A year after the worldwide spread of Covid-19, The Chronicle of Higher Education offers valuable insight on ways to improve the remote student experience. Drawing from the feedback of students recorded during an Educase panel conducted in February, the Chronicle’s Flower Darby offers “7 Dos and Don’ts for Post-Pandemic Teaching with Technology” in the upcoming school year. By implementing her suggestions in combination with the student success tools provided through the ConexED platform, educators can not only prepare for the fall semester, but improve the future of learning overall.
The stagnancy of slide presentations was felt prior to learning online. During the pandemic, however, continually staring at slides on a computer screen led many students and educators to experience ‘Zoom Fatigue.’
To combat the dreariness of dated powerpoints, Darby recommends mixing it up with pre-recorded mini-lecture videos. By providing brief videos prior to instruction, students can enter virtual discussions better prepared and refer back to the videos afterward.
Using the ConexED virtual waiting room, educators can upload instructional videos for students to view on their own time, prior to scheduled instruction, and while waiting to connect with advisors/educators online.
This suggestion may seem like a no-brainer, but prior to instructing online, Darby points out how crucial it is that educators familiarize themselves thoroughly with the tools they require their students to use. Oftentimes, educators may also make the mistake of assuming students are more competent with certain programs simply because of their age or perceived technological knowledge.
Utilizing the helpful services of the ConexED implementation team, educators are taught the ins and outs of the robust ConexED platform prior to engaging with their students. In just eight weeks, new ConexED users will learn how to use the intuitive student service software, correspond with peers and other admin, and confidently instruct and advise online. Additionally, the ConexED team offers support to students and faculty whenever questions arise and/or additional learning is required.
To help break up the monotony of lecture-method instruction, Darby recommends interspersing activities to boost engagement. Examples of possible activities include class polls, break-out groups, and “waterfall” exercises where students are asked to respond in rapid-fire style using the chat box.
With ConexED, students and instructors can correspond with one another instantaneously using video, audio, and typed transcriptions.
In addition to the chat tool, ConexED offers a closed captioning feature. Utilizing the two, educators can improve the learning experience of all students, including those who might be hearing impaired or English language learners.
Though previously mentioned, Darby highlights the benefit of utilizing polls to collect student feedback regarding coursework and lectures. Polls are crucial to assessing the overall effectiveness of teaching and how educators can adjust lessons to better accommodate learning.
At any point during instruction, educators using the ConexED platform can share Google forms, documents and upload customized surveys to engage and poll students. Individuals unable to access lectures virtually in real-time can also acquire those files later online to ensure overall class participation.
Continual screen time can impact student engagement. Darby encourages educators instructing online to plan for occasional breaks where students can reactivate their bodies and minds through standing, stretching, and even going for a short walk.
Using the ConexED platform, instructors can simultaneously create multiple breakout rooms for individual student instruction. Switching between these online meeting spaces, instructors can replicate the in-person one-on-one interactions of the classroom. Participating students can exit and re-enter discussion as necessary, see continual live video of the instructor as he/she assists others, and utilize the “raise hand” tool to ask for assistance.
In her article for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Darby notes that asynchronous instruction allows educators to provide a more inclusive learning experience. Students working daytime hours, actively parenting, or without access to reliable high-speed internet are able to engage and interact when conditions are best suited for them.
The ConexED student directory offers students complete access to their support services, on-premise, after hours, or off-campus. At their own convenience, students can reach out to the correct channels for tutoring, financial aid, academic advising, diversity and inclusion, and whatever other support services they have available on campus.
One of the key takeaways educators learned throughout the course of the pandemic was the importance of genuine human connection. While the implementation of asynchronous methods are important to educational equity, Darby explains that they should never fully replace opportunities for students to interact and engage with one another.
The ConexED unified student services platform was designed with hybrid learning in mind, offering interchangeable tools whether interactions are virtual or in-person. Today’s classroom is more diverse than ever, catering to students whose lives and schedules may not reflect typical learning hours prior to the pandemic. With ConexED, academic institutions can unify student support services online, on-premise, and through blended learning models to increase student access to vital support systems, professional development of staff and faculty, and student retention.