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Faculty Guide for Online Teaching

.Community in Individual Classes: SAIC Faculty Recommendations.

  • Teachers reach out in advance of the start of the semester to their students to identify needs, potential conflicts, access, and resources. 

  • Use of cohorts and breakout rooms to establish an initial sense of community, to create smaller, shifting communities that encourage participation, especially in classes with higher enrollment.

  • Engineering a level of interaction into online assignments to help develop community in a dispersed or disrupted classroom.

  • Establish norms and expectations in an Online Class Initial Discussion, insight based on spring 2020 feedback.

For more specific approaches to this topic, Librarians recommend UPenn's Creating Community in Your Online Course guide.

.Tips from 5 Ways to Connect with Online Students.

"5 Ways to Connect With Online Students"Chronicle of Higher Education, June 26, 2020

  • Set times for interactions, and stick to the schedule. You need to be there for online students, which requires more intentional effort. Create a weekly schedule to engage online students in ways that are both visible and supportive. Two of the most effective: (1) Post regular, encouraging announcements on the course page of your college’s learning-management system, and (2) participate routinely and frequently in the class discussion forum.

  • Build in flexibility wherever possible. Without sacrificing rigor, or going against the grain of your own teaching standards, are there ways to build in some wiggle room for online students? That is a powerful demonstration of your compassion and humanity, especially for those who are juggling a job and family obligations along with their coursework. 

  • Create short, authentic videos. In person, students get to know you during those casual conversations before and after class. Short videos posted on the LMS allow for rich, nonverbal communication in a way that the written word does not. When you create mini-lecture videos, greetings, and announcements, you can maximize the potential of vocal intonations and facial expressions to punch up your message. 

  • Communicate. Intentionally. A lot. Just like your students, you will have unexpected challenges, major and minor, arise from time to time. Is grading an assignment taking longer than you thought it would? Send a quick announcement to update students on your timing.

  • Be vulnerable. Above all, connect with students online this fall by letting them see you’re not perfect. Still learning how to teach online? Invite them into your journey. Ask them what works. What could you do better? When you’re willing to learn from, and with, students, you model a sense of humility, a desire to improve, a willingness to change your mind. 

.Other Resources.

"Turns Out You Can Build Community in a Zoom Classroom", Chronicle of Higher Education, June 23, 2020

"How to Establish a Strong Community in an Online Course", by Magara Maeda, University of Wisconsin River Falls and Lauren Rosen, University of Wisconsin

"Building A HyFlex Community", from Morehead State writing professor, July 10th, 2020