We can learn a lot from seasoned online educators. Let’s face it, most of us are not “professionals” when it comes to creating and delivering an online course that would pass muster with Quality Matters — a rigorous certification process that Ecampus uses to distinguish the highest quality online courses from the rest.

Even if our feedback from students is satisfactory, how do we know if our remote classes are really the best they can be, or are there simple aspects to our course design that can be tweaked at Week 5 to make the last half of our classes even better?

An article published by our own Shannon Riggs, Executive Director of Academic Programs and Learning Innovation at OSU-Corvallis in the EDUCAUSE Review last week, encourages all faculty teaching remote to think about teaching from a student-centered perspective. She describes three forms of interaction for students:

  • Student-content interaction – learning activity plus reflection
  • Student-student interaction – instructors establish expectations for how students will interact with each other
  • Student-instructor interaction – instructors create a framework from which to interact with students.

All three forms of interaction require intentional planning. I’m guessing that most of us have figured out Student-content interaction to some degree, but have we given the other two enough thought? Here is a summary of Shannon’s take-aways from the article, but I would encourage everyone to give it a careful read:

  • Student-content interaction – have students interact with the material in a way that demonstrates their learning. Think-pair-share works GREAT using Zoom Breakout rooms (and they’re super easy to set up on the fly). Zoom even has a “poll” feature where you can poll students spontaneously with the click of a button. Both of these are found on the lower menu in Zoom. You could also have students write a summary, list five take-aways, or create a reflection using a short video or audio recording. Canvas makes this easy (and I’m here to help you set it up!)
  • Student-student interaction – beyond discussion board posts, have students peer-review each other’s work, participate in a study group, deliver an individual or group presentation, or even create a resource guide for future students.
  • Student-instructor interaction – we need to do more than just be available to answer questions. Discussion forums are a start but also consider recording a short video to introduce a major assignment or re-teach a difficult concept, hold a writing conference, and hold regular Zoom office hours. Have students sign up for a required office hour with you. Get to know them a little better. My students absolutely LOVE this, even though it may have scared them a little initially.

For more great ideas, read the entire article linked above and check out this one on facilitating active learning with Zoom. Share other ideas you’ve used to improve student interaction in your remote class!

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