Strategies

Teach Your Course

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Assess Student Learning

  • Use Bb to administer your exams, tests, and quizzes (multiple-choice, multiple answer, short answer, etc.)
  • Provide alternative assessments (papers, reflection, etc.)
  • Have students use proctors for high-stakes online tests or exams

Collect Assignments

General Assignments

  • Use Bb to collect your assignments
  • Avoid using email to collect homework
  • Require students to submit their assignments in Bb
  • Require specific file formats and filenames,
    • Example: FirstnameLastname_Essay1.docx
  • Add clear instructions regarding how to submit assignments
  • Tell students to use OneDrive for large files
  • Use Bb to provide feedback on their assignments

Presentations

  • Ask students to use Zoom to record or to offer their live presentation.
  • Alternatively, ask your students to submit a written script of their presentations.

Conduct Lab Activities

Deliver Lectures

In General

  • Draft a script or outline to guide delivery
  • Organize your lecture into 7- to 12-minute segments/topics
  • Use headphones with a microphone to minimize the surrounding noise

Pre-Record a Lecture

  • Record your screen and/or narrate your PowerPoints
  • Record yourself with a webcam
  • Include questions, quizzes, or prompts after each segment to engage your students
  • Share your videos with your students using the Kaltura Media tool

Delivering Live Lectures with Zoom

  • Use the Zoom Tool within Bb to schedule course meetings and provide the meeting links to your students
  • Publish Zoom meetings in Bb for students to review
  • Assign the Zoom for Students tutorial(s) beforehand
  • Share your screen in Zoom
  • Mute/unmute participants
  • Turn on Breakout Rooms, polling, and whiteboard in Zoom settings. Use breakout rooms for small-group discussions
  • Leave time for logistics and student engagement

Distribute Course Material

  • Add content onto Bb pages; don’t just upload PDFs or attachments
  • Post course readings, assignment instructions, PowerPoint slides, handouts, etc.
  • Organize your lecture materials or videos by week or by topic
  • Contact your ODU Libraries Subject Liaison if you need digital copies of journal articles or media
  • Do not scan textbook chapters or course readings; scanned documents are not screenreader accessible
  • Check for open educational resources (OER):
  • Ask colleagues to share or recommend discipline-specific resources.

Facilitate Discussions and Collaboration

Foster communication among students to maintain course interaction and sense of community:

  • Clarify your expectations about students’ participation
  • Post your expectations of what is appropriate to students to discuss
  • Remind students about netiquette
  • Encourage your students to keep a learning journal
  • Encourage your students to post their reflections on Bb discussion boards

Encourage discussions:

  • Asynchronous discussions:
    • Use the Bb discussion board to have your students participate in online discussion
    • VoiceThread
  • Synchronous discussions:
    • Invite your students to join in live Zoom sessions

Share Documents

  • Use Google Docs to allow students to work collaboratively, to share/edit content over the web, and to complete group projects and assignments
  • Encourage students to use the commenting feature to clarify issues and to ask questions about their writing
  • Refer your students to the ODU Writing Center’s resources

Prepare Exams

  • Provide clear guidelines on exam time duration, number of questions, number of attempts, and how to request help
  • Clarify your course expectations on how to cite work in papers, assignments, discussion board threads, and other academic work
  • Assess frequently and use periodic ungraded self-assessments
  • Break large assignments into smaller parts with low stakes “milestone” deadlines; ask students to submit the paper in stages, such as topic and outline
  • Calculate the number of questions for the allotted time; for example, for a 30-minute exam, prepare 45 questions. Remind students that it takes 30 minutes – 45 seconds per multiple-choice question
  • Make your online exams short; use 30-45 minutes instead of the typical 60/120 minutes for each test
  • Schedule the exam/test to be taken at a set time rather than having it open for a 24-48 hour window
  • Keep exams/tests brief (e.g., 15-30 min.) but more frequent
  • Randomize exam questions and answer choices
  • Use a bank of questions and give each student a different exam
  • Present one question per page
  • Add a practice quiz with unlimited attempts so students can experience an online exam
  • Schedule the exam/test to be taken during ITS Help Desk Support hours.

Tips and Best Practices

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Be Responsive and Present

Be responsive and present in your class: 

  • Use Bb announcements/email to remind your students of the upcoming week’s topics, activities, assignments, and due dates. Alternatively, record short audio/video messages and distribute them at the start of each week.
  • Respond to students' emails based on your promised turnaround specifications (suggested: a 24- to 48-hour turnaround).
  • Respond to questions posted on the course’s discussion board.
  • Reach out to your students regularly: email all students/individual students, both to find out how they are doing and to show that you care about their learning.
  • Hold virtual office hours, particularly before exams, to clarify any issues and to address any questions or concerns.
  • Grade and return students' work promptly.
  • Give your students incremental feedback on their assigned tasks. Allow them to use your feedback to rework their assignments.

Build a Learning Community

Build a learning community in your class: 

  • Create a Q&A area as well as a social forum to encourage your students to interact, to share and to help one another, to ask questions, and to build relationships with one another.
  • Ask your students to upload video or text to introduce themselves and to share a few bits of personal information (their reasons for taking the class, their interest in the course topic, a list of two or three personal goals for the course, etc.).
  • Ask your students how your course will help them pursue their goals.
  • Ask your students to share tips on how they are learning to learn online: what has worked for them? And why?
  • Encourage your students to reflect on their learning journey. Ask them to keep a journal.

Chunk and Scaffold Content

Chunk and scaffold your content presentation and learning activities: 

  • Chunk your course content into manageable parts (portions that will take students 5-7 minutes to complete; audio/video segments).
  • Scaffold your activities to build incremental deadlines, particularly for large projects.
  • Structure your learning activities to provide opportunities for student-to-content and student-to-student interaction.
  • Provide multiple formats for your course materials and activities (text, audio, images, audio/video).
  • Leverage Open Educational Resources to diversify your course content. Do not reinvent the wheel.
  • Ensure that your course covers the breadth of the content to help students achieve the course’s learning objectives.

Collect Student Feedback

Collect feedback from your students: 

  • Ask students, every other week, to share their experience in the course.
  • Use CLT’s mid-semester eval form to collect feedback from your students.

Commit Yourself to Self-Improvement

Learn more about your course technology and commit yourself to self-improvement: 

  • Familiarize yourself with Blackboard: Announcements, Content Creation, Assessment Tools, Gradebook, and Discussion forums. Attend CLT workshops, complete self-paced workshops, schedule a one-on-one consultation with CLT.
  • Familiarize yourself with Zoom: meetings, desktop sharing, breakout rooms, classroom management, etc.
  • Learn other tools (VoiceThread, etc.) as needed, one tool at a time.
  • Ensure that your students are familiar with your course technologies.
  • Provide testing opportunities (using a webcam, uploading an assignment, posting a message, etc.).
  • Ensure that all your course links are active and up to date.
  • Make sure that all aspects of your course are accessible to all students.
  • Ensure that all your course’s pages, files, and multimedia items can be downloaded within a reasonable period.
  • Familiarize yourself with copyright and fair use policies and requirements.

Consider Online Assessments

Consider how to perform online assessments: 

  • Add formative assessments (learning-checks, self-assessments, low-stakes quizzes, reflective activities).
  • Offer opportunities for students to monitor their progress and to improve their learning experience.
  • Use authentic assessments. Include assessments that evaluate the application of knowledge and skills in real-life situations (case-studies, problem-solving projects, grant proposals, research proposals, portfolios, business plans, experiential activities and reflections, multimedia productions, interviews, role-playing, technical reports).
  • Include multiple forms of assessment. Combine quizzes with authentic assessments.
  • Chunk large exams into smaller quizzes.
  • If required or needed, plan for your exam proctoring early.

Consider the First Day

Consider the first day of your class; prepare a course introduction video to address the following issues: 

  • Introduce yourself, sharing personal information, your area of expertise, teaching philosophy, etc.
  • Make students feel welcomed to the class: greet them, smile, use a friendly tone and posture, maintain eye contact with the camera, etc.
  • Express your enthusiasm for the course material, as well as your compassion, your availability, and your determination to help your students learn.
  • Share your communication preferences and promise to adhere to a designated turnaround time for giving feedback to your students.
  • Set up office hours (F2F/virtual).
  • Explain your course roadmap: overall objectives; relevance to students’ lives; structure and flow; and grading criteria.
  • Clarify your course expectations, requirements, and policies (attendance, emergencies, makeup exams, etc.).
  • Prepare a short survey to uncover students' preconceptions about your course topic.
  • Orient your students to your course.
  • Acquaint students with the course’s software and tools.
  • Add a safe space where they can practice posting assignments, taking online quizzes, etc.

Engage Your Students

Engage your students: 

  • Provide students with relevant course content.
  • Communicate with your students regularly, using multiple formats (email, discussion, Zoom, virtual office hours).
  • Provide active learning opportunities.
  • Provide worksheets/concept maps for your students to complete after each module.
  • Provide timely feedback.
  • Provide self-assessment opportunities for your students.
  • Encourage students to help one another, to share their experiences, and to connect with one another.

Establish Discussion Ground Rules

Establish discussion ground rules: 

  • Clarify student participation requirements and expectations: number/length/quality of student posts, effect on grades, etc. Make participation count.
  • Model your course’s expected writing style: grammar, spelling, voice, etc.
  • Clarify acceptable language: tell students to be tactful, respectful, rigorous, kind, and concise, and to cite sources, to reread, to proofread before posting, etc.
  • Warn students to avoid offensive, derogatory, or disrespectful language

Plan Your Project Assignments

Plan your course project assignments: 

  • Introduce projects, regardless of their due date, at the beginning of the semester.
  • Create project milestone assignments throughout the semester, to keep students on track and to help them to avoid procrastination.
  • Use milestones as drafts to encourage student revisions prior to final draft submission.

Provide Clear Instructions

Provide clear directions and instructions for all your course activities and assignments: 

  • Provide consistent instruction for each course activity and assignment. Avoid long or wordy instructions; be concise.
  • As you deem relevant, create a short video or audio to explain how students should complete their assignments.
  • Provide a grading rubric for your students, whenever applicable.
  • Share assignment examples (both exemplary and mediocre) from students in past classes.
  • Provide clear instructions on where to submit assignments (to Bb Assignments, to the course Discussion Board, etc.)

Revisit Your Concerns

Revisit your concerns about online teaching. Do you believe that: 

  • Online courses mainly consist of PowerPoint files and quizzes?
  • Online courses are lower in quality than face-to-face courses?
  • Students will not learn much in an online course?
  • Online courses provide limited opportunities for interaction, participation, and discussion?
  • Online students are lazy and disengaged?
  • Online teaching is not enjoyable; you will have no connection with students; you will lose your teaching persona and charisma?
  • Student cheating is rampant in online courses?
  • Group work is challenging to conduct in an online course?
  • Online students lack opportunities to apply and practice knowledge and skills?
  • Online students feel isolated?
  • You will not be able to connect with your students online?

Simplify Your Course Structure

Simplify Your Course Structure

  • Put yourself in your students' shoes. Anticipate their questions: Where do I start? What do I do? Where can I get help? Are my instructor’s course instructions clear and consistent?
  • Provide a consistent and simple course structure: How will your students know where to start and what to do? How will they access the course syllabus, the content, the assignments?
  • Create a predictable learning pattern: consider the number of assignments, where to find them and how students will submit them, and the deadlines for those assignments.
  • Sequence your content in a logical or chronological way: provide your students with good directions and clear navigation.
  • Organize your course content by topic, chapter, or time (weekly, biweekly).
  • Introduce each module by presenting its overview, objectives, relevance, and time estimate, as well as the list of required assignments and activities.
  • Use your learning objectives to determine your content, your learning activities, and assignments.
  • Complete and share your alignment matrix with your students:
Module Learning ObjectiveAlignment With Course ObjectiveAssessmentsCourse Material / ResourcesLearning Activities / Assignments / Technology
  • Question the relevance and the contribution of each of your course’s items (content, assignments, activity assessments, etc.) to the achievement of your course goals.
  • Connect the topic with students’ prior knowledge.
  • Use early, ungraded assignments to check your students’ level of readiness.
  • Use the student-preview function in Blackboard to see how the course will look to your students.
  • Minimize the amount of clicking and scrolling needed to access your content pages.

Explore Tools

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Blackboard

Microsoft Teams

To learn more about Microsoft Teams, visit the Microsoft Teams page from ODU Information Technology Services.

VoiceThread

Zoom

Resources:

Topics:

Sign up for CLT Zoom workshops.

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