To engage the students in online courses, instructors need to adopt teaching strategies that differ from those used in a traditional classroom. Given the lack of face-to-face contact that’s present in an on-ground course, faculty members must find ways to foster collaboration and communication among students sitting at their own desks across town—or perhaps even across cities and states. In addition, there should be a variety of activities and assignments that can bring about the same degree of student engagement and active learning that students would experience in an on-ground course.
For example, instructors may:
All of these interactions are important and can greatly impact students’ experiences in their courses.
Offering opportunities for different types of positive interaction can increase students’ satisfaction with their online courses. To list a few other key benefits, good quality interactions can:
It can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to creating a good environment for interaction and collaboration. To help, the ID team has created a checklist with proven techniques for fostering positive and productive interaction among online learners. It includes rationales for why each step is beneficial as well as some tools and resources to help you get started.
This checklist is organized into different stages:
1) Developing a plan for the course (and organizing the materials)
2) Communicating with students about the course requirements
3) Fostering collaboration and facilitation during activities
New mandates for Title IV from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, require proof on student engagement in a Direct Contact Hours chart in your syllabus and in the online course. Please use the latest version of the online-syllabus-template with the chart already in place. And use the Online Instructional Equivalency and Substantive Interaction Grid to assist with designing your course within these expectations. (Requirements include at least two activities with substantive engagement.)
Create an Ice Breaker Discussion
An ice breaker discussion is a quick and easy way of creating an online community at the beginning of the course. Have students share experiences, images, and videos. Canvas makes it easy to add video and images in discussions.
Have an Open Line of Communication
Canvas has many options to encourage communication between instructors and their students: