Sign Language

Adapting TRUE+WAY ASL for Onsite or Online Courses

Get guidance on adapting TRUE+WAY ASL for transforming from online to face-to-face classes or vice versa

The focus of this session is to provide guidance for instructors who are looking to adapt the TRUE+WAY ASL textbook and materials for both online and face-to-face classes. The aim is to help instructors overcome the challenges of transforming their course from an online setting to a face-to-face classroom, or vice versa – changing from a face-to-face classroom to an online course.



Jodi Oates is American Sign Language (ASL) educator and a passionate advocate for ASL education. She has been serving as a full-time ASL professor at Austin Community College (ACC) in her hometown of Austin, Texas, since 2016. Before joining ACC, Jodi dedicated her time as a full-time mother, raising three children while also engaging in multiple ASL-related contractual employment opportunities. Jodi earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Gallaudet University in 1992, pursued graduate courses at the University of South Dakota, and obtained her Master’s degree in Sign Language Education (MASLED) from Gallaudet University in 2014. Prior to joining ACC, Jodi held the role of Branch Office Manager of CSD in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she oversaw human service programs before returning to her hometown. In addition to her role at ACC, Jodi has been a video production editor for TRUE+WAY ASL (TWA) and What is the Sign (WTS) since 2015.


Molly Sachs:

Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us today for this session. I’ll go ahead and introduce myself first. My name is Molly. I’m on the client success team, and I am so thrilled to have Jodi Oates here with us today for our presentation. Oh, I think the view just changed. Okay, perfect. So I just want to introduce Jodi, who’s going to be presenting on her topic. She teaches at Austin Community College and she also works with the TRUE+WAY ASL curriculum. Before I turn it over to Jodi, I’d like to give a few housekeeping instructions. So please go ahead and feel free to introduce yourself in the chat where you can share resources and information. If you have questions for Jodi, please place them in the Q&A tab.

Jodi Oates:

Awesome, thank you so much, Molly for that sweet introduction. All right, let’s get my screen up. Is everyone able to see my screen? Let’s make sure that we’re getting all set up before we move on. One second. All right, is everyone able to see my screen? You should be able to see the TRUE+WAY ASL for Onsite and Online Courses. And then we are also incorporating GoReact into this curriculum.

And the point of this is to have the TRUE+WAY curriculum adapting into the GoReact, we want it to be on the same lesson plan and to be correlated together. And so we want to figure out how to have both onsite and online courses flowing smoothly together. So let’s go ahead and move on to the next slide.

All right. So we’ve already talked about this. Let’s go ahead and move on to the next slide. Okay, so this description, this is what I’m going to be talking about today. It’s a brief summary. So this was created right before COVID-19, there were some ways we go through Zoom. And then after the COVID-19 pandemic and after quarantine student engagement completely changed with being in the classroom. It was uncomfortable at times and at times socially awkward to have individuals physically in the classroom. And it had started to impact some motivation in joining ASL courses. So we’re going to talk about some of those.

All right. You’ll see some topics that we’re going to cover today during my presentation. All right. Make sure everyone gets a chance to read through this. All right. Let’s move on to the next one.

Again, these are different assignments and different lectures that we’re going to be talking about and we’re going to figure out how that can be presented in one curriculum for both onsite and online. Even though the interactions are going to be different through each modality, there still is that necessary aspect in learning ASL and teaching through ASL of the socialized environment. You’ll see with ACTFL, you’ll see that link at the bottom, they have the five Cs, which are the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages. Most of this is for spoken language, it does apply to American Sign Language as well, or spatial language as we will refer to it as. The ACTFL talks about communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities. Those are the five Cs that we will be talking about and those are imperative for being able to pick up language and develop communication skills. All right, next slide.

I wanted to provide a sample, what it kind of looks like at Austin Community College. And so I actually pulled this from my syllabus. We don’t have to read the entire thing. See that yellow piece where it says conversational and communication skills? See that piece? That is very important for the socialized aspect of our curriculum. All right, let’s move on to the next slide.

This is another example pulled from the syllabus. So this is the course description. So again, I highlighted the important part of this. We don’t have to read the entire thing. It’s three lab activities or three activity hours. You’ll see that piece there. Which means, again, this is hinting at the importance of socialization in learning ASL. A big reason for individuals taking this course, again, you’ll see some highlighted pieces in yellow, so small group activities and participation in class and or online is expected of students. Again, this is another reference to how important that engagement in the classroom is. And so this is put into the course description as well, and it is within our policy, and so you’ll see these throughout this semester. And that success refers back to those five Cs that we originally talked about. So this was just a little example of what the syllabus looks like.

So we’re going to show you a little bit of a clip. So let’s go ahead and play this video. If we can get this to play. All right. May have to wait a second. Yeah. Okay. Make sure everyone [inaudible 00:06:34]-

Speaker 3:

Oh no, I don’t take attendance. I think your grade is much more than that. Okay, well there are actually a lot of merits to being at the lecture.

Speaker 4:

Is everything for the exams going to be in the reading though?

Speaker 3:

No. Half of the content will be from the reading and the other half will be from the lectures, which will be recorded and posted in their entirety on campus. Every person who attends the lecture gets extra credit, it will be a single point on one homework assignment. It’s plus one extra credit on the homework, which is actually graded out of two. It’s pretty significant. There is one scenario in which if everyone does not show up in the class, besides one person, that is the Hopkins attendance anomaly, that person passes the class, no one else does. You are adults, I trust you with your time. Attendance will be required for recitation on Fridays, which will be run by my TA who’s probably younger than you. If you pull off the Hopkins, the TA is not actually required to be there. So in that scenario you have to be at the recitation, he does not and I fail.

Speaker 5:

Is there an attendance…

Jodi Oates:

All right. So the point of using that video, I wanted to show… Oh, there we go. I wanted to show you that the culture has truly changed. This video was made last year. Let’s go back one slide, do you mind? All right. And perfect. That’s where we want to be.

So that shows that the culture after COVID-19 pandemic has truly changed. Attendance used to be run-of-the-mill, it used to be expected of all students. And after the COVID-19, we’ve noticed more absences, less engagement physically onsite. And we’ve noticed that throughout higher education, this truly has become an issue that needs to be addressed. And our goal is to make curriculum fun and engaging. And there are some points that are added to it in order to encourage student engagement. As you saw in our syllabus pieces, there is mandatory engagement in order to continue and progress through these ASL courses.

Now I wanted to talk about the hybrid model. So this is a little bit of my syllabus, again I’ve pulled from this, and so you’ll see two sections here. So we use TRUE+WAY ASL, the TWA, and there’s little tools that you’re able to pull down. And I wanted to go back to the point system real quick. So what that may look like. So number one is the TWA assignments. Number two is the production assignments, so the students signing. And then number three is classroom interactive activities. So we’re going to put a pin in that and we’ll talk about that soon.

So requiring student attendance has been necessary, but many colleges are really wanting to start forcing student attendance but they’re unable to do that. So we’re trying to find creative ways around it in order to pull attendance, which isn’t on paper a mandated attendance but in a way forces the students to still be involved. So let’s go ahead and move on.

All right, now moving over to the TWA Canvas tools and what that looks like. Again, I pulled a little snippet out of my curriculum and you’ll see that this has classroom interactive activities and right below that is a specific unit. This is unit 15.1, I just pulled a random sample here and that is an example of what that would look like. So it has a due date and you can see the points connected to that. If you were to click into that, it’ll pull into, let’s go to the next slide, this. So again, this is a little bit a small point possible, but it tells students what they need to do. So they have to attend, they have to arrive to class on time or within 15 minutes. They can’t just sit in the corner, they have to be involved with the classroom. And for this ASL course, there is a policy of no voicing. So voice is off. Some students do start signing and then lean into speaking. Part of earning full points is that the voices must be off and students have to be able to meet and interact with students in order to receive the full credit. And this is not a focus on skillset or how well they’re producing ASL. This is simply a participation score.

All right, let’s move on to the next slide. All right, so I want to a little bit on how I got this set up. And so there is the TWA Canvas and I want to break it down on how to create that unit. And so we have options, it’s graded, and then we move into the points possible. And then it is a completed or uncompleted, and that’s going to be based on participation again. Remember this isn’t based on fluency in the language, it is only focused on being engaged, being willing to lean into the classroom and interact with peers and professors, making sure that they’re using sign language and being able to communicate through that modality. So this is an example of what it looks like when I’m creating that on the back end of Canvas.

All right, let’s hold off on this.

So this… Oh, the slide’s disappeared. Hold on just a second.

Don’t run the video yet, Aaron, just a second. If you could just pull the slides back up. Perfect. All right, perfect. Thank you so much.

So this sample that I’m going to show you is an example of my lecture slides. So I typically develop for my hybrid courses, interactive activities within the classroom. And I tell my classes that they’re about two and a half hour long activities. We do that once a week where they have a chance to interact with one another. And I will give you an example of what my slides look like. This is what I’ve developed for my courses. Now just a heads-up, you may see some language that is not in English, it is written in ASL syntax with ASL grammar structure and a different rule set for writing. And this is to support the students in changing spoken language over into ASL and signing, following our sign structure in ASL syntax. So you can go ahead and run the video now, please.

Thanks for your patience. Just a minute.

Okay, so this is what my slides would look like.

Let’s get slides back up. Just a minute. Perfect.

So that kind of quickly ran through some slides. I include pictures. I include some question prompts. Some activities require them to sit in pairs. Sometimes they’re group activities. Sometimes it’s a whole class discussion that we have together. Prior to this activity, the students are required to watch a lecture and take a quiz based on the information in that lecture. So by the time they get to class, it becomes a practical application experience for them where they feel comfortable enough because they have some prior knowledge of the content, where they’re doing their worksheets, they’re answering questions, and then they’re able to sign in the classroom and they’re able to sign presentations at home. And I use GoReact for those presentations that they sign at home. So I do this weekly to supplement learning.

Next slide please. Perfect. Thank you. So this is an example. This is what grading looks like within TRUE+WAY Canvas. And I’ve just pulled out a piece of this. This is just a student sample for testing data. Do you see this part that I have circled? This is the interactive activity and I have given full credit for participation in this assignment. Now you’ll notice the other grading sections have numbers. They’re graded on a point system, but this one is not. This is just given a check mark for participation. Now when we’ve switched to our online courses, this two and a half hour interactive activity, I had to make a lot of adjustments to make this compatible for our online courses.

So in the syllabus, you’ll notice the last point, it’s online interactive dialogue activities, previously it was about 10%. Because I had fairly good participation within my classroom, but online students are not participating as much because they’re feeling fearful or not engaged or isolated. So I’ve made this activity worth more points because the important thing is the application piece. So I’ve made this worth more points. Next slide please.

So again, this is just a snippet that I’ve pulled from my TRUE+WAY Canvas page. So you’ll see this online interactive activity. I have two things within there. So the first part is the part that I sign and I use that within GoReact, I use open peer review where the students can watch the video and then leave comments on it. And then the second piece is that interactive activity that they will perform using GoReact, and I set up group assignments for that in order for them to have that interactive experience with one another.

So for the instructions, I typically include a video because they can’t watch me give instructions like they would in a classroom in this online environment. So I pre-record videos and then I give instructions for what they’re supposed to do and I put that in the instructions in the GoReact assignment before they start their activity. Now you’ll see down at the bottom it says load unit 16.3. When you click on that, that is where GoReact is fully integrated. So if you click on that it’ll pull you right to the page that you need to be at to start recording in GoReact which is very convenient. Next slide. Perfect. Okay.

So this is sample grading, this is what we do for our online courses. So you’ll see it’s a little bit different from my in-person courses. So there are point systems that you can set and then there’s kind of a list of what you want, I always select GoReact and then that automatically integrates GoReact within their assignment. Next slide.

So when you pull up GoReact, the settings are a little bit different. So you can set a standard assignment and I would make sure you allow for open peer review that allows the students to comment and see each other’s comments. And then I always set up a point system because if the students don’t follow the instructions, I lower the point value. If they follow the instructions, then they get full credit. So I always like to set a point system just to make sure that they’re following instructions. If there is interactive activity, I always allow group activities, so that allows them to meet as a group together, kind of like a Zoom meeting.

So I’ve condensed, this is not my full presentation, but this is just kind of a demo to give you an idea of what my instructions to the students look like. So you can go ahead and run that video now please.

So in this example, this is the instructions that I give my students and then they’re able to watch this video and start this interactive assignment. They are required to make comments in the comment boxes because it’s important for me that the students feel a connection to one another. We can’t expect them to interact with one another unless they feel like they belong in the class. I’ve noticed that student belonging increases interaction rates and engagement. And so I think that’s really important to establish that connection with other students in the class. Next slide please.

Great, thanks. Oh, this doesn’t look like the right slide. So sorry, I may… Oh no, no, no. Sorry. It says hybrid at the top, but it should be for an online course. That’s my mistake.

So you’ll see this grading rubric and you’ll see in here we have point values. We give points for signing and we give points for interacting with peers. That signing piece is about two to three minutes and then interacting with peers is about 10 to 15 minutes. We can’t do that two and a half hour assignment online like we do in the classroom, so we give them kind of a condensed version of that.

So I’ve kind of explained the differences with our onsite courses versus online. I want to mention, so TRUE+WAY curriculum is great within Canvas because they have ASL native signers, there’s a few different people that they film, but they have videos on a variety of different topics within their curriculum and those are all embedded in Canvas so that the students can watch. And I do this for both in-person and my online classes. So they can kind of see what natural conversation looks like in sign language and then they can answer questions or ask questions. So I have them watch these videos to get an idea of what it looks like and then they start those interactive activities online. And I often have the class together in my in-person classes, watch those videos. And then I say, “Okay, it’s your turn, so start this interactive dialogue with one another.” Next slide please.

So this is the online Canvas and you’ll be able to see various different categories. We have our practice and then we have our online interactive activity assignment. We’ve already discussed this, let’s move on to the next slide. Awesome. Just checking some time. Okay. So this kind of wraps us up.

So we’ve received some feedback on both modalities, both the hybrid course and the online course. And we’ve had a few years in order to collaborate and have internal discussion on what works for both modalities. And so with the hybrid it’s kind of a walk-in session. You’re able to get in, have more direct feedback because everyone is there and so you’re really able to interact and be there onsite and be within the signing space. When we move online, it’s a very different situation. So individuals are signing and it’s more turn-taking, more writing notes in order to provide feedback throughout that online course. And that’s throughout five sessions.

It’s a lot less practical than being onsite. So we’ve had internal discussions and feedback sessions about that. Again, we adjust point systems, but we look at what does participation look like online as compared to onsite. And it’s important not to really dive into the weeds too much. It’s important to really make sure that we’re providing exactly what they need in order to feel that they are belonging and involved. And so I often will film myself signing, be able to provide feedback, but I keep it short so that individuals are able to get exactly what they need and use it and be able to make it proactive. When I send it to them and they view it, they click so that I know that they have watched it. And so that’s the systems that we have used for the online aspect for feedback.

And that’s based on student requests. Often we’ll be providing students and we’ll find out someone will get 75 or 80% and then they’ll ask for additional feedback. Because time is precious, but I also want to respect a student’s wishes to continue to learn, we’ve come up with an agreement that we request additional feedback in order to really focus our time on students who are more proactive and wanting to dive in with their learning.

So some may look at some hand shapes that are incorrect or maybe some motion or movement. And so I’m able to really fine-tune my feedback for them rather than the more generalized feedback that I give to all students. That allows me to be able to focus my time and have a more practical approach to this online aspect when we’re teaching ASL. So that’s kind of a tip and trick for you all on how to manage your time there.

All right, that is my presentation for you all today.

Molly Sachs:

Thank you so much. This was really wonderful. It’s so nice to kind of get an idea of the differences between our online and hybrid courses. I know we value that in-person interaction, so online courses are really a challenge. So I love that you have these ideas to share about how we can engage students. So thank you so much for this presentation.

Jodi Oates:

Absolutely. Thank you.

Molly Sachs:

So we can go ahead and wrap up. Our next session will be starting… I think there’s four different sessions you can look through to choose which one you want.

Jodi Oates:

And thank you so much for joining my presentation today. I like to spread all of this, so share this with any of your colleagues. Thank you all.

Molly Sachs:

Thank you.

Jodi Oates:

All right.