Sanchez Hall 2014
2021 Technology-Enhanced Learning Symposium
May 11 - 12, 2021 | Zoom

Transformational Online Instruction Contributions (TONIC) Awardees [2020-21]

UT faculty and staff have demonstrated extraordinary creativity in their rapid innovation and transformation of hybrid and online instruction. In recognition of the impact of these efforts, the Office of the Provost has announced the recipients of the COVID Transformational Online Instruction Contributions (TONIC) Award. The transformation of how we teach — and how our students learn — will extend beyond the pandemic. The university wants to recognize the importance of these contributions through these awards.

The following list highlights select projects by TONIC awardees who are participating in this year's TEL Symposium.

Name TONIC Work/Project
David Quintanilla, Lecturer, Business, Government, and Society, McCombs I teach Business Law and Ethics to both undergraduate and graduate students. I love being in the classroom, but have also learned to love teaching online. Zoom and I have made our peace with one another.
Clint Tuttle, Senior Lecturer, Information Risk and Operations Management, McCombs School Built a McCombs Faculty Instructional wiki before we returned online in Spring 2020. Created 10 video tutorials on wiki plus additional instructions and tutorials on how to move classes online with newly acquired tools. Created a student-focused wiki on how to use newly acquired technology that embedded McCombs students' Canvas course menus. Created a Faculty Canvas course in Summer 2020 for McCombs on how to utilize tools such as Zoom, Panopto, Proctorio. Planned and conducted over 10 workshops in Spring and Summer 2020 to training McCombs.
Mirza Lugo-Neris, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Speech, Language, Hearing Sciences In March 2020, Dr. Lugo-Neris shifted her clinical practicum courses for graduate speech-language pathology students from in-person to hybrid using a combination of online clinical simulation, telepractice, as well as in-person (with COVID safety protocols) evaluation and treatment services for school-age children at a local elementary school.
Ben BaysAssociate Professor of Instruction, Radio Television Film Adapted/developed creative production courses in Film to a completely asynchronous, non-linear format which (attempts to) address and correct issues of inequity created not only by Covid, but in existence before. I asked what could never happen in a face to face course and embraced it.
Deborah Hempel-Medina, Engineering Communications
Senior Lecturer, Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering

I made a structural class change to reduce Zoom fatigue by holding live (synchronous) class on Mondays and Wednesdays and having a recorded (asynchronous) lecture or assigned activity for Friday’s class.  

I communicated clear assignment and time expectations through detailed weekly updates. On Thursdays I sent a detailed Canvas announcement with assignment links for what's expected and due each day that week including how long each component should take.  

I built a learning community through individual student meetings and shared experiences.  I met with each student individually in 10-minute meetings.  I also planned a resiliency assignment that helped them put Covid struggles into a broader context, and students voluntarily shared these stories in class and with permission to the broader Cockrell Engineering audience. 

Nina Telang, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering​ One of the biggest challenges with online instruction is presenting the course content in a way that still captures student attention, facilitates meaningful learning, and keeps students motivated. Providing students with short Panopto video segments (example) on specific concepts has the benefits of a flipped classroom format where some of the onus is put on the student but without the cognitive overload resulting from watching long video lectures.
In order to foster an inclusive environment in the classroom where every student's voice is considered, I administered the "Muddiest concept in today’s lecture" survey at the end of every lecture, which provided a platform to gather feedback from students at the end of every lecture, which could then be used to tailor the next lecture. This exercise also served as a metacognitive learning strategy by encouraging students to reflect on what they learned in class.
Thomas ConnollyDepartment of Mechanical Engineering "Transforming an Experimental Lab Course for Experimentation Outside the Laboratory, Removing Barriers to Student Success, and Developing an “Engineering Identity”: Pedagogical Tools and Student Supports" - This work focuses on removing barriers to student success that are exacerbated by moving a technically challenging and intensively hands-on laboratory course to a self-paced remote learning environment. This was achieved by: (1) Developing and adapting portable, customizable, and cost-effective data acquisition software and hardware that can easily be used for experimental activities outside the traditional laboratory, (2) Creating a student-support process to effectively engage students and develop engineering learning communities, and (3) Applying research-based and evidence-based practices to create a learning environment that promotes student success and fosters a sense of “engineering identity” for students – especially for those who are struggling academically and/or do not feel a sense of belonging in their engineering major.
D'Arcy Randall, Chemical Engineering,  My contribution to online teaching at UT was to lead the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Engineering Communication Committee towards supporting online instruction.  As Committee Chair, I submitted this application on behalf of all seven members because of their resourceful response to the COVID-19 crisis. For several years, this Committee has held a summer retreat to discuss pedagogy. Shortly after the Spring crisis, we reorganized the single retreat into two zoom retreats, timed at critical points when faculty were reflecting on the Spring, 2020 semester and then preparing for the Fall.  The two retreats offered a formal means for the Committee to collect, record, and share expertise, optimizing lessons learned. I found that we can all build better communities of our students when we learn to build them for ourselves. 
R. Eric McMaster, Associate Professor of Practice + Digital Fabrication Lab Manager, Department of Art + Art History Equitable distribution of software, computer processing, and the development of a digital file to physical fabrication service.
Eli Durst, Assistant Professor of Practice, College of Fine Art, Photography & Media Area The task of adapting an analog, darkroom-based photography course to a virtual environment was a strange and challenging one. For me, an important step was realizing that the new online course could not—and should not—be an exact replica of the in-person class. Over the past year, I have tried to embrace the virtual environment and develop pedagogical methods that take advantage of an online setting in which students are on computers in their own spaces.
Erica Gionfriddo, Assistant Professor of Practice, Theatre and Dance College of Fine Arts Rooted in elements of cyborg, queer and embodiment theories, Erica's creative research served Theatre & Dance students through an experiential methodology of approaching our relationship to technology. This manifested in their pedagogy, in support of their colleagues, and in the innovation of a new, hybrid performance form. In the Ether, produced on the fall T&D season, took the form of an interactive bespoke website, guiding audiences through an embodied browser-based experience, and guided by Erica's methodology with a team of over 50 undergraduate, graduate, and professional collaborators.
J. E. Johnson, Scenic Studio Supervisor, Lecturer, Texas Performing Arts — College of Fine Arts We developed a course that connected elementary school students with UT undergraduates to design and build robots that could be controlled by children remotely. We made socially-distant physical connection through Adafruit IO which enabled young learners to affect the movements of a real robot via any internet browser. This was made possible by unleashing the imaginations and talents of all collaborators and opening opportunities for creative expression for a learning community of students, faculty, staff, TA’s, and families.
Brandon Campitelli, STEM Instruction Consultant, TIDES I contributed to a large group effort among the TIDES team to broadly support CNS faculty in the transition to online teaching in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We curated and created resources for our faculty, and developed and facilitated a number of workshops focused on teaching excellence in an online and hybrid format. Furthermore, I coordinated, directed and ran an undergraduate research program that supported undergraduates doing remote research who were experiencing high financial stress.
Keely Finkelstein, Associate Professor of Instruction, Department of Astronomy, TIDES As part of the TIDES Instruct team - facilitating faculty workshops, helping to create remote teaching resources and materials, and offering opportunities for collaboration and interaction for all CNS faculty during Spring and Summer 2020 in the ramp-up to remote teaching.
Cynthia LaBrake, Professor of Instruction, Departments of Biology and Molecular Biology Working with the TIDES team I helped develop and present a series of online instructional design workshops to CNS faculty who worked over the summer to create remote versions of their lecture based courses. I applied the same strategies to my own large enrollment course, Fundamentals of Biochemistry, to create a hybrid version of the course in which the lectures were prerecorded using Panopto and class time was used for individual and group formative assessment supported by UGTAs in breakout rooms.
Kristin Patterson, Associate Professor of Instruction, Department of Biology I would like to acknowledge the collaborative work I engaged in with many others across campus to take advantage of growing expertise in online learning to restructure how professional development is offered for and consumed by instructors and teaching assistants, take advantage of technology to create remote communities, and create a robust models for large remote courses in the College of Natural Sciences. I outlined work on the TOTAL Canvas page, the TIDES Instruct offerings, and my own course as examples.
Yazz Fawaz, Lecturer, Department of French and Italian, College of Liberal Arts Worked on, developed and presented campus and community-wide webinars and tutorial materials for the past year to assist with the transition to online instruction for language Instruction.
Heather Rice, Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies  A three-semester online Russian language course was resequenced and adopted for use in the two-semester Intensive Russian sequence. The online materials, previously developed for a mostly asynchronous course, were adapted to accommodate a mostly synchronous one. The work includes the creation of a twenty-unit workbook of various communicative-based tasks, designed for small group work in break-out rooms.
Marina Alexandrova (she/hers), Senior Lecturer in Russian, Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies In collaboration with SRAS and with grant support from UT CREEES, I have developed a series of livestreamed events that connected my students with experts and historical landmarks in Russia, creating a true global classroom experience and providing them with the sense of connectedness despite the limitations of the pandemic. Because of these virtual field trips, 55 incoming UT students in this course could “travel” to Russia and visit such important historical sites as St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Peter-Paul’s Fortress, the burial site of the Romanovs in St. Petersburg, and the famous arts village Abramtsevo, among others. Since these weren’t pre-recorded events, the students were encouraged to interact with their tour guides, ask them questions, and share their knowledge of Russian history in real time, receiving immediate feedback and gaining invaluable cultural and historical perspectives on events and figures they read about in class.
Michelann Quimby, Human Development and Family Sciences I use a combination of technologies and innovations to create a consistent, equitable, and welcoming environment for students during a time of stress and trauma.
-Clear, centralized, consistent use of Canvas for ALL course materials & communication
-Development of a Community Page for students, TAs, and instructors
-Classroom flipping techniques, including pre-recorded lectures and interviews
-Trauma-Informed Pedagogy (TIP) techniques including flexible attendance and deadlines, alternate assignments, recording and posting of all Zoom sessions, and consistent communication with TAs
-Provided mentoring & training for other instructors while modeling a resilient, growth mindset toward learning and teaching
Ann Thijs, Department of Biology A sequence of two semester-long intro bio courses was radically transformed by 'flipping' the courses. Course content was recorded in Panopto videos. Students engaged in 3+ hours of active learning each week. Particular attention was given to accessibility features and skill building.
Gwen Stovall, TIDES and CNS Teaching in the CNS Freshman Research Initiative biochemistry, project-based course (the Aptamer Stream), two course transformations evolved: (1) Virtual Research Teams and (2) Distance Research Projects. The Virtual Research Teams were assembled to leverage the potential of remote interactions for research success and cultivate new opportunities in a classroom community. An Aptamer YouTube Channel was created out of this transformation. And the second transformation, Distance Research Projects, were specifically designed with inclusive practices in mind, allowing students with limited WiFi access or asynchronous learning requirements to participate. These projects utilized the technical background of the work and primarily focused on data collection (such as publicly available data sets, literature, and/or human research/surveys), data analysis, and technical writing. Among these projects, for example, is the Aptamer Database research project, which seeks to meet the demand of researchers all over the world by aggregating 30 years of aptamer sequence data and making it publicly accessible and searchable. The students have been so productive that two of the seven Distance Research Projects are expected to be published within a year(!!). To add to that, early results indicate an uptick in student retention the year these projects were integrated into the curriculum.
Katie BrunerAssistant Professor of Instruction, Biology Instructional Office/Molecular Biosciences I converted the lab course I teach, BIO325L - Laboratory Experience in Genetics, into an online lab course with some optional in-person activities. Our labs met online each week in synchronous lab sessions where the students conducted lab simulations in groups, performed online data analysis, and proposed follow-up experiments.
Soo Hyun Yang, Assistant Professor of Practice, Freshman Research Initiative This Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) hands-on laboratory course was re-designed last spring due to COVID to allow undergraduate students to learn and master the molecular and biochemical lab techniques using demo videos, virtual lab simulations, and worksheets. In addition, students acquire skills (both in the virtual and in-person prior to COVID) such as reading peer-reviewed journals, analyzing data critically, writing and presenting a research proposal, and developing their curriculum vitae (CV). This course is designed to help students solidify their 1) general knowledge and fundamental understanding of the research project, 2) ability to design, articulate, explain, and defend the proposed aims and research different approaches to the project, and 3) to critically evaluate and develop a set of experiments to reach their research objective. Overall, the goal is to train undergraduate students to a level of knowledge and skills that will allow them to conduct independent research. Another important aspect of the course is to allow students to build social connection not only with the current members in this course but also with alumni who are pursuing a career in diverse fields with a science major. This was much more difficult than done in a virtual environment, but by using various tools for the virtual environment, the course has been very successful in providing an environment for students to acquire important skills and form community with each other, the mentors, and myself
Andrei Straumanis & Stacy Sparks, Department of Chemistry This year has opened our minds to the possibilities of hybrid instruction, and we plan to use our newly developed virtual tools to augment live-and-in-person instruction. Three problems they address: (1) ROOM SCARCITY – virtual breakout rooms are great on a campus with space issues, (2) PHYSICAL BARRIERS – TA/LA can enter a virtual breakout room with a few clicks and easily see and hear students; no more climbing over backpacks to facilitate groupwork (3) TEACHING TEAM LIMITS – our program is a cost effectively way to expand the size and diversity of our student teaching team and build leadership capacity for CNS.
Sarah Schoonhoven & Kathleen Holloway, Faculty Innovation Center Serving as the Program Coordinator and Graduate Assistant for the Provost’s Teaching Fellows program, we have the opportunity and responsibility to create and execute key faculty-focused events in the PTF portfolio. This summer, based upon requests from the Online Education Task Force and the Academy of Distinguished Teachers, we reinvented “Eyes on Teaching” to become Online Teaching Days, a virtual peer observation event for all UT instructors, which took place in July 2020 and again in February 2021. The complete overhaul of the planning process and attendee experience required an intense level of work on both of our parts, but the resulting event proved worthwhile—233 instructors from 72 departments and 15 CSUs participated in the two-day Summer event, and 91% reported learning new teaching strategies or techniques. Through Online Teaching Days, instructors have increased knowledge of online learning tools while actively engaging students with those tools. We believe that despite the struggles, traumas, and disappointments remote teaching has brought, it has also brought tremendous growth for instructors. We are grateful to have supported that process, and hope that next year’s event will bring further teaching innovations.