Recommendations for the WS 21/22
Inform students about your expectations
Due to the many formats that result from different combinations of self-study elements, online and classroom units as well as digital and/or virtual examination settings, students do not automatically know what is expected of them. It helps if you make your expectations explicit (attendance in synchronous meetings, on-time submission of assignments via MyLEARN, teamwork in virtual groups, classroom units, etc.)
You can do this, for example, directly as an addendum in the syllabus, as text information in a content page on the first level of “learning activities” or as an “announcement” in the course with the setting "show it permanently". This way, students will see the central information on the homepage of your course whenever they access it.
Create structure within the online course
In order to help your students to organize themselves during the semester, you can manually create important appointments (e.g. new synchronous activities such as chat, forum activity, team meeting, web streaming, etc.) in the calendar of your course on MyLEARN. Furthermore, we recommend planning work assignments on a smaller scale.
For the students, more but smaller "milestones" provide a stronger structure, which makes it easier for them to "stick to the task". Whenever you create mandatory learning activities in your course, students will see them in their ToDo-list on MyLEARN. When it comes to group work, you can also set milestones like interim presentations and peer feedback to recognise at an early stage whether everyone is actively participating in the tasks.
Keep in touch and show (virtual) presence
Plan your course over the semester in a way that you are in contact with your students at least once a week, e.g. by e-mail or via web conferences. By doing this, you can compensate at least a little bit for the lack of the personal exchange which automatically happens in the classroom. It is important that you meet each other in virtual space, regardless of the tool you use. It is beneficial to have a first personal contact at the beginning of the semester. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet students on campus and offer presence units, as far as safety measures allow.
In distance learning, we recommend using synchronous teaching and avoiding purely asynchronous formats. Carefully consider which contents of your course or which settings are most suitable for a synchronous format. Giving feedback to small groups and brief inputs with a discussion work well in a synchronous online setting.
Provide regular feedback
It is easier for students to stay on track if they receive regular (even automated) feedback on their work. In this case, short comments on student performance, automated scoring or regular short MC-tests are sufficient. With the grade book, MyLEARN offers you an easy way to inform students about their individual performance.
Support interaction between students
In order to enable students to cope well with the specific challenges of distance mode, it helps if they regularly receive assignments that require interaction with others. You can achieve this through team and group work, or through interaction and communication assignments in chats, forums, virtual meetings etc. Interaction promotes a sense of community and, as a result, motivation and commitment. Please keep in mind that virtual group work requires more effort of the students than face-to-face-group work. Please make sure to observe the necessary Contact Tracing for face-to-face-group work.
Grant your students the benefit of the doubt
As interactions between teachers and students are more difficult in a digital environment, it is easy to be generally suspicious of students cheating digitally. Giving students the benefit of the doubt in exams has often proven to be beneficial. Openly address your expectations with regard to trust vs. control and point out the relevant regulations and the Code of Conduct to your students. Formats such as open-book exams and feedback sessions can also help to prevent cheating.