Online Teaching

GOING ONLINE: BASIC TIPS

Základné nástroje na pracovnú komunikáciu (spracované spoločnosťou Touch4IT)

USEFUL LINKS:

Remote teaching resource (hundreds of links from US universities, plus additional resources and guides)

Tony Bates: Advice to those about to teach online because of the corona virus

Tony Bates: Book (PDF) Teaching in a Digital Age (guide for effective teaching using online technology—especially Chapters 3 and 4)

The Chronicle for Higher Education: Moving Online Now—resource material

Global Liberal Arts Alliance: Going Online Fast: Resources to help you move your instruction online

BASIC TIPS FOR ENGAGING ONLINE:

  1. Select the proper platform for online interaction
  • Some courses will do fine with continuing on SKYPE (you received a simple instruction in an email from Lucia), in combination with assignments via email and MOODLE.
  • If you, however, wish to mix it up, and have a single user-friendly platform where you can share resources, engage in conversations (where students can react to each other), even collect assignments, you can use GOOGLE CLASSROOM (see simple instruction video). We have a BISLA G-Suites for Education, from where I can make a Google Classroom for your course and include your students (just let me know if interested). I will be happy to give you further instructions.

It is like a very simplified Moodle, has a modern easy to use interface. Some GC functions:

  • Handy Stream at the home page—where you can post announcements, include resources to read or view.
  • Assignments – where you can assign tasks with a deadline (everyone sees the deadline at the home page then). You can also post a question, that students can answer and react to each other’s posts—engaging in a conversation (e.g. reflections on readings or videos)
  • Students can also upload not only their assignments, but also resources they like to share
  • Google Meet-since Classroom is a Google platform, you can use, instead of Skype, Google Meet – which is super easy to use as well. You will find an icon in the upper right hand corner when you are logged in to the Google account (see image on the right). You can initiate a Google Meet and it gives you a link. Just share the link with your students (via email or place it into the Stream on the homepage) and anyone who clicks the link will be a part of that meeting. Voilá, that simple.

  1. Try to define what you do in class at a higher, more goal-oriented level (e.g., presentation of content, checking for understanding, collaborative project work
  • instead of just saying “lecture,” “quiz,”“discussion”). If you keep those goals in mind, you will have a better idea of how to achieve them online, as well as what aspects of the in-class experience you ought to focus on simulating.
  • Review the assignments for the class for the next few weeks: even if your class assignments stay the same, remind students what they have to do and in what format – many get confused by the switch to online interaction and may lose track or assume the “old” assignments no longer apply. If there are changes, or additional assignment, it is doubly important to clarify them for the students and posting them either on Moodle or Google Classroom, where they can always find them.
  • Also, clarify the format of interaction for your class for the upcoming weeks, so that students can know what to expect (more readings and reflections, online discussions, blogs, group assignments, etc.)

  1. Keep lectures short
  • If you are interacting online via Skype or Google Meet, do not lecture for more than 20 minutes at a time. Attention span is much shorter when the interaction is online.
  • You can record your short lecture (even just on a cell phone) and post a video (on Moodle or Google Classroom stream, or email it to the class) and then use Skype/ Google Meet for discussion
  • …or simply make sure not to go into longer monologues when online—people tune out online much faster

  1. Engage students into interaction
  • Ask students to contribute their presentations online
    • They can also either record their presentations and post them, or present when the class meets online (again, mind the time in such case)
    • Ask students to send a handout for their classmates beforehand or post it on Moodle/ Google Classroom so that it is easier for all to follow
    • Ask the presenter to have a few questions for their colleagues
      • Consider following up a presentation with short written interactions (e.g. through forum format below)
  • FORUM: Post questions online and have students interact (following a presentation, text, video clip…)
    • you can either use FORUM function in Moodle, or simply post a question in Google Classroom—both allow students to not only post their reflection, but also a reaction to others’ posts, engaging in a conversation.
    • In this format, I usually require students to post one reflection and one reaction minimum.
  • Give assignments that will have the students work in pairs or small groups
    • It is very often more effective if the online interaction happens in smaller groups rather than with the entire class. Two or three students can have a group chat together and then report back to class.
    • In pairs, students can read each other’s assignments (reflections, essays, answers to prompts) and reflect on them via skype, give each other feedback, raise further questions (it is then good to follow-up with a brief written reflection on that skype interaction)
    • I sometimes use a format of groups of three-especially if I know they will have a few interactions of this sort. Each time, students have a different role:
      • Interviewer: Interviewer prepares, after engaging with the required reading or video or other material, a set of questions that stem from that reading. They send it to the interviewee ahead of time (at least a day or two)
      • Interviewee: In a small Skype (or equivalent) chat, interviewee offers their answer to the interviewer’s questions, offering own analysis and reflection
      • Observer: Observer observers this interaction, taking notes on both interviewer’s questions and the interviewee’s answers
      • DISCUSSION: After Interviewee’s answers, all three should engage in further discussion, raising other questions, points or examples
      • REFLECTION: Each person writes a reflection on this interaction from their position, summarizing what was said. Interviewer evaluates whether the answers given meet their anticipated answers, add own reflections, interviewees evaluate whether the questions matched their own questions regarding the material and offer their answers, observers reflect on both the questions and answers given from their outsider’s perspective. All reflect also on what their

  • COLLABORATIVE READING: PERUSALL is an excellent online platform where you can upload your own texts (free to use), and it allows the students to read collaboratively (click for a quick guide).
    • In Perusall, you or students can pose questions (e.g. if they don’t understand a passage or a concept), they can post reflections, comment on other people’s reflections
    • Perusall will produce a report for you about the most discussed terms—which is a great start for an online conversation afterwards
    • Perusall increases the likelihood that everyone has read the text from the usual 20-30% (of course this percentage is higher at BISLA) to over 90%, on average
  • If Perusall does not work (I emailed them to enable BISLA instructors to use it (seems to be limited to USA as of now), waiting for response), you may ask students to share a given number of annotations (question, comment, reflection on a specific point, answer to another annotation) on a course forum (again, Moodle has such option, and Google Classroom also)-reacting to another’s annotations as well.

Use the Skype/ Google Meets conversations then to go over these experiences, soliciting observations based on the group or pair exercises, reflections, or collaborative reading. That is what these platforms are most suited for.

  1. Hold more office hours/consultations—Skype or Google Meet can also be used for consultations. Let students know when you are available for 1-2 hours, initiate a video session and send them a link to join online—and whoever wishes to join in those two hours to discuss assignment or get feedback, can find you there with that link. That way, even if you spend less time together as a whole class, students can get interaction and improve their understanding in another way. Sometimes, you may wish to just schedule a smaller session if you know a particular student is unlikely to seek you out on their own but could benefit from direct feedback.

  1. Watch students’ workload
  • It is actually very easy to overdo it with class assignments when going online. Small written reflections, group chats, online blogs and interactions…all can balloon to a larger workload than under normal circumstances. Please be mindful that, while being creative and engaging a multitude of formats, it does not become overbearing. Estimate how much time each assignment might take (for a 30 minute conversation, add 10 minutes for set-up and clarification), if there are follow-up written reflections, that adds another 30-60 minutes, etc. It seems to work well to treat all small assignments as a future material for online discussion—thus engaging with the studied topics in depth and interactively.

Of course, there are so many more ways to engage with students, and you will find a wealth of tips in the links at the very top. I would also appreciate, if you email us with your own best practices—and we will share what seems to work best with all of our colleagues.