Creating a positive first impression and establishing a sense of trust are important elements to creating a successful classroom experience for your students and you. This is especially true during this time when there is a great deal of uncertainty both for you as an instructor and for your students. The best way to handle this is to address uncertainty so that your students can see you are aware of their concerns for their well-being and have strategies in place to address them. Below are some tactics you can use to kick start this conversation and open a dialogue with students.
Orient the in-person & online students to each other
While the experience of teaching to in-person and online students simultaneously is likely a new experience for many instructors, it is equally unfamiliar to your students. You can alleviate some of the awkwardness by taking steps to help everyone be as accessible to each other as possible.
- When possible, have online learners visible to in-person students and vice versa.
- Encourage students to use their webcams to display themselves if they feel comfortable doing so.
- Project the Gallery view of Zoom sessions to the in-person students when possible.
- When projecting a Zoom session to in-person students, use the classroom webcam to show online students how they appear in the classroom environment when they are projected onscreen to the in-person students.
- When asking questions, encourage online students to give the response. Their webcam microphones will be easier for everyone to hear than comments from the back of the in-person classroom.
- Create an online introduction activity to be completed before the first day and directly refer to some of the students' posts during the first synchronous session.
- Have students record the correct pronunciation of their names in NameCoach and listen to each others’ names.
- Have students complete their Canvas profile.
- Reinforce that students should use the IU Support Center's ITHelpLive service for just-in-time technical help.
Plan activities that highlight the strengths of each modality
Generally speaking, synchronous sessions offer an opportunity for students to practice with new ideas and develop consensus through shared experiences. Asynchronous activities can be effective for deeper personal reflection and exploration.
- Synchronous sessions
- Use synchronous sessions so that students are actively engaged and collaborating.
- Change up activities regularly so that learners don't become demotivated by inaction.
- Asynchronous activities
- Give students plenty of signposts with directions, instructions about your expectations, and guidance on what you consider important. Remember that students in in-person contexts have more opportunities to ask you for clarification. Asynchronous activities require extra effort to contextualize work for students before they get started. Assume, "if you didn't type it, they can't know it."
- Create short descriptions before videos to prime students to the questions they should be asking as they watch.
- Add ungraded comprehension checks to video lectures (such as Canvas Quizzes, Kaltura Quizzes, or Quick Check), so that students can confirm they have learned the key points.
Refer back to asynchronous online discussions and activities during in-person class time so that students can see how their online work has value in the classroom.