Student Feedback on the Pandemic-Induced Switch to Online Instruction, Part 2: More Improvements and Consequences for Inaction
While it was not possible to create virtual duplicates for quality faculty–student and student–student personal interactions during the sudden and rapid change to online instruction this past March, there are some steps faculty can take as the fall term progresses to create more engaging online learning experiences. First, faculty might consider more synchronous, real-time Zoom events. That is, they could use regular meeting times for classes as events where lectures (or demonstrations or discussion) are given similarly to the way they would be in person and adjusted for questions at the end. They could record each class meeting and make all available for those unable to attend and for review by all students. Additionally, they could establish regular office hours via virtual conference platforms or through the school’s learning management system. DeBrock et al. (2020) contend that when done well, online instruction can help students feel even more personally connected than face-to-face formats. They argue that instructors can take steps to increase student satisfaction and reduce isolation and loneliness, including the following: inviting students to individual live Zoom sessions, encouraging live chat room events during primary content delivery, creating small breakout rooms online, fostering group work online to create strong team bonds in short periods of time, interacting with students while they work, highlighting students’ individual experiences, soliciting questions, and holding online office hours. These steps may also create more inclusive classrooms and increase students’ sense of belonging. Creative use of tutors and mentors in running discussion and problem-solving sessions for small groups of students may also have positive impacts. Class enrollment would dictate these models’ feasibility and particulars.