Ways to boost connections, engagement, equity, and inclusivity
Experiencing a sense of connection with your students is essential to having a positive online teaching experience, and when students experience your presence in a course, they are in turn much more likely to succeed.
If you are interested in learning more about online teaching and facilitation strategies to boost connection, engagement, equity, and inclusivity, without changing the structure or content in your course, you will find many tips and practical strategies in Humanizing Virtual Learning, an open educational resource (OER) created by the University of Waterloo in partnership with other colleges and universities across Ontario.
Check out these chapters especially:
Here are a few key strategies with links to where you can find more details and specific tips in the Humanizing Virtual Learning OER:
Welcome your students and make your presence felt
- Try using a welcome announcement and weekly announcements to help share your personality and your passion for the subject matter, and to make connections to the real world, current events, and new research.
- Let the students know what they can expect from you and orient them to the course by sharing where to start, what is important, where they can find information.
- Let students know where and how they can get support.
Add optional (recorded) synchronous sessions.
- Try adding sessions that allow for things like personal introductions, social interactiion, Q & A, coffee chats, activities, tutorials, and anything that supports learning without being a formal requirement to complete the course.
- If synchronous sessions were not scheduled by the Registrar’s Office (RO), students will not be expecting them so limit the number of sessions you run to 1-3 throughout the term and make them strategic. (If the RO did not schedule the course to have synchronous meet times, you cannot mandate them.)
- It is a good idea to record synchronous sessions for students who are unable to attend; however, you need to collect students' permission if you are recording them. If you don’t receive permission from students, you cannot post/share the recordings.
Participate in online discussions
- Encourage students and signal your engagement, without taking over the conversation.
Check in with your students
- Give students a chance to let you know what is going well and what is not. Is there anything you can do to address their issues/concerns?
- Get to know your students. At the start of the term give students a chance to let you know who they are what their goals are via a survey or optional (or bonus) discussion prompt.
- How are they doing throughout the term? Survey students to get a better sense of where they are feeling challenged, confused, disconnected.