Previous Tips of the Day

Focus on the Essentials

What are the major outcomes and priorities for your course? What is essential for your students to learn? Stay focused on these and you will help your students succeed through this time.

20

March

Communicate Early and Often

We know your students are anxious. They will really appreciate knowing exactly what is changing as you go virtual. This includes assignments, assessments, grading protocols and expectations for participation. Remember to post critical information in multiple places: email, announcements, in the course, etc. 

23

March

Do What You Can

In times like these, NOBODY expects that you will complete everything that you set out to accomplish this semester. If you struggle with what to do next, let your students be your true north. Focus on helping your students get through this, and you won't go wrong!

24

March

Rethink Your Assessments

Are there any high stakes assessments that you could conduct with low or no stakes? Are there ways to assess that will make life in this virtual enivornment easier for you or your students? If your students are not accustomed to virtual assessments, they will appreciate any steps you take to simplify the process. See our video, Check for Understanding.

25

March

Focus on Mastery

Getting students through this semester successfully is a top priority. It will be easier if you focus on mastery, rather than failure. What can you do to give your struggling students a lift? Is there extra support or content you can provide? Can you chunk up gradable work into smaller segments? Can you make something pass/fail or lower stakes?

26

March

Recording Doesn't Have to Be Complicated

If you are uncomfortable recording yourself, you can use it sparingly and keep it simple. Try a short announcement for the class. Or, give students a few pointers before they embark on an assignment or reading--just as you would do in class--to help them figure out what to expect or look for.

27

March

Use Announcements Proactively

Students have told us that they want to be reminded frequently--and briefly. Kyra O commented: "One of my biggest anxieties right now is feeling like I'm going to forget about a due date". They appreciate frequent messages that are short and to the point rather than volume.

30

March

Keep Virtual Lectures On Point

Whether you are lecturing live, virtually or posting lecture videos, it is ideal to keep in mind research that shows students' attention to video wanders after 6 minutes. Keep each lecture to a single topic or concept, then break and ask students to engage with a eachother or with a learning activity.

31

March

Support Students Who Are Struggling Online

Do you have a plan to support students who are struggling online? Encouragement can help--a simple email nudge. Also, this might be a time to post extra support materials, or give them some practice quizzes from the publisher's resources. And, always, communicate frequently and concisely.

1

April

Try Sharing Stories in Class

Are your students stressed and frazzled? Many are struggling with juggling family and school in a small space, job loss, COVID-19 diagnoses in their community, etc. How about devoting a space or time for sharing stories--including your story? This can be done in a discussion board, or virtually in class or using breakout rooms on your video conferencing tool.

2

April

Balance Newness with Need

In this virtual environment, try out new tools and methods incrementally. Week one, you may have tried video conferencing for a live session; week two, maybe use breakouts for small group interactions. Or, use that to try putting an assessment online. Nobody expects you to create a perfect virtual experience!

3

April

Peer Learning Works-Even Virtually

Are your students stressed and frazzled? Many are struggling with juggling family and school in a small space, job loss, COVID-19 diagnoses in their community, etc. How about devoting a space or time for sharing stories--including your story? This can be done in a discussion board, or virtually in class or using breakout rooms on your video conferencing tool.

7

April

Give Them a Hint!

When assigning readings for the week, let the students know what they should be looking for or getting out of the reading. Provide a quick bulleted list of things they should consider while reading, and things they can reflect upon after reading. This will help guide the student in the absence of group discussion, or provide an agenda for the virtual meetings! Find more tips for student engagement in our Going Virtual Video Series.

8

April

Answer Students' Questions

If one student has a question or needs clarification around a concept it's likely that other students do too! Address the entire class with your answer. You can take a quick video or screen recording answering the question, and post it to the announcements. It can be as easy as, "I recognized some students were having problems with X, so I wanted to share the solution with you all."

9

April

Host Online Office Hours

One way we can help students in this new environment is to hold virtual office hours. Students should know they can reach you if they are struggling with anything: be it the move to the online learning environment or a specific problem with course material. You can have set times, or you can allow students to email you for an appointment. It will absolutely reassure students to know that you are available.

10

April

Students Learn By Doing

Research shows that employing active learning strategies results in deeper learning. So, pair your lecture (whether live or on video) with activities that force students to apply the learning like peer-instruction, quizzes, scenario-based activities or discussions.

13

April

Create Clear Structure

Students have told us they look for a clear course structure--whether by module or week. Use your syllabus as a guide for creating this structure. Within each module, the expected learning activities should be clearly highlighted. And, use the announcements to reinforce these expectations. Students appreciate the reminders along the way!

15

April

Consistency is Key

Students find comfort in knowing what to expect. Be consistent in your use of weekly announcements, online meetings, submission due dates, etc. Most important, be consistent and clear about your expectations for any assessments or graded assignments. This will result in a more effective virtual learning experience.

16

April

Search for Supporting Resources

There are a myriad of of resources on the Internet that you can use to fill in gaps or supplement your live or recorded sessions! Find videos, podcasts, articles, and more to support the week's topics. These can also provide you with a discussion prompt. Make sure these resources are open or included in your University's library subscription.

17

April

Let Each Student Know She Matters

Find a way in the next week or so to let each of your students know that they matter. This is especially important as we head to the end of the term, with exams and final assignments due. Your students are stressed, and your personal touch can make a big difference.

20

April

Presentations Are Great For Peer Learning

Conducting student presentations online can be even more powerful than in-class when coupled with peer learning. View our video, Assign Student Presentations for peer learning ideas. Simply asking students to provide constructive feedback can be a great experience for both presenters and peers.

21

April

Share With A Colleague

Students are starving for greater engagement. If you complete an activity that is highly engaging, or if something in your class just clicks, share it out. Your colleagues may appreciate the idea! Or, reach out to support a colleague who is struggling online. We are all a bit isolated in our stay-at-home mode.

22

April

Keep It Personal

Students appreciate getting to know their instructors and the opposite is true too. You can do this by including a personal detail in weekly announcements; for instance, mention something you did over the weekend or share something that happened when you were a student. You can also ask your students about themselves.

23

April

Support Students Who Are Struggling

As we near the end of the semester, it is more important than ever to be proactive with struggling students. Reach out to let them know you are available. Feeling isolated can cause some people to freeze, and just your personal touch could help get some students moving forward to greater success.

24

April

Chunk Your Virtual Lectures

The hour long live lecture doesn't work when you are virtual. Research shows that you need to switch gears every 6-10 minutes when online. So pause the lecture, ask a question, take a poll, give a quiz, or conduct a peer learning activity in the breakout rooms. This practice is proven to improve retention.

27

April