Using Videos for Weekly Overviews and Announcements
by Heather L. Norcross-Geoffroy, MA
Effectively teaching online to me is all about how we relay information to our students. Taking the time to think about what we would say to a physical classroom of students, then write out that exact same verbatim information does not always produce the same reaction from students, so placing narration can help convey the right message, in the right tone. I think sometimes as online faculty, we forget that there are real live human beings on the other end, just as sometimes our students forget this in return. So our approach should not vary that much than our in-classroom approach. If we lecture/discuss using power points in the physical classroom, then we should do the same in our online courses. There is enough technology out there, at our fingertips, that we should be able to provide nearly the same experience(s) with course content online as we would in a physical classroom and I strive to continually sample and adapt programs, applications, software that have the potential to promote a more physical presence in my virtual classroom.
As faculty, we are bound to our student by our course syllabi. It is essentially our “Course Bible”. Each semester we try to take note and highlight important information that can really help students to understand our course and expectations, that is included in our syllabi. Sadly, sometimes just written information may be incorrectly interpreted, and students miss important aspects of our course. This in part can be alleviated by including a narrated overview of our course syllabi, just as we would discuss it in class, here is the opportunity as faculty for us to discuss it online and convey the most important information to our students. Same goes for the course overview narration and the To-Do List narrations. Students especially enjoy the narrative feedback I provide on their reflective assignments, as it conveys to them exactly what I am expecting in a well formatted paper with a more positive narration. Rather than just marking up a paper with green ink, which I use as it is very calming color (or blue which is the number 1 favorite color in the world), recording my voice telling them about the great aspects of their writing and the improvements, student report feeling better about “digging” deeper in their writing mechanics. By getting in to the habit of providing narration, faculty are also meeting different learning styles and engaging a universal-by-design approach across all our teaching and classroom environments.
Each semester that I prepare a course, I think to myself, “If I were a student in this course, what would I learn from this course?” “What are the potential barriers to my (student) learning?” and do students feel like they are part of the class, not just another person being exposed to the content, but that they actually feel like it is “our”- the students and faculty’s’ class versus just my(the instructors) course. Using the word “our” class may help them to feel more connected, and help the feeling students sometimes have in terms of isolation or “castaway island” syndrome that many student report feeling in an online course. I want students to feel like they are part of something bigger, that can shape their pathways whether personal or professional, with continual application of concepts to everyday issues in the world. Without application to the past, present and future, what is the point of knowledge?