Consultations, Webinars, and other Trainings

Consultations, Webinars, and Other Training Opportunities

Welcome to our resource page for Stearns Center support! During Fall 2021, we continue to focus on providing support and resources that can be accessed by as many Mason faculty as possible. These resources will continue to evolve over the term. Set a reminder to check back -- or sign up for our monthly newsletter and keep up with all of our events and support resources!

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Upcoming Office Hours/Consultations

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Stearns Center Office Hours and Consultations

Stearns Center staff are teleworking and will be glad to assist you with any questions related to teaching, managing, and developing your hybrid or online courses via email or Zoom. Please submit your questions or schedule a 1:1 consultation by clicking here. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please include at least 3 meeting times that work for you (during business hours: M-F, 9am-5pm). We work to respond to you as quickly as possible; however, response times may vary.

Register for Upcoming Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Workshops

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The Continuing Professional Development workshop series is offered throughout the year. These workshops are interactive and provide an opportunity for faculty to work on and incorporate small changes into their course design. As a result, these workshops are not recorded. Please register using the registration links below. Please note that registration closes 24 hours before the workshop.

Fall 2021

Designing High Impact Writing Assignments (two options) 

August 31, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. || November 9, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. 

Facilitator: Tom Polk 

This webinar is designed to introduce foundational practices for teaching with writing and designing writing assignments. Participants will learn about what research shows contributes to both meaningful and impactful writing assignments. Register here. 

Engaging Students in Hybrid Learning Environments (two options) 

September 1, 2021 | 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. || October 6, 2021 | 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 

Facilitator: Crystal Anderson 

Do you want to increase the sense of community and build rapport in your course? Do you want students to engage your course material and each other? Do you want to learn to leverage technology to increase student engagement in hybrid learning environments, where a portion of the course meets face-to-face and a portion of the course meets online asynchronously or synchronously or using streaming video? In this workshop, you will re/design your lesson plan or Blackboard module to provide opportunities for students to engage in their own learning during and outside of class time. Register here.  

Efficient Grading for Assignments and Activities (two options) 

September 7, 2021 | 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.  || October 19, 2021 | 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. 

Facilitator: Crystal Anderson 

Do you want to make your grading more effective? Do you want to increase student motivation and performance on your assignments and activities?  Do you want to learn to use technology to develop more creative and/or collaborative assignments and activities for your course?  In this workshop, you will re/design an existing assignment or activity, focusing on the purpose, task and criteria, in order to increase grading efficiency. Register here. 

Teaching Writing to Engage (two options) 

September 8, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. || October 5, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. 

Facilitator: Tom Polk 

Writing-to-learn (WTL) assignments are low-stakes approaches to teaching course content through writing. These short and informal writing tasks offer students an opportunity to explore and consolidate their understanding of concepts. They also help to increase student engagement and facilitate critical thinking. This webinar will provide some foundational information about WTL, offer sample designs, and give participants some time work on a design of their own. Register here. 

Providing Feedback to Support Student Revision (two options) 

September 29, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. || November 2, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. 

Facilitator: Tom Polk 

Participants in this webinar will learn more about how students revise and gain some strategies for providing feedback to support more substantive student revision. Register here. 

Balancing Content Coverage and Experiential Learning in Mason Impact Courses 

October 12, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 

Facilitator: Crystal Anderson 

Do you want to incorporate experiential learning into your course, but worry about content coverage? In this workshop, you will learn how to re/design your course by identifying the most important content, using multiple teaching modalities to organize content and implement research and creative activities, community engagement and civic learning, and entrepreneurship. Register here. 

Improving Student Performance on Assignments Using the TILT Framework 

November 3, 2021 | 12:00  - 1:30 p.m. 

Facilitator: Crystal Anderson 

Do you want more students to perform better on your assignments? Would you like to learn simple strategies that you can incorporate into your course right now? In this workshop, you will learn how to redesign an assignment to be more transparent, which can improve student performance and increase student confidence, persistence and retention. Register here. 

Creating and Grading Experiential Learning in Mason Impact Courses 

November 9, 2021 | 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. 

Facilitator: Crystal Anderson 

Do you to develop creative projects beyond a research paper?  Do you want to make your grading of experiential projects or experiences more effective? Do you want to learn to use technology to develop more creative and/or collaborative assignments and activities for your course?  In this workshop, you will re/design an existing assignment or activity by aligning the assignment’s purpose and assessment in order to increase grading efficiency. Register here. 

Register for Upcoming Webinars

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A variety of webinars will be provided in the upcoming months; webinars will be offered once and recorded sessions will be available for those unable to attend. Recording links will be published on this page following the live sessions. Please register for the development opportunities using the registration links below.

  • July - September, 2021 | Blackboard Series: Are you looking to learn Blackboard basics, beyond basics, grade center, Kaltura media, collaborate ultra, using rubrics in Bb, or anything relevant to Bb? Consider attending any or all of these Blackboard training sessions/webinars facilitated by Mason's Bb team. The date, time, and registration links are here:  Blackboard Online Webinars/Workshops.
  • RESCHEDULED October 26, 2021, 12:00 - 1:30 pm | Utilizing Multimedia for Course Design: In this webinar, you will learn how to design a course with multimedia in mind. There are many opportunities to enrich your classroom and actively engage your students with video, animation, audio, images, and text. Key points we will cover are preparation and planning for multimedia in your course design, tips for using multimedia, ways to find existing resources you can incorporate into your course, and multimedia options available in Blackboard. We will also provide a demonstration and suggest existing free multimedia tools that can make your courses more dynamic and stimulating.
  • November 1, 2021, 1:00 - 2:30 pm | Exploring OER: Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely available resources on the web that can be used for educational purposes. OER materials consist of things like textbooks, videos, exams, images, and more. OER are a great option to consider when compiling your course materials for the semester. Not only are OER created by other experts in the field but the ease of access ensures that all students have access to the course materials. This webinar will explore where to find OER and how to use them. By the end of this webinar you will understand what OER are, how to find them, and why they are a good option for your course.

Use Our Self-Paced Courses to Improve Your Course Design Skills

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Stearns Center is currently offering two self-paced courses, open to all faculty and instructors. Once you enroll, you can work through the modules in order, or you can skip to specific sections that will help you with your current course design. Each course has an "Ask a Question" discussion forum staffed by Stearns Center and is supported by office hours (see above) and by ITS support through courses@gmu.edu.

  • Online Course Development Primer provides the basic guidance for creating an asynchronous online course.
    • To access the course,
      • First log into Blackboard using your Mason ID and password so that your connection is stable
      • Then return to this webpage and click this link
      • Look for the "+Enroll" button bottom left of your screen
      • Enroll yourself
    • The course has seven modules; completing each is estimated to take 5-8 hours
      • Module 1: Conceptualizing Your Online Course (Review the Course Readiness Checklist and Request a Sandbox)
      • Module 2: Organizing and Building Your Course Schedule
      • Module 3: Aligning Goals and Assignments
      • Module 4: Tracking and Measuring Student Learning (tests, quizzes, assignments, rubrics)
      • Module 5: Engaging with Students (discussion boards and lectures)
      • Module 6: Supporting Interaction and Collaboration (including Collaborate and Zoom information)
      • Module 7: Continuous Improvement
  • Pivotal Pedagogy Fundamentals provides basic guidance for teaching a face-to-face, hybrid, and/or web-conferencing-based course, with a solid Blackboard "home base" so that you are prepared in case the university "pivots" to remote teaching during the semester.
    • To access the course,
      • First log into Blackboard using your Mason ID and password so that your connection is stable
      • Then return to this webpage and click this link
      • Look for the "+Enroll" button on the left side of your screen
      • Enroll yourself
    • The course has seven modules; completing each is estimated to take 3-6 hours
      • Module 1: Exploring Your Course's Learning Pattern (Review the Pivot-Ready Checklist, Request a sandbox, and Consider how to integrate F2F, Synchronous Web-Conferencing, and Asynchronous course elements)
      • Module 2: Redistributing Learning in Your New Pattern
      • Module 3: Aligning Goals and Assignments in Your New Pattern
      • Module 4: Building Assessments to Support Patterned Learning (tests, quizzes, assignments, rubrics)
      • Module 5: Engaging Students in Your Learning Pattern (discussion boards and lectures)
      • Module 6: Supporting Interaction and Collaboration (including Collaborate and Zoom information)
      • Module 7: Planned Flexibility

NOTE: Cohort-based, fully facilitated seven-week versions of both courses will be offered to Mason faculty beginning in upcoming terms; contact your department chair if you are interested in enrolling, and/or see more information on our Webinars and Trainings page.

View Workshop Recordings

Click for Webinars about Course Design and Teaching

  • Inclusive Course Design and Teaching: Mason has one of the most diverse student populations in the nation, and our online students reflect this diversity as well. How can we incorporate our students’ diverse identities, backgrounds, and ways of knowing to make learning inclusive, relevant and meaningful for all, including students from minorities or under-represented groups? Inclusive and equitable teaching creates a classroom in which all students feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued. It includes being intentional about course design and responsive to students’ unique backgrounds to foster learning. In online learning environments, it is especially important to consider inclusive and equitable resources when selecting course content, learning activities, and assessments. In this webinar, we will describe the importance of inclusive and equitable teaching for our students. We will share practical, easy-to-implement tips for how you can design, create and support an inclusive and equitable online learning environment. Through small changes in your online course and teaching, you can make students feel welcome; build quality relationships for learning; support the learning needs of your students; make online learning environments accessible and usable to all students; cultivate belonging and promote community. You will learn from examples of Mason online courses which demonstrate practices for inclusive and equitable course design and teaching. You also will create a list of your own priority action items for small changes that you can make right now in your course regardless of modality (e.g., asynchronous courses in Blackboard, hybrid courses, synchronous remote courses); and also plan for changes and improvements in your course over time. Outcomes from the Webinar:· Participants will be able to identify how small changes can make a difference for inclusive and equitable course design and teaching. Participants will be able to reflect on their own practices to create inclusive and equitable online learning environments. Participants will put together a list of action items for small changes they can make right now in their online courses, and also consider future plans to improve inclusion and equity.
  • Engaging Online Learners Series Part 3: Engaging Asynchronous Students: Generating and maintaining student engagement in online courses support effective learning and retention. This session will explore a wide variety of technologies and teaching strategies that increase student engagement. We will also share specific online assignment examples that you can use right away in your own courses.
  • Basic Questions about Accessibility and Usability in Online Courses: All learning begins with access. By making your online courses accessible, you provide educational opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities. Quality online courses focus on accessibility and usability, including clear and logical navigation, readability, and alternative access to materials. In our webinar, we will answer basic questions about accessibility – what it is; why it’s important; and how can you make sure that your online course is accessible. Our webinar also highlights resources and services for accessibility available to Mason faculty from Assistive Technology Initiative (http://ati.gmu.edu). We also will demonstrate how to use Blackboard Ally, an accessibility tool available in all Mason Blackboard courses. By the end of this webinar, participants will be able to: (a) Reflect on how accessibility and online course design related to Universal Design for Learning (the why what, and how of learning); (b) Explain how accessibility involves compliance with relevant disability laws and guidelines; (c) Apply methods to build and check for accessible content, e.g. using Ally; and (d) Develop a plan to incorporate accessibility as you design, build, and teach your online course at Mason.
  • September 10, 2021, 1:00 - 2:30 pm | Rethinking Assessments: During this webinar, attendees will become familiar with alternative assessment options they can integrate into their courses. Before this webinar, registrants are encouraged to watch the first webinar (spring 2021) to check examples of alternative assessments, i.e., enhancing quiz items and scaffolding from low-stake to the high-stake assessment facilitated via wiki and self-and-peer assessment tools in Blackboard (video timeframe: 27:25 – 53:19). During this webinar, two Mason faculty will share their own experiences of making the transition to rethink assessment in their courses. They will demonstrate new examples of using the self-and-peer assessment tool and wiki for different types of writing assignments. Attendees will find various ideas to alternate the ways of their assessment strategies.
  • How to Check the Quality of Your Online Courses & Online Teaching? Does your online course and online teaching show quality?  The Stearns Center Digital Learning Team has adapted research-based standards and. developed the Online Quality Checklist and Guidelines to help Mason faculty identify ways to guide online course design or re-design, and to enhance/improve existing online courses. In this webinar, the Stearns Center Quality Assurance Team will share essentials for online course quality and provide you with tips for how to work with the Online Quality Checklist. You’ll learn how the Checklist can help you reflect on the quality of your own online courses and teaching practices; and you will learn from examples of Mason online courses which showcase quality indicators. You also will see how you may use the Checklist to help ensure that your online course is ready for Fall 2021 semester, checking for important elements that foster student engagement and active learning. Outcomes from the Webinar: Faculty will be able to identify and implement quality standards for online course design and online teaching, faculty will be able to check their course for online quality indicators, and faculty will be able to apply quality elements from examples of Mason online courses shared during the webinar.
  • Alternative & Authentic Assessments: Student Perspectives: Alternative and authentic assessments provide a more creative and experimental approach to evaluate student learning. What do students think about alternative & authentic assessment? Although changing from traditional assessment to alternative/authentic assessment is a significant paradigm shift for instructors, the benefits (for students) of using alternative/authentic assessments over more traditional assessments can far outweigh the challenges. In this webinar, (a) we will focus on what students think about assessment– since student perspectives will impact their motivation, engagement, and learning; (b) we will discuss the benefits and challenges of alternative assessments for students; and (c) we will share examples of alternative & authentic assessments from Mason online courses. Through this webinar, you will gain an appreciation of student perspectives on assessment; you will identify potential benefits and challenges of alternative and authentic assessments for students; and you will consider examples and models for developing alternative/authentic assessment in your own courses. Using the webinar information, we encourage you (participants) to design & create an alternative or authentic activity or project to assess student learning in your own courses, as follow-up activity for Stearns Center Continuing Development Program.
  • How to motivate online students in asynchronous learning environments: This webinar introduces how pedagogy and technology can motivate students in learning within a supportive asynchronous online environment.  This webinar will extend from the previous webinar “Interactive asynchronous online class: Technologies & Pedagogy”, held November 6, 2020, and introduce how to create online activities to motivate students in an asynchronous online environment with technology support and pedagogical design. In addition to Bb tools, presenters will share more advanced features of WordPress and OneNote in this webinar. Design guidelines and examples of how pedagogy and instructional interventions can enhance interactions and promote students’ motivation in an asynchronous online class will be provided. Participants will get familiar with motivational instructional design. Take-aways include (1) how to promote interactions in an asynchronous online environment, (2) motivate students in learning and reaching the learning outcomes. If you did not join the previous webinar or are new to WordPress or OneNote, please watch the webinar video to learn the basic features of WordPress and OneNote.Q&A will be conducted in either breakout rooms or together in one Zoom room. A take-home exercise will be given after the webinar if you are interested in attaining a digital credential.
  • Engaging Video: Design Considerations and Strategies: In this interactive webinar, we will discuss strategies and tips to record mini-lectures. Key points we will cover in this webinar are: how to organize your lectures into chunks that will keep students’ attention, how to prepare a script that is easy for you to read when recording, how to create a recording environment so that you have good video and audio quality, and finally, where to find information and advice on the options for recording your lectures. We will also provide a demonstration and suggest existing free tools/software to create good quality audio and video.
  • Engaging Online Learners Series Part 2: Building Interactive Content: This webinar will introduce you to a variety of tools that will help you make your   learning content interactive, engaging and fun for students.  The tools will range from less-known Blackboard options to commercial authoring software, and include free and easy to adopt web tools.
  • Engaging Online Learners Part 1: Tips and Strategies: Are you looking for new ideas on how to engage learners online? Join us to learn how to create and facilitate role-based discussions, incorporate case-based learning and gamification, collect peer reviews, and empower students as facilitators and media creators. You will also learn how to manage online groups and facilitate student collaboration, including group orientation, group charter creation, and group work assessments. Of course, there will be cool tools to explore as well; and even virtual giveaways. Let’s have some fun together.
  • Alternative Assessments: Design Challenges and Options: During this interactive webinar, facilitators will demonstrate and explain how to use an instructional design framework to design or redesign the types of assessments for your course. In addition to theoretical foundation, this webinar will share examples of different types of assessments, such as enhancing quiz items with effective discussion questions, scaffolding students from low-stake assessment to the final major assessment, and aligning the types of instructional feedback with assessment. In addition, we will share alternatives to papers, presentations, reports, and projects. Examples include annotated bibliographies, student video presentations, low-stakes writing assignments, individual and group reports, and wiki projects.
  • Is Your Online Course Ready for Spring 2021? Is your online course ready to go? How can you check your online course for quality prior to the start of the semester, throughout the semester, and beyond? Stearns Center’s Digital Learning team is offering this zoom session to review our Quality Assurance Checklist & Guidelines for Online Courses. The checklist provides guidance to instructors in designing, building, and teaching quality online courses.  You can use the checklist to make sure that your online course is ready for the semester, checking for important elements that foster student engagement and active learning. We will also present examples of Mason online courses which showcase quality indicators.
  • Strategies for Facilitating Your Online Course: In this session, participants will be introduced to the tools and strategies used to facilitate learning in the online classroom. Practices such as establishing instructor presence, providing effective feedback, and monitoring asynchronous learning will be discussed, providing faculty with the confidence they need to begin facilitating their online courses.
  • Creating Media for Your Online Course: In this session, participants will learn about options for creating and leveraging media elements for learning in the online environment, including DIY video, screencasts, narrated lectures, and graphics. We will also cover best practices and resources for copyright and accessibility when incorporating media into your course.
  • Designing Compelling Synchronous Sessions: This session focuses on remote synchronous sessions with students. Participants will learn about different ways to leverage synchronous sessions to maximize student engagement and learning, including best practices for preparing for, facilitating, and following up on a synchronous session.
  • Online Course Quality Assurance: From Readiness to Beyond: How can you check your online course for quality at the start of the semester, throughout the semester, and beyond? Stearns Center’s Digital Learning team is offering this zoom session to review and discuss Online Course Quality Checklist from both course design and teaching perspectives. We will demonstrate how to use the Checklist to make sure that your online course is ready for fall 2020 including the elements that are essential for a quality online course with examples from Mason courses.
  • Effective Video for Your Online Course: Design Considerations and Strategies: In this webinar, we will discuss strategies and tips to record mini-lectures.  Key points we will cover in this webinar are: how to organize your lectures into chunks that will keep students’ attention, how to prepare a script that is easy for you to read when recording, how to create a recording environment so that you have good video and audio quality, and finally, where to find information and advice on the options for recording your lectures. We will also provide a demonstration and suggest existing free tools/software to create good quality audio and video.
  • Interactive Asynchronous Online Class: Technologies & Pedagogy: This webinar introduces how pedagogy and technology can support interactions in asynchronous online environments. Participants will learn how to (1) promote interactions in an asynchronous online environment, (2) consider the right technology to support the pedagogy, and (3) increase the efficiency and effectiveness of online teaching and learning. Presenters will introduce existing technology supported in the Blackboard Learn platform, including Bb tools (Discussion Forum, Blog, Journal, Quiz, Exam) and the tools integrated into the Bb content area. OneNote and WordPress will be highlighted in this webinar. Presenters will introduce how to design with multimedia features and pedagogical strategies, including Jigsaw, students' profiles, and ePortfolio. WordPress provides students a separate, stable virtual space where they can consistently engage with each other while completing coursework. OneNote offers a centralized working space where the interactions between students and instructors will be effective. Both tools provide multimedia features to support interactions more efficient and effective.  Design guidelines and examples of how technology can support pedagogy for interactions online will be presented. Q&A will be conducted in either breakout rooms or together in one Zoom room.

Click for Webinars about Zoom

  • Using Zoom in Synchronous Online Teaching: Aligning Teaching Strategies to Enhance Class Engagement: This webinar will focus on using Zoom to enhance your hybrid or online class’ engagement by exploring key features and settings from teaching strategies perspectives, including the use of whiteboards, polls, and breakout rooms. The webinar will cover synchronous collaboration using text, audio, and video. The team will also review how to integrate a doc camera using Zoom. Note: This webinar does not review creating or setting-up your Zoom account. To create a Zoom account, review the ITS Service Catalog: Zoom page.

Click for Webinars about Other Blackboard Tools

  • Creating Engaging Discussions with Harmonize: Michael Hakkarinen, Harmonize Success Coach, will provide step-by-step directions for creating engaging, media rich discussions in a Blackboard course with the new Harmonize application. Participants will learn to use features like multiple due dates, auto-participation grading, image and video annotation, and more. We will also walk through a completed Harmonize discussion with student work and demonstrate how to assess student work and provide timely feedback.
  • Creating Engaging Discussions for STEM Courses with Harmonize: Michael Hakkarinen, Eric Brown and Darren Wacker of the Harmonize Success Team provide step-by-step directions for creating engaging, media rich discussions specifically for STEM courses. 
  • VoiceThread Training Webinar: VoiceThread is an online interactive discussion tool that will be piloting at GMU this fall. For this session, we will demonstrate how VoiceThread can be used to engage students in online interactive and collaborative activities. Participants in this session who might find themselves moving into online teaching will gain insights that help can shape their VoiceThread implementation.
  • Managing Your Blackboard Course: In this session, participants will learn how to leverage Blackboard tools to effectively organize their courses, communicate with students, analyze student behavior and performance, and provide rich opportunities for discussion and collaboration.
  • The ITS department is also offering webinars on a variety of topics. More information on how to register for these can be found on the ITS Faculty Workshops page.