Preparing Quality Distance Learning increase student engagement and retention by preparing quality distance learning modules

Adobe Education Leaders have curated best practices to design and deliver distance learning coursework. Leverage expert insights to increase student engagement and ability to assess student success.

Authored by Leona Guidace, Andrew McAllister, Keenan Sultanik, and Al Thomas.

Insight 1: Think of the sum total of your interactions with students as your "Presence" in the course. Greater "presence" to students will drive more engagement with them, and assist with their learning. Presence doesn't mean using synchronous webinar video chat 100% of the time: precisely the opposite. It can mean responding to student emails quickly, highly interactive text-based chat, pre-recorded video and audio, discussion boards, timely assignment feedback to students , and synchronous video.

"So in the move to online teaching our initial instinct is to preserve Contact Hours by mirroring what would have been face-to-face sessions with webinar style sessions. What this looks like is exhausting 3-4 hour online sessions which must be almost impossible to stay engaged with." – David O. White, Head of Digital Learning at University of the Arts, London

Creating asynchronous learning materials like videos, podcasts, audio, presentations with Adobe's Creative Cloud can enhance your sense of instructor "Presence". Daniel Stanford, Director of Technology and Innovation at DePaul University visualizes online learning occurring along two axes: bandwidth and immediacy. Employing a combination of strategies will ensure you are being inclusive of all your learners, and not making assumptions about their preparedness for remote learning. Stanford cautions us when pushing students into the "red zone" as these activities assume students have available bandwidth, privacy and space in their dwelling, optimal time zones and a capable device. By building pre-recorded audio and video, presentations and other interactive tools with Creative Cloud, you can mitigate these effects.

Daniel Stanford Immediacy vs Bandwidth in Online Learning via Mike Caufield "Emergency Online"

Andrew McAllister, Director of Academic Computing & Innovation at OCAD University

Insight 2: Facilitate flexibility in your course delivery and assignments using multiple means of delivery to create presence. Allow students to respond using multiple means of expression. Both you and students need to engage with the course materials using the materials you have on hand. In addition, you need to allow students to respond to the assignments in various ways which aligns with their constrains while delivering on the learning outcomes.

To start, you will need to adapt your an on-campus lab or studio into your home. Design engaging assignments which leverage what is readily available in the home. If you typically teach in a studio or lab environment, consider using items from around the home to serve as the raw material for your assignment. For example; students track and count water bottles in their recycling and build mathematical projections, averages, comparisons and reflection on waste. Students draft and document scientific components to cooking recipes, or create How-to Cook video tutorials. Students interview a family member about a memorable or historical event and compare the event to current events.

Students were challenged with creating their own cooking show with their family. They produced their own how-to video, while creating a keepsake memoir of this extraordinary time and shared a family recipe. Students forgot it was an assignment, and learnt how to articulate process while experiencing the science of cooking.

Insight provided by Joost Van de Hoeven, Audio-visual designer / Post production and Animation Teacher, ROCvA, Netherlands.

Insight 3: Integrating video into your teaching practice will increase your "Presence" in the course. Envision your production studio to create video tutorials for students. Now that you're teaching remotely, think of your workspace as your production studio. Use whatever tools you have at your disposal whether they be professional or DIY, whether it's a DSLR on a tripod or an iPad taped to a music stand. Prepare your 'production studio' with bright lighting, a good connection to the internet, and quiet will ease your video making. Pre-record assignment tutorials to complement assignment instruction or live sessions. Whether you're instructing asynchronous, synchronous, use video as a resource for your students. Students will be able to rewind and replay until they understand the material. Create and share a 'pre-view' recording in advance -- as a briefing for tomorrow's activity; or alongside the assignment objective and instructions. Practice verbal pauses and inflections to effectively deliver a quick (or in-depth) video tutorial.

Use video to introduce each new unit. This 'pre-view' step will provide a framework for introducing them to what they'll learn next. Students are also able to rewind and replay instruction until they understand what they'll learn during their next unit.

Insight provided by Leona Guidace and Andrew McAllister

Insight 4: Discuss plagiarism and integrity with your students providing a foundation of all learning. Build assessments that rely on students demonstrating their own process work. Whether you're working on campus, teaching a hybrid format or instructing entirely through remote teaching, some students may not fully understand or appreciate the need to cite their sources. Convey to students that all their learning relies on writings and ideas that preceded it, and through acknowledging those writings, we situate our ideas in history. While you should set clear expectations and definitions for integrity with students, include tasks which are not easily replicated through passive internet surfing to encourage students to demonstrate their learning. For example, require students to keep a process journal or portfolio of work using Behance, Spark or Adobe Portfolio. For research, require a minimum of five different research references, or require students to interview at least one direct source. Since assessment may be more difficult to proctor in a remote setting, choose razor-sharp focus when assessing their learning objectives, integrity to their research process, summary and reflection.

Insight by Jeff Clemens, Professor, Bow Valley College and Andrew McAllister, OCAD U, Canada

Insight 5: Brand each course. Design your assignments, quizzes, and images from each course to employ the same colors and visual brand. Students will have a visual cue for each 'virtual' classroom space they've entered into. Visual branding of the course helps students connect learning opportunities together much in the same way that commercial branding connects products and organizations together, and provides students with distinction between each of their courses.

"Educators have an opportunity with distance learning to leverage these new technological and creative tools and contexts to create learning opportunities for students to connect information in ways to which they can relate and will prepare them to live and communicate in the society of the future." —Keenan Sultanik, MFA

Insight provided by Keenan Sultanik, MFA, Chair of Creative Arts, West Coast Baptist College, California.

Insight 6: Provide creativity challenges that engage and reenergize the learning process. During this time of social distancing it is important to remember that creativity has not been canceled. We all can benefit from engaging into creative activities that stretch us and force us to look at our world and situation from another angle. This can be a short activity during a virtual sessions or an activity that takes place offline. Check out the links below for five creative challenges you can try with just a smartphone.

"Creativity has not been canceled." -Al Thomas

Insight provided by Al Thomas, Program Coordinator/Digital Learning Consultant, EdTechTeam, Texas.

Insight 7: Create opportunities for student-to-student feedback and instructor-to-student feedback. Critique is one of the defining qualities of a creative education, and collaborative feedback provides perspectives on student creativity. Peer Evaluation exists across disciplines and can help students observe the work of their peers and recognize the diversity of approaches that can be taken to a problem. The collaboration and feedback features built-in to Adobe Creative Cloud can facilitate this engagement, as well as peer-reviewed assignments in your LMS of choice.

Insight provided by Andrew McAllister, OCAD U, Canada.


Created with images by You X Ventures - "untitled image" • Mimi Thian - "untitled image" • Sam Rios - "Tinking 1" • Kristopher Roller - "follow @krisroller for more"