Teaching during the pandemic was a bit of a challenge at times, but I am always ready for one! One of the things that I noticed during the pandemic, while attempting to shift everything to a virtual format, is that not all students are online learners. I felt that my material needed to be created for both traditional online students and traditional face to face students. That presented a challenge. I used this opportunity to record PowerPoint lectures and provided students an opportunity to work together in a virtual format, while still utilizing traditional writing and discussion board activities.
I know that recorded PowerPoints are not typical in a traditional online class. However, since I took the time to record them all, I now give them to all online classes. I also give them to my virtual, Zoom-based classes. I have been able to conduct my virtual classes in a flipped classroom format. I no longer feel tied to lectures and PowerPoints. We have been able to do small and large group class activities, as well as more application work to really learn how to apply what it is the students are learning about. There are so many fun and creative websites out there to use in a virtual format. I have taken advantage of many of these to better engage with my students and increase engagement among them.
Another way I helped my students connect in an online course was through video-based assignments. I received positive feedback from students in my class that they were pleased to see one another and know who it was that they were responding to in the traditional discussions. Some colleagues asked about privacy issues when asking students to record themselves. Obviously, different students have unique situations. Having alternative assignments is something I commonly practice in my teaching to address accommodations. I also feel that flexibility, understanding, and empathy has gone a long way in helping my students achieve success in their classes over the past year.