This page is reserved for tips and suggestions from you. If you’ve found a way for your students to make progress in your course despite missed class meetings–whether due to illness, bad weather, travel, or other circumstances–we encourage you to share your ideas with your colleagues. Please email us a brief description of what you did along with some reflections on how well it worked, and we will post these to the Continuity web site.
From Patricia O'Connor: Just finished the Appalachian Lit class (ENG 188-01). Class did more participation in this one as I invited them to take a few minutes and find a passage that supported a statement I gave them: "The eastern Kentucky mountain character Gertie Nevils in The Dollmaker by H. Arnow sees buying the Tipton Farm as a paradise of possibilities. Find passages that demonstrate how she shows good use of land and resources that fit into the theme of sustainable farming that we have seen in this novel and prior texts." Many class members contributed and became comfortable with unmuting their microphones, saying their names, and then making comments or reading passages. We even had two students attending class from aboard the Swim Team bus en route to a meet in Pennsylvania and could see and hear them clearly (with some friendly photo-bombing of the students sitting behind them!).
When classes were canceled due to Hurricane Sandy, a graduate English class was unfazed. Instead of missing a class, the professor and students in Milton and Reader Response Criticism (ENGL 546) decided to meet virtually via Skype chat. The general consensus was that the virtual class was a success! Professor Daniel Shore and students Kate Zavack and Whitney Williams reflected on the benefits and challenges of running a discussion via Skype chat.
Nancy Crego (School of Nursing and Health Studies) was inspired to experiment with lecture capture technology when her class Transition to Professional Practice was canceled due to bad weather. Determined to figure out a way to catch her students up, she experimented with using lecture capture technology to create podcasts for her students.
I now teach all my courses with an on-line component which amounts to a co-authored blog through WordPress. The course is a blend of the old and new, of course, but we blog together all semester long with I posting weekly class blogs and the students providing research blogs/comments. During the recent storm we did not miss a beat. Class kept meeting on-line as research blogs were posted and commented upon. We could have done even more if the forced recess had continued for another day or two. I also used the class e-mail function of Blackboard in this process.
Michael Coventry and I are using a blog in our theory to practice class where students develop e-portfolios. Since we were not able to give presentations on Tuesday, we had students upload their videos of themselves to the blog and then assigned the students to comment within predetermined groups on each other’s videos. We will be conducting the presentations next week and talk about the experience of watching the videos.
This semester, our American Studies senior seminar is using Twitter as an asynchronous virtual classroom. It’s lightweight, so it doesn’t distract, and many students had already incorporated Twitter into their daily data flow. Twitter has helped us maintain a sense of continuity — and even fostered a kind of communitas — as we’ve labored independent of one another.
I took up the Provost’s suggestion two days ago to think about ways to stay connected with students. Here’s what I did and how it worked:
For keeping up with discussions, I have found the Blackboard discussion forum to be a wonderful tool. Since I ask students to regularly contribute to discussions outside of class each week, keeping this going during the snow has been a cinch, and a familiar task for the students, who take it pretty much in stride. Yes, we will have missed our face-to-face conversations in French, but at least we can share ideas about the end of the novel we were reading (Gabrielle Roy’s Bonheur d’occasion), and put those blogs/forum contributions into the context of our past classroom discussions on the book.
I took seriously Jim O’Donnell’s call to keep the semester moving forward despite the snow and ice, and I’d like to share a success story that has taken even me by surprise. My Media and Politics seminar meets on Tuesday mornings. This Tuesday, we held class in real time using a blog set up for us by CNDLS. I sent an email to the class informing them of the plan and setting expectations, and posted PowerPoint slides relating to the class on Blackboard in advance. I prepared a rather lengthy post that introduced the topic and provided two sets of questions to get the discussion going. The amount of engagement, the high quality of discussion, and the degree of interactivity that we achieved online was astonishing. There is now a record of the class for those who were unable to take part. I also will be able to draw upon this material throughout the semester. It helps that this particular class of mostly CCT and a few GOVT grad students is especially good, but I did not anticipate that the process would go so smoothly or be so productive.