This semester I’m teaching online for the first time in many years, and it is a course that I’ve never taught online before, Social Media. Now if there was ever a course that makes sense to do online, I think it would be a Social Media class. (If you’re interested in seeing us in action, check the #digme406 hashtag on Twitter.)
One of the things I did was require my students to video chat with me. Some opted to use telepresence robot. Some just used Skype or Facetime.
This week, I had a video chat with a student who gave me a suggestion I hadn’t thought about. I mentioned that I noticed there is a flurry of activity on Sunday night when all of the week’s assignments are due. This student is a 100% online student, so her perspective was really helpful. She said some classes have a number of small assignments due through out the week to encourage regular participation. In other words, I’m shooting myself in the foot by making everything due once a week on Sunday night.
It was a great suggestion. I think these one on one conversations are great for improving the course. I think they are important for feeling connected to the students, and for them to feel connected as well.
One thing I did that seems to be working well is the Study Buddy assignment. I required everyone to make contact with three others in the class in the first week. These contacts seem to be sticking, as several have reported having regular contact with their study buddies. That makes me feel good, because it is not unusual to go an entire week without hearing from any student. I think the suggestion of staggering assignments is the way to go, to make sure everyone is regularly checking in.