Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Hendratta Ali

Dr. Hendratta Ali

Dr. Hendratta Ali is an associate professor of Geosciences at FHSU. She teaches Geology and Exploration Geology classes both face-to-face and online. Dr. Ali currently has active research projects exploring Anthropogenic Impact in a Tropical estuary through an NSF-funded International Research Experience for Students grant, and a groundwater exploration in fractured rocks funded by SEG Geoscientists Without Borders.

Dr. Ali is a recipient of many awards and recognitions, including; the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ Inspirational Geoscience Educator, Society of Exploration Geophysicists’ Outstanding Educator Award, FHSU’s Tiger Transfer Champion, Outstanding Graduate Advisor, John Heinrichs Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor, Oklahoma State University’s CAS Rising Star Award, the American Geophysical Union’s 2020 Presidential citation, and the Association for Women Geoscientists President’s award.

Using Zoom In Class

Dr. Hendratta Ali uses multiple techniques to engage her online students. We share some of her Zoom strategies here:

1. How often do you host Zoom meetings each week?

I host an average of 10 meetings each week. At times, I have hosted more than 30 Zoom meetings in a week. I started hosting more meetings since the spring of 2020 pandemic transition. In some rare cases, I have had up to 10 Zoom meetings in a day. The number of Zoom meetings per day are highest in the first 6 weeks of the semester. Generally, if things go as planned, I expect the number of meetings to decrease as the semester progresses.

My Zoom meetings are spread out Monday through Friday between 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Some events, like class time and office hours, have fixed days and times; while all my other meetings are staggered to accommodate schedules and time zones. I may have some meetings before 8:00 am or after 6:00 pm, although these are rare exceptions.

2. Do you use Zoom primarily for lectures or for specific learning activities (e.g., virtual office hours, class discussions)?

Prior to totally online (TOL) teaching, I used Zoom primarily for specific learning activities. A few years before the pandemic, I began to use Zoom for research meetings and virtual mentoring. Since the pandemic and the transition to online teaching, for traditional on-campus classes, I use Zoom for lectures, office hours, and individual or group check-ins with students.

How do you do so?

I organize my Zoom account by creating separate rooms for different recurring meetings. For instance, here are some recurring Zoom rooms I have created:

  • TOL lectures
  • Student hour (office hours)
  • One-on-one meetings
  • Research group meeting rooms by research project

For recurring meetings like TOL lectures, I create appointments in my calendar and send these to students in the classes with the Zoom room link and reminder. These reminders seem to improve attendance. This strategy was particularly helpful in spring 2020 after students went home to different time zones. My Student hour Zoom link is posted in Blackboard for each of my classes. I regularly send an announcement with the zoom link a few minutes before the start of student hour. This too, seems to improve attendance.

For one-on-one meetings, I have the Zoom meeting link embedded in my scheduling app. When a student schedules a meeting, they automatically receive the Zoom link for that time in their notifications. This approach saves us all time from emailing links back and forth.  Another benefit of sending the calendar invite is that the students get notifications in their time zone, which helps us avoid the confusion associated with forgetting to specify time zones.

3. Do you record your Zoom meetings? And why?

Generally, I do not record zoom meetings for privacy reasons. When necessary, I notify and ask for permission from attendees before recording. The students may want to turn-off their video, hide their names etc. when being recorded.

For my TOL synchronous classes, I sometimes record lectures if students are absent from class. I may also organize and record exam reviews, or tutorials with a small group.

4. What are the dos and don’ts that you’d like to share with other faculty members on these matters?

Dos:

  • I am as flexible with meeting times. I try to accommodate as many time zones as I can with my schedule of availability. When possible, I will schedule meeting before and after hours sometimes too.
  • I do annotate presentations. I use Zoom Whiteboard during TOL classes (bonus, I can save the annotations to reference later). In addition, here are other annotation options that I use:
    • Smart phone and stylus: I may use my smart phone that has a stylus to join the Zoom meeting and make annotations on a ppt slide or add diagrams.
    • iPad and pencil: I can either share my iPad screen with slides or mirror the iPad to the computer and annotate on the shared screen.
    • PowerPoint slideshow and normal view: With a large PC monitor and advanced sharing option in Zoom or dual monitors and basic share, I can display the original ppt slides and annotate the slides during lectures. The annotations will display on the slide show allowing me to update slides in real time.
  • I do have a plan about what to do should my class be disconnected from the internet. For example, if unable to communicate by email or call, wait x minutes to see if connection is restored. Also, I use blackboard to post announcements.

To me, each of these options have their advantages and I use them at different times.

Dont’s:

  • I do not have strict rules about my virtual classroom expectations. For example, camera use is optional. I use the following zoom settings for most of my meetings upon entry:
    • turn off camera
    • mute microphone
    • disable screen share
    • enable waiting room
    • disable save chat (turn it on as needed)
  • I do not take attendance for my TOL classes. This is because my classes are small enough and I know every student in the class. Instead, I simply keep a record of students who miss class. For virtual classes, I require one check-in at the start of the semester. The calendar app helps log attendance for these one-on-one meetings.
  • I do not have a policy for or against who joins the discussions. Family and pets may drop in and out during meetings. I try to be understanding. People are mostly in their private spaces after all.
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