We do know that faculty perceived a high level of engagement from students during Spring and Summer 2020; survey data provided by students paints a more complicated picture. This gap indicates a need to draw on pedagogical principles that will ensure that students are as engaged as they can be in our virtual classrooms. It is a testament to Georgetown faculty’s dedication that over 1900 faculty members participated in faculty development opportunities over the summer to improve their online courses and the student experience. The pages here feature some of the key takeaways from this training.
As you design your course and plan your time with your students, as well as the time your students will need to engage with learning activities on their own, it’s important to remember a few pedagogical principles:
- Adapt, don’t translate. It’s impossible to recreate your course as it existed in-person.
- Be flexible, responsive, and present. As we all have experienced, life is uncertain these days. Each of us comes to the learning space from a widely various set of environments and daily lives. This disparity requires a bit more tending and flexibility in terms of assignments and deadlines. Students ask for this understanding at the same time that they ask us to maintain the rigor of their courses.
- Communicate. Students repeatedly tell us how important emails and announcements are to their well-being and ability to stay organized and be successful.
- Be transparent. Share with your students why you are doing what you are doing and what you hope to achieve. Also, include them in your decision-making where possible and be open with them about your own experience. This is a hard time for everyone.
- Involve your students. In addition to decision-making, include them in the logistics of class operations. Consider roles such as chat monitor, screen sharer, presenter, facilitator, note taker, etc. Managing all these pieces is difficult; engage students by involving them.
The resources below address some of the common questions faculty have when they begin designing an online learning experience.
Am I Ready To Teach Online?
Teaching online can seem daunting at first. You might ask yourself: “Do I have the right tools?” and “Do I know how to use the tools?” Use the CNDLS Faculty Preparation Checklist to help orient yourself and assess your own readiness for teaching online.
How Do I Set Student Expectations For Their Learning Experience?
Setting expectations is crucial for managing students’ virtual learning experience. Clearly articulating learning goals is an effective way of setting expectations.
How Can I Adapt an In-Person Teaching and Learning Experience to a Virtual Environment?
Some of the activities that we’ve come to rely on in class can be challenging to reproduce in a virtual environment. The resources below provide suggestions to get you thinking about how you might develop your own creative solutions.
How Do I Design an Equitable Experience For All Students?
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that improves teaching and optimizes course design to meet the needs of all learners. The key assumption underlying UDL is that all learners are different and that a one-size-fits-all design can impose unnecessary learning barriers. Being able to proactively understand and anticipate needs arising from such differences can help instructors remove unnecessary barriers and optimize challenges that lead to the accomplishment of the learning objectives. The following resources include key principles, guidelines, and examples of UDL.
- Accessibility in Virtual Learning Environments (Instructional Continuity website)
- About Universal Design for Learning (CAST official website): CAST is the organization that first devised UDL. Review the key principles and guidelines on its official website.
- UDL in Higher Education (UDL On Campus official website): Review applications and examples of UDL in higher education.
- Universal Design for Learning (CNDLS Teaching Commons): Check Out CNDLS’ resources for and examples of applying UDL to course design.