In the face-to-face environment, student-to-student, student-faculty, and student-content interactions occur synchronously and often develop organically (Moore, 1989). The challenge with online education is how to create opportunities for interaction that yield effective and rich learning experiences.
This resource outlines researched-based best practices for meaningful interactions in online courses.
Developing a communication plan will provide clear instructions on how you will be interacting with students and how they can interact with you. Removing ambiguity regarding communication will reduce unnecessary work responding to student questions via various channels and enable students to focus on the critical aspects of the educational experience.
Compliance Tip: If emailing with students, use your official Johns Hopkins University email account to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
In online environment, students benefit from regular opportunities to connect with faculty and peers in a live synchronous environment.
Building community in the online classroom is a vital aspect of education. Designing the online course to intentionally build connections between students and with the instructor provides a sense of belonging and support. Such bonds help combat the sense of isolation that is inherent in online learning, particularly when other tasks demand your time and you don’t have time to spontaneously check in on your students.
Online students depend on your timely and meaningful feedback for an authentic and personalized learning experience. Studies have shown that feedback is most effective when it is immediate, not delayed (I.e., several days, weeks, months later). Feedback that is constructive, specific, balanced, and collegial supports students in their learning more than generic feedback like, “Great work,” which is positive but not helpful.
At the highest levels of learning, students are creating or putting elements together to form a new coherent or functional whole. Students are reorganizing elements into a new patterns or structures. Authentic assessments support the highest levels of learning. They require students to apply what he/she has learned to a new situation and determine what information and skills are relevant and how they will be used.
Asynchronous, text-based discussions are one of the most common ways students interact in online courses. But asynchronous, text-based discussions are not all created equally. The discussion prompts must contain some basic elements in order to promote student engagement and interaction.
Synchronous live discussions occur at the same time in one location such as on a Zoom meeting. These discussions can stimulate lively conversations around learning topics. You can use breakout rooms in Zoom to facilitate active learning and small group activities.
Creating opportunities for students to collaborate on assessments offers opportunity for peer-learning, building relationships and communities, and innovation—all of which, align with essential skills for the 21st century.
Lecture Times Mondays and Fridays 1:30-2:45pm [room or Zoom link) Professor [Name]
Office [building and #]
Office Hours (day/time will be determined after student survey) Phone 410.xxx.xxx
TA Office Hours Thursday 5-7pm & Sunday 5-7pm
TAs [Name] & [email], [Name] & [email]
E-mail and Blackboard Policy
In general questions of a non-private nature regarding projects, lectures, reading or other curricular aspects of the class should not be sent by e-mail. Rather students are required to post these questions to the course website via the Discussions tool. If you would like to expedite the response to your question you may e-mail the instructor to alert him to the fact that you have recently posted a question on the board. Students may also post answers to questions on the discussion board. Only questions of an individual or personal nature, for example regarding your grade or your need to take an exam early, should be sent directly by e-mail. This policy is enforced to make the course website as useful as possible as a place that students can look for answers to frequently asked questions.
Office Hours via Zoom
This course will use Zoom to facilitate weekly, synchronous office hours. You are not required to participate in Office Hours; however, you may find them very beneficial for receiving more timely answers to questions related to the course content and assignments.
The course will be structured to permit students with numerous opportunities to engage in active discussions of thermodynamics to clarify the underlying concepts. Students are expected to watch the video linked lectures provided online via Blackboard. These are PDF files containing notes where each page is hyper-linked to a video that provides an explanation of the notes. Students are also expected to read the assigned chapters from the text prior to class. In addition, an assignment will be associated with each lecture. All students are responsible for submitting solutions to the assignment via Blackboard. At the start of class one student will act as the “presenter” who is assigned the responsibility of presenting the solutions to the class. Class will start with a short lecture recap. The remainder of class time will be spent working on other related problems. Class participation will be monitored and will constitute part of each student’s grade.’
Example taken from Gateway Computing: MATLAB
Step 1 (10 minutes)
Do not use your computers! Work in your group on the whiteboard to think about:
Step 2 (10 minutes)
Divide into teams of 2 (if there are an odd number of people you can form a 3-person team) to translate the pseudocode into a MATLAB script. Start by discussing who feels that they are most confused or needs the most practice. This person should operate the computer. The other person(s) should work with them and suggest what needs to be written in the code. Work as a team to write and test the code. At least one team should project their work on the wall. You may talk to the others in your group outside of your team.
Step 3 (10 minutes)
We will then share our ideas about solutions to this problem as a class, and perhaps step through writing the code.
Step 4 (10 minutes)
Now return to your entire group and talk about how you might change your code to [meet a secondary objective.]
Step 5 (10 minutes)
Work in your team to implement the code you discussed in your group.
These practices were derived from two sources:
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