Suddenly Teaching Online – Part 2

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Communicating online

Announcements are a way of staying connected with learners and keeping them apprised of timelines and expectations in an ever-changing environment. Instructors should use this course feature to introduce themselves, explain how the course will be delivered, note date changes for the course and or assignments, and pass along any institution updates. It is also where you can share class progress as a whole and motivate students to progress. For example, “Almost everyone is on task and caught up". "I see that on exercise 2, some of you have stopped working". "Please either email me or post a question to the Lesson 3 Q & A Discussion Forum about what is confusing you”.

Discussion forums are not just a strategy to simulate face-to-face classroom discussions. They also may be used as a mechanism to provide lesson questions and answers that relate to the course or a lesson.  Permitting learners to respond in addition to the instructor, minimizes the risk of learners being idle in the classroom until they receive a response from the instructor. Do set the expectation that the instructor will monitor the Q & A forum, correct and errors, and expand responses as applicable. You might consider moving salient questions to a course Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.

If you are new to online instruction, consider recording your lectures and conducting office hours using a conference tool. If your course requires real-time discussion, consider using a conference tool that permits video, chat (text box), pc audio, and phone audio. Ideally your conference tool has a screen sharing features and a whiteboard feature.

Assignments should have due dates. If you are using Canvas, you may use the Syllabus page to view your assignments and due dates. It is a quick way to determine if there are any erroneous or missing due dates. Use assignment rubrics if you have time. They will save you time when grading. You will communicate clear expectations to learners. Rubrics contribute to less grade bias and more consistency. Ideally, have students submit their work in the LMS and not via email. You many need to share links to how-to instructions for submitting work. Rubrics in Canvas may align with course, program, institution, and system learning outcomes. Alternative locations in which to store assignments are an institution shared drive or team space. Personal email, Dropbox, and Google or One-drive may be problematic should the instructor become unavailable. Your LMS may permit accommodations for learners with special needs. Canvas does include accommodation features. Reference the Canvas Guides for Instructors to learn about accommodations and other features. During a crisis or when teaching online to learners who did not expect to learn online, consider flexible policies. Clear due dates for example with allowance for late or extended due dates. That said, it is more efficient to grade like assignments at one time. In addition, the instructor can see patterns emerge regarding learner confusion. However, in uncertain times, it is important to afford learners every opportunity to succeed. Also, consider a 5-10% professionalism or timeliness grade in which to deduct for late work rather than per each activity. It is not only important to separate what learners know and do not know, it becomes clear to learners, the impact of behavior and habits contribute to their final grade.


Next Page – Transitioning to Online