Quick Tips for Mid-Semester Transfer of Offline Classes to Online
Communicate Early, Often, and Repeatedly
- Tell your students your plan for adapting the course and how things will change or remain the same.
- Be sure students know what you expect, when you expect it, in what format, and how to send it to you.
- Tell them how to reach you(email, phone, zoom office hours). You may want to host office hours Zoom but that’s not a given. Let them know if you need a certain amount of time to respond to emails (say, 24 hours, next business day, etc.). Encourage them to contact you early with any questions.
- Send students reminders before each course item is due, as well as the day it’s due. Send those out via email and post them as announcements in your Isidore site. Repeat your expectations and availability in each of those reminders.
- Set up your course’s Isidore page to support your assignments, course content, and goals. This may require adding or modifying elements of your current setup.
Plan for Accessibility & Engagement
- Shift to asynchronous communication and learning as much as possible. Asynchronous will create fewer technical issues and will be easier for students to access if their internet connection or available technology has trouble supporting live video. Use synchronous where essential for course outcomes and learning experiences.
- Use familiar and easy tools as much as possible. Students are likely very comfortable with Isidore and they probably have existing strategies for accessibility and accommodation with those platforms. Zoom is easy to learn and use.
- Ask students to communicate their needs to you early. As soon as you have a plan for adapting the course, communicate it to your students and ask them to let you know if they foresee any needed accommodations or difficulty accessing technology. Be proactive with them and with the Office for Learning Resources if accommodation questions come up.
- Get yourself on camera. Regardless of your assignments, teaching style, or strategies, being on camera at least a little for your students can dramatically enhance their engagement with you and the course. Even just a 5-minute pre-recorded video each week can make a big difference. It can be just a quick agenda & tips for the week video, but do something to be visible to them every week.
Adapt Offline Course Instruction to Online Learning
- Adapting course activities is better than just transferring them. Effective online communication and learning is different than effective communication and learning offline. Try to be flexible in your teaching style, assignment design, and assumptions. Focus on the remaining objectives for the course, how to help students learn, and what they need to be able to demonstrate competency. Project-based, inquiry-based, and independent learning are well-suited to online contexts.
- Lectures are best pre-recorded in video format (and then shared through the Warpwire Video tool in your Isidore site. Whether you lecture for long periods or have mini-lectures as part of an offline class, the best solution will be to record video lectures for asynchronous viewing. These can be you on screen, voice over slides, or even you at a whiteboard. You can record these videos with programs like Snagit or within a Zoom session by yourself. Keep lectures short. Long lectures in any format produce poor learning outcomes, but online they are even worse. Break lectures into videos of no more than 10 minutes, even if that means 4 videos for one class period(part 1, part 2, etc.). Anything past that and student engagement drops dramatically. Discussions and group work can be done via discussion forums in Isidore or live video with Zoom. Consider breaking classes into smaller discussion groups to increase peer-to-peer engagement. You can make smaller group discussion forums(via the Forums tool in Isidore) or use breakout groups in Zoom. If you are using discussion forums, be aware that students are unlikely to log in more than once a day, and even then only if you tell them you expect it and remind them. Discussion forums will also need more concrete questions, direction, and prompting from the instructor to be successful.
- Student presentations can be asynchronous or synchronous video. If you don’t need a live presentation, then encourage students to record themselves with their computers or their phones. If student presentations need to be live, use a video conference tool like Zoom. If you want students to watch each other present, require them to post recordings in the Isidore Warpwire Video tool and give them specific questions for peer feedback.
- Quizzes & exams are well supported in Isidore. If you need help, let your friends in eLearning help. It’s easy enough to build quizzes or assessments in multiple formats such as: multiple choice, fill in the blank, essay, matching, etc.. While tests can’t be proctored during this period faculty are engaged to reconsider how they deliver their tests to deal with concern for academic dishonest. Essay questions are a simple way to get started as students can’t easily share their answers in this format.