Engaging students in an online course is the key to a successful learning experience. Fortunately, ATSI supports a number of tools that make connecting with students easier than ever. Whether your course is discussion-based, heavy on group work and presentations, or relies on peer interaction, the suggestions below show you how to take the pulse of the learners in your course and keep them on track to meet the learning outcomes of your course.
Polling – Starting off a synchronous session with a brief check in is a great way to find out where your students are with the learning materials in your course. Zoom has some built in quick poll features that make it easy to get “yes/no” feedback while you’re in a session. Poll Everywhere is a full-featured polling tool that you can use throughout the week. Find out what students are stressing about, what topics they’d like more resources on, what they’re enjoying about the readings and assignments, and maybe even some fun stuff like what music they’re listening to.
Pro Tip: Use Zoom polling while in a synchronous Zoom session but use Poll Everywhere throughout the week for a series of low stakes touchpoints.
QuickStart guide to Poll Everywhere – https://www.polleverywhere.com/support/articles/lms/import-students-moodle
Talk To Me – Discussion forums have been around forever but now they’re more important than ever. Moodle forums provide a robust setting for in-depth responses to thoughtful prompts and offer many assessment options too. VoiceThread is an asynchronous discussion tool that allows your students to respond vocally to a question, prompt, visual, or other piece of content. It’s mobile friendly and gives you complete control over who can view/listen to the posts. Great for small group discussions and as part of a universal course design that allows for different learning styles. Fully integrated with Moodle, it’s great for giving feedback on student assignments.
Pro Tip: Include both written discussion forums from Moodle and voice driven discussions from VoiceThread in your course.
QuickStart Guide to VoiceThread – Voicethread.com/howto/
Quick Start Guide to Moodle Forums – https://sites.up.edu/moodle/guides/add-a-discussion-forum-to-your-course/
Collaboration– Group projects are the backbone of many courses. MS Teams provides a full-featured suite of everything needed to work on a project at distance. Students can easily access files from Office 365, use a white board, record a group meeting, and store all communications about the project in one place without cluttering email boxes. Zoom’s break out rooms offer an efficient working environment for small groups during a synchronous class session.
Pro Tip: Let students work on group projects together during class time in Zoom by using the breakout room feature. This gives you an opportunity to drop in and see how their group work is progressing. Steer students towards doing group work together in MS Teams during the week so that all project materials, files, and communications are kept in one place.
Tip Sheet on Zoom Breakout rooms – https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206476313-Managing-Breakout-Rooms
QuickStart Guide to MS Teams –
Active Facilitation – Finally, the most important part of keeping students engaged is you. That’s right. It’s the way you create presence in a course. The more engaged you are, that is, the more present you are, the more engaged they will be. Zoom provides a way to hold virtual office hours and to be present with students during the synchronous sessions. But throughout the week, if you are responding to questions, communicating with students to remind them of due dates or other important items, actively participating in forums, and touching base with short polls, low stakes assignments or check ins, this will signal to students that you are there and as a result, they will be there too.
Pro Tip: Keep it simple but keep it consistent. Build a routine that’s sustainable but includes something like a weekly email roundup with a short poll and a glance at the week ahead.