IT Teaching Resources

Podcast: Ann Jaquith and Ann Porteus reflect on course iteration and connecting with students

Fellow teachers share out meaningful moments in class and chat about how they adapted to online learning

Promoting student engagement Building community and trust

Speakers: Ann Jaquith and Ann Porteus
Moderator: Victoria Docherty
Audio recording of the session:

Ann Jaquith is the Executive Director at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) where she helps to enable others to pursue their own ambitious learning and to strive for a more equitable and just society. She received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Teaching from Stanford University, her M.Ed. from Harvard University, and her B.A. from Dartmouth College.

Ann Porteus is a Senior Lecturer at the Graduate School of Education and has been teaching at Stanford for the past 20 years. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Stanford University and her B.A. in Philosophy from Scripps College.

Central questions: 

  • What are some recommendations or promising practices you utilized for teaching remotely?
  • Did you employ any methods or tools that helped foster student engagement in class?
  • What are some challenges that you encountered in the remote learning environment?

Key quotes:

We quickly discovered, halfway through the summer, that we couldn’t do [the lecture] in an hour if we wanted to build community as part of our class. I had learned from all of you that building community was such an important part of what we need to do with this online environment. Ann Porteus (06:45)

It was still intellectually challenging to decide how to pare down to the very essence of what was most critical because I just didn’t feel like I had the luxury of additional time that I would have in an in-person setting. – Ann Jaquith (11:05)

What I learned from you all from last spring was the importance of engaging the students—keeping them active, not having them sit in front of a Zoom screen for too long, changing things around. – Ann Porteus (12:01)

I learned that it was really important for me to have a pretty deep understanding of what each student wanted to learn and wanted to be getting out of the course, and also have a clear sense of what I wanted. – Ann Jaquith (32:44)


Recommendations for teaching or learning remotely (04:00)

  • Provide various forms of open communication with students and consistent support throughout the quarter
  • Connect with students via check-ins and weekly Canvas announcements
  • Build formative assessments into the course and in the weekly learning modules in Canvas
  • Collect student feedback regularly, especially after written assignments or important projects
  • Provide some variety in the classroom and try to incorporate new activities during the Zoom sessions

 Methods or tools that helped foster student engagement (12:30)

  • Adding blank slides on Google Slides or Powerpoint presentations to create a space for student contributions
  • Providing specific tasks and prompts during breakout room sessions, and using Google slides or Google docs to allow students to show what they worked on as a group
  • Using Jamboard and Zoom annotation to allow students to express themselves and interact with each other
  • Adding more variety into the class with synchronous Zoom sessions or collaborative activities and asynchronous learning material in Canvas
  • Surveying the classroom via Poll Everywhere to keep students engaged, and creating word clouds with their responses for visual representation

Challenges that instructors have encountered (11:00, 31:15)

  • Time constraints prompted instructors to reorganize their courses and focus only on the most critical aspects
  • Restructuring courses to be compatible with fully remote learning while simultaneously learning how to manage the transition
  • Unreliable internet connection limited student interactions and impacted Zoom experiences and participation
  • Selecting the right technology and tools to supplement the course without overcomplicating the learning process or overwhelming the students

About the author

Victoria (Docherty) Delaney is a third-year Learning Sciences and Technology Design Ph.D. student in the Graduate School of Education and a first-year M.S. student in the School of Computer Science. Her research focuses on how digital mathematical technologies are taken up in 6-12 classrooms and how artificial intelligence can be used to further educational causes. Before Stanford, she taught high school math in three states for seven years. She enjoys jamming with the GSE IT team in her spare time.