Moving your class online quickly can be a big challenge, particularly for those of us who don't have experience teaching online. The following are some early actions to take when making plans.
Top things to do for your students right now
- Stay informed about campus plans: Keep track of the latest news about the impact of COVID-19 on Indiana University at https://coronavirus.iu.edu/, including that site's FAQ page. Encourage your students to visit the site, too.
- Communicate with your students early and often: Even if you don't have a plan in place yet, communicate with your students as soon as possible, informing them that changes are coming and what your expectations are for checking email or Canvas, so you can get them more details soon. Keep in contact with them regularly; providing updates with a supportive tone will reassure them and give them direction to succeed.
- Promote the Keep Learning site for students: Point your students to Keep Learning, which provides them with information on how they can navigate this crisis and succeed in their learning.
Next steps in preparing to teach online
- Check with your department: Your department will likely issue more details about the situation and guidelines about their expectations for classes. Your local administrators are your first point of contact regarding policies impacting your course.
- Find out about your students' situations: You might also start gathering information about your students' current situations: Do they have the technology needed to engage in class activities? Do they have internet access and adequate bandwidth for video? What time zones are they now in? What new demands might they have on their time because of this public health crisis? Be ready to use this information to guide your planning and expectations.
- Revisit your learning goals: Your course goals will likely remain the same. How students get there may need to change, however, as could the ways students demonstrate that they have reached those goals. Look at each goal or outcome and start thinking about how students can reach it and demonstrate mastery within the new limitations of teaching remotely.
- Review your course schedule and determine priorities: We tend to suffer from content overload in our courses, so consider what content is most vital to helping students meet your learning goals and prepare them to succeed in future courses. Trying to keep all your planned content won't work well for you or your students, so be ready to cut some and focus on the most important parts.
- Think beyond the most analogous approaches: It isn't always advisable to do a 1-to-1 swap of in-person and online activities, like doing an hour-long live video lecture or an online proctored exam. Technical and logistical limitations make those easy swaps difficult, and they may not serve your students' learning needs. So, be ready to think outside the box a bit. More on this in the Strategies section.
- Identify your new expectations for students: You will have to reconsider some of your expectations for students, including attendance, participation, communication, and deadlines. Some of these elements change naturally in online settings, and some will have to change during this crisis. As you think through those changes, keep in mind the impact this situation may have on students' ability to meet those expectations, including illness, technology limitations, or needing to care for family members. Be ready to handle requests for extensions or accommodations flexibly and equitably.
- Pick tools and approaches familiar to you and your students: Try to rely on tools and workflows that are familiar to you and your students, and adopt new tools only when absolutely necessary to meet course goals. This health crisis is already taxing everyone's mental and emotional energy, and introducing a lot of new tools and approaches may leave even less energy and attention for learning. If you do need to pick new tools and approaches, give yourself and your students time to practice with them in lower-stakes situations where a few mistakes don't matter so much.
- Identify your resources: Find a colleague experienced with teaching online who is willing to give you guidance and feedback, or seek out online peer groups in your discipline. Everyone is going through this now, and there are likely people in your field sharing best practices online. And contact your local teaching center for guidance throughout the process.