Direct From the Students: Communication is Key!

Published by Carrie O'Donnell
on Mar 27, 2020

Lately, we’ve been really paying attention to what the college-aged students related to the O’Donnell Learn team are saying about navigating their online classes. Some were already 100% online prior to their college campus closing due to COVID-19, and some were not. But what they’re telling me they need to successfully navigate online learning “in this new normal” is very similar. It’s no surprise that most of what they’re sharing centers around communication, especially with the added stress of everything that changed essentially overnight. Here are the key communication takeaways:

More Often, Less Bulk

Share more often vs. share everything at once. Serve up information in snack-sized portions. Most students are processing multiple classes online and are worried about staying organized.

One of my biggest anxieties right now is feeling like I’m going to forget about a due date now that I’m not seeing my professors every week and being verbally reminded. Kyra O, University of Maryland Baltimore County

My best experience has been when professors have kept us completely informed. For example the two smoothest transitions were both by professors who immediately announced, ‘Give me two days to rethink things.’ Then each sent out a revised syllabus with detailed weekly schedules. They have each also sent immediate updates when something changes. Hagen B, Villanova University

Make it Crystal Clear

Students want to know what the assignment is, when it’s due and what’s needed to get it done. Make sure expectations are clearly stated. In the example below (sourced from my nephew Conor’s gaming course), students have an at-a-glance view of the project goals, tasks and deadline.

Provide an outline at the start of the week with clear expectations for each class day and due dates for assignments. Then keep in touch, even daily. Provide reminders, updated syllabus, highlighted dates. Emily B, Villanova University

Find It Fast

Make it quick and easy for students to find content without a lot of digging through folders and subfolders. Too much searching increases the likelihood of added stress in an already stressful situation. In the example above, all content for the entire week is listed on one page inside each module, with simple links to additional content if needed.

Show Your Softer Side

Students need to know you understand what they’re going through and that you are in this with them.

Acknowledge the human side of this transition. We probably won’t get everything done we’d planned in the next few weeks – which is OK. Knowing our instructors have our backs goes a long way. Kyra O, University of Maryland Baltimore County

From my own point of view, let’s emphasize mastery over assessments. Incorporating interactive online activities helps ensure your students are still grasping the subject matter. And just as important, these will also provide much-need places of human connection and open communication in what might be a newly-virtual environment for many.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

INSIGHTS

Higher Ed Has the Toolset, But Do They Have the Mindset to Future-fit?

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Aug 12, 2021

Imagine a fresh-faced eighteen year old, naive to the great big world ahead, hoping for an acceptance into an accredited two or four year college. They’re navigating the long hall towards their college counselor’s office, reviewing the list of schools in their mind, while envisioning a future of friends, inspiring courses and eventually a career, a life. College, whether community or four year, will be their first steps towards adulthood, towards maturity, or so they think.  What they don't know, what they aren’t told, is that most higher education is unequipped to prepare them for life. The real responsibilities they’ll meet when they exit campus are not delineated, explored or taught in school.  To make matters more complicated, the notion of the “traditional student” no longer exists. Students are opting out of four year residential colleges for two year schools and online programs. They’re also delaying the start of college in pursuit of a career. Additionally, there’s been an enormous uptick in adult learners, with families, who start school later, or attend school in tandem with a job. It’s clear: there’s a broken talent pipeline. And an enormous question: is higher education fit for the future?

Looking Back/Learning Forward: Lessons For the Now Normal

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Jul 20, 2021

Looking Back, Learning Forward, a motto and mindset to utilize as we envision the future of distance education and fuse historic learning practices with modern lifestyles. I recently co-hosted a webinar with Dr. Jim Julius, Faculty Director of Online Learning at Mira Costa College, where we walked a group of educators through insights gathered over the last fourteen months of online learning. If one thing is clear, it is that it’s been a journey for everyone: faculty, students, education consultants, learning designers, institutional leadership, and families alike. 

Launching Faculty Learning Communities: Participation is All About Perceived Value

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Jul 14, 2021

In an earlier webinar, O’Donnell Learn CEO, Carrie O’Donnell and I shared practical ideas and examples for building learning communities among faculty. These communities provide a rich opportunity for faculty to gather around a common goal, learning together and from each other while accomplishing a desired outcome.   Faculty learning communities can provide the time, space and resources for mission-critical efforts related to teaching and learning. Teaching expertise is most often not part of the faculty background, nor is instructional design a common skill. Plus, faculty often develop courses in isolation. In contrast, gathering faculty around learning design can create vibrant exchanges of what’s working, what’s not, and problem-solving around how to make improvements.