Flexibility, Accessibility and Compassion
As we prepare for a mostly remote teaching and learning experience this semester, we encourage faculty and students to keep these three keys to success in mind:
We know the courses with the most success were those that provided students with flexibility. Flexible deadlines, flexible attendance policies and alternatives for giving and receiving information and assignments were key to students having a good experience in a remote environment.
Consider allowing students some additional time to make-up or catch up on assignments. This doesn’t compromise the integrity of your course, but does provide those students who have extra responsibilities, a little extra time to be successful.
One of the most important aspects of an online course is ensuring all students can access the material. All sections of your course need to be compliant with ADA standards, accessible on a mobile device, and have different versions of materials for students with different needs.
Whenever possible, don’t require attendance at live sessions. Always provide an alternative online option for students who cannot make a live session. At the beginning of the semester review the FERPA content & release decision tree to ensure proper the documentation is in place to host and record the session(s). Then provide students a link of the recording to view and assign a reflection or quiz if you want to ensure students are watching and learning the information provided in the live session.
Review the Essentials of Accessibility and provide multiple modalities for instructions and assignment submissions whenever possible. For instance, provide an accessible PDF version of a document, along with the accessible Microsoft Word version, run through the Microsoft Accessibility Checker. Create a video and provide the transcript. Allow students to submit documents in various forms (I.e. PDF, video, audio, or text within the Blackboard submission area). Need more guidance? Check in with our Digital Accessibility Specialists every Friday, 11am-12pm, during their virtual office hours or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review your course on a mobile device. Make sure you can view, read, and submit from the mobile device. This assures that students without WIFI access or a laptop can fully participate.
Remember the Rule of Three: Important course information such as assignments, readings, and due dates should be in three places within your course. This may be (1) the syllabus, (2) the module, or (3) weekly announcement you send students to remind them of what’s coming up and what to expect.
In every situation, put yourself in the student’s place and be compassionate. This transition has been difficult for many, and simply listening to students and trying to understand what they are going through will go a long way to ensuring success for both students and faculty.
Let’s work together to help students create their own bold futures!