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Staying connected

Teaching Tuesdays: Dr. Jillian Westcott

Teaching and Learning | Remote Life

By Moira Baird

Dr. Jillian Westcott encourages a high level of engagement among her students during in-person classes – something she has worked hard to replicate during a year of remote classes.

An instructor and researcher in the Marine Institute’s School of Fisheries, she teaches undergraduate and graduate students in aquaculture and business management programs, certificate courses offered through community-based education programs and also supervises research-based master’s students.

“My approach to teaching very much focuses on my passion for engagement and connection in the classroom. It’s very challenging not to be face-to-face with students, so something as simple as having my video camera on during my synchronous lectures is important and provides a connection with students as I’m lecturing.”

The recordings are also available for those who cannot make the class or want to review it later.

In the below video produced by Memorial’s Centre for Teaching and Learning, Dr. Westcott talks about her appreciation for Brightspace’s polling tool, using Mentimeter for wordcloud brainstorming and how she’s managed synchronous and asynchronous teaching.

Dr. Westcott’s usual open-door policy for students has morphed into an open phone and online chat policy using Brightspace, Zoom and MS Teams.

“Active learning is key to my classes. I try to get students to participate during class and I really try to focus on that towards the end of the semester when they’re feeling stressed and losing some of their momentum.”

She also relies on email to keep in touch – welcoming each student to the course, providing office hours and ways to book meetings, committing to 24-hour or shorter response times for questions, posting weekly course summaries and periodically checking in with them.

In next week’s final episode of Teaching Tuesdays, the Faculty of Education’s Dr. Joelle Rodway shares how she builds “relational infrastructure” by connecting with her students face-to-face, engaging in open discussion forums, regular virtual office hours and peppering her course shells with hyperlinks that draw connections within her many course materials. Be sure to check it out!

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