As the instructor, you set the tone of communication for the entire class, both in-person and online. Communicating regularly and meaningfully makes the difference between an engaged and a disengaged student.
Synchronous communication with students
Here are a few guidelines and suggestions to facilitate communication with your students during times when you are meeting together.
Make sure there are open lines of communication between yourself, the in-person students, and the online students at the start of each class session.
- Ensure that you go over some rules of the road for online and in-person students. Many students don't adhere to online etiquette unless coached. Not doing so can create distractions for everyone.
- Repeat questions from in-person students so that online learners can clearly hear them and be engaged in the conversation.
- Call on students from the online group to respond to questions. Their web mic will make it easy for everyone in the class to hear them.
- Discourage in-class students from logging in to Zoom in the classroom. Unless students remember to mute their microphones, there is a possibility of creating painful audio feedback.
Encourage your students to use NameCoach before the first class session. This will allow you and your students to learn how to correctly pronounce each other's names. This will boost your confidence in calling on specific students during class and promote positive interactions.
Survey your class regularly to find out what kinds of activities work best for them and in what ways you can improve.
- The Classroom Database provides details about the installed technology in your classroom as well as a Support contact. If possible, touch base with the Support contact to discuss how you plan to use the classroom technology and what you can expect from them when you need help.
- Create a cheat sheet on how to use the technology in your classroom.
Asynchronous communication with students
Communicating with your students outside of regularly scheduled class periods is a vital part of establishing the trust and sense of community necessary for an effective teaching environment. Here are some suggestions for ways to increase your teaching presence during these periods.
- Canvas Announcements (Canvas video) - Use the Announcements tool to provide timely reminders before and after class about assignments, due dates, etc. Announcements can help prep students for the day's synchronous session as well as recap, reinforce, and clarify important ideas that were revealed in-class activities and discussions. Creative use of announcements offers you an additional modality to express your personality to students and increase their level of engagement.
- Canvas Discussions (Canvas video) - Monitor and contribute regularly to any discussion activities you create. Your contributions make clear that you are meaningfully engaged with your students and are an additional opportunity to guide them towards the most important aspects of course content. Referring to specific discussion threads and their authors in synchronous class sessions make it clear that you value that learning activity and demonstrates its utility for students.
- Student Engagement Roster (SER) - This early feedback tool allows faculty members to communicate with students about how they are doing in a class and make recommendations to improve or deepen their learning.
When using Zoom, make sure you record your lectures and class sessions. It helps all students to go back and review the material. Additionally, online students sometimes have technology glitches and have to drop off the meeting.