While the summer break has just begun for (most of) our students, Teaching and Learning already has its sight set on the upcoming Autumn 2018 courses – in fact, we have just finished refreshing the Autumn core courses, and they are now ready for your edits, design/redesign work, and so on! We will do the same with electives in the next week or so.
With the students gone, the summer is not only a great time to slow down and recharge (as much as you are able to, that is), but also for projects (with us)! In fact, there are a couple projects that we think are relatively low-effort, but would have potentially large impact on your students learning experiences!
This is the first set of recommendations that we have – stay tuned for more in the following weeks.
When in Doubt, Start with your Syllabus
While a mere document, the syllabus is your students’ first look into the ins-and-outs of your course – who teach it, what are they expected to know and be able to do (i.e. outcomes), how would their learning be assessed (read: how are they graded), what are the academic integrity expectations (i.e. the honor code and assessment types), how can they get help (i.e. office hours), and so on. For this reason, the syllabus should be informative and accurate, while concise enough that it’s not an exercise in comprehension skills.
The Curriculum Management System (CMT) provides a great outline as well as templates for what should go in your syllabus.
One step further: While CMT-generated syllabi serve as official record, you may find it a fun exercise in creativity to transform your syllabi in something a little more designed, as long as the information is consistent – something like this, for instance. Read on for more ideas …
A Little “Incentive” to Read the Syllabus
Ever find yourself devoting most of your first class session reading through the syllabus verbatim? Answering students’ questions about the course when the answers are readily available on the syllabus? Well, you may need a syllabus quiz! The Office of Distance Education and eLearning recommends a required syllabus quiz at the beginning of the course, with the release of other course content contingent upon receiving a passing score on the quiz. For just a little bit more “incentive”, you can attach a point value to your syllabus quiz.
While you may continue to find it beneficial to engage in syllabus Q&A during your first class session, the syllabus quiz should help with filtering out the basic questions you might be asked otherwise. Contact Teaching and Learning if you are interested!
One step further: All DVM courses come with a “Course Q&A” discussion board that you can take advantage of – students may already have satisfactory answers to each others’ questions, and you can intervene / elaborate when and where needed. Many instructors have also used the Announcements functionality to share answers to individual students’ questions with the entire class.
“Face Time” with your Incoming Students can Start Before First Class Session
A short course introduction video can be an invaluable tool that serves multiple purposes: 1) it’s a great opportunity for you to talk briefly about your course, its purpose, why it is important, its structure, and so on; 2) it puts a face to your name; and 3) it can be your students’ first opportunity to get to know who you are as a professional, as an instructor, and/or even an individual from a personal perspective. This social presence can be especially in an online course, where “face time” with instructors can be limited if not non-existent.
Below is an example from the Online Master of Learning Technologies program – if you are interested, contact Teaching and Learning!
One step further: We have updated the Carmen template to include a course banner area – this provides even more opportunity for you to customize your course landing page! Below are some examples.