If you’re in the process of modifying your courses to an online platform right now, I have seven practices to help you smoothly transition your courses for instructional continuity. Taking all your courses remote is a big task but we're here to help you decrease your work time so you can get back to teaching.
- Take a breath. The last thing you need now is more stress, so try not to add to your load. Work one or two weeks ahead. You don’t need to modify whole courses today, just staying a couple of steps ahead of your students is perfectly fine. Give yourself some time to learn the platform your school is using.
- Keep current projects/assignments the same as they were for your onsite course. Presentations can be video recorded and linked. Slideshows can be published online. Small groups can still meet via online group apps. Written assignments, quizzes and exams can be easily submitted on your platform.
- Consider modifying your lecture format.
- Give your students the material in a variety of ways. Linking to articles, videos, and infographics that are already out there is an easy way to help them interact more deeply with course concepts.
- If you must deliver information directly from you to them, try creating short informal videos. Phone recorded videos are perfectly fine for this. In fact, an informal approach can help students stay connected and interested.
- Beware of adding extra writing. Often, instructors just translate student attendance, participation, and discussion requirements into written response requirements (for example, chapter summaries). This increases both their workload and yours in ways that don't benefit learning.
- Allow students to participate through other formats to deepen their learning and keep them more dynamically engaged with the material. Asking them to post a video response, lead a discussion thread, or share some extended learning on social media are all ways you can foster deeper interaction with course concepts and create more meaningful student learning.
- Be ready to give up some control and trust your students.
- Give your students choices. When it comes to assignments, projects, readings, and other materials, giving the students options can increase their sense of responsibility and intrinsic motivation.
- Have the students lead.
- Ask students to respond to a discussion prompt you create or have them generate their own threads of discussion based on their ideas and questions that have come up as they’ve explored course materials.
- Have students evaluate and give feedback on peers’ presentations and projects. It inspires the students to be more innovative and thoughtful in their work. We tend to be more motivated to perform well for a group of our peers than for a single instructor.
- Stay connected.
- Use quick check-in videos: 3 to 5 minute videos including reminders, key vocabulary for the week, updates on course materials, shoutouts to specific students who are doing a good job, and highlights of particularly interesting discussion threads help the students know that you are present in the course and following their work.
- Have real time office hours in the discussion forum. Each week, specify a time that you will be in your “Office Hour” discussion thread so they can find you there and ask their questions in real time. When they know they can have immediate access to you for at least an hour a week, students are less likely to ding you with constant messaging for help.
- Offer online video chat to your students who need to speak with you privately.
- Protect your time.
- Just because you could be available to your students 24/7, doesn’t mean you have to or that you should be. Be clear about your schedule, when you will be available to answer questions, and what the students can expect in terms of response time. Then stick with what you have said!
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