As we move to the online environment for teaching and learning, follow these fundamental principles:
Keep it Simple
Don’t try to create a whole online course now. While commercial and non-commercial companies are flooding your inboxes, now is not the time to try to learn and implement more technology than you and your students need. What are the essential skills, knowledge, and attitudes that students need to practice and show mastery? What are the simplest ways to assess these skills, knowledge, and attitudes? Do not lose sight of your primary purpose and student learning outcomes for your course.
Expect the unexpected
Technology will fail. People will have emergencies. The ability to concentrate will be less than usual (for our students and us). Test your technology before you use it. Have a backup plan if the technology fails. Determine what is necessary to keep in your course.
Consistency and Clarity are Key
In times of crisis, we need consistency and routine. Students expect syllabi and grades in Canvas. Canvas has many apps built-in, including course materials and Webex, so that students need to log into only one place and not figure out different apps, logins, and passwords. Remember, your students are in 3 to 5 separate courses. They need consistency and clarity of expectations. Consider numbering your announcements, or removing old announcements, such that information is up to date and precise.
Be Compassionate and Flexible
You and your students are under stress. Between changed routines and many uncertainties, choose to be kind, choose to be generous, choose to be compassionate, choose to be flexible.
In this time of social distancing (pdf), we need community as much as we ever did, and it does not require lots of new techniques from you. Simple things like emailing your students once a week to check-in and offer updates are valuable for building community. Host office/student hours via Zoom or Webex. Provide individual feedback as much as you can. We are all in this global health pandemic together.
Please take a moment for yourself when you need it. A few deep breaths can promote a state of calmness. A walk outside can be reinvigorating. Engaging in a creative activity like journaling or doodling can relieve stress. Keeping a gratitude journal can inspire hope. Please encourage your students to also pursue activities that bring them joy in this time of uncertainty.
To help you in this shift, CELT has created this Quick Start Guide page.
Our ISU Campus Partners are here to help, call us through the CELT Response Team 515-294-5357 (Monday-Friday, 8-5 p.m.). We have staff across campus willing to assist. If needed, the campus partners will meet with you virtually using Webex. Additionally, you may wish to contact one of the support units directly.
With a joy for teaching,
Sara Marcketti, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
This CELT Teaching Tip is adapted from resources on the Plymouth State University’s Preparing to Teach During COVID19 site.