As our students will return to campus without setting a foot on campus we need to ensure we approach the week with care and compassion and then build out a space for learning using four better practices:
- Use Asynchronous Communication
- Use Simple Predictable Design
- Focus On Teacher Presence
- Provide Timely Feedback
Make Your Class Asynchronous
We have been providing training to many of you on two delivery methods:
- asynchronous techniques using videos, readings, assignment, and Blackboard
- synchronous techniques using chat and video apps like Microsoft Teams and WebEx
While as a faculty member you have the academic freedom to design your course in any manner that uses tools supported by the University we wanted to share some better practices:
The majority of your course should be asynchronous. While many faculty may want to just open WebEx or Microsoft Teams, launch the video chat, and teach during their assigned face to face class time this is not considered better practice.
- Many of your students will be newly unemployed and have child care issues to figure out. Being available at specific times may not be possible to many. Conducting the majority of your classes asynchronously will help ensure every student can succeed.
- Your synchronous chats should be used to supplement your class and increase your social presence. Better practice would not rely on live chat as your primary delivery system
Keep Your Design Simple
You need to keep your instructional design simple and predictable. For the next few weeks less is more. Provide as few tools to students as possible. Come up with a design for your modules (we made a course template) that you can repeat each week or each two weeks.
Focus on Teaching Presence
After simple design your teaching presence is the most important practice. Set aside 1-2 hours a day for teaching each class and another 1hour per class for delivering feedback. At a minimum you should post a note to each students' first post. Make sure you are posting a minimum of four days a week.
Try so send daily or weekly announcement. A short email, video, or audio announcement can help keep students engaged.
Email messages are very powerful. Send words of encouragement or feedback occasionally to student emails. Research shows this to be a very effective practice at increasing student engagement.
We are all worried about the increased work load but we know timely feedback ensures student success in online learning. First begin by asking if your assessments are important. Will they make a difference to student lives in 5 years. If you are doing the assessment for just a grade or accreditation it doesn't really serve a learning purpose and may not be needed.
Think about more frequent and shorter assessments. Use low stakes or ungraded assessments. Rely on peer assessments. Remember feedback, and not the assessment tools and grades we assign, drive learning.