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To Start

  • Be kind to yourself and your students – everyone is stressed and anxious, so focus on what is important.
  • Acknowledge that what you’re about to do online won’t be as good as what you had prepared, or what you could do with more time – that’s ok, we’re just trying to do what we can do under the circumstances.
  • This is not about best practice, and this is not about recreating your classrooms, lecture theatres and other experiences – this is the best we can do with little time and planning.
Lets begin shall we 

Prioritize what is needed

* What do your students really need to learn and do for the rest of the semester? Don’t try to do everything you planned, just do what is absolutely necessary

Communication is essential

* Students will be receiving a lot of information from the university and the broader media, so make sure that any communication about your course is clear, succinct and focused
* Make sure you have ways that students can ask you questions about the course and materials
* If you don’t know something they ask (like how long the online delivery will be happening or what will happen with exams etc), be honest but indicate that the university and School is actively working on these issues.

Set clear expectations

* Make it clear to students what to do each week and how much time they should be spending on different activities
* In an online mode, you need to be more specific and upfront about how you expect students to act

Plan the semester

* You will need to plan learning activities for the rest of the semester in more detail than you may have otherwise
* Consider sharing this with your students as soon as possible, rather than releasing plans or information week by week

Digital equity

* Don’t assume your students have access to powerful devices (computers, laptops etc) and fast unlimited internet
* Check with your students what they have, and for those who are worried engage them in suggesting other strategies that may work

Students with special needs or accommodations

* If you have students in your course that already have accommodations or access plans, consider how these could be adapted to an online environment
* Reach out to the relevant groups in the School and at York to ask for advice
Navigation in your Moodle course site

* If you haven’t already, think about how you can better support your students to navigate their Moodle course site
* Use clear labels for different activities and resources, and consider a cover page that describes where to find what on the site
* Use the front announcement page as an important way of communicating to your students

Plan your learning activities

* In an online learning mode, you need to plan much more what you want your students to do, and how you can continue to engage them in active learning
* The feedback you can get in a lecture isn’t available online (you can’t see your students), so think about how you are building in opportunities to ask questions and get feedback
* Plan how you can get active engagement – don’t just deliver content, but pause regularly and ask your students questions to answer by themselves, or work out the rest of a problem etc. Make sure your expectations for them doing this actively are clear.

Delivery – Asynchronous Activities

* Smaller, shorter duration activities or delivery are recommended – ideally no more than 10 – 15 minutes at a time
* If you are uploading your own content, consider how a student may be viewing it (smartphone, tablet etc) and make sure that it is readable and clear. This is especially important for slides or other written material.
* Rather than creating your own digital content, consider curating some existing online open access resources along with some of your own. There are many sites that have video content that is free to use for engineering & science classes

Delivery – Synchronous Activities

* Make sure the times you expect students to be online is clearly communicated
* Don’t just try to deliver an entire 2 – 3 hour lecture online in one block, and instead either try to create some short videos to upload, or condense the important points into a couple of 30 min sessions
* Make sure you record the session so your students can watch it back later – you are trying to support your students as much as you can through this process
* If you are worried about technology or how the delivery is going, select one or two students who are attending who can notify you if the technology is not working, rather than everyone (or no one) letting you know

Engaging your students

* A sudden shift to an online environment can be incredibly isolating for students, so consider how to engage with your students and how you can support them to engage with each other
* Consider uploading a short video at the beginning of each week of yourself talking to a webcam about what is happening that week.
* If you haven’t already, consider setting up an online forum or discussion board for students, and check regularly what discussions are happening
* Think about ways to encourage your students to encourage each other to engage in the course.
* There are many technologies and approaches that are available to support you in this transition.
* You should try to select ones that are familiar to you and your students to minimize disruption to your teaching during a stressful time.
* Step 2 and 3 will provide some advice on what approaches you could take to teach and engage your students, and some of the technologies that are available for you to use.
* Remember that the Lassonde Learn team is here to help.