Strategy 1: Getting to know the students:
The above link is a quick overview of how to get to know students in an online environment utilizing SKYPE software. When a student populates an instructor’s distance class; the instructor and student have a face to face skype call to introduce each other. This is an opportunity for the student and teacher to connect as well as answer any questions the student might have.
This activity fits in well with my teaching practice as I value relationships and it is a way to reduce the isolation of the online environment.
Other helpful resources or links related to this topic idea are:
- Each time a new student populates the course I would connect with them by email and set up a time for a skype call.
- These calls could occur throughout the course as well
- Helpful to have an entrance and exit skype call with the students
Strategy 2: Allow flexibility in how students meet course outcomes.
The above link discusses how to offer flexibility to students and in particular the adult learner. As described in the OTL 201 course it is important to recognize that most learners in online environments are busy adults with careers and family responsibilities outside of school.
The idea/strategy of allowing flexibility in how students meet course outcomes fits with my teaching practice as I too am a busy adult with a career and family responsibilities outside of school. I think that flexibility (within reason) for adult students is appropriate and a supportive way to encourage adult students to continue with their studies. I have been an adult student myself and often in need of flexibility simply due to the stresses that life has thrown at me.
Other helpful resources of links:
- As an instructor, it will be important for me to remember to be flexible for the students in the courses that I teach
- I will review the literature as necessary to remind myself about flexibility
- I may need to connect with the senior open learning faculty member for support as necessary
Strategy 3: Create a positive and supportive learning environment
The above link is a quick overview of some helpful tips on how to create a warm and inviting environment for students online. The ideas are good reminders and often things that would be easily accomplished in a face to face world but take a bit more planning online. These are ideas such as connecting with the students when they populate the course, commenting on the posts that they provided, creating opportunities for the students to get to know one another and learning details about their lives (to name a few).
This idea of creating a positive and supportive environment fits with my teaching philosophy as I am a social worker and therapist. Therefore part of what I focus on in my work is to create relationships and support/encourage people.
Other helpful resources or links:
- Continue to reflect on positive and supportive online environments
- Connect with the students and practice the strategies
- Continue to learn about ways to build support into the online world
Strategy 4: Encourage learners to incorporate feelings and experiences in their completed work
The above link is a quick overview of a number of tips and tricks to encourage students to access feelings and experiences in their completed work. When learners are more connected emotionally to the concept they are more likely to have increased learning and recall (as the learning is happening in 2 ways: both through text and also through emotions).
This idea fits with my teaching practice as it aligns with my own value system as a social worker and therapist. If students are accessing their own emotional experience they are likely to increase the richness of their understanding of the concept. This will also improve their understanding of empathy as they will be putting themselves in someone else’s’ shoes.
See this link on empathy by Brene Brown.
- Connect with my OLFM teaching partner to learn how he built this strategy into his practice
- Continue with ongoing research on emotional engagement for students
Strategy 5: Use Case Studies to make learning more personal
The above link is an article that discusses a number of strategies that can be used to increase student retention and engagement. The one strategy that stuck out to me was the use of case studies to enhance the learning.
This idea fits with my teaching style as I also learn better when using personal examples to better understand the concept. I have worked in the field of social work and counseling for many years and could pull many case studies (with all identifying information changed so as to protect the identities of the individuals) to illustrate the concepts being taught. I believe this is a great way to increase learner engagement.
Other helpful resources or links:
- Develop a list of appropriate case studies that are ready to go
- Continue to learn about how to use case studies in the realm of online teaching