Student Reflections on Online Learning
Online education has changed significantly over the past year. Here we provide some feedback from students on what should continue as we engage in face-to-face instruction again and what should be left behind.
What to keep from online learning
Assignment and participation flexibility: Help reduce student stress and increase accessibility by being flexible. For example, drop students' lowest assignment grades or create alternatives to graded synchronous participation.
Shorter lectures and breaks during lectures: This can help maintain student engagement and help you to reduce burnout.
Keep your Canvas simple yet effective: Help students by organizing files into folders, setting up weekly modules, and making sure to include all class Zoom links on Canvas.
Record your lectures: This can make a world of difference for students in distant time zones and for when students have to miss a class due to health or other reasons. If you are concerned that recording lectures will result in less student participation, there are other ways to encourage student engagement.
What to leave from online learning
Focusing too much on "rigor": Online education is fundamentally different from in-person instruction, so creating a rigorous learning environment will require different approaches. Focus on covering the most important material, and develop a backup plan, such as optional readings or asynchronous videos for the rest.
Big changes to courses: Be sure to clearly set expectations at the beginning of the quarter and then be consistent with your expectations throughout the course. If an assignment or expectation does need to change, clearly communicate this to students.
What should stay for future in-person classes
Recorded lectures: Students have given us feedback that lecture recordings are very helpful. However, recording lectures can sometimes be challenging depending on your situation. For a discussion of recommendations and policies regarding recording lectures and managing course absences see:
- Pre-recorded Instructional Video
- Live Online Lectures
- Strategies if Students are Unable to Attend in Person
Integrating Canvas fully into courses: Post the syllabus and other files. Have students submit assignments through Canvas.
Utilizing online tools: For example, Poll Everywhere to replace clickers and Google Jamboards in place of whiteboards.
Flexibility and understanding: Help reduce student stress and promote mental health and well-being.