The instructor knows and understands the importance of teacher-student communication, and applies this knowledge in various ways within the course.
The instructor uses a variety of tools for contacting students;
The instructor models and facilitates appropriate communication;
The instructor set clear expectations through course policies and well-written assignments with rubrics;
The instructor provides timely and useful feedback.
Reflection This past week I attended a professional development event that focused on online learning. My favorite part of the day was hearing what some of the students had to say about this topic. Most of the students all chimed in with a similar response, saying that instructors should not be afraid of technology, and to try new practices to stay connected with millenials. Most of the students also mentioned that they preferred a group style method of learning, or group-project based method when it came to online learning. The experience was important because I realized once again how important it was to hear what students had to say. Likewise, I want my students to hear what I have to say, and I want to say it in a way that boosts their success. Using the Zoom tool through CCC Confer is an exciting new way that I can now communicate with my students. Just because online courses operate in environments that are different than face to face courses, I don't want to sacrifice the important component of effective communication. Below are some of the practices I utilize to reach this goal.
Some of the best feedback I get from students is anonymous polled feedback. I usually do this once in the middle of the semester and once at the end. The students who do it (it is not mandatory) are free to speak their mind and critique without any negative repurcussions. I simply want to know what's working for them and what's not. Below you'll see students who responded to this question: What were some of the elements of the course that you enjoyed and we're helpful to you?
The class cafe was essentially designed for the purpose of improved communication. As I say in the announcement, its purpose is to ask questions and recieve feedback from the instructor and classmates in a timely and helpful manner. It also serves as a social outlet where students can help each other succeed in the class in broader ways. The class cafe is another spot where I can give feedback and make formative assessments. Because everyone can see these posts, I try to limit specific feedback that details exact grading. In this entry, a student was having trouble printing out the readings that I was providing through Scribd. To solve the problem, I decided to just provide the students with the PDFs. Pitfall averted! In other instances, I don't even need to get involved. The students help each other figure out a problem. I love that!
Self-created instructional videos that are accessible
I want my mode of communication to be visual and exceed the limitations of the written word. When my students first arrive at the class Blackboard/Canvas site, they will find both words and videos to greet them. Through the video, which I designed using QuickTime Player, my iMac with a built in camera, and YouTube tools, I try to welcome the students, explain the goals of the class and emphasize the first week tasks. In this example, I've also included closed captioning text, and I am sitting in a sound room at one of the colleges I teach at, devoted to making instructional videos. All of the instuctional videos and announcement videos would not be possible without the help of these two tools: Quick Time Player and YouTube. While I have dabbled with other screencasting tools like Camtasia, I have gotten most comfortable with these tools. I also like being able to easily create videos with my iPhone and upload to YouTube. Of course, the automatic annotatting tool at YouTube is pretty nice as well.
My Site, an online platform Saddleback College uses, allows me to easily communicate with students using a tool called "Progress Reports" or "Nudges". Intended as a means to share positive and negative feedback that needs attention, this tool is much faster than writing out an email. The drop down menu provides boiler plate feedback, and recommended actions. Others at the college, such as a counselor, can also be included in this message as well. The image below shows an example of this tool for my course.
Create your own unique website with customizable templates.