Highlights from the 2020 APSA Virtual Workshop on Online Teaching

In light of social-distancing guidelines and the challenges many political science departments face with moving classes online, APSA’s Virtual Teaching Workshop, which was held June 22-July 10, 2020, was well-timed to address ‘Innovative Methods in Online Teaching.’

This pilot workshop with 13 participants featured presentations and discussions from political science faculty on their experiences and best practices in online teaching. Dr. Rebecca Glazier (University of Arkansas Little Rock) and Dr. Veronica Reyna (Houston Community College) led the workshop.

“I especially enjoyed the small group discussion and learned a ton! …it was really helpful to talk to other professors across the country!” —Workshop Participant

Workshop participants were tasked with presenting the lessons they had learned from their experiences teaching political science courses online and providing resources that would benefit the political science teaching community. The workshop provided an avenue for faculty to engage on strategies they have adopted in transitioning classes online and the methods adopted during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and feedback or reflections on the impact of these strategies on effective teaching and learning. Many of these resources are also useful for graduate students and faculty outside political science dealing with the somewhat novel challenges of teaching online this fall.

“Loved the co-leaders—really well organized and thought through. I learned a lot and also what I definitely will not do in online teaching…”—Workshop Participant

As a means to increase access to the resources built and gathered at this workshop, APSA Educate, APSA’s online library, will feature blog posts by participants, gleaned from their contributions to the workshop and what they learned and developed from interacting with other participants. Some of the topics addressed include how to correct the retention gap between fully in-person teaching and fully online teaching by sustaining real human connections with students while teaching online, how to customize curriculum and course content to fit fully-online teaching, using anonymous data (surveys) to assess participation, effective use of email, discussion boards, chat and other forms of digital communication to improve information dissemination and student engagement. Some of the more salient topics tackled at the workshop include issues with educational technology and student access to resources, course design and social justice, dealing with student anxiety about online learning, assessment, effective use of learning management systems, and strategies for maintaining active classrooms.

Workshop Resources

The workshop highlights many challenges with online teaching and learning that will stay with us during these troubling times and beyond, but also provides political science faculty with an invaluable wealth of resources to enable them to weather the uncharted waters that instructors in political science are sure to face teaching undergraduates this fall.

Blog Posts

APSA Educate, a new online library for political science teaching and learning resources, features member-driven conversations around innovations, challenges, and best practices in political science education. Check out participant blog posts:

APSA hopes that the resources from this workshop will not only assist faculty in adapting quicker to synchronous and asynchronous virtual modes of instruction but will help foster more communication around innovative online teaching.

Learn more about this collection of resource here.