6 Small Things You Can Do To Have a BIG Impact on Student Learning

This post is brought to you by the Online Education Council, eLearning and Emerging Technologies, University Libraries, the Pew Faculty Teaching & Learning Center, and the Office of the Provost.

When teaching online and hybrid courses, there are a variety of key strategies that are proven to help students succeed. This blog post highlights 6 tips for success.

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6 Small Things that you can do that have a BIG Impact on Student Learning

  1. Ensure students have the appropriate orientation and support to use the technology in your course.

    Be sure to welcome your students and orient them to your course. You can do this via email, announcements, or a brief video.
    Flipgrid can be an effective tool to use as an icebreaker for students to get to know one another and to feel like part of a learning community. 

    To help students assess their preparation on the online/hybrid learning experience, you may wish to assign your students the online self-assessment. In an easy-to-find location, provide students direct links to resources such as the Blackboard student support, GVSU IT HelpDesk, and other relevant student support services.

  2. Publish your syllabus to your Blackboard site and open the course to students a week or two before the semester begins. 

    Research indicates that students benefit when given time to prepare and assess the course expectations ahead of time, so any extra time you give students to assess their readiness for the course and get into the mindset for online or hybrid learning is useful.
    Upload your syllabus to the course before the semester begins and email students an invitation to peruse it. If you are someone who is still building your Blackboard site up to the last minute, consider emailing your syllabus directly to students and letting them know when the course site will be ready for them to explore. 

  3. Focus on student success and retention with Blackboard tools. 

    Maximize student retention by proactively contacting inactive students, students with missing deadlines, or poor performance. The Blackboard Grade Center shows the date of last course access for students. The Retention Center,  Performance Dashboard and Item Statistics provide faculty with information about student activity as well as the ability to monitor students at-risk. Use these tools to determine whether any students in your class are falling behind or neglecting to check Blackboard regularly. Intervene early on, so they get back on track quickly.

  4. Establish a simple course menu and use consistent formatting & organization.

    Review your course from the viewpoint of a student. Is information clearly labeled by its function and easy to find? In addition to using consistent formatting and terminology, consider adding features such as Blackboard assignment due dates, guideposts, assignment checklists, multiple representations of essential information (reading assignments listed in the syllabus as well as in a course calendar), and introductory text or audio overviews with each folder/module.
    Will it be crystal clear to students when assignments are due? Which readings are required or optional? How much time should students expect to spend on a quiz or project? Ensuring this information is easy to find and clearly stated will go a long way toward helping students stay on track.
  5. Provide timely feedback on student work. 

    Students need (and want!) to know how they’re doing throughout the semester, so your timely feedback on assignments, discussions, and course activities is essential. And each time you provide feedback to students, you make your presence known–key to making students feel connected to your course and supported in their work.

    As you craft assignments, consider the frequency of and methods by which you’ll provide feedback to students’ work. Try audio recording feedback to students’ writing, or giving formative, brief feedback more frequently during an assignment to encourage students’ reflection and learning.

    Establish a goal of responding to students’ inquiries or activities on Blackboard within 24 hours Monday – Friday, or on Mondays for activities students may complete over the weekend.

  6. Create opportunities for students to develop mastery.

    Discussion threads are a popular component of Blackboard courses, but an online conversation is just one of many ways you can help students demonstrate knowledge or practice skills.
    Think beyond the discussion forum: given your course content, how might you build in multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate knowledge or mastery of a skill across a variety of activities? How will you reinforce skills or knowledge learned in one portion of the course in a future activity? What short assignments might you ask students to engage in and post for quick feedback?

Want More Info? Need Help? Try These Resources!

  • Consult with the instructional designers in IDeL for more online/hybrid course design tips and to learn how to increase your teaching, social, cognitive presence through the Community of Inquiry.
  • Access tips, tutorials, and information for effectively using Blackboard.
  • Review the one-stop Faculty Resources for Online Education.
  • Contact the Digital Studio for assistance in creating a welcome video or leveraging interactive media in your courses.
  • Review University Library resources for distance learning.

 

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