Week of professional development to prepare teaching assistants for online instruction

As most Brock students prepare for online learning this fall, the University’s teaching assistants (TAs), lab demonstrators, course co-ordinators, marker/graders and tutorial leaders from all disciplines are preparing to help them.

Beginning Saturday, Sept. 12, Brock’s Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) will host a week of synchronous and asynchronous TA Days workshops to ensure anyone involved in delivering online learning is prepared to engage with students in the virtual environment.

Along with established sessions from previous years about active learning and getting to know SAKAI, this year’s slate of workshops will also focus on being an online TA, humanizing learning, grading and providing feedback, and facilitating discussions in multiple formats.

Madelyn Law, Brock’s Associate Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning, said the workshops will further enhance the knowledge and skills of TAs as they prepare to deliver a transformational and accessible academic and university experience.

”Our TAs are an integral part of our teaching and learning team at Brock who assist students through technical aspects of courses and impart their passion and expertise for the topics in the courses,” she said.

Another major addition to the week’s activities comes in the form of Faculty-specific workshops that address questions and practices that are unique to certain disciplines and are led by Faculty instructional support assistants.

CPI’s Educational Developer, Natalie Currie-Patterson, said the expanded programming for TAs complements similar exercises from earlier this summer, which helped instructors create flexible and connected experiences, and reflects CPI’s commitment to enhancing learning in every part of the University.

“We designed these workshops to model the flexibility and multiple means of engagement possible through the asynchronous and synchronous learning that will be happening across Brock this fall,” she said.

Having recorded a YouTube video outlining some of the core principles that TAs should think about as they begin the year, Law hopes TAs who assist with the delivery of courses will join the 155 TAs who have already signed up for various workshops throughout the week.

”This is a unique year for everyone,” said Law. “Our workshops are aimed at supporting TAs in understanding how to be compassionate, proactive, engaging and supportive of innovation.”

To register for Brock’s TA Days workshops, visit the CPI events website.

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