Online Teaching Series

Organizers:  General Enquiries:
Stephan Koenig (
Christine Goedhart (  




Upcoming Events

Thank you for your interest in our Online Teaching Series! We began offering this series of virtual events in place of our in-person Supper Series in 2020 in response to the pandemic. In 2023, we are returning to in-person events and changing the name of our series to the Skylight Teaching Series.

We hope to see you soon at one of our upcoming events!

Previous Events

April 2023

Students as Partners (SaP): Exploring the theory and practice of SaP in the Faculty of Science

Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2023, 12:30pm-2:00pm (optional lunch at 12:00pm)

Location: Multi-access, Earth Sciences Building (ESB) Room 5104 or Zoom


  • Dr. Roselynn Verwoord, Strategist: Students as Partners; Centre for Teaching Learning and Technology
  • Marissa Hall, SaP Evaluation Specialist; Centre for Teaching Learning and Technology
  • Polina Petlitsyna, SaP Coordinator; Centre for Teaching Learning and Technology
  • Dr. Bean Sherman, Science Education Specialist, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science
  • Dr. Laura Lukes, Assistant Professor, Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Dr. Allison Man, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Augustine Jeong, Student, Department of Computer Science


Students as partners is a popular and growing field, both within and beyond Canada, that aims to see students and faculty “contribute equally, although not necessarily in the same ways, to curricular or pedagogical conceptualization, decision-making, implementation, investigation, or analysis” (Cook-Sather et al., 2014, pp. 6-7). In 2022, UBC Vancouver launched the Students as Partners in Course Design Grants to support undergraduate students to work in partnerships with faculty to redesign UBCV undergraduate courses. Through this initiative, students are positioned as collaborators in the academic mission of the university. In this session, which will consist of three mini-presentations and a reflective activity, we will discuss the concept of students as partners and highlight the theory and practice of this growing movement. Participants will hear from two funded students as partners projects in the Faculty of Science, including one funded through the UBC Students as Partners in Course Design Grants and one, the Earth Science Experiential and Indigenous Learning (EaSEIL) project funded through the UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund.

This is a multi-access event, and we will provide lunch before the session at 12pm. Both lunch and the session itself are in ESB5104. If you would like to join us for lunch or attend the event virtually, please use the Zoom registration link (registration now closed).

February 2023

Celebrating Seaweeds: Developing Class Projects to Connect Students, Community Partners and Local Biodiversity

Presenter: Bridgette Clarkston (Botany, UBCV)

Facilitators: Stephan Koenig and Christine Goedhart, Skylight

Date: Tuesday, February 21, 2023, 12:30pm-2:00pm

This session will present two recent class projects in Biology 320: Survey of the Algae that focus on community partnerships and experiential learning. The first project cataloged Stanley Park seaweed diversity. Students worked in small groups to identify, document and preserve a selection of red, brown and green seaweeds collected during class field trips. Students got to apply their lab-developing knowledge of local seaweeds in a way that has lasting impact outside the classroom and will be discussed.

The second project focused on filling the gap in biodiversity educational materials that very rarely feature seaweeds. Students created books, games, and other materials to inspire people learn more about these organisms. The current iteration of this project includes opportunities for groups to collaborate with the Beaty Biodiversity Museum and/or K12 school teacher-partners to create seaweed-based activities or books that suit the needs of these partners. 

The session will include opportunity for participants to share experiences and ideas for building community-partnerships and outreach opportunities into undergraduate courses.


Language Use in Assessments: Making Multiple Choice Questions More Intelligible

Presenters: Jennifer Lightfoot and Daniel Riccardi, Academic English Lecturers in the Vantage One Program (Vantage College) at UBC

Facilitators: Stephan Koenig and Christine Goedhart, Skylight

Date: Tuesday, February 7, 2023, 12:30pm-2:00pm

Many instructors assume multiple choice questions (MCQs) are validly measuring content mastery; however, the validity of MCQs may be compromised by complex academic language that can be difficult for students to unpack and comprehend (Abedi & Gandara, 2006). This language causes particular difficulty for first-year post-secondary students who use English as an Additional Language (EAL). Since these students are not likely to have had extensive experience navigating the norms of academic discourse, revised and clarified MCQs can help to improve the understanding of test questions for EAL learners without compromising disciplinary content (Riccardi et al., 2020).

Drawing on a linguistic justice lens, this session will share our understanding of some of the specific struggles international EAL students face, and how our language use in assessments can better support equity in student learning. In this session, we will begin with a brief outline of the linguistic barriers embedded in MCQs and provide evidence of an intervention instructors can implement in writing and revising MCQs for their tests based on findings from a study on inclusive assessment with 700 first-year EAL and non-EAL sociology and psychology students. Following this overview, participants in this session will practice identifying and reducing linguistic complexity with sample assessment questions, while also reflecting on ways in which they can collaborate with colleagues to design more multilingual friendly assessments in general.

In addition to the practice assessment questions, if attendees have any specific language in mind that they would like to make more accessible and would like some feedback in doing so, please feel free to bring this work to the session.

November 2022

How Do I Get Started? Creating Safer Learning Environments for Indigenous Students in STEM

Facilitators: Ashley Welsh (CTLT, Skylight), Frances Butterfield (BSc Student), Jessica Schaub (PhD Student, Oceanography)

Date: Tuesday, November 29, from 1:00pm-2:30pm

Within this session, we will explore a recently developed resource that responds to commonly asked questions about how STEM faculty can ‘get started’ with “Indigenizing our curriculum’ (UBC ISP Goal #4) and creating safer classroom environments for Indigenous students.

As a group, we will learn about the impetus for this student-partnered resource development, hear from Indigenous students about their experiences in STEM, and discuss how we, both individually and collectively, can foster more inclusive teaching and learning environments.

This event is hosted by CTLT Indigenous Initiatives and cross-listed with CTLT's Classroom Climate Series

October 2022

The Implications of Student Choice of Instructional and Assessment Modalities

Presenters: Stephan Koenig (Computer Science, UBCV) and Cinda Heeren (Computer Science, UBCV)

Facilitators: Stephan Koenig and Christine Goedhart, Skylight

Date: Tuesday, October 4, from 12:30pm to 2:00pm

The COVID-19 pandemic forced instructors to adopt a bounty of new technologies, and simultaneously, students became accustomed to flexible access to both online instruction and assessments. How should we integrate all of these new experiences into our teaching going forward? In particular, we want to understand what freedoms we should offer students if we are concerned about equity and about both their learning and academic integrity.

With these goals in mind, we (loosely) want to know: 1) Do students learn as well online as they do in person? 2) How should we administer assessments?

In Fall 2021, we sought to answer these questions in CPSC221, a large, second-year core computing course. Students enrolled in sections that offered instruction either exclusively online or in person. Regardless of the form of instruction, students rotated through three different modes of assessment provided by an online assessment platform: using their personal device either 1) in the classroom, or 2) at home, or 3) a provided computer in a computer-based testing facility. This discussion is a report-back on the implications of the data we collected.

April 2022

CREATive solutions to a first year laboratory course transform the student and instructor experience

Presenters: Blaire Steinwand (Zoology, UBCV), Naomi Fast (Botany, UBC Biodiversity Research Center), Andrew Trites (IOF, UBCV), Wayne Zhao (Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, UBCV ) and Chin Sun (Zoology, UBCV)

Facilitators: Adele Ruosi and Gaitri Yapa, Skylight

Date: Wednesday, April 13, from 12:00pm to 2:00pm

To engage students in the process of science throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we transformed a long-standing laboratory course for first year science students into a more accessible, immersive experience of current biological research using a narrow and focused set of primary literature. We will share our experiences implementing a completely redesigned large-enrollment, multi-section, multi-instructor course for first-year science students in which instructors highlight different research questions but work together to reach shared goals and outcomes. We will demonstrate how instructors of all ranks achieved comparable outcomes and improvements in students’ self-efficacy in the virtual classroom as a diverse teaching team. Finally, we will discuss how this student-centred model of teaching and learning offers a formative and rewarding experience for involved faculty, post-docs and graduate students to further enrich and develop their teaching insights and competence.

March 2022

Exploring Mastery Learning - Adventures in Skill-based Assessment

Presenters: Giulia Toti (Computer Science, UBCV) and Elisa Baniassad (Computer Science, UBCV)

Facilitators: Adele Ruosi and Gaitri Yapa, Skylight

Date: Monday, March 7, 2022

In this workshop, we will introduce the concept of Mastery Learning, an alternative paradigm for student evaluation, and we will talk about how to implement it in your classroom. Mastery Learning focuses on identifying skills that students need to master in a given course, and allows the students to prove that they have achieved a skill over multiple attempts. We believe this to be a better alternative to traditional grading based on single-attempt tests, because the students are highly motivated to learn from previous mistakes and feel more in control of their progress in the course.

During the session, Dr. Toti and Dr. Baniassad will describe their experience with Mastery Learning in early programming courses and how the students responded to it. They will also guide an interactive session where instructors will start thinking about ways to apply this evaluation paradigm in their courses.

Watch the session recordings:

December 2021

How to get students stop thinking about grades, and focus on learning instead

Presenters: Firas Moosvi (CMPS, UBCO), Celeste Leander (BOTA/ZOOL, UBCV), Jackie Stewart (CHEM, UBCV), Brian Hunt (IOF, UBCV), Caitlin Donnelly (BOTA, UBCV), Marcia Graves (MBIM, UBCV), Montserrat Rueda-Becerril (CHEM, UBCV), and Taylor Wright (CHEM, UBCV)

Facilitators: Adele Ruosi and Erica Jeffery, Skylight

Date: Wednesday, December 15, 2021

In “The Trouble with Rubrics”, Alfie Kohn writes: “Research shows three reliable effects when students are graded: They tend to think less deeply, avoid taking risks, and lose interest in the learning itself.”

Getting students to focus on learning instead of grades seems like a daunting and insurmountable task. But who can blame them? Our systems, structures, and policies are all centred around grades and the fallacies of their inherent “fairness”. In this interactive session, we will share our experiences of how we refocused students’ attention on rich, high-quality feedback instead of grades. Examples from biology, science writing, and data science will be presented. We will also discuss the challenges and opportunities of our approaches, and facilitate a discussion on how we can start working on broader structural changes to recentre higher education on learning, rather than grades

November 2021

Empowering learning with dyslexia to reach their potential in STEM

Presenters: Erin Kline (Fraser Academy) and Amanda Vincent (UBC IOF)

Facilitators: Adele Ruosi and Erica Jeffery, Skylight

Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Did you know that 20% of the population has dyslexia? This session will explore dyslexia and how it impacts the learning process. Join us as we share stories of famous scientists who have overcome their learning challenges to become leaders in their fields of choice, thanks to their tremendous gifts in big picture thinking, spatial reasoning and creative problem solving. We will offer research-based tips and techniques for inclusive teaching and assessment that ensure this unique group of learners can thrive in UBC's STEM learning environments. For a brief introduction to dyslexia and a few quick tips and tricks for supporting learners with dyslexia and other learning differences, read Think dyslexia.Think potential.

October 2021

Team formation considerations and support for instructor-formed and student-formed groups

Presenters: Joss Ives (Physics & Astronomy, UBCV) and Bowen Hui (Computer Science, UBCO)

Facilitators: Adele Ruosi and Erica Jeffery, Skylight

Date: Tuesday, October 5, 2021

In this interactive session, we will discuss some of the contextual and research-based considerations that can inform an instructor’s choice in using instructor-formed or student-formed teams. We will provide an overview of a Canvas-integrated team formation and analytics tool, while also sharing strategies to support students in forming their own groups.

April 2021

Conversations and celebrations about online teaching in UBC Science

Date: Thursday, April 15, 2021

In this session, we invite UBC Science instructors and staff to share their accomplishments and experiences with online teaching over the past year. We will facilitate a conversation to explore the knowledge, practices, and activities that instructors and staff have developed for online teaching and will continue to use as we transition to in-person instruction. The ideas shared and discussed in this session will help to inform future events and support in Science.

March 2021

PaperLess Open Marking with Plom

Presenters: Andrew Rechnitzer (Mathematics) and Colin Macdonald (Mathematics)

Facilitator: Matt Coles, Skylight

Date: Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Plom ( is free and open source software developed by UBC Science faculty, staff, and students. It is a system for instructors/TAs to grade handwritten homework, tests, and exams from in-person sittings and student-uploaded assessments. Multiple versions of questions are randomly assigned and then marked simultaneously by a team of graders.

Plom has been used to mark more than 20,000 assessments ranging from homework to large exams in 25 courses. Because the instructor has access to all the annotation data in a machine-accessible format, we hope that Plom will become a valuable tool for pedagogical research and inquiry.

At the session, we will demo Plom from the grader’s perspective. We’ll discuss our development process and how we train graduate and undergraduate student developers, and we’ll comment on our recent work toward Canvas integration.

February 2021

Running labs online: Sharing approaches and experiences

Facilitator: Ashley Welsh, Skylight

Presenters: José R. Rodríguez Núñez (Chemistry), Jay Wickenden (Chemistry), Nichole Moerhuis (Geology), Blaire Steinwand (Biology), and Joss Ives (Physics)

Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2021

In this session, faculty members and graduate students from BIOL, CHEM, EOAS, and PHAS will share their approaches to and experiences with running undergraduate online labs over the past year. After hearing from each presenter, we will engage in an open discussion around online labs and the opportunities and challenges that have arisen from their use.

November 2020

Online learning: A UBC Science student panel

Facilitator: Matthew (Matt) Coles, Skylight

Date: Tuesday, November 17, 2020

In this panel discussion, we'll hear from a variety of UBC Science students about their experiences with online learning. Join us to ask questions as the students shed light on what it's like to learn from home.

October 2020

All about breakout rooms in remote teaching

Presenters: Matthew (Matt) Coles and Alice Campbell, Skylight

Date: Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Breakout rooms have become ubiquitous in remote teaching, and we’re figuring out best practices for using them as we go along. Rather than a traditional presentation, we'll work together to discuss breakout rooms in remote teaching: their benefits, their drawbacks, and how to best use them to support learning. We will have a chance to share experience as well as swap tips and tricks. We'll have technical staff on hand for advice but we'll keep the focus on pedagogy in the context of science classes. We look forward to learning from each other’s experiences and collectively generating some best practices for everyone’s benefit.

September 2020

Successful implementation of two-stage exams in a  remote-teaching environment

Presenters: Jaclyn J. Stewart (Chem, CTLT) and Jay Wickenden (Chem)

Date: September 29, 2020

Two-stage exams (individual and group) have been successfully implemented across UBC Science for several years. After the outbreak of COVID-19, and with classes moving to a temporary online environment, we were interested in exploring the operation of such exams in an exclusively online setting.

We believe it is imperative to include students as partners in course design, especially during the pandemic when we are required to pivot to remote instruction with little lead time. To include the student voice in our implementation, we used an action-research methodological approach to explore the student experience of two organic chemistry two-stage midterm exams. We also used online surveys to uncover the student experience before and after each exam, and elicited suggestions for improvements over the term.

In this presentation, we will share some of our findings and recommendations for effective, and well-run online two-stage exams. We will discuss open-book and open-internet exams, group formation procedures, and communication methods that are key to a smooth implementation. By the end of this session, you will feel confident about how to implement two-stage exams in your course this term.