To support instructors needing to make a quick transition to utilizing an online environment, we’re offering resources and recommendations that can be immediately put to use by instructors, to benefit both faculty and their students.
These resources are divided into six key topic areas for teaching remotely:
- Welcoming students to the online environment
- Managing your online presence
- Organizing your online course
- Planning and facilitating quality discussions
- Recording effective microlectures
- Engaging students in readings and microlectures
In the discussion forum below, we invite you to submit questions about these resources or share instructional challenges you may be facing.
Create a welcome message designed to calm student fears and let them know that you are “in this together” and ready to fully support their continued learning.
Create a question-and-answer forum in which students can post general questions about the course and assignments. If you think it would be helpful, you can also create a social forum for students to connect with one another. Monitor the Q&A forum to ensure that correct information is being shared and to address any unanswered questions (Darby & Lang, 2019, p. 29).
Create a video that takes your students on a tour of your course in the online environment. Try to include the following on your tour: (a) how to prepare for online learning, (b) directions for navigating the course, and (c) weekly communication expectations.
One of the most important aspects—if not the most important aspect—of any student’s learning is you, the instructor. Students look for you to be involved in discussions, respond to questions, provide feedback and encouragement, and reach out when you notice they may need additional assistance. This does not mean that you need to be online 24/7. Establishing expectations and routines around your online time can help students feel more supported and engaged in your course.
Online students can become confused, frustrated, or disengaged if they find it challenging to simply navigate a course learning environment. Try to make the organization of your course as clear and intuitive as possible, ensuring students have more time and cognitive resources to engage with course content and activities (Darby, 2019).
Learning modules, or units of study, are the building blocks of an online course. Ensuring consistency in module design helps students more quickly understand your expectations and plan their work time more effectively.
Establishing a weekly pace for your online modules, or units of study, helps students manage their time to meet course expectations. A standard rhythm often reduces stress, because the structure answers questions such as “What’s next?” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016).
To help students get the most out of discussions, set clear expectations for their participation. Providing students with discussion forum grading rubrics helps them understand, and therefore better meet, your expectations for thoughtful participation.
Assign a self-reflection activity, aligned to your discussion forum rubrics, to help students evaluate their participation in an online discussion.
The type and amount of feedback you provide at key points in a discussion should be strategic, to ensure quality discussions are taking place (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016, p. 167).
Microlectures are short (6 minutes or less), instructor-produced videos that are designed using a structured format to provide effective explanations of a single key concept or specific skill set. Use this format to help maintain student attention and allow students to reengage with the content when and if needed.
There are a variety of ways to keep students engaged in the content and help them focus their attention on what is most important. We can also use a variety of practices to assess how well they are learning and making key connections. Try a few of these out to find the process or set of processes that work best for you and your students.
Special thanks to our incredibly talented and gracious contributors:
- Michael Wesch, Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Kansas State University
- For additional resources, see “Teaching Without Walls: 10 Tips for Online Teaching” and ANTH 101: Anthropology for Everyone.
- Flower Darby, Director of Teaching for Student Success, Northern Arizona University, and author, with James M. Lang, of Small Teaching Online
- See Flower’s advice guide, “How to Be a Better Online Teacher,” published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Kevin Kelly, Coauthor of Advancing Online Teaching: Creating Equity-Based Digital Learning Environments