Cal State LA’s faculty ready to engage students virtually

Backed by a Summer Institute program that the university and others across the CSU system have put in place, educators are prepared to deliver remote instruction this fall.
By: | July 24, 2020
Photo by J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA

Recognizing the importance of being able to deliver remotely to students this fall, the California State University at Los Angeles has been offering a series of workshops to help assist faculty with virtual instruction.

According to a report by the university’s news service, more than 1,200 educators at Cal State LA have taken part in the Alt-Instruction Summer Institute offered by the university’s Center for Effective Teaching and Learning (CETL). Officials say nearly 400 have completed all six of its Alt-Instruction courses, which will help them be more engaging while providing equitable virtual experiences for students.

Catherine Haras, senior director for CETL, lauded educators for their efforts, telling the Cal State LA News Service: “it is an opportunity for creative disruption.”

That positive disruption has been happening throughout the California State University system, which was one of the first in the nation to announce the majority of its students would remain online for the fall semester. It was a bold and ambitious logistical decision – with some 53,000 faculty members and 500,000 students trying not only to connect, but also connect well.


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Since CSU’s pivot back in March, staff members across its 23 campuses have jumped at the chance to extend their mastery of videoconferencing tools and new media, as well as the opportunity to test out asynchronous and synchronous instruction. For those efforts, instructors have been given badges, certificates and even stipends. Those who enter the program at Cal State LA and implement principles in their fall courses receive $2,000.

The faculty workshops at Cal State LA are a combination of self-paced modules (such as Intro to Canvas and Online Activities and Leveraging Multimedia) and webinars, including Canvas Gradebook and SpeedGrader; and Online Quizzes and Exams with No Proctor Needed.

One of the most unique webinars is called Low Bandwidth Teaching. In it, the session promises “to teach educators to explore meaningful and effective low-tech strategies that enhance social presence and engage learners remotely … Participants will discuss classroom activities that do not take up a lot of bandwidth, build instructor and social presence, and encourage students in this most challenging time.”

Once students at Cal State LA finish those workshops, they are then asked to select an equity elective from a list of five choices (one is Maintaining Instructor Presence with Video) before they build out courses using a Canvas learning management system template.


Chris Burt is an editor and reporter with University Business


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