Focus on Teaching - November 2020

November is often a time of reflection and remembrance. As we move into another month of change and challenge, remember to be kind to yourself and reach out to your community for support. Wellness supports are also available through Human Resources. Just in time for winter, they are starting an 8-week psychoeducational group to boost energy and cope with darkness. Contact Sam Nielsen by November 5th if you are interested in participating or learning more about this initiative.

If you are looking to deepen your teaching practice, we have some great workshops coming this month. Back by popular demand, we are offering a virtual Instructional Skills Workshop from November 28- December 12. Register soon to get your spot! If you are looking for support with assessment, join Carolyn and Brenna for an exciting new workshop on November 6. More details below in the newsletter.


Catharine, Carolyn I., Carolyn H. and Teresa

COVID-19 Safety on Campus

Our top priority in all the planning taking place is your safety and that of our TRU community. However, reducing the spread of COVID-19 is a shared responsibility. Before returning, you must complete three training courses. When on campus, in addition to frequent hand-washing and physical distancing, you are expected to self-assess daily using the BC COVID-19 self-assessment tool, stay home if your feel sick and call 811 if you have been in contact or have contracted COVD-19. Our collective commitment to these responsibilities will play a key role in our continued fight against the spread of the virus. For more information, visit our COVID-19 Response website.

Professional Development

Did you know that CELT has a blog?

It's called In Progress, and right now it features a new post authored by Donna Bentham (Nursing); she shares her approach to homework portfolios, an excellent strategy for engaging students in their learning and helping them succeed.

Do you have a tip or strategy to share with colleagues? An idea for an article? Would you like to be a featured author on our blog? Contact Carolyn Ives at with your idea!

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

Alternative Assessment
in Alternate Modes of Delivery

Friday, November 6, 10-11:15 a.m. Moodle/BigBlueButton

Brenna Clarke Gray, Coordinator, Learning Technology
Carolyn Ives, Coordinator, Learning and Faculty Development

Looking for ways to assess students fairly and accurately at the end of your course? Join Brenna Clarke Gray from LTI and Carolyn Ives from CELT to explore the ranges of alternative assessments -- just in time for finals! We'll look at practical tweaks and aspirational redesigns to make your final assessments better -- for you, and for your students. Register here.

Photo by Victor He on Unsplash

New Faculty Community of Practice

November 19, 11 a.m.-noon via MS Teams

If you're new (or newish) to TRU and would like to connect with others to hear about topics pertinent to you, please join us for this New Faculty Community of Practice. The topic for November is Student Engagement in Alternate Modes of Delivery. Future topics will include peer evaluation of teaching, student evaluation of courses, and others. We are also open to hosting sessions on topics of interest to you, so if there's something you'd like to know about, let us know!  Register here.

Photo by Regis F on Unsplash

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

Community of Practice

November 19, 1-2 p.m. via MS Teams

Interested in learning more about SoTL? Or maybe you’re already engaged in a SoTL project? Wherever you’re at, these monthly gatherings will connect you with other faculty and helpful resources and information to start, advance, or finalize a SoTL project. Topics will be determined by the group, but past topics have included identifying your research question, ethical considerations, social science methodologies, data collection tips, literature search strategies, and more. Join us to learn more! Register here.

Pandemic Pedagogies

Lessons Learned while Teaching through COVID-19

Friday, November 27, 11 a.m.-noon via MS Teams

For the last six months, faculty members have been working hard to re-envision their courses to shift them to digital. Join us as we hear about some of their successes in this new mode of delivery. Sessions will feature a brief presentation followed by a larger discussion about how the strategies shared might work in participants’ own contexts. Register here.

Instructional Skills Workshop (Virtual)

November 28 - December 12, 2010 via Moodle/BigBlueButton

The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) is a professional development program designed for faculty members who are interested in developing and enhancing their instructional skills.  The workshop consists of teaching practice, theory application, and topical sessions specifically relevant to each instructor’s context. In a supportive atmosphere, you will have opportunities to develop new teaching skills, enhance existing skills, and try new and challenging strategies. Register here.

Please note: this event is delivered virtually through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities and will involve 30 hours of work spread out between November 28 and December 12, 2020.

Assessment and Evaluation of Learning

January 5 - February 26, 2021 via Moodle/Big Blue Button

Through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities, we will examine the ethical, practical, and research foundations for the assessment and evaluation of student learning in your courses. The purpose of assessment and evaluation in the learning process will be explored along with the ethics of how and when to evaluate learning. The course will enable participants to create assessment tools and evaluation systems that are aligned with instruction and learning outcomes to reflect and communicate student learning. Participants must participate fully in order to receive a certificate of completion. If you are enrolled in the Provincial Instructor Diploma Program, upon completion of this course, you may apply for exemption on PIDP 3230: Evaluation of Learning. Register here.

Please note: This course requires a minimum of 45 hours of work between January 5 and February 26, 2021.

Learning Technology & Innovation

Moodle Support

Every Tuesday-Thursday, 10 a.m.- noon & 2-4 p.m. 
Drop-in and meet with a Moodle expert.

To see the programming available and to register visit the Learning Technology and Innovations Calendar

Connect by accessing Support for Virtual Delivery or email

Learning Technology Podcast

You Got This is produced by the Learning Technology and Innovation team at Thompson Rivers University to provide just-in-time teaching and learning encouragement and support to our campus community during Fall 2020. It's designed to support you when you need it with weekly episodes offering tips, advice, insights, and conversations with folks from across our campus community.

Your Host:  Brenna Clarke Gray, Coordinator, Learning Technology, Learning Technology & Innovation @ TRU

Photo by The CEO Kid on Unsplash


Cascade Journal of Knowledge

The Cascade Journal of Knowledge disseminates knowledge (open-access) from scholars and enhances the scholarship of teaching and learning. The journal achieves this through a unique and innovative journal format: scholars submit a screen-cast/video/podcast (3-8 minutes) of an academic topic that is double-blind peer-reviewed. This year you may be interested in creating a screen-cast, podcast, or video assignment with your students!

Visit the website to learn more or contact Russell Currie in SoBE.

External Events and Resources

Open Education Conference

November 9-13, 2020 $75 USD

This year’s theme “Reimagining Open Education” seeks to catalyze ideas and action to address the challenges facing education in 2020 and to strive for more equitable systems.Join us for this year’s virtual convening for sharing and learning about open educational resources, open pedagogy, and open education initiatives. Registration for the 2020 Open Education Conference is open. Contact Brenda Smith in the Library with questions.

45th Annual Professional Organization and Development (POD) Network in Higher Education Conference

November 10-13, 2020, $355 USD, Online 

Higher education is experiencing significant budgetary, policy, and cultural challenges that are prompting institutions to reflect upon, justify, and adjust their practices and processes—and sometimes their values. To create flexible responses to these shifting and complex times, it is imperative that we “look inward and think forward:” that we critically examine our current contexts, narratives, and traditions while keeping in mind the future goals and needs of our institutions, our disciplines, and the communities we serve.

We cordially invite you to participate in the POD Network’s 45th Annual Conference online.  Learn more and register here.

Indigenous Paradigms in Practice: Relationships, Story and Academic Integrity

November 13 or December 11, 9-10:30 a.m., Online

Indigenous peoples are diverse distinct nations who carry the knowledge of millennia. As Indigenous peoples we know that knowledge must be authentic, validated, and shared through principled action. Join us as we discuss the paradigms and principles of academic integrity based on the values of our Communities. Providing the philosophical and the practical, this webinar is designed to explore Indigenous approaches to knowledge for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the post-secondary community. Free and open to all. Register here

STUDIO20: Engaging Learners Online

November 17-19, 2020 $150

A studio is “a workplace for the teaching or practice of an art”. Studio20 will explore the art of engaging learners online and will feature keynotes and facilitators focussing on the themes of vision, voice, and active learning.  

You will be provided with opportunities to:

• Play with teaching strategies and approaches

• Connect with fellow educators to share experiences and expertise

• Participate in fun activities for social connection and community

Learn more and register here.

45th Annual Association for the
Study of Higher Education Conference

November 18-21, 2020 Virtual Conference

The theme of 2020 ASHE Conference is Advancing Full Participation. The 2020 theme will shed light on the challenges of and possibilities for full participation in higher education. We will further engage this topic in partnership with colleagues in New Orleans, a place known for its diversity, improvisation, and resilience in working toward full participation.

Learn more and register here.

Recommended Reading

Cho, S., Werker, G. R., Liu, A. Y., Moghtader, B., & Huh, W. T. (2020). A Three-Party Case Study: Exploring the Value of Student Work in Co-creation in Teaching and Learning. Teaching & Learning Inquiry, 8(2), 200-220.

Normandeau, M., Kolomitro, K., & Maher, P. T. (2020). Joining a scholarly conversation: Publishing your SoTL work. The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 11(2).

Have you written, performed, or created something you'd like to share? Email us to put it in our next newsletter!

Focus on Teaching is the monthly newsletter of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). We showcase instructional development opportunities and resources for TRU faculty and staff, and up-to-date information on current projects, initiatives and professional development opportunities. To read past issues of Focus on Teaching or to subscribe to our mailing list, visit our Newsletters page.

We respectfully acknowledge that TRU is located ne Secwepemcúl’ecw, in unceded Secwepemc territory.

To contact CELT, email and we will do our best to respond within 24 hours. Please note that our team is working remotely for the time being.