Some thoughts on creating and orchestrating online instruction
Beginning of class, setting learning goals, getting to know, building community:
1. Create a slide presentation, introduce yourself in a single slide and ask students to create a single slide introducing themselves to class.
2. Create a form surveying students about prior knowledge, expectations of the class, and individual interests in areas related to the class (consider using this info to create small groups and flexible assignments like research papers).
3. Create a brief 2-3 minute video introducing yourself.
4. Create a brief 2-3 minute video going over the major goals/objectives of the class.
Being clear and setting routines:
1. Create regular assignment schedules and due dates (ie. all assignments due at midnight, quiz every Tuesday etc…)
2. Provide multiple ways to track the course and assignments, syllabus, course layout, email reminders, texts (2-3 times a week), weekly video overview of assignments and tasks.
3. Create a video for your syllabus (may take more than 1 to be clear about expectations).
4. Create videos for each type of assignment and provide exemplars.
Maintaining student engagement with the course:
1. Create smaller assignments and tasks such that students have to log in or interact with the course at least 3-4 times per week rather than once a week (ie. discussion post due Monday, peer responses due Wednesday, quiz Friday, assignment due Sunday).
2. Create an end of week survey to get student feedback and adjust course early on.
Checks for understanding of reading/viewing:
1. Discussion boards with short prompts that ask students to reflect on the readings/watchings and respond to two peers can be effective in both promoting student reading and reflective practices (prompts should be clear and specific, asking students to reference the source)
2. Short quizzes (I am generally not a fan, but...), create a pool of 10-15 questions with a 1-2 day window for students to take online, pulling 5 questions randomly (15 mins to complete).
Feedback (Especially critical for online classes):
1. Anything you collect, should have feedback for students, as specific as possible and quickly as possible.
2. Create a short 3-5 minute video (a really old one, sorry) at the end of every week providing general feedback applicable to most based on student work/activities.
Content delivery (I don’t like this term, but…):
1. Keep content videos short and chunk content 5-10 minutes ideally ( I generally avoid heavy content synchronously).
2. Don’t reinvent the wheel, use external resources when possible (ie. videos, simulations etc).
3. Make sure content is accessible to all students, consider device access (ie. close captioned).
4. Design as much as possible asynchronously, labs, simulations, and lectures.
Synchronous meetings and discussions:
1. Minimize video bandwidth as some students may have slow internet (Students with cams off when not talking) and mute all, set clear expectations and norms to manage this (ie. raise hands, use a chat box). Have a TA or volunteer student manage chat and/or raised hands.
2. Use breakout rooms and small group talk when possible, you can bounce around groups and bring the whole class back together.
3. Keep synchronous meetings to no more than an hour, you might start with 30 minutes. Change stimulus ever 15 minutes or less (ie. breakout rooms, discussion, presentation etc).
4. Provide students opportunities to work synchronously in small groups on their schedule.
Doron Zinger, [email protected] revised 07/5/20