Zoom meeting on laptop
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

This summer, 260 graduate students took part in an eight-week program to help the campus prepare for remote instruction. With funding from a generous donor, Vice Provost and Graduate Dean Lisa García Bedolla charged Linda von Hoene, Assistant Dean for Professional Development and Director of the GSI Teaching & Resource Center with designing and launching the Graduate Remote Instruction Innovation Fellows Program which provided summer stipends of up to $5,000 for each of the 260 Fellows and a Certificate in Remote Instruction. In designing and executing the program, Assistant Dean von Hoene collaborated with two outstanding graduate student Teaching Consultants from the GSI Center, Kristen Nelson Ph.D. Candidate in sociology and Noah Katznelson, Ph.D. Candidate in education.

As part of their applications, each Fellow proposed a project in one of seven areas: assisting a faculty member with redesigning a course for remote instruction; redesigning discussion sections for remote learning; redesigning syllabi for Reading & Composition courses, foreign languages, studios, or labs; or designing one’s own course for remote instruction. All Fellows received the endorsement of the Instructor of Record for the course they will be a GSI for in the fall so that the work being done this summer will be integrated into the departmental curriculum and have an impact this fall.

Kristen Nelson
Kristen Nelson
Noah Katznelson

After a week-long intensive on designing courses for remote instruction, with special attention to the situational factors that affect student learning in the remote environment, the group of 260 was divided into 52 cohorts that worked together to develop best practices and resources for remote instruction and gave each other peer input on final projects. The group was privileged to hear from such luminaries in online instruction as Berkeley’s own Glynda Hull, Professor in the Graduate School of Education and Teaching Professor Ani Adhikari of statistics, both recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award and the Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs. Other presenters included Joe Feria-Galicia, Accessibility Lead at Digital Learning Services, American Cultures Director Victoria Robinson and Ryan Ikeda, and Kara Ganter, the Graduate Division’s new Director of Digital Education.

The powerful outcomes and impact of this program are just beginning to emerge: One Fellow, Elizabeth Corson, from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, conducted a highly interactive workshop on remote instruction for all faculty in her department in which she modeled effective uses of Zoom tools such as polling, breakout rooms, and the creation of a shared Google doc. Two other Fellows, Ernesto Gutiérrez Topete and Gabriela Licata from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese are leading a workshop open to all foreign language instructors on August 18 on teaching effectively in the remote environment.

Still others, such as Fellows Kim Houghton and Kayli Martinez of chemistry are working with faculty members Michelle Douskey and MaryAnn Robak to revise one of the largest chemistry courses on campus for over a thousand students and prepare more than 80 first-time GSIs for teaching remotely through the Chem 375 pedagogy course. And students in first-year writing courses will also benefit from approximately two dozen Reading & Composition courses specifically designed for remote instruction.

To capture the work of the Fellows, the GSI Teaching & Resource Center is pleased to launch a new GSI Remote Teaching Hub next week with guides and tech reviews created by the Fellows; tutorials on bCourses, Zoom, and other tools curated by Kara Ganter; information on campus policies for teaching remotely; and options for one-on-one consultations. The Hub will be continually developed to be of maximum use to the campus. Fellows will also be sharing their expertise through presentations in their departments for new and continuing GSIs.

A big thank you is in order for our graduate student trailblazers!