Old Dominion University, Center for Learning and Teaching
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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

Learning more about online teaching is likely to allay your concerns. Here are some tips from teachers of successful online courses |

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.)

Reflect on Your Experience

Reflect on your online teaching experience:
  • Keep a journal to document how the online course is unfolding.
  • Keep track of what worked and what did not work (a difficult assignment, exams, 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 Objective Alignment With Course Objective Assessments Course Material / Resources Learning 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