How Can I Guide Online Learning by Engaging with Students?

February 17, 2020

By Angie Beyer and Clay Williams 

At the February 12 Midweek Mentor Session, Flower Darby, Senior Instructional Designer, Northern Arizona University shared her thoughts on engaging students in the online learning classroom. Some of the tips she provided included release content strategically, break down complex tasks, note and respond to cues that signal confusion, interact with students in discussion forums, provide discussion highlights for each module. 

Our discussion led by Angie Beyer (IDLT/School of Business) and Dr. Clay Williams (CMIS), included some common ideas were shared. Dr. Williams has been teaching online for about six years, and recommended beginning with a comprehensive syllabus and consistent course structure.  The syllabus for an online course should include all the details that would be presented in a face-to-face course upfront. For some great resources for syllabus templates and what to include, check out the IDLT Teacher Toolkit and the Questions? Read the Syllabus MWM blog post by Jodie Nehrt and Niki Glick. 

Interactions throughout the online course should include: 

  • Student-to-Student 
  • Student-to-Faculty (and visa-versa) 
  • Student-to-Content 

These interactions should be incorporateed in the course intentionally through all course elements – assignments, team projects, readings, discussions and assessments.  

One new approach is to build these interactions  into the lecture videos using optional tools in TechSmith Relay: 

  • Quizzing 
  • Helps with checking for understanding and allows the student to process the information 
  • Conversations 
  • Open communications with students through the chat and annotation features 

The Discussion Forum is a key area for engagement that provides opportunities for all three types of interactions. The important balance is for the faculty to be involved in the discussion without taking over the conversation, but rather posing questions to deepen the discussion. Some alternatives to the Blackboard Discussion Forum might be using alternatives such as Flipgrid or Wakelet, which are third party platforms not supported by ITS.

Categories: All Categories, Students