs at UCLA. He completed his BA at UCLA, MA in Special Education at Clark Atlanta University, PhD in Special Education at Georgia State University, and his MFA degree at UC Irvine.

This ID Showcase is a collaboration between the UCLA Teaching and Learning Center and the Bruin Learn Center of Excellence.

About OTL

About UCLA Online Teaching and Learning

UCLA launched its Online Teaching and Learning Initiative in 2016 as a response to the growing awareness and need to leverage educational technologies into instruction. Beginning in 2018, the Online Teaching and Learning unit added instructional design and production teams.

OTL’s instructional design team provides campus faculty and academic leaders with the experience, knowledge, and support to incorporate educational technologies into courses. This can take the form of individual consultations, public workshops, and other sessions in promoting and advising on the use of existing, experimental, and new technologies. The instructional designers are available for appointment! Please reach out to a Team Member.

In coordination with the designers, the production team utilizes the OTL production studio in Slichter Hall to help faculty record, edit, and produce content ranging from short introductory material to full lecture content.  For faculty looking to self-produce content, the production team can also provide consultative support.

Meet the OTL Team

We are a team of dedicated professionals, ready to support UCLA faculty and departments

Ava Arndt

Ava Arndt

Interim Director

Before joining the OTL team at UCLA, Ava Arndt taught at UCI where she started using technology in her own classes and experimenting with online learning tools and practices with her students. Following this she worked for UCOP’s Innovative Learning Technology Initiative (ILTI) where she designed and built online and hybrid courses across all campuses within the UC system. When not teaching or designing or playing with technology she enjoys being outside, traveling the world, reading books, walking her dog and playing with her daughter.

Kim Ballard

Kim Ballard

Instructional Designer

Kim Ballard has worked as an instructional designer in higher ed for over 22 years. She joined UCLA in 2022 to assist with the LMS transition to Bruin Learn. Her passion for designing clear, usable, and accessible courses is fueled by her belief in providing high quality educational opportunities for all learners. Kim believes in the value of teaching disciplinary thinking by situating learning experiences in authentic activities and environments. Outside of work Kim enjoys reading, drawing, gardening, traveling, and cooking.

Barry Bishop

Barry Bishop


Barry Bishop is a Producer/Director in the Online Teaching and Learning team. While his passion is in cinematography he has a deep technical knowledge within the areas of live and post production. Barry’s expertise with technology is instrumental in keeping the OTL studio and post-production workflows as functional and up-to-date as possible. Prior to joining UCLA, Barry worked in the San Francisco Bay area, producing media content for over a decade for multiple tech companies that include Cisco, Facebook and Dolby. In his spare time Barry enjoys programming and 3D modeling in Cinema 4D.

Serge Chenkerian

Serge Chenkerian

Unit Coordinator

Serge Chenkerian is the primary administrative contact for the unit and coordinates Online Teaching and Learning‘s activities and events. His responsibilities include HR functionality, fund management, strategic planning and implementation, event coordination, procurement, and budgeting, just to name a few. Having obtained an MBA in Management and Marketing from the University of Houston, Bauer College of Business, his early career at UCLA led him to a position as the MSO for UCLA’s Academic Senate.

Kim DeBacco

Kim DeBacco

Senior Instructional Designer

Kim DeBacco was a tenured faculty in the Institute for Teaching & Learning at The University of Sydney, and worked in Academic Development at La Trobe University, Melbourne. In the UC, Kim was an Instructional Consultant (UCSB), an Academic Program Director (UCSB Extension), an Instructional Design Analyst (Riverside), and a Senior Instructional Designer at UCLA since 2019. Kim is interested in educational technologies and language learning, with research interests around blended teaching and learning, ethics, and reciprocity in university relationships.

Brittany Goodwell

Brittany Goodwell

Instructional Designer

Brittany Goodwell joined the OTL team as an Instructional Designer in 2023. Before coming to UCLA, she was a Curriculum Developer and Trainer at the City University of New York, developing courses for employees working with those experiencing homelessness in New York City. She has also led instructional design projects for the School of Pharmacy at USC. Brittany has extensive experience working in higher education and a commitment to ensuring student success. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants around the Los Angeles area, and listening to podcasts.

Mark Kayser

Mark Kayser

Instructional Designer

Mark Kayser joined Online Teaching and Learning in 2020 as an Instructional Designer. At UCLA he has worked to improve both the student experience and the Accessibility of UCLA courses. He also enthusiastically supports the use of Open Educational Resources and Authentic Assessments. Before joining the OTL team Mark was at the University of Minnesota where he designed online and blended courses with a primary focus on STEM courses and the unique challenge these domains pose to online learners. For the last 14 years he has also taught Mathematics courses at the collegiate level.

Paul Kimball

Paul Kimball

Managing Producer/Director

Paul Kimball is the Managing Producer/Director for UCLA OTL. He oversees the department’s studio in Slichter Hall as well as all aspects of production for the studio’s creations. He also coordinates regularly with other production units on campus that create video content for UCLA classes. As a key member of the TFT Online team, he shot, edited, and/or oversaw the video production for that program and for the other campus courses built with them. Before starting work at UCLA in instructional media in 2013, he worked in broadcast television and feature film. In his free time, Paul is also a professional screenwriter.

Kate Schaller

Kate Schaller

Instructional Designer

Kate Schaller joined UCLA in 2021 as an instructional designer on the LMS Transformation team. Before this, she was a graduate student, instructor, and teaching assistant at Vanderbilt University, teaching German language and film studies courses in-person, hybrid, and remotely.

During graduate school she also worked in language teaching centers on projects exploring innovative uses of technology in the foreign language classroom, and served as a teaching assistant on study abroad programs.

Agustín Rios

Agustín Rios

Instructional Designer

Agustín Rios has been an Instructional Designer with OTL since August, 2022, where he has presented "Teaching with Technology" seminars for faculty workshops. Prior to OTL, he worked on the LMS Transformation project and was an Instructional Designer at the School of Dentistry. Agustín also served on the Special Practices Group, a committee charged with deciding the budgetary spending of the legacy LMS, and Chaired the Educational Media Group comprised of students interested in creating clinical instructional videos. He developed his skills through seven years as a visual effects artist in the movie industry.

Sirui Wang

Sirui Wang

Instructional Designer

Sirui Wang collaborates with faculty and departments on course design, instructional design, pedagogy, student engagement, assessment, evaluation, and more. In addition to her instructional design services at OTL, Sirui coordinates the Instructional Design Showcases and consults on several campus-wide committees. In 2022, she supported the LMS transformation to Bruin Learn. Prior to UCLA, Sirui provided her instructional design services at Colorado State University for online education. She earned her Ph.D. in Instructional Technology and Design from The University of Southern Mississippi in 2015.

Jim Williamson

Jim Williamson

Director, Educational Technology Systems & Administration

With over 25 years of educational and technology experience, Jim Williamson’s prior roles include Director of eLearning (CSULA), Manager of the UCLA Film and Television’s Archive Research and Study Center, System Engineer (Boeing Satellite), and Manager of the Teaching Enhancement Center (UCLA). His professional experience includes teaching college English composition and literature both in-person and online, digital archiving, copyright, faculty development, educational software, data analytics, database and web design, and e-learning research.

Our Office

In collaboration with the UCLA Library, OTL’s Instructional Design Studio is located in the Charles E. Young Research Library, room 21570. The administrative offices and conference room are located in room 21520.

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Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT)

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching fosters and champions effective teaching, grounded in sound pedagogy and enhanced by innovation, to promote successful learning for UCLA’s diverse student population. To realize this mission, CAT collaborates with faculty and other campus partners, drawing on its wide range of expertise in pedagogy, educational technology, assessment, learning spaces, and curricular research.
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Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences (CEILS)

The Center for Education Innovation & Learning in the Sciences (CEILS) creates a collaborative community of instructors committed to advancing teaching excellence, assessment, diversity, and scholarship, resulting in the enhancement of student learning experiences in the Life and Physical Sciences.
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Disabilities and Computing Program

The mission of UCLA’s Disabilities and Computing Program at the Office of Information Technology is two-fold. The first goal is to facilitate the integration of adaptive computing technology into the areas of instruction, study, research, and employment at UCLA. The second goal is to make information – including electronic text and multimedia – accessible to all students, faculty and staff.
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UCLA Library

The University Library, with its many locations, is central to all of UCLA’s research, teaching, and learning activities.  Online Teaching and Learning appreciates the continued support of the UCLA Library, its staff, and use of its facilities.

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In Memoriam

Prof. Jan Reiff

Prof. Jan Reiff

Professor Jan Reiff (1949-2021) was the inaugural director of UCLA Online Teaching and Learning as well as a faculty in the 1960s GE Cluster. After serving as Chair of the Academic Senate, she functioned for a year as the Senate-Administrative liaison for Online Instruction. Former EVC/Provost Waugh invited her to serve as a special assistant to him in areas connected to online, blended, and technology-enhanced learning. In that role, she has worked with individuals throughout campus to create UCLA Online Teaching and Learning. She was involved with the use of digital technologies in research, learning, and teaching stretching back to her graduate school days at the University of Washington and her first job at the Newberry Library organizing NEH-sponsored institutes on computing and history at the Library and in universities across the U.S. At Northwestern, she founded the Microcomputer Support Group for faculty before assuming a faculty position at Case Western Reserve University where she was the Jesse Houk Shera Assistant Professor of History and winner of the John S. Diekhoff Award for Graduate Teaching and Mentoring. She also served as Fulbright Senior Scholar at the University of Bremen (Germany) in its Labor Migration Center before coming to UCLA.

At UCLA, she specialized in urban, social, migration, and labor history, having taught and published in each area. A recipient of a Senate Distinguished Teaching Award and the 2015-18 holder of the Waldo W. Neikirk Chair for Undergraduate Education Innovation, she helped launch both the 1960s and Los Angeles cluster.

At the time of her death, Jan was serving as a member of UCLA’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Task Force, Program Owner for the LMS Transformation Project, and as special assistant for online teaching and learning to Chancellor Gene Block and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Emily Carter.

Jan passed away peacefully in her home on May 4, 2021.

ID Showcase – Using Slack in Education

Using Slack to Build an Equitable and Diverse Learning Community in Education

In this showcase, Prof. Glory Tobiason will demonstrate how she uses Slack in undergraduate courses to engage and welcome students, streamline communication, and conduct formative assessments.

Slack is a UCLA-approved app that facilitates communication and collaboration in a variety of contexts: project teams, administrative units, research groups, etc.

The showcase is organized like a “tasting menu” of several possible pedagogical uses of Slack, including:

  • Community building
  • Shared course FAQs
  • TA communication
  • Making students’ thinking accessible to their peers
  • “Slack Hands,” a strategy for more inclusive participation
  • Collaborative study guide for quizzes

Presenter Bio

Prof. Glory Tobiason is clinical faculty in the Education Department (where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in research methods) and a Research Scientist at the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST). She also co-leads the Holistic Evaluation of Teaching initiative at UCLA. The goal of her research and faculty-engagement work is to understand and support the work of teachers.

ID Showcase – SCAND 60 – Introduction to Nordic Cinema

Scandinavian Studies 60 – Introduction to Nordic Cinema

SCAND 60 course screenshot

In this course showcase, Prof. Patrick Wen will share his experience designing a fully asynchronous online course on Nordic cinema based on earlier experiences teaching similar courses in person. The aims of the in-person and online courses remain the same: to offer undergraduates a broad introduction to a lesser-known cinematic tradition while also engaging them in critical thinking and writing.

Topics to be covered include:

  • Employing various pedagogical strategies, such as podcasting, peer review, and blogging, to foster student engagement and build a vibrant learning community.
  • Encouraging students to have informal discussions through podcast activities to increase their engagement and interaction.
  • Effectively managing asynchronous student schedules.
  • Utilizing Bruin Learn to facilitate a successful transition from in-person to asynchronous learning in the Introduction to Nordic Cinema course.

Presenter Bio

Prof. Patrick Wen is a continuing lecturer in Scandinavian within the Department of European Languages and Transcultural Studies. He teaches courses on film history, modern literature, and also Norwegian language.

Selected Q&A from the Showcase

Given that the films aren’t screened live, do you find that the students do other things to create community when screening them for themselves (chatting, watching over Zoom, etc.)?Students did organize/gather informally to watch together in person and virtually.
How do you grade the peer reviewed blog postings?Canvas has some quirks to assign points. The instructor created a separate assignment to give points.
How often did you or the TAs respond to the students posts or submissions?For a roughly 60-person class, every week TA or instructor responded to individual responses (not a general post to all). The instructor enjoyed responding to students and got “sucked in.”
Are the responses to the blog posts from peers expected to be done within a certain time frame? Or at any time? If a student did not complete the peer review/response, how was that handled?For asynchronous work, it was important to keep students on the same page re: submissions. (Some wanted to do things early, others wanted to wait right up til the deadline.) This created a peer review issue because if a student posts early, they have to wait for other students to post to complete their peer review.

The instructor set expectations about what students could do in advance, but for back-and-forth type of activities–like blog posts–students need to complete tasks more “at deadline.”

This was a learning curve!

Were rubrics used for podcasts/blog posts?A rubric was used for the blog post/podcast (3 points total), as well as for the peer review portion of the blog post assignment (2 points total). The instructor explained this as a two-part assignment.
Did you use the podcast feature in Bruin Learn discussions for the Week 5 Podcast Postings? (And….how does that work? I’ve never known…)Students either recorded on Zoom or just created an audio file. The instructor provided instructions on how to do this. It was simple because students had already been using the discussion boards in Canvas.
Was there some buildup or scaffolding done for the podcasts? Creating an outline or talking points?The students were given prompts, pretty similar to the ones for the blog postings – but more designed for conversation (between two students).
Can you talk a little bit about students’ choices for the projects – how many of them chose a paper vs. a group video assignment? And what kinds of video assignments did they create?Video assignments took different forms depending on prompts chosen. Often they were borne of blog postings – that got them thinking about something that they wanted to fully develop in a longer project. Often the videos were powerpoint-style presentations that they may have written about. In group video projects, they were interacting, but in a more formal way than in the podcast – a thesis, evidence, etc.
What do you see as next steps or enhancements for the course?Changing up the syllabus, but keeping the podcast/video presentation options open for the students. How can more of this be incorporated, is a question. Also, thinking about adding more informal conversations, like Patrick’s informal conversation with a colleague working on a book about Ingmar Bergman. (Not long – but this would bring in other voices)
What is the demographic of the course – do they already have film studies/Scandinavian studies knowledge going in?For the most part, the students don’t have knowledge of Scandinavian studies going in (readings are in English, films subtitled). Some students do have this knowledge/background, so it’s a nice mix. Tendency towards older students (fourth years) taking and appreciating the course! Maybe this is specifically because it’s an online class and that’s what this group wants.
How do you think the quality of the blog writing compares to the written papers?More polished than expected. Peer reviews in particular felt like a conversation.
Do you know if students ever continue blogging after your class?A few students in particular – avid film buffs! Some continue other forms of film writing, not necessarily blogging.
Is there a difference between blogging on Bruin Learn and blogging on WordPress (for example)?Technical differences yes – WordPress/others are third party sites and students will need to create logons for them. (They are also public, which can be an issue for students.) They may afford more for creativity/incorporating media, but using BL Discussions keeps everything in Bruin Learn (and you can still add images, videos, links).
Do you think the sporadic grading positively contributed to increased instructor/social presence?Aim – students should feel like the TA and the instructor were both engaged. Responding to the posts (not necessarily on time) should impart that he was engaging with the students, reading what they were writing. He does think this was a positive thing!

This Google Doc contains the comments, questions and answers collected during the showcase.

ID Showcase – Engaging STEM Students with Perusall – CLUSTER M71 and SOC GEN M144

Engaging STEM Students with Perusall – CLUSTER M71 and SOC GEN M144

In this course showcase session, the instructor will compare two different Biology and Society courses that have integrated Perusall as one of the engagement solutions for a large general education course and an upper division elective in the Human Biology and Society major.

The presentation will include the following aspects:

  • How Perusall has been selected and integrated
  • Benefits for collaborative learning and critical thinking 
  • The challenges of using Perusall in interdisciplinary science courses

Presenter Bio: 

Prof. Michelle Rensel is an adjunct assistant professor in the Institute for Society and Genetics (ISG) and the coordinator of the freshman Biotechnology and Society GE Cluster course. Prior to joining the Institute, she completed a PhD and postdoctoral work in behavioral endocrinology. As full-time teaching faculty in ISG, she teaches a broad range of upper and lower division courses that bridge the life and social sciences, and regularly implements new instructional strategies to improve learning, belonging, and retention in the life sciences.

Presented: Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Selected Q&A from the Showcase

What is the average enrollment in the cluster?Cap enrollment is 240 (usually reached); 6 TAs all year; sometimes a little dropoff in enrollment in winter but little from winter to spring.
If copying a course to a different quarter, will the Persuall set up be copied over too, such as the assignments list, instruction, etc.?Yes – you can select what you want to copy! (You could just copy over the library, or you could copy individual readings, or you can copy the whole thing).
How much do you/other faculty in the cluster annotate in Perusall, or comment on annotations?Prof. Rensel usually does not intervene. Sometimes students tag her and ask a question, and then she responds. But usually not! If she intervened, it would be in a smaller course to guide discussion. Students also benefit from feeling like Perusall is “their thing”.

There haven’t been issues so far with students saying anything horrible – they spend time talking about codes of conduct.

It seems that you have to manually build individual assignments in Perusall, is that correct?Yes and no. Once you add your resource you can create your annotation assignment for that resource. Please note that you can use your Perusall course scoring settings for all your assignments – you do not have to set your scoring settings for each individual assignment.
Do students see other people’s annotations before they post their first comment? Did you have any issues with repeated points or syntax?Students have noted plagiarism by other students. Students can choose to turn off seeing other annotations but they need to make that choice.

Oftentimes there are double annotations (could be from wifi issues or glitches) – there is a setting to automatically flag duplicates.

Is the grading that happens in Perusall automatic?Yes – you can set (and later change) the scoring settings and the annotations are auto-graded. You can set a formula in the grading scheme so students have multiple ways to reach full credit. You can also adjust students’ scores before releasing them to the gradebook.
How is “Reading to the end” determined?The reading metric gives credit based on how many pages the student has viewed. If the student only viewed half the number of pages, they would receive 50% of the score.

If students are commenting on a video or podcast, students will receive full credit upon opening the assignment as there are no pages in a video or podcast assignment.

Does an instructor need to create the scoring columns? Is there a limitation of how many columns/criterion? Or is that fixed?The columns in the scoring criteria show up as fixed options – you set the percentages of what things are worth.
What is roughly the distribution of scores you might expect?The goal is that everyone gets 100% – they do the reading and they do their annotations! Occasionally some get flagged as plagiarism – re: Michelle, Perusall doesn’t do much to detect that but students themselves have detected it! It’s not the norm but it is a possibility.

There is continued discussion in the class about best practices for using Perusall, so students are aware of how to use it.

Is there a way to filter by section so TAs can read over before their section?You can set up groups by section – but it was manual! There is a way to manually import now. You can import Canvas/Bruin Learn groups to Perusall.

If students move groups, their initial comment threads move to the new group and disappear from the old one.

When students are working on an assignment, do they have the same view as you are showing here? The texts are all covered by annotations.No, they do not have the same view; they can see each other’s within their groups.

There is an option to see what comments display. “My Comments” is the menu item that includes the flexible view of how they can view the comments.

Did students engage more with reading using Perusall compared to how they did reading before the tool?Students felt positive about using the tool and provide meaningful annotations.
How do you connect what the students post with your lectures and interaction with the students?With a smaller course you can use their annotations as inspiration for discussions. Other folks using it in seminars use it to have “questions in back pocket” when discussion stalls!

It is harder to make the connection in a big lecture course with lecture materials.

Do you know if it would be possible for students to upload materials that would become part of the assignment?In the “Library” section there is a “Student upload folder” so that students can share files directly. You may still need to put these materials into an assignment.

This Google Doc contains the comments, questions and answers collected during the showcase.


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