(work in progress: old notes, summer FREN 101 and 102 online course design)

“Le secret de l’histoire naturelle contenant les merveilles et choses mémorables du monde”: Bibliothèque nationale de France MS fr. 22971, f. 60v. (c. 1485 CE)

Post started in notes 2020-04-22, transcribed here 2020-04-26.
Last revised 2020-04-29.
Slightly-less-drafty-form 2020-04-30.
Updates re. 20S1 FREN 101, before its start in the week of 2020-05-11; several sections, the first starts on the Monday afternoon:

Public: 2020-06-10
There will be further updates. Given that this here collection of notes is 5,400+ words long, that will be in the shape of other posts, through the summer (while teaching in July-August) and into fall (and notes on course design for winter-session courses online).

Explanatory note:

As part of my work, I coordinate two large courses—beginners’ French I and II (up to CEFR/DELF A1)— that are in multiple sections. Each section is taught by a different person. Sometimes someone teaches more than one section. Summer version of FREN 101, for example, has 3 sessional lecturers teaching 4 sections.

Some things are in common across all sections: course materials (textbook+workbook), general syllabus, the general architecture of assignments and most of their distribution/weighting (ex. a term-long portfolio and project(s); ex. final exam = 30% of final grade), and the same final exam; so that students have the same foundations to prepare them for the next course in the sequence. I try to have as little as possible that is compulsorily the same: only when there is a good reason for it, one that we all accept as being good, and when we are in agreement. My colleagues are fellow experts. This is a matter of mutual respect and collegiality. 

Some things I leave open (with a barden of forming paths of options) and we decide on them together, in a last stage of course design before the start of term. Some things are flexible: how individual faculty teach, how they organise their class and time, how they mark and grade. I offer ideas and tools and share what I’m doing (including, and especially, if I try something out and it doesn’t work and/or I mess up), we meet and talk through the term, sometimes we change the syllabus along the way as needed. Sometimes these are changes for individual sections (ex. if an instructor is ill and moves around the schedule and due dates) and sometimes for the whole course (ex. snow day, pandemic).

These present notes are mostly about the flexible stuff.

The first versions of these notes were prepared in April, for these colleagues, in an area of a public UBC Blogs site. The rest of the site is for students. Two areas are for faculty and password-protected. The first, older one (there since the beginning) is information especially for new colleagues: the course, our contact information and who’s teaching what when, practical stuff, who to go to for help about various things, emergency ideas and tips and resources in case of panic or for new people; that’s also in a shared Dropbox folder.

I set up the new site area when COVID-19 hit our university in mid-March. As things were moving rapidly, often changing day by day, and as keeping on top of this and being able to locate information in email (even with folder organisation) was becoming nightmarish for all of us: I collected up communications and public information there from our department, the Faculty of Arts, and the University; correspondence from me to our whole teaching team (the winter session course is bigger, so that was about a dozen people teaching); communications sent to all students in all sections of the course; and planning for onlinising the last weeks of term (we ended up teaching that way for a little over a month), a last test/midterm, and the final exam. The latter two items including designing “remote exams” and their honour code (because **** surveillance culture and its dehumanizing quantitative mechanized inhumanities of distrust in the name of “standards”).

We were working together with colleagues in similar situations in other courses in French and Spanish, so there’s also our collaborative correspondence and planning. The next step, overlapping with final exams, was planning and designing summer courses so that’s there too. I included a lot of rough draft planning, like this here, as work in progress and thinking out loud. Hoping that doing this openly would help colleagues not to panic: yes this was an emergency and everything was fluid and full of the unknown, no none of that was controllable and that can be scary, but thinking and thinking ahead are still happening and we’ll get through this together …

To this collegial stuff I’ve added other notes (from iOS Notes)—similary, April—and some appropriate medieval manuscript images as punctuation, marginalia and larger illuminations; hopefully also in the larger non-specialist senses of these words. Thanks to Prof. Emily Steiner (University of Pennsylvania) for these.

Course materials = textbook + workbook; divided into 4 dossiers (units, chapters, whtv); each in turn into 6 leçons; textbook also has a Projet at end of each dossier, and further s’exercer practice exercises. Students have answers (sample answers for open-ended work) for all textbook and workbook exercises. If you’re wondering why we’re not using free open materials: please read the start of this post (2020-05-09) and then read this post (2017-10-18).

101 (+ 102 similarly later) drafty draft syllabus drafting:

  • hybrid of 19S and covidised 19W2
  • thinking about how to divide up:
    • reading and listening = individual, questions via Canvas chat, and self-evaluation as part of mark
    • writing = groups, and peer-evaluation between groups as part of mark
    • speaking = individual and pairs: in synchronous sessions; groups: asynchronous projects
    • synchronous live work = mix writing / speaking, moving between Canvas and Collaborate, video ONLY in small groups or individual (and not recorded)
  • thinking about a course that’s structured by week
    • not by day or by class
    • part of rethinking time and space
    • translation, narrow and broad senses: NOT trying to maintain normality, NOT an ersatz normal, but a differentiations way of being-in-the-world-of-learning
    • so NOT just “moving” (in flat-footed literal translation) from x hours in a physical classroom to the same x hours in an online classroom

notes on translation: 2020-04-24 Arts language online session: assessments / assignments (LONG VERSION)


This was a Faculty of Arts / Arts ISIT special session on language teaching. Organisers: Stefania Burk, Jason Myers. I did a bit on assignments; here’s the long version, the short actual version was just the first two items. My own answers to the questions are in this post about assignments (and assessment).


1 (ice-breaker and setting up our group as expert peers 💪)

What would be a good example, from your own experience, of an assignment (a specific case) that you have already translated—in covidised onlinised teaching—from live F2F interaction to a virtual online version? We’re talking TRANSLATION, as we all work with language; narrow and broad sense. Try to think not just of obvious things: like students googling on phones in class vs at home, or doing a test vs a Canvas quiz. How about something where the medium and shape have changed but the essential has remained? A next step: where your understanding has changed of what that essential core—the point of it, what it assesses, the learning objective—was, or is, or might be?

2 (bonding, with apologies for turning this into a scaffolded-meta-commentary)

What would be a good example of an assignment (a category or a case) that you usually do in a physically-present synchronous etc. class, that you consider to be essential, and where you don’t know and worry about how to do it online? We’re still talking translation here, moving into the intellectually-stimulating areas of the limits of translation, and of untranslateability. Try to find the most extreme examples. Consider what their core essential purpose is. Now try to imagine what online alternatives might be? What might this new language add to meaning?

3 (the technique section)

Is there a tool or task that you’ve heard or read about recently, that others have used, that sounds kind of intriguing but you don’t see how it would work in a language class? Or one that seems to be fashionable and about which you’re sceptical? In translation terms, we’re looking at the round peg/square hole problem. And maybe seeing if it looks different if you turn the board on its side, or poke it and find out that it’s a fluid surface … 

4 (the task)

Other ways of looking at assessment and evaluation: 

(a) Consider the syllabus of a class that you’ve been teaching this year, or recently, and that you’re now teaching in the summer. How would you change and reweight its assignments? (One thing here: in my own teaching, I’m planning a simple adaptable first version, which we then work on together as a class in the first class and in a first online discussion afterwards, so as to factor in practicalities of everyday life for all concerned. To produce a second version together before the add/drop day.)

(b) How much time ought to be spent on assessment that is summative evaluation? How can we reimagine quizzes (with a note about how that word has a different sense in French), tests, and exams? What ideas do you have about reshaping them as formative and peer-evaluated learning activities?

(c) Have you previously used, or are you contemplating using, student peer evaluation in your classes? (Bri is the champion expert here.) And student self-evaluation? Ungrading? What are your thoughts about students making public knowledge projects? 

5 (a.k.a. The Essay / Anti-Essay Question) 

Like in any translation from one medium to another, we’re thinking about matters of time and space. What does a 6-hour-a-week summer class look like, in lived actual practice? As passive (don’t nix the passive), active (inc. reading, as anyone working in literature knows), and interactive learning? 

Teaching F2F in a university traditionally entails an expectation that students spend on average 2-3 hours per class hour working between classes: preparation, homework, tasks, applied practice, and so on. For 6h class/week, that would mean a total of 18-24 hours. Is this a reasonable expectation, given students’—and our general—current conditions? (How far has it been possible for many of our students before this year anyway? … is another question.) How about if we reduced that total to something between 12 and 18 hours? 

And now: how can we think about time in different ways: the divisions between synchronous and asynchronous, those 6 fixed hours vs the rest, how to organise time so that it doesn’t become amorphous and invasive (for faculty and for students), how to structure it around assignments/tasks rather than fitting tasks into pre-covidian standard units of teaching and learning time: the traditional 5-minute activities, think-pair-share, 45-minute tests, 2.5-hour exams.

assignments and weighting:

  • weekly work:
    • 10% individual weekly preclass and postclass short quiz
      (Canvas quizzes)
      —simple summative marking: 1 point/quiz (done/not done); 12 quizzes (end of week 1, 2x weeks 2-5, start of week 6) = 12 points, student can drop lowest 2 (or get 0 for 2 not done and no consequences for marks)
      —followed by formative feedback in next class on common errors
    • 10% individual attendance and participation in weekly synchronous classes
      (Blackboard Collaborate Ultra recorded session)
      —ideally 50% self-evaluated, included in reflection in individual savoir-apprendre
      simple summative marking: 5 total (weeks 2-6), all count;
      2 points per week x 5
      for each one: done well = 2 / done but little to no contribution = 1 / not done = 0
    • 10% small group weekly workbook exercises
      (Canvas assignment)
      —ideally 50% self-evaluated, included in reflection in individual savoir-apprendre
      simple summative marking: 5 total (weeks 2-6), all count;
      2 points per week x 5
      for each one: done well = 2 / done but little to no contribution = 1 / not done = 0
    • 20% participation in small group weekly synchronous and asynchronous task and (50%, so for 10%) its peer review
      (Canvas discussion)
      —ideally 50% peer-evaluated
      —simple summative marking: 6 total (weeks 1-6), best 5 count;
      4 points per week x 5
      for each one: done well = 4 / done but little to no participation = 2 / not done = 0
  • term-long work = reconfiguring the 2018-20 savoir-vivre portfolio assignment
    • 10% savoir-apprendre individual term-long portfolio
      (Arts eportfolio or equivalent WP / UBC Blogs / other blog—but NOT Canvas eportfolio—link submitted via Canvas assignment; so that students can build up their whole portfolio over a whole degree)
      —ideally at least 50% (so for 5%) self-evaluated, portfolio to include that reflection at its end
    • 10% savoir-être small group term-long scaffolded project
      (Arts eportfolio—password protection for videos of individuals—and Canvas assignment; if a public open project, UBC Blogs or Wiki)
      —ideally at least 50% (so for 5%) peer-evaluated
    • 30% savoir-faire exams
      —ideally with a self-evaluation part

      • midterm practice exam (10%)
        = 2.5% listening + 2.5% reading comprehension + 2.5% open-ended question + 2.5% video of speaking
        —ideally, this should be a formative exam with follow-up in next class
        I’m thinking about how to have a formative exam, formatively marked, tied to a second part of a Course Canvas site that’s Canvas “Mastery” (neoliberal colonialist ugh) Pathways / extra modules, where successfully completing a module on a specific error enables raising the mark for that part of the original assignment
        (Canvas quiz + speaking in conversation)
      • final exam (20%)
        or equivalent alternative
        = 10% writing + 10% speaking
        (Canvas quiz + speaking in conversation)

asynchronous work:

  • individual
    • start of week preclass prep inc first read (textbook, selected reading and listening) and first listen (instructor short video / slides with audio for instructions; student questions to instructor via Canvas chat, for instructor to answer in online-reading hours; anthroposynchronous) + preclass quiz (1-2 questions, short)
      = Canvas quiz (+ Canvas chat for questions)
    • end of week watch/listen/read (instructor round-up of the week) and postclass quiz (short, 1 question)
      = Canvas quiz
    • savoir-apprendre (part of the old savoir-vivre)
      —as Arts eportfolio (NOT Canvas one)
      = Canvas assignment (add link)
    • midterm practice exam and final exam, or alternative
      = Canvas quiz
  • small group (2-4):
    • workbook exercises, buddy support: postclass practice exercises (short: instructor selection from workbook)
      = Canvas assignment, group submission
    • savoir-être project long task (part of the old savoir-vivre)
      —whole term = scaffolded, videos start and end, writing between
      —Arts eportfolio—videos of individuals to be password-protected—circulated to all students in the class
      —50% peer-evaluated: a RMST221B-style festive fayre of learning anti-exam and peer evaluation (50% of mark) of projects at end of term, but online (see https://blogs.ubc.ca/rmst221b/ )
      —an idea: in choosing topics, for the written (+ images but no videos of individuals) part, an open public humanities project sim. RMST221B bestiary
      —French for wellbeing and French learning resources shared with other students
      —if each project is creating an open resource, and all together that’s a collaborative collection: UBC Blogs or Wiki?
      = Canvas assignment, group submission
    • short task:
      —weekly: usually 4-6 of these per week/dossier, so roll these into 1 task/week due on Thursday for peer review (inter-group) on Friday
      —based on the textbook’s tasks (“à nous” in each leçon + projet at end of dossier)
      = Canvas discussion

synchronous work:

  • individual:
    • scheduled regular check-in live Canvas chat session (student may opt for Collaborate audio or video instead if they prefer); around 5 minutes
      OR week 1 + week 4 (after midterm) + week 6 (final week)
      —(and more time for asynchronous online chat, book virtual open-door hours via Canvas Calendar)
      —personal contact and individual learning support
      —instructor feedback on individual work
      = Canvas chat and/or Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session (NOT RECORDED)
    • midterm exam
      = Canvas quiz inc. a 1-minute video recording response to question
    • final exam
      = Canvas assignment or quiz (or other, depending on nature of exam) inc. ideally a 5-minute conversation
  • in small groups:
    —instead of having 2×3 hour synchronous whole class session, shorter sessions each for ½ the class, working in groups (4 or 8)
    —??? set up small groups at start of term OR students sign up for sessions (so, on the Friday of the previous week: sign up for 1 individual very short session, 2 small group sessions, 1 project group session)

    • 2x/week, short practice session (2 x +/- 30 minutes, Collaborate live video session, not recorded; students may record this themselves if they wish):
      —work on workbook exercises, especially listening and speaking (short: instructor selection from workbook)
      —practice for project (essentially, this is the kind of work that would otherwise happen with a combination of office hours and the FHIS Learning Centre)
      —instructor feedback on submitted work
      = Blackboard Collaborate Ultra session (NOT RECORDED)
    • 2x/week session as next stage after first read and listen:
      —Collaborate recorded session
      —slides & textbook or whiteboard on main screen, accompanying live interaction by chat: comprehension, inductive work on grammar and pattern-recognition, set up 1 exercise (livre inc. s’exercer) per point
      —instructor sets up weekly task (end of the week’s first session)
      = Blackboard Collaborate Ultra RECORDED session
    • 2x/week, practice session:
      —working together on exercises (textbook inc. s’exercer) + on weekly group task
      —instructor support
      = Canvas Discussion

what a week might look like:

  • Friday =
    • individual learning day:
      —postclass quiz (open 24h)
      —instructor posts reading, listening, video + preclass quiz (to be done by 12 noon of class 1 day)
    • online individual chat with instructor (Canvas chat drop-in)
  • Monday =
    • synch class 1 + set up weekly task + textbook activities
    • small groups session 1 + workbook practice: start with questions and feedback from exercises (Canvas assignment) the previous week
  • Tuesday =
    • individual sessions / check-in day (Canvas calendar schedule)
  • Wednesday =
    • synch class 2 + textbook activities
    • small groups session 2 + workbook practice + project work/check-in
  • Thursday =
    • task submission + peer evaluation + instructor feedback
    • instructor marking day

what six weeks might look like:

(SG = small group, IND = individual)


  • before first class:
  • first class:
    • unplanned, unscripted, unstructured: NOT a time for primary-school-style Lesson Plans of Five-Minute Activities, but for longer freer organic arcs of natural adult human conversation. OK, there is *some* plan though …
    • topic: introductions and why you’re—we’re—here
    • using the draft syllabus as a base, discussing changes:
      —to fit with time-zone differences and individual situations, access, bandwidth, internet, devices
      —practical considerations of time, space, and material conditions
      —basic principles: dignity, respect, solidarity, mutual aid
      —emphasise that the syllabus in its present state is a draft, as much as possible of it is flexible, and can be adapted to fit the class: that is, to suit students as individuals, and working together with students as individuals. This second stage of syllabus-making (and course design) is cooperative.
      —and, conceptually, an important part of translating a “course” into a “class”: the latter is a living breathing motile dynamic being, a coherent group with its own identity and culture, but still composed of individuals; each essential to making that social fabric, and holding it together, and being it
    • setting up small groups on Canvas, plus optional time-zone groups (for peer support and mutual aid)
      —(set-up: People > set up the group categories before class, with student sign-up option; time-zone groups = no size limit, small groups = 4; assign students to small groups based on time zone, students can change group if they wish; do not assign group leaders)
    • sample (19W2) exam, to see where we’re aiming, inc. where the savoirêtre is aiming (= not just for you the student, or the prof, but thinking about a possible audience of peers)
      —(NB final exam doesn’t necessarily have to resemble current / traditional exams, but this is an instructors and coordinators conversation for later about what and why exams are … )
    • training in using online tools: inc screen-sharing in Collaborate to show how Canvas is set up and works (instructor shows this – students go to Canvas > People and sort themselves into groups – back to Collaborate, instructor shows the group spaces now at students’ disposal within  Canvas
    • NOT video: on Canvas Discussions, and continuing through to the next class; so synchronous AND asynchronous, in a manner that can thus be anthroposynchronous (which might be O’Brien’s Neologism Of The Year for this year, and we’re not even half-way through)


  • introduction and introductions
  • assignments:
    • TASK (IND) about the draft syllabus and individual schedules, prior to redrawing the syllabus to fit the class, and to form time-zone groups (IND)
    • QUIZ (IND)
    • form small groups (SG)
  • FREN 101
    • materials: selected content of dossier 0 in class (only using course materials after for reference and post-class practice; not doing things covered later dossiers, bring them in at that time)
  • FREN 102
    • revision of FREN 101 inc. exam from 19W2 or 19S1


  • assignments:
    • start of week pre-class quiz (IND)
    • textbook: class participation (IND/SG)
    • workbook: practice session + collaborative work (SG)
    • weekly task: practice session + post + inter-group peer review (SG)
    • end of week post-class quiz (IND)
  • FREN 101
    • dossier 1
  • FREN 102
    • dossier 5


  • assignments:
    • start of week pre-class quiz (IND)
    • textbook: class participation (IND/SG)
    • workbook: practice session + collaborative work (SG)
    • weekly task: practice session + post + inter-group peer review (SG)
    • end of week post-class quiz (IND)
  • FREN 101
    • dossier 2
  • FREN 102
    • dossier 6


  • assignments:
    • start of week midterm (IND, could also be SG as a 2-stage exam)
    • start of week pre-class quiz (IND)
    • textbook: class participation (IND/SG)
    • workbook: practice session + collaborative work (SG)
    • weekly task: practice session + post + inter-group peer review (SG)
    • end of week post-class quiz (IND)
  • FREN 101
    • dossier 3
  • FREN 102
    • dossier 7


  • assignments:
    • start of week pre-class quiz (IND)
    • textbook: class participation (IND/SG)
    • workbook: practice session + collaborative work (SG)
    • weekly task: practice session + post + inter-group peer review (SG)
    • end of week post-class quiz (IND)
  • FREN 101
    • dossier 4
  • FREN 102
    • dossier 8


  • assignments:
    • start of week pre-class quiz (IND)
    • textbook: class participation (IND/SG)
    • workbook: practice session + collaborative work (SG)
    • weekly task: practice session + post + inter-group peer review (SG)
    • in lieu of weekly task: inter-group peer review of projects in festive fayre of learning (SG)
  • FREN 101
    • revision
  • FREN 102
    • revision


  • assignments:
    • savoir-apprendre portfolio (IND)
    • savoir-être project (SG)
    • savoir-faire exam (IND)

rethinking teaching and learning and assignments:

  • NOT mapping / translating 1 hour scheduled live class = 1 hour online interactive video virtual classroom
  • what has to be live synchronous interaction: speaking, with at least one other person
    • individual student + instructor
    • students in small groups (maximum 4), with assistance of instructor at start and end (ex. Collaborate breakout rooms, or short sessions)
  • what can be live but asynchronous (scheduled but not for whole class at once):
    • collaborative writing
    • problem solving and questions, including as active reading and listening
    • formative feedback on work, including peer evaluation
    • discussion
    • chat
  • what can be (and at other levels usually is, and is often-to-always better as) asynchronous:
    • slow collaborative work and co-writing
    • reading, including as a reading group
    • listening, including interactively marking moments in audio/video with questions and comments (and answers) ex. using CLAS
    • reading and listening to short video / slides with audio / podcast
  • what assessment is and what it could be:
    • emphasis on FORMATIVE not summative assessment
      —to include the reflective and critical, inc. through self-evaluation
      —and peer collaborative help and mutual aid
      —and possibilities to improve: idea of a side-section to course Canvas site, at least supplementary Modules (completion to improve a mark) and/or (be it for now or for next year) a Learning “Mastery” Pathways structure
      —to aim, ideally, towards UNGRADING
    • rethinking the purpose of assessment (a.k.a. learning objectives)
      —to include peer-evaluation and self-evaluation
    • reimagining exams, including other kinds of exam:
      —rmst221b-style anti-exam centred on student projects
      —final exam should be 50% oral:

      • with oral interview referring to (a shorter) written exam (ex. to answers to open-ended / opinion questions)
      • flipped exam: students examine instructor, asking them questions, as a student-initiated conversation
      • this could be a game in which the instructor will provide different answers to different students/groups; instructor plays a person who appeared at some point in the textbook—different person for each conversation—and student additional task is to identify the person, in stage 2 after conversation, referring to textbook


Adapted from online discussions and discussion-day in previous RMST and MDVL courses, plus FREN 333.

Also, via a facebook conversation, 2020-05-05:

Credit for the term “Prof for the Day”: Rachel Lui.


workload from instructor point of view and from student point of view

  • use discussions in and between classes for open-ended work
  • use quizzes for closed work, and multiple quizzes, short ones: for participation and attendance
  • use collaborate for synchronous sessions, in groups
  • rethink time and space:
    • summer 6h + 2h office hours
      + 12h prep&h/wk (practice, project; min 2h per 1h class)
      = 20h for me.
    • class time is usually max 33% me talking = 2h,
      min 66% students working together = 4h,
      office hours as individual 2h,
    • preparation and homework = ideally 12h but reckon 6h in smaller segments


1.5h: that 33% Moi becomes asynchronous videos etc outside class (divided up: 10 min x 9): ? bandwidth etc: Collaborate or Youtube?
(extra 1h optional extra reading etc. if need be at end of week)

4h: that 66% becomes asynchronous 4h of work in small groups (Discussions), on practice exercises and project, 2h after each 3h class


< 1 h (3h for me): 2h open-door hours extend into synchronous, Collaborate, individual appointments by Canvas calendar sign-up (or group), 1.5 h x 2, 15 min/person every other week = 12 people + room for a few extra

3h: synchronous AND asynchronous work with small groups or their representatives on practice and projects: I do feedback and reply to questions from preceding Discussion, add further explanations and examples, students can add in further questions and comments via chat, this is recorded; 1.5 h x 2


< 1h (3h for me): individual appointments, anthropochronous, by Canvas calendar sign-up, 15 min/person every other week = 12 people

1h: 24-h anthropochronous practice exercises (workbook) and quizzes at start and end of week (individual listening + reading); no practice in a test week
(1-2 h optional extra practice, if and when needed)

2h: anthropochronous individual savoir-vivre
use modules to organise materials, for later reference as revision


Old undergrad structure:

  • lectures (at least 1/week): whole course, also open to anyone to come in, registered students or visitors or members of the public
  • supervisions (1/week): small group, college or combining colleges; used to be 2-3, then up to 6, then up to 10-12

Adaptation, summer version:

  • 6 scheduled synchronous hours
    • small group work
    • SG = approx. 4 students, but can be 2-3; as the work entails speaking, 2 is the minimum
    • set = 12 students (= 3-6 groups per set)
    • assuming around 35 students (our maximum) in a class, that’s 3 sets of (approx.) 12
    • = a bit under 2h (1.5) direct work per set with instructor
    • student POV:
      • 2h with instructor, in their set
      • 4h with their group / set / rest of class, while other sets are having their 2h (flexible)
  • 2 hours “used to be office hours”
    • small group work
      (could be for students in other time zones, depending on who is where and doing what other courses and other work and what else is going on their lives, we could be reconfiguring the whole course; these are unknown unknowns and to discuss, as a whole class, in the first week)
    • questions about workbook practice, weekly task, group project
  • online open-virtual-door hours
    • individual appointments, online chat
    • (Friday, for set hours, as time is not infinite: an instructor should ideally be working for about 40h/week, like any other working person)
  • syllabus also has a mid-term check-in and a final-week check-in; each of these is a 3-hour synchronous class that is just for small group work (times scheduled in Canvas Calendar)

Here’s what a class might look like from the point of view of a set:

  • groups and sets configured *with* students; to take into account variations like tech access and preferences, which students might not want to share with the rest of the class; so for example we can group together people who are OK with doing lots of video, and group together people who aren’t
  • week 1 of term = lots of work on groups and sets, setting up (and, to some extent, redesigning the course) around and with the students
  • for each set: each group is assigned 1-2 activities per textbook leçon to work on in the scheduled class; they work on them using Canvas Discussions for that live work together (they’ll have a Collaborate session just for their set too, up to them which they prefer, or both, depending on bandwidth etc.)
  • practice and share results with their set (Canvas / Collaborate, depending)
  • set moves into their Collaborate session, instructor visits them for questions, discussion, guidance, explanation, and feedback; students sharing screen with instructor in Collaborate 
  • while instructor is seeing the other sets: those 2 sets can reconfigure themselves, do s’exercer and workbook practice, work within their groups, take a break …
    (there will also be other extras provided: pronunciation (and tongue-twisters), music, images, conundrum, curious example, online / cultural research, words of the day, find a rhyme for a line, … these could also be treasure-hunt quests, ex. bonus words to include in the midterm, points/prizes, etc.)
  • rotate sets so that each set takes it in turn to be the first group
  • we can also figure out and tweak the schedule to fit around students’ other responsibilities (family, life, etc.) in that 3-hour period 

Here’s what a week might look like, assuming classes are on Monday and Wednesday:

  • Friday =
    • individual learning day:
      —postclass quiz (automatically marked, open for 24h; on that week’s work, questions from workbook) or (middle week of term) midterm
      —instructor posts reading, listening, video (contextualisation, where this is going, point/objectives) + preclass quiz (automatically marked, to be done by 12 noon of class 1 day)
      —and sets up weekly task (for the end of the next week)
      —and textbook activities (to be worked on together in sets of small groups, in class; different activities for each group, groups reporting in to their set)
    • online individual chat with instructor (Canvas chat drop-in)
  • Monday = 3h synchronous class 
    • hour 1, dossier x, leçon 1
      —5 min. in Collaborate whole class session: quick intro RECORDED
      —15 min. set 1 in their Collaborate session
      —15 min. set 2
      —15 min. set 3
      —5 min. end of class, back in Collaborate main session, with sets contributing further questions and comments by chat: instructor mini-summary of main points and main questions raised RECORDED
    • hour 2, dossier x, leçon 2
      —similarly but set 2 then 3 then 1
    • hour 3, dossier x, leçon 3
      —similarly but set 3 then 1 then 2
      —end of class and after: instructor pulls together all the strands (mini-summaries at end of each hour x 3, any remaining questions, set up questions for discussion (or something extra to read, look at, listen to) between classes
    • (possibly after class, possibly Tuesday)
      small groups session 1 + workbook practice: start with questions and feedback from workbook practice exercises (Canvas assignment) the previous week + questions remaining from class
  • Tuesday =
    • individual sessions / check-in day (Canvas calendar schedule)
    • instructor preparation and marking day
  • Wednesday = 3h synchronous class, as Monday
    • hour 1, dossier x, leçon 4
    • hour 2, dossier x, leçon 5
    • hour 3, dossier x, leçon 6
    • (possibly after class, possibly Thursday)
      small groups session 2 + workbook practice: textbook task + project work/check-in
  • Thursday =
    • task submission + peer evaluation + instructor feedback
    • instructor preparation and marking day

Adaptation, winter version:

  • 3 scheduled synchronous hours = small group work, in sets
  • 2 hours office hours = small group work + individual check-in appointments (5 min)


(Not taking into account time-zone differences, and still thinking in 3-hour and 1-hour blocks rather than as a week. I threw most of this out, planning-wise, what feels like months ago but is actually days in our weird present being-in-time. Keeping it here as an appendix just in case, not to throw babies out with bathwater, etc.)

typical 3-hour class:

individual practice exercises+quiz on last class’s topics
group short task putting last class into applied practice: Assignments + Discussion
pre-reading and -listening

hour (1)
groups report in on task
questions on practice and task
BUT how to do live interactive reading and inductive method with 3-hour blocks of time? so we don’t

hour (2)
work with groups on next point
take for ex. 1 double-page: 1 section/group, each group in a breakout room together, I go around groups

hour (3)
back to main room, groups exchange, write up on Canvas Discussion
set up post-class exercises and group task
individual meetings

and I need a 4th hour

Power, dynamics, equity, access, social justice:

not separation of


but, in anthroposynchronocity,


mono = traditionally
instructor comms (class, lecture, synopsis, working out example, live reading, etc.)
student work
active/passive single direction, one thing at a time, student + prof

dia = F2F 1:1
instructor-student feedback on work
(work not an end in itself, formative not summative)
ditto student-instructor feedback on instructor comms
(can be mix of individual and group)
transaction, student + prof

convo = small group and whole class
community, network, full interaction: when a course becomes a living breathing class

access, equity, power:
lowest common denominator in tech and time
main medium: chat, text, discussion
NOT video


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