Promoting a Collegial, Collaborative, and Innovative Teaching and Learning Environment: A Real Institute's Approach to COVID-19

Promoting a Collegial, Collaborative, and Innovative Teaching and Learning Environment: A Real Institute's Approach to COVID-19

Alanna Carter, Shayne Fogle, Shereen Seoudi, Catrina Ascenuik
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6944-3.ch010
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Ryerson University is home to the Real Institute's ESL Foundation Program and was required to adapt programming and curricula for virtual teaching and learning in response to COVID-19. Despite difficulties at the outset, through the collaboration and creativity of a group of curriculum specialists and instructors, best practices regarding course management, assessment design, and program development for the teaching and learning of EAP and ESL curricula across time and space were discovered. The adaptation of curricula and programming for the virtual classroom was made possible due to the collaboration, innovation, and perseverance of instructors, administrative staff, and, of course, students.
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Eap At The Real Institute’S Esl Foundation Program

Prior to Covid-19, the Real Institute’s ESL Foundation program at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada provided academic skills classes for second language learners in an in-person classroom setting. Most of the students attending the ESL Foundation Program have been offered conditional acceptance into one of Ryerson’s degree programs. The condition for acceptance is to pass the language requirements which are tied to the ESL Foundation Program’s language courses. There are two main courses offered by the program: Reading and Writing for Academic Purposes and Listening and Speaking for Academic Purposes. Students are placed in one of three levels based on their IELTS proficiency scores. Class sizes generally range between 12-16 students.

These courses are EAP (English for Academic Purposes) in nature. EAP is defined as the “teaching of English with the specific aim of helping learners to study, conduct research or teach in that language” (Flowerdew & Peacock, 2001, p. 8). In other words, students in the ESL Foundation Program study and practice the skills necessary to be successful in academic fields. EAP courses generally exist in two forms: (1) as a program that learners complete prior to beginning their academic studies, or (2) as a program that learners complete alongside their academic studies. The ESL Foundation Program is an example of the first form as learners are required to successfully complete the program to continue studies in their chosen academic field.

Instructors for this program have diverse education and experience. Many have worked in the field of EAP at length and have taught in various educational environments. Instructors use their experiences from other post-secondary and private institutions as well as their experience overseas to help shape the culture of the ESL Foundation Program. All are dedicated to the success of their students, colleagues, and the program, and they are committed to utilizing a range of approaches and current pedagogy to teach language.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Summative Assessments: Formal assessments that are given at the end of a learning or instructional unit to evaluate a student’s knowledge and understanding of what was taught. These often carry a high value with respect to grade percentage.

Formative Assessments: Both formal and informal assessments that are used to monitor a student’s progress and understanding of a topic and assist instructors with modifying materials to improve student comprehension. When graded, these often carry a lower value with regards to grade percentage.

Virtualizer: An instructor with curriculum development experience who is responsible for adapting course material, assignments, and assessments to make them suitable for virtual delivery.

Virtual Classroom: The amalgamation of synchronous platforms, such as Zoom, as well as asynchronous learning management systems within which a class is formally hosted.

Learning Management System (LMS): The digital environment within which instructors can create, manage, and deliver course content. Students can submit assignments, take quizzes, read announcements, and engage in asynchronous discussion in this environment.

Hybrid Learning: Learning through asynchronous and synchronous platforms concurrently.

Hidden Curriculum: The latent course expectations and learning outcomes desired of students that the syllabus does not make explicit.

Netiquette: Actions and behaviours that are deemed acceptable in online communication.

Academic Integrity: A commitment to fulfill coursework obligations in accordance with the principles of producing original work, equitable distribution of effort across group tasks, and acknowledging the origins of source material where applicable.

Virtualization: The act of adapting course material, assignments, and assessments to make them suitable for virtual delivery.

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