Strategies and Solutions

Use this page to determine your best approaches to teaching online.

  • General – Supported tools and general tips.
  • Before the Course Starts – How to prepare your course for online teaching.
  • During the Course Run – How to deliver your course using online teaching.
  • Wrapping Up – How to finish the course and submit grades.

Click a section below to read more.

General

Rutgers & SCI Supported Tools

Tips

Summer and Fall 2020 semesters will be impacted by covid-19.  Student engagement and performance will be impacted by a variety of factors.  The tips below are advice for navigating online learning in a time of uncertainty.

Expectations: We know how important it is to maintain high standards for our students so that they put their best efforts into their work However, this does not mean creating additional readings and/or assignments to “equal” the amount of seat time they would spend in a face-to-face class setting.  Online learning focuses more on content mastery and meeting course objectives and less on credit hours.  What may take one student 15-minutes to read/do could take another student upwards of an hour.  Focus more on quality, not quantity of readings, activities, and assessments.

Student Environment Challenges: Many are home with their parents (or are parents themselves!) who have tremendous expectations of them – that they help out with their siblings – or are just in extremely disruptive environments in general.  This isn’t an excuse – this is their reality now. They aren’t going to be able to put their best efforts into producing high quality work if they’re doing busy work discussion posts. Their work probably won’t be the best in general because they’re attempting to navigate their home life as well as their assignments.  Please be considerate of their circumstances as they are of yours.

Share the Internet!: Cameras off during meetings! It will be a smoother experience for you and your students, and take up less bandwidth overall for everyone else in the world that is attempting to learn, work, meet at the same time.

Synchronous Sessions:  It’s best not to require attendance at face-to-face virtual meetings.  Synchronous sessions are best reserved for office hours or optional discussions. (See Digital Equity and Student Environment Challenges.)

Digital Equity: While students were on campus, they had access to computers in the library, etc., if they didn’t have their own laptop or desktop.  This is no longer the case. Some may have many living with them with poor internet connections. Many are only able to do work in the wee hours of the morning after everyone has gone to sleep.  Please know that it’s crucial to allow students to work on their own time when it’s “best” for them (even though it’s not usually in the best of circumstances regardless).

Due Dates: The students are doing the best they can to complete assignments.  Please give them extra time to complete yours. This doesn’t mean you need to extend for all – just those who ask – and they will ask.  

Be kind to yourself: You are doing the best you can.  Give yourself a break, there is no reason to burn yourself out.

RU Reddit:  Please check out the Rutgers Reddit channel to get an understanding of where students are coming from in all of this.  Many are drowning in assignments, anxiety, and ambiguity. Be mindful of their challenges and they will do the same for you.

Advice for Better Online Teaching

Don’t just take it from us!  Check out the 10 tips that Flower Darby gives for better online teaching.  Here is the list of actions you can that the article goes into detail:

  1. Show up to Class
  2. Be Yourself
  3. Put Yourself in Their Shoes
  4. Organize Course Content Intuitively
  5. Add Visual Appeal
  6. Explain Your Expectations
  7. Scaffold Learning Activities
  8. Provide Examples
  9. Make Class a Pleasant, Inviting Place to Be
  10. Commit to Continuous Improvement

Before the Course Starts

Course Design

  • Update / Revise Syllabus
  • Create course schedule
    • Include due dates for activities and assessments
    • List any live session date(s)/time(s)
  • Create / Locate course content and materials (files) (See how SCI IDTS recommends organizing your content.)
    • Links to course readings via library databases, where appropriate
    • Record lectures
    • Request Text and/or Media Library Reserves
    • Identify course content from other sources, e.g., Open Educational Resources (OER), Publisher content, LinkedIn Learning, podcasts, etc.
  • Chunk (Organize) course content
    • Limit lectures or online class sessions to 20-minutes and pair them with “off-screen” activities.  Doing so can improve students’ attention span and reduce screen-time fatigue. 
  • Adapt / Revise course activities and discussions
  • Adapt / Revise course assessments

Canvas

  • Update Canvas profile – be sure to include a photo and biography
  • Customize Canvas notification settings
  • Upload course syllabus (PDF recommended)
  • Essential info is provided on the main course landing page: Contact
    info, Course number and title, Office hours and meeting times
  • Upload course files (recorded lectures, PPTs, etc.)
  • Link to course readings via the library database (do not upload PDFs of articles or chapters if they are available through the library)
    • Model expected citation style
  • Set up activities and assessments
    • Include descriptive and specific criteria for completing and submitting assignments
    • Link to rubric and/or grading criteria
  • Use the DesignPLUS Multi-Tool to create Modules to organize everything
    • Introduction / Objectives
    • Lectures / Videos / Podcasts
    • Readings
    • Assignments
  • Import Canvas Modules Template (adapt as needed)
  • SCI Course Orientation Module (adapt as needed)
  • Run a UDOIT accessibility check of the course in Canvas to identify any accessibility issues.
  • Customize Course Navigation links.

During the Course

One Week Before 1st Week of Classes

With one week to go before the semester these tasks are finishing touches that will ensure a smooth first week of class.

  • Publish Canvas course site
  • Email students;
    • Welcome Announcement
    • Syllabus
    • Required software (if applicable)
    • Assigned textbook (if applicable)
  • Schedule any course announcements in Canvas.
  • Post a “personal introduction”.

First Week

  • Contact students who haven’t accessed the course.
  • Encourage students to introduce themselves to each other.

Ongoing

Once the semester starts it is time to move from course prep to course management. There are several key tasks to remember to do on a daily or weekly basis. These occur in addition to any synchronous sessions scheduled for the class.

    • Communicate with students
    • Run live session office hours
    • Share live session recordings
    • Post a weekly announcement
    • Block time for course management:
      • Read posts and monitor online discussions
      • Grade assignments
      • Give feedback
      • Send updates and assignment reminders

 

Wrapping Up

Final Weeks

As the semester winds down these tasks help to close out the term clearly and efficiently.

  • Answer questions about final project / exam
  • Post an end-of-class announcement
  • Share a link to SIRS
  • Post final grades to REGIS

Reflect

How would you change things next semester?  You will not be a pro online instructor in just a few months time.  But you will get better with every semester you teach in a remote format.  Remember – less is more.  

  • Review and revise course materials for future offerings.
  • Review new or untried tools or teaching strategies. The Teaching Professor is a valuable resource for teaching and facilitating a course. Tools supported by Rutgers to consider:
    • Hypothes.is
  • Identify trainings and workshops to attend on teaching and learning strategies.