IDEAS FOR INCREASED COMMUNICATION NEEDED IN ONLINE TEACHING
- Email your students to let them know you are working on things
- Provide frequent updates
- Share plans, provide clear expectations, clarify changes quickly
- Acknowledge the uncertainty for everyone, have humility, lead
- Actively encourage participation in virtual office hour
- Assignment due dates, gradebook, announcements – have built-in communication and predictability for students
- Ask for feedback often about what is and isn’t working – adjust willingly
CLASS ORGANIZATION CHANGES
- Simplify as much as possible
- Fewer concepts, shorter assignments
- Avoid need for monitoring test taking by redesigning to open note test
- More structure to everything
- More interim steps
- More assignment guidance
- Enhanced grading rubrics
- Create groups to enhance connection for students
- Learning from peers is more important than ever
- Change the order of topics and assignments
- What schedule works best in the new environment?
- Identify back up plans
- Is email ready if technology goes down? Do you have a video conferencing alternative?
IDEAS FOR VARYING STUDENT INTERACTIONS – TRY TO USE MANY OF THEM
LEARNING ACTIVITIES FOR STUDENTS TO PERFORM
- Read text or an outline about a class topic and post it
- Read an article and post the pdf version or a link to the article on Moodle
- Read a case study
- Watch a video that’s online
- Watch a recorded video of your professor lecturing
- Listen to a professional or professor-created podcast
- Read through PowerPoint slides (with annotations or audio narration)
STUDENT ONLINE ENGAGEMENT AND ASSESSMENT ACTIVITIES
- Individual or Group Assignments
- Discussion assignments
- Reflection assignments
- Peer assessment
- Peer feedback
STUDENT OUTSIDE OF MOODLE ENGAGEMENTS
- Database search
- Interview of outside professional person
- Students recording video interviews with partners for submission
- Participate in an online simulation
SYNCHRONOUS ONLINE LEARNING – USE WITH CAUTION!
- Synchronous (face-to-face, video conferencing) choices are usually riskier that asynchronous
- High chance of problems – from “it’s hard to hear you” all the way to total technology failure
- The bigger the group, the less likely synchronous online learning will succeed
- Options for how to engage with students
- Full class lecture (riskiest)
- One-on-one appointment meetings with students (very time consuming)
- Small group meetings (a happy medium)
- Open office hours (use your existing class time to avoid conflicts)
- If lectures are a critical piece of your content, your first consideration is whether you want to use a live (or synchronous) lecture. Using video conferencing tools allow you to share content and have interactions with students and even host small group breakout sessions. A live session may help bring continuity to your course (particularly if you host it during the same time as you would your “regular” class).
Some drawbacks to using a live session are that everyone must be online at the same time. Therefore, if you do decide on a live session, it is recommended that you record that session for students who cannot attend at that time. Live sessions are not recommended for large classes (75 or more students).
If you post recorded lectures, provide transcripts or notes when possible, so that students can access the content even if they can’t reliably stream videos.
ASYNCHRONOUS ONLINE LEARNING
A second option would be to record content for learners to engage with at a time best suited to their needs and situation (i.e., asynchronous). This not only gives you as the instructor the flexibility to record on your own schedule but allows students who may not be feeling well enough to participate in a live session to still engage with content. You can record a lecture beforehand and upload it to the class. These recordings don’t have to show you talking — many recorded lectures record your audio but show slides for the visual component.
SHOULD I TAKE AN EXISTING COURSE, SYLLABUS, IN-CLASS ACTIVITIES, AND ASSIGNMENTS AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO REPLICATE IT REMOTELY?
That depends. To answer this question, consider:
- What do you want students to learn to do? How can you tell if they’ve learned it? Start with learning goals.
- Aim to limit the number of tech tools you’re using, so that your learning curve and that of your students is less steep.
WHAT KINDS OF ACTIVE LEARNING CAN TAKE PLACE IN ONLINE COURSES?
Active learning closes achievement gaps between students from underrepresented groups and other students. It also increases the engagement and achievement of all students.
- Writing to learn (have your students write for one minute on a topic to prepare them for a discussion or generate questions they have about the material). Don’t collect or grade the writing.
- Pair & share (students pair up on an assignment and share their results with the class)
- Small group discussion (students engage with each other in small groups)
- Peer review (students review the performances of fellow students)
There are many ways to evaluate student participation — attendance is often a proxy for this. In an emergency, attendance policies may have to be relaxed or altered so that multiple ways of engaging can count. Consider using assignments (reflections, quizzes, etc.) or discussion board participation, with reasonable due dates, as an option to understand if students are active participants in the course.
MAKING YOUR CLASS MORE INCLUSIVE
Include content from multiple perspectives. As you are moving content online, consider adding new perspectives that have been historically excluded from research in the field.
Create a respectful and productive learning environment. Work with students to create ground rules for your synchronous discussions, and discuss how you’ll handle “hot moments” or microaggressions that emerge–especially those that happen in breakout rooms or other spaces where you aren’t there to address them in the moment.
Provide clear expectations for students’ success and avenues for finding support. Be explicit about what students need to do to succeed in this class, and what resources are available to them if they are struggling.
Gather students’ feedback on their learning experience in the class. Use anonymous surveys or polls at various times during the quarter to find out from students what is helping them learn, and what is impeding their learning beyond the lack of in-person interactions. After reading their feedback, share any small changes you can make to improve their learning.
COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR STUDENTS:
- Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in your Moodle course to be able to provide a resource for students (and to ensure you aren’t answering the same question multiple times). The discussion board is a great place to set up a FAQ.
- If you are posting announcements to Moodle, remind students to set their notifications to receive those announcements also to their email.
- Set expectations with students around communication methods and timelines. As much as consistency, it’s helpful to create a communication strategy for the class. You may want to reach out to them with information like how often and how you will be updating them:
“I will be sending an email out to our Moodle Discussion Community group every Monday and Wednesday with an update. I also ask that you turn on your Moodle email notifications for Announcements as I will be posting more timely updates there.”
As well as how they should reach you:
“Please email me if you have a personal concern about completing coursework due to illness. I will be responding to emails once a day. For a faster response to questions, I have set up a FAQ section of our discussion board. Unless your question involves a personal issue, please ask your question there so that everyone can benefit from the response.”
You may want to consider setting some expectations for students as well, although remember to be flexible.
“I hope that you will be able to continue to participate in the course during this time. If so, I hope to see that you are logging in at least twice a week to keep updated on assignments and discussions. If, for some reason, this is a challenge, please email me immediately.”
Communicating with Students
Indicate to students ahead of time (if possible) how you intend to communicate. Explain how you expect students to contact you, the time frame when they can expect responses, and the availability and preferred format for office hours and individual student support requests.
If you already have a system in place for contacting students (such as an email list or Moodle Announcements), use what is already working. If not, you can email all students in a given class from your UL email account.
If you typically use a whiteboard or chalkboard in your teaching, consider using a small whiteboard, one that will fit in the frame of your webcam. At home you can present to your computer’s webcam using this whiteboard during recorded or live remote teaching sessions. This video provides one example of how you might set this up. You can also use Word and Google documents.