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The ACE 
Framework

A guide for decision-making and professional development planning during times of crisis.

How to Use the ACE Framework

We invite you to use the ACE Framework as you plan for your Fall 2020 courses, acknowledging that the final format of the fall term is still unknown. We’ve developed three levels of engagement with the framework; you should choose the level that will work for you given your own needs, availability, and situation.

Level One is a beginning level checklist designed for people with limited time who are concerned about rapidly transitioning modalities in a way that is consistent with institutional values.

Level Two is an intermediate level planning tool designed for people who want to choose a smaller number of practices in the Framework to focus on as a way to make significant change in target areas of concern or interest.

Level Three is a full curriculum for people who can carve out time each week to delve into all of the ACE practices that seem useful.

Level Four is an organized 4-week workshop that will launch on July 13th for Plymouth State faculty. Other schools are welcome to launch their own course at the same time, or anytime!

Fall 2020 ACE Course Checklist

The ACE Course Checklist is based upon several tools developed at other organizations, including the Bowdoin Remote Learning Checklist, the Quality Matters (QM) full higher education recommendations, and the QM  recommendations for emergency remote teaching. We have aligned many items from these source checklists with the ACE Framework and created a combined tool. It is also embedded in our ACE Framework Workshop.

While checklists can’t capture every nuance of designing a course experience, many may find this useful as they review their plans for the fall.

Adaptability

  • I’ve developed a course course model plan.
  • I’ve planned my course with some contingencies baked in, either by considering HiFlex or modular approaches to my course design. 
  • In the case of a modality change, I’m prepared to explain to students how the course has changed from the original format and what they need to do to continue their work. 
  • I’ve considered and established how I can be flexible with my students with regards to deadlines.
  • If I teach courses with experiential components (labs, field trips, clinicals, performances, etc.), I’ve researched and prepared for alternative assignment ideas. 
  • Regardless of whether we are coming back f2f, hybrid, or remote, I have a Moodle course, Microsoft Team, or course Web site for each of my courses with current course information, and I’ve organized this online course environment to make it easy for students to find what they are looking for.  
  • I have communicated clearly with my students what is expected of them with regards to class interaction and communication, and how they can use the tools chosen for the class to achieve this. 

Connection

  • Students have a way to contact each other and collaborate remotely/online, and I’ve invited them to introduce themselves to the class using one of the communication tools for the class. 
  • I have thought deliberately about how to foster community and connection in my classes, regardless of modality. 
  • I have a way to facilitate discussion with groups of students remotely, and I’m comfortable using the tool(s) I’ve chosen. (Some options: Teams, LMS Discussion Forum, Twitter
  • I’ve chosen technologies and tools that will facilitate active, participatory learning. 
  • I have acknowledged the context in which the course sits, and have weighed options for connecting the curriculum to current events and discourses.
  • If I’ve decided to deliver lectures online, I know what tools I want to use to use and how to make these lectures accessible.
  • When sharing media online, I’ve considered ease-of-use (e.g. shorter “chunks” of video) for content I’m creating or sharing.
  • Students have a way to contact each other and collaborate remotely/online, and I’ve invited them to introduce themselves to the class using one of the communication tools for the class. 
  • I have thought deliberately about how to foster community and connection in my classes, regardless of modality. 
  • I have a way to facilitate discussion with groups of students remotely, and I’m comfortable using the tool(s) I’ve chosen. (Some options: Teams, LMS Discussion Forum, Twitter
  • I’ve chosen technologies and tools that will facilitate active, participatory learning. 
  • I have acknowledged the context in which the course sits, and have weighed options for connecting the curriculum to current events and discourses.
  • If I’ve decided to deliver lectures online, I know what tools I want to use to use and how to make these lectures accessible.
  • When sharing media online, I’ve considered ease-of-use (e.g. shorter “chunks” of video) for content I’m creating or sharing.
  • I’ve informed students about how they can use technology in the class safely, protecting their data and privacy.
  • I’ve developed a syllabus for my course that acknowledges my students basic needs and my care for them.  
  • I’ve considered Open Education Resources for my course and incorporated them when/if appropriate. 
  • I’ve familiarized myself with accessibility standards and Universal Design for Learning practices to ensure my course material is accessible to students.
  • I’ve considered how I might need to adapt my grading and assessment approaches if the modality of my class changes and/or university policies change. 
  • I’ve educated myself about what to do if my students or I experience trouble accessing the necessary tech
  • I’ve explained any technology requirements to students and pointed them to where they can go for help with technology help, questions, or concerns. 

Equity

  • I’ve thought intentionally and deliberately about how I want to teach my class. 
  • I know my  objectives and how I want my students to reach those goals, whether through careful, deliberate planning or a more organic and emergent process. 
  • I know how to share any media files I use (images, audio, video) with my students.
  • Regardless of whether we are coming back f2f, hybrid, or remote, my students know how to contact me, what to expect from me, and when I’m available. 
  • I’ve provided clear information about how, when, and where students can access information about their progress in the class. I have a plan for communicating with students about this progress and providing feedback on their work. 
  • I have chosen a way to distribute course assignments and materials to my students that will help them meet the course’s instructional goals, and I’ve made clear how students should use materials to complete their work and assignments.
  • I’ve cited all my course materials appropriately.
  • I’ve shared information with my students about how they can request accommodations and what accessibility and academic support services on campus are available to help them. 
  • I have the technology I need to work at home or I’ve reached out to my supervisor/administration to obtain what I need.

Further Considerations

  • I’ve thought intentionally and deliberately about how I want to teach my class. 
  • I know my  objectives and how I want my students to reach those goals, whether through careful, deliberate planning or a more organic and emergent process. 
  • I know how to share any media files I use (images, audio, video) with my students.
  • Regardless of whether we are coming back f2f, hybrid, or remote, my students know how to contact me, what to expect from me, and when I’m available. 
  • I’ve provided clear information about how, when, and where students can access information about their progress in the class. I have a plan for communicating with students about this progress and providing feedback on their work. 
  • I have chosen a way to distribute course assignments and materials to my students that will help them meet the course’s instructional goals, and I’ve made clear how students should use materials to complete their work and assignments.
  • I’ve cited all my course materials appropriately.
  • I’ve shared information with my students about how they can request accommodations and what accessibility and academic support services on campus are available to help them. 
  • I have the technology I need to work at home or I’ve reached out to my supervisor/administration to obtain what I need.

Tying It Together

  • Regardless of what pedagogical approach is most important and natural to me, I’ve considered how modality impacts this choice, and I’ve prepared to be adaptive, connected, and equitable in my approach to teaching. 
  • I have a fall course syllabus that reflects my engagement with the ACE Framework.
  • If I need help, I’ve reached out to the instructional design and academic technology staff at my institution to talk about my teaching approach and my course planning.

ACE-Informed Rule of 2's for Fall 2020

The original Rule of 2’s was a worksheet tool that the CoLab designed in March of 2020 when the novel coronavirus caused a national “pivot” to remote instruction in higher education. We realized that faculty were overwhelmed by the amount of work they had to do to convert their courses to an online modality, and we knew that they would have to simplify and focus in order to navigate the challenge.

Though much uncertainty still surrounds the Fall semester, we know that many faculty will be spending more time this summer trying to improve their upcoming courses for whatever modalities (online, face-to-face, hybrid, hyflex) we may be working within. But because it can often take a year or more to fully transition a course from one modality to another, we know that faculty may still be overwhelmed by the many approaches they could take to course planning. We have developed this new Rule of 2’s worksheet to help faculty with limited time focus their planning in preparation for Fall.

Choose Course & Assignment Level Practices

Review the twelve ACE-informed practices at the assignment and course levels. Choose two practices from each column that you would like to engage with as you design your courses for Fall. (You should end up with six practices.)

Follow-Up

  1. Read through each of your your chosen practices linked from the ACE matrix,
  2. Identify two techniques or assignments from the Learn section of each practice, and spend time diving deeper into them.
  3. Identify two resources from the Explore section of each practices and read/review them. 
  4. Choose two options for each practice from the Engage section that will help you deepen your understanding and connect to other practitioners. 
  5. After you’ve decided on a plan for each practice you’ve chosen, make a timeline for yourself to work through your plan in the weeks between now and the send of summer. 

Choose Institution Level Practices

Review the six ACE-informed practices at the institution level. Choose two of these practices that you commit to learning more about and/or advocating for at your college or university.

Follow-Up

  1. Spend some time on your institution’s Web site learning more about the two institutional practices you’ve chosen. How is your school addressing these issues? Are there certain people in place who can assist with them? Are there resources available for your students related to these practices you didn’t know about before?
  2. Come up with two approaches to each of your chosen practices. Is there a group/committee on campus you can get involved with? Are there policies you could propose to your faculty governing body? Is there something specific you could do in your own classes to help students become more aware of how these practices impact them?

Choose Partners (Optional)

Consider asking two colleagues (from your college or any college) to work with you on the practices you have chosen. This can help with accountability, collegiality, and motivation!

Follow-Up

  1. Schedule at least two meetings between now and the end of the summer to get together with your partners and discuss what you are learning. 
  2. Share at least two new things you are planning for the fall with your partners at each meeting. Use your conversations to get feedback on your ideas/plans, and revise them based on what your partners suggest.
  3. Continue to meet at least two more times during the fall term to talk about how your plans are going and to provide support and feedback. 

ACE Immersion

The final option for exploring the ACE Framework is immersive. For this approach, we recommend you carve out time each week to really delve into any and all of the practices in the framework that resonate with you. You should also explore our information on using ACE in particularly unique or challenging teaching contexts

As you explore the Framework, you will notice that each assignment- and course-level page uses the same structure. Each institution-level page also uses a standard structure. 

All of the practice pages start with a brief description of the practice and an introductory video made by the PSU CoLab staff. We invite you to use these resources for your initial orientation to the practice. From there, your investigation will depend upon the kind of practice you’re working with. 

Assignment- and Course-Level Practice Investigation

Learn

Explore

In each Learn section, we’ve collected various techniques and approaches related to the practice. We’ve also included activities you can use to further explore your understanding of the practice and use it in your own course planning. 

You should review all the materials but focus your efforts and attention on those that resonate with your own personal context: how you teach and what courses you’re planning for. 

If you do complete any of the exercises/assignments in the Learn section, we definitely invite you to share them in the Engage section. 

In Explore, we’ve curated links to various articles and resources that help further illuminate this practice. We’ve avoided making these lists to lengthy or overwhelming, instead trying to collect a sampling of voices and perspectives on the practice that you might find useful and interesting. You will probably notice that some of the links relate closely to the ideas share din the Learn section, so you may want to focus on those that are most closely aligned with what interested you most there. 

We’ve also created a special call-out to any sessions from PSU’s May Slipper Camp event that are related to this practice. If you follow those links, you’ll find full videos of those workshops and additional related resources. 

Engage

Revisit

Engage is where you’ll come to connect with other faculty who are exploring this practice. There are four ways to engage:

  • sharing via Twitter hashtags and conversation,
  • attending one of our summer conversations on Zoom,
  • using Hypothesis to annotate and comment upon the practice page,
  • and submitting your own ideas, planning materials, and resources. 

Submitting your own stuff is a great way to grow the conversation around each practice. You can use the submit form to ask a question, challenge something you’ve encountered, upload something you’ve created or are working on, or share a link to another interesting resource. 

As different members of our community work through the Framework at their own pace this summer, we expect the conversations to grow, develop, emerge, and re-emerge. Revisit is the section you may want to check back in on periodically. As users share by submitting ideas, questions, resources, and links, those submissions will appear in this section. Hopefully, that means each time to revisit, there will be more food food for thought, sparking more learning, exploration, and engagement. 

A Note About Institution-Level Practices

Institution-level practices are a challenge to develop because the “institution” is not a clear entity with one controlling agent. This is also one reason why institutions are powerful: because they are larger than the individuals who populate them. In order for institutions to develop coherence around pedagogy, they need the stakeholders to come together around a shared vision. ACE attempts to clarify foundational institutional values in order to help steer decision makers. If you serve on a university committee or faculty senate, are a member of student government, serve as a university administrator, are a member of a Board of Trustees or guiding corporation, or are an elected official in a state, you are particularly well-positioned to consider the set of questions posed in the institution level of the ACE Framework. Consider bringing those questions (or related questions that you develop for your specific group) to your governing body and starting a conversation to see what is possible.

From July 13-August 7th, Robin and Martha will run a workshop on the ACE Framework for Plymouth State faculty.

Full syllabus/curriculum is available here!

If you are from a different institution, you are welcome to use the syllabus to run your version of the workshop, at the same time (and maybe we can have some crossover conversations!) or anytime. Join us virtually on July 9 from 1-2pm Eastern time for a curriculum tour and information about how to get started with planning to run a workshop of your own. For joining info for the July 9 session, contact us at psu-open@plymouth.edu. Everything is free.