During the pandemic, the College developed four key principles for remote instruction, so that remote classes can best approximate the in-person experience that we so value:
- Establish rapport
- Stay close
- Include everybody
- Stay in touch
What these principles mean in a practical sense is that faculty reach out individually to students before remote instruction begins, they focus mostly on simultaneous (“synchronous”) course delivery via teleconference, and they maintain close contact with students through email and remote “office hours.” Faculty, in short, will bring their whole selves to the virtual classroom—treating their students with compassion and respect—just as they do in our traditional classrooms.
- Contact students before your class begins to build rapport and to determine concerns and technological constraints.
- Include information in your syllabus that addresses the remote environment of the course and discuss this on the first day of class. In general, all students should have Wi-Fi access in a private space during synchronous class sessions.
- The first meetings of the class must be synchronous. In those meetings, spend time discussing your expectations for the remote learning environment, including the quality of student engagement you will require in the online platform(s) the class will employ.
- Strike a balance between asynchronous and synchronous activities that fits your own goals in the course. Asynchronous activities such as discussion boards or recorded presentations can promote interaction and deepen engagement, but we know that fully asynchronous classes leave students feeling disconnected and unmotivated.
- Whatever the mix of synchronous and asynchronous activities, design your class in a way that creates a level of contact and interaction that is similar to that of a regular Rhodes class.
- Finally, and most important, because asynchronous activities are meant to enhance the educational experience rather than serve as a substitute for synchronous learning, a minimum of 50% of class sessions must be offered in synchronous time through Zoom or another audio/video platform.
- Students’ home environments may be full of challenges not present on campus. As you plan the class, consider how you will create an equitable and inclusive learning environment.
- For students in distant time zones: Plan ahead. Ask them about their situation and then establish expectations for their attendance & activity.
- About Recorded Classes:
- You have the option to record some or all of your classes, but you can and should make this choice depending on the nature of the course. For example, recording can put a damper on discussion of sensitive subjects or student creative work. You can fine tune recording to include essential components only.
- Recorded classes should not be a substitute for attending synchronous class. Unless a student has a good reason, agreed upon ahead of time, they should tune in on Zoom or be considered absent.
- Use Box settings to make recordings available for viewing only. This prevents class videos from being downloaded and circulated more broadly.
- Recordings do not need to be archived forever. You can require students to access recordings within 24 hours, encouraging them to keep up with each day’s work.
- Calibrate the workload, yours, and the students’, to the remote environment. Some tasks are more time consuming in a virtual course. Where possible, adjust your expectations so that the workload will remain on par with the on-campus version of the class.
Stay in Touch
- Communicate regularly with students as you would in a face-to-face class.
- Faculty must hold virtual office hours.
- When a student falls behind or is persistently absent, communicate as you normally would with the student’s adviser and/or Melissa Campbell, Dean for Student Success (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Ask for help when you need it. Helpdesk and the Office of Faculty Development can provide support.
*The Distance Education Task Force is expected to revise this document, which applies only to summer 2023.