Be prepared to be different
Online requires making explicit all things implicit.
- All the things you naturally do as a teacher do not occur in the online space. They have to be crafted and intentional, otherwise they do not exist.
What you normally do simply may not work.
- Think about the goals behind the practices of what you do in a regular class and identify how those same goals might be achieved via online formats
Access & accessibility have new considerations
- While we always need to be attentive to differently abled students with all manner of different learning needs, we now have to account for those without broadband or webcams or who are living in different time zones or who may be taking classes with siblings and pets and the like all present in their home learning space.
Have a plan, but be flexible.
- At this moment we are not trying to build an online class. Rather, we are in survival mode. So while I encourage you to think about building better learning experiences, really just having a willingness to be flexible and to be forgiving with yourselves and your students will go a long way to your transitional success.
Modify Course & Expectations
What absolutely must stay (and stay as is)? What can be modified (maybe even cut) from the syllabus, schedule, plan, etc.? What can you accomplish differently?
- Start by stripping the next few weeks to bare bones or the 'golden nuggets' of your class, and build out those core things first. Then work back through to add nuance, complexity, options, etc.
What pedagogical practices do you champion and do they translate to online modes? Or, put another way, what must remain a synchronous engagement vs. what can be transformed into an asynchronous activity?
- Synchronous: students and instructors interact with course content (and each other) at the same time: e.g., video conference meetings (via Zoom) or live chat engagements (via Slack).
- Asynchronous: students interact with course content (and each other) on their own time line (but within an operative time limit): e.g., threaded discussion posts or viewing (and responding to) teacher created videos.
- A guiding frame: If my teaching approach is a lecture, an explanation, a concept introduction, or something similar, it can probably be (more) effective online as an asynchronous activity: e.g., create a video or write-up the explanation (maybe try creating it as an Adobe Spark page to add some life to it). If, however, what I am after is discussion or a modeling of inquiry, then synchronous is likely the way to go. (For more on synchronous/asynchronous practices, see below.)
What tools do you already know? How might they work for your pedagogical needs?
- Sometimes the right tool is the one you already know. How might the features of your LMS work for you? Or Slack? Twitter? Google Docs?
What tools do you need to learn? Is there a way to practice in the coming days?
- If needing to learn to use a tool, check available resources. Indiana University has guides for nearly all of the tools in Canvas, but also check YouTube or other online sources. There are amazing guides on the Internet for just about everything.
- If you have never been in a Zoom meeting (or similar video conference space) or created an instructional video, find ways to practice before the first live event.
Consistency is King!
Communication Strategy: Choose a method (or methods) for your course Communication Strategy and always use that to facilitate course information to students.
- IU - Instructors might look into recommending the Boost App for students (for more visit boost.iu.edu): Boost is a student-centric app that integrates with Canvas and pushes course information from Canvas to them on their phone (reminders about upcoming work, notifications/announcements, etc.). The students control the how and the what of what gets pushed to their phones.
Due Dates: Try (as much as possible) to make things due on the same day and at the same time each week. This will help students anticipate workflows in your class (and not require them to hunt among the now overwhelming proliferation of messages and notifications on Canvas).
Activities on Canvas without points will not be completed. Even small point values are helpful. No points, no purpose (assigning it).
Provide Student Orientation
Once you come up with a plan for how you will manage the transition, help orient students (to prepare them and to ease their own anxieties).
Some things to answer/address in your orientations:
- How will communication work?
- How will the shift to online impact course points/plans/practices?
- How will it impact due dates and/or how assignments are collected? (more below)
- How will office hours work?
- Also identify a contingency plan (and give them guidance on that as well). ... "If nothing else, X". ... like this humorous example.