As plans are made for a summer of online teaching for ACU, our thoughts may be scattered between figuring out how to teach our content in this format while connecting with students and finding ways to keep them motivated. Student engagement can be challenging face to face, but these challenges are different in the online environment. The Adams Center is deeply grateful for the faculty at ACUDallas. Because their teaching is done completely online, they graciously agreed to share some of their wisdom and insights. The following tips come from our ACUDallas colleagues.
- The online environment makes transparency in assignments and assessments even more crucial. Make the course outcomes and purposes for coursework clear.
- Consider a consistent course pattern so that each module or week is easier to follow. Use consistent terminology.
- Share your contact information with students so they know how to reach you. Balance responding to student questions in a timely manner with setting boundaries for yourself regarding your working hours.
- Make scheduling time with you easy. Calendly.com and youcanbookme.com are good options.
- Use synchronous time for meeting with students one on one or in small groups. Make these sessions shorter so you can spend time with each student instead of trying to create an online, synchronous class discussion with a large class.
- If an assignment has the potential to be complicated, record a video of yourself talking through the assignment as you might in a face to face setting.
- Detailed, timely, and specific written and video feedback are important. Consider assignment debriefs to the whole class that outline the major points/learnings/concepts you want to emphasize.
- It is important for students to hear your voice and tone. Written comments alone can come across as cold or harsher than you intend.
- Take advantage of Canvas Studio’s features when considering feedback to student work.
- Consider posting a video (or holding a synchronous session) where you are reflecting on course material and digging into it alongside the students.
- If possible, provide personal individualized contact, especially in the beginning. Establish a relationship.
- Acknowledge the reality that the current situation is not what we all originally planned. “We are all in this uncertain time together in a situation none of us planned. We are learning together how to navigate this.”
- Be open to suggestions and incorporate some of their ideas if possible.
- Let your personality show.
- Applaud and celebrate their efforts. Many of them are in difficult circumstances right now.
Additional resources about online learning
- Chen, B., deNoyelles, A., Patton, K., & Zydney, J. (2017). Creating a community of inquiry in large-enrollment online courses: An exploratory study on the effect of protocols within online discussions, Online Learning 21(1), 165-188. doi: 10.24059/ olj.v21i1.816
- Conrad, R.-M., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction. Updated Edition. Jossey-Bass, An Imprint of Wiley.
- Dolan, J., Kain, K., Reilly, J., & Bansal, G. (2017). How Do You Build Community and Foster Engagement in Online Courses? New Directions for Teaching & Learning, 2017(151), 45–60. https://doi.org/10.1002/tl.20248
- O’ Shea, S., Stone, C., & Delahunty, J. (2015). “I ‘feel’ like I am at university even though I am online.” Exploring how students narrate their engagement with higher education institutions in an online learning environment. Distance Education, 36(1), 41–58. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2015.1019970
- Redmond, P., Heffernan, A., Abawi, L., Brown, A., & Henderson, R. (2018). An online engagement framework for higher education. Online Learning, 22(1), 183-204. doi:10.24059/olj.v22i1.1175