This spring, College of DuPage used remote teaching and learning to deliver our courses. While this took place online, it’s not quite the same as true online teaching and learning in a couple of key ways. As we make the transition to the online modality for summer and fall, there are a few important things to keep in mind as you bring your courses online that will help you and your students to be more successful.
As you prepare to teach online, start to re-imagine your teaching and learning for an asynchronous learning environment. The sudden shift to remote teaching for the spring semester gave everyone more experience using the online tools that are available to them. However, the “Pandemic Pedagogy” differs from courses offered fully online.
Be very intentional about the course structure, providing consistent due dates, deciding which tools to use in the course, establishing the instructors role in the course, and posting the expectations you have for students. While synchronous sessions can still be incorporated in online courses, remember that flexibility is one of the main reasons why students enroll in the online format (when they have a choice).
Offer Alternate Assessments
As you re-imagine your course, you’ll find that some of your assessments don’t always translate as well to the online environment. For more information and ideas on alternate assessments, head over to the Learning Technologies blog post on Helpful Resources for Developing Alternate Assignments and Assessments. The post also contains a recording of Faon Grandinetti’s presentation on providing alternate assignments and assessments.
Break up your content into more digestible pieces of learning. As Christine Monnier wrote in her LT Blog, Don’t Throw Pedagogy out the Window, “Who wants to listen / watch a lecture for hours? Not me. We know attention will dwindle very quickly. I try to keep my taped lectures under 10 minutes, and my tutorials / demos (where students have to follow along) under 15 minutes. Research shows that is the max attention you can squeeze out of people.”
Monnier also wrote the importance of also doing this for synchronous sessions. “Take breaks. Give people breaks. At regular intervals, let them either leave the room or log out entirely, for a few minutes. They can go get a drink, check on a child or a pet, reset their brains. And then, you can resume. If synchronism is not necessary, then, I would urge you to go asynchronous and reserve a few Collaborate sessions for office hours or group meetings (if you have group work for which the groups have to meet with you at different points in the term).”
Hear from All Students
When you provide opportunities and requirements to interact in an asynchronous online course, your students won’t be able to hide behind their screens. Set clear expectations for students when they are using communication tools and model the types of interactions you hope to have in the class.
Not everything has to be visible to the whole class. The Journal tool is a great way to have private one-on-one communication between the instructor and the student. Have them post reflections, ask questions, or answer specific questions. You can also post surveys throughout the course to gauge understanding of content, ask for course feedback, and allow students to share questions. You can even make surveys anonymous if you’re concerned students might hold back from posting comments.
Understand the Course Rhythm
One of the outcomes of a course that is intentionally designed and has a consistent course environment, with defined term and weekly guidelines, is to be able to create a course rhythm. This is a resulting benefit for both students and the instructor where patterns contribute to a feeling of being in a connected and engaged online course.
In online classes, there are times where you think you’ll just get to that later. To prevent this, keep a calendar of the course, schedule times for when to check-in to the course, and keep notes on students so you don’t have to dig through Blackboard to find what you’re referring to in messages or feedback.