Tips for planning ahead regardless of teaching modality
As the University plans for another semester involving teaching in face-to-face, remote, and virtual learning environments, we need to plan accordingly and consider the following:
Review your syllabus:
Focus on being flexible and change your course in order to best achieve student learning regardless of the modality. Realize that plans may need to evolve based on developing circumstances. Therefore, additional changes to your syllabus and course may become necessary (policies, due dates, assignments, technology, changes to grading structure, etc.). Utilize your syllabus, email, HuskyCT announcements, and discussion boards to provide students with as much detail as you can provide them. Try to remain consistent in your method of communicating.
Review (or establish) your course, module, and session learning objectives:
Having learning objectives will guide your decision-making on how to proceed with your course. Well written, measurable, student-centered learning objectives not only allow you to choose the best activities and content for your face-to-face class but they also allow you to be more intentional and directed as you choose learning strategies that lend themselves to remote online delivery. Learning objectives will serve as a guide for what is most important for the students to learn and for you to accomplish in your teaching and facilitation. All activities and assessments should align directly to your learning objectives. Do you need to provide lectures? Develop new opportunities for discussion or group work? Collect assignments? Create new exercises? Develop new assessment strategies?
Identify plans early:
Develop course plans and revisions as early as possible. Consider addressing emergencies and expectations in your syllabus, so students know how classes may change, how you will communicate this, and the procedures you will implement such situations change. Consider doing this from here forward so you are ready in case of an emergency.
Let students know how you plan to communicate with them, and how often.
Identify your expectations for students:
Consider your expectations for students, including participation, communication, assessments, and deadlines. As you think through those changes, keep in mind how circumstances may impact students' ability to meet those expectations, including illness, lacking power or internet connections, or needing to care for family members. Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations equitably.
Communicate with your students right away:
Before the semester starts or as circumstances change, communicate early, clearly and often with students. Inform students of the course plan, any changes being made, and what your expectations are of them for checking email, HuskyCT, or other educational software. If all the details are not in place yet, let them know when they can expect more specific information. You will want to address schedules, assignments, due dates, procedures, and course expectations.
Select and communicate your course modality:
Be clear about the modality of the course. The University has various definitions based on synchronous and asynchronous delivery and whether there are in-person contact points and to what extent. See the Provost's site for the most up to date definitions on course modality.
- Communicate early and often: Don't swamp students with email, but early communication can ease student anxiety and confusion.
- Set expectations: Let students know how you plan to communicate with them and how often. Tell students both how often you expect them to check their email and how quickly they can expect your response.
- Manage your communications load: You will likely receive some individual requests for information that could be useful to all your students. Keep track of frequently asked questions and send those replies out to everyone. Also, consider creating an information page or discussion forum in HuskyCT to answer frequently asked questions.
Seek opportunities for constructive and collaborative dialogue:
Discuss with your colleagues and departmental leadership your plans and strategies for ensuring successful teaching and learning.
Ensure you have access to crucial teaching resources
Teaching resources such as syllabi and course materials such be easily accessible even circumstances change.
Ensure you have access to crucial teaching tools:
Watch the Webex Meetings & Webex Events overview recording
Watch the Collaborate overview recording
Pick tools and approaches familiar to you and your students:
Identify and learn technology you will need in your course. It is best to learn how to use educational technology before the semester starts or an emergency develops, CETL's Educational Technology department has numerous training opportunities scheduled to ensure you have the tools you need. Upcoming training is listed on: https://fins.uconn.edu/. This will give you the comfort to use the technology during a less stressful period which will benefit you and your students. Rather than introducing new technology and approaches if circumstances change, try to rely on tools and workflows that are familiar to you and your students, rolling out new tools only when absolutely necessary.
Review the IT Guide to Telecommuting.
Test all online class materials from home.
Whether teaching in-person or online, you should be prepared to conduct many of your class activities from home, particularly because circumstances can change. While the University has very high-speed internet connectivity, your home office may have a slower connection. Functions like video capture or synchronous discussions or office hours can be negatively impacted by a slower internet connection. If you plan to create videos from home, some software, such as Kaltura, may struggle to upload longer recordings due to file size. This is another reason to try to keep videos short (maximum 7-9 minutes long).
Patience and flexibility:
During times of change and uncertainty, It is worth remembering the adage ‘patience is a virtue’-- we will adapt and learn; we will stumble and soar; and in the end, we will get through this if we all work together as a community.
Get Started with HuskyCT
We can help you.