A crucial component of a successful course, regardless of delivery format, is the use of instructional strategies that promote student and student engagement. Students are more likely to be successful in courses that build a sense of community, engage students with the content and one another in a variety of ways, and have a strong teacher presence. The suggestions below will help you intentionally design your course with student engagement in mind.
In addition, we have the CAE Instruction Resource Site containing numerous articles and links to help you effectively use a variety of instructional methods (lecture, discussion, problem-based learning).
Build Community and Establish a Presence
Community building is essential for student success in any course but can be more difficult to accomplish in an online course. Check out this video which will help you understand how to foster a supportive learning environment by setting the tone, diversifying the curriculum, and connecting with students in multiple ways. Adapt effective f2f strategies to intentionally build community in your online course. Establish presence early in your course by employing simple strategies such as creating a welcoming video, creating an orientation video, offering a social forum where students can interact with each other, and establishing expectations for your availability. Don’t forget, frequent but routine communication is crucial in online courses. Consider using tools such as announcements forum, quickmail, and video capture to post routine messages. Personalize your Zoom room and use it for office hours. Communicate what you expect from students and what students can expect from you.
You might even consider making a movie-like course trailer to introduce your course to your students, or try out a "liquid syllabus" like this one as a student-friendly alternative to a more standard PDF syllabus.
Incorporate Inclusive Teaching and Learning Practices
Inclusive teaching is good teaching! For students to be engaged, they must be included, represented, and feel a sense of belonging. Here are a variety of inclusive teaching strategies and Inclusive Teaching Practices Toolkit. Consider the number of situational factors that contribute to student engagement. For 2020, we are still teaching in the midst of a health pandemic and a racial epidemic- these factors ask instructors to consider trauma-informed pedagogies that respond to issues of equity and inclusion in considering learning v. survival brain. This list of Top 10 Student Takeaways About Learning During the Pandemic may be useful as you design, as might this set of Universal Design for Learning principles. As you use tools, be cognizant of the many ways you can utilize them to be more effective. For example, you can employ simple techniques to make your many Zoom sessions more inclusive for all participants. For more resources, check out the Inclusive Excellence Team’s Inclusive Teaching Strategies and the Inclusive Excellence website.