A new semester has rolled around again, and classes have begun all across the country. Amid the excitement and the bustle of fresh beginnings and different duties, take a moment to make some new discoveries. Check out these three featured tips from some key books in Atwood’s 147 Tips series, all championing practical ways to manage the joys and stresses of launching a new course:
From 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups by Donald E. Hanna, Michelle Glowacki-Dudka, and Simone Conceição-Runlee.
5. Understand your audience.
In marketing a program or course, it’s important to understand the needs, backgrounds, characteristics, and expectations of the target learners. Online courses that attract participants from diverse locations may have learners with different needs. Some learners, for instance, may require special accommodations, such as large print on course materials, or software programs that assist in decoding graphics or text in a web-based environment.
One way to address the anticipated cognitive or performance needs of your learners is to send them pretests or surveys before the start of the class, or to have them compete portfolio reviews during the course. By understanding the learners’ needs, you can vary the presentation of materials to fit diverse learning styles, develop supporting materials, and present content in ways that offer learners different labels for the comprehension of concepts.
From 147 Practical Tips for Using Icebreakers with College Students by Robert Magnan:
4. Think about tone.
This icebreaker will probably be the first connection that you make with your students. A more serious icebreaker may send a message that your course may not be very enjoyable. On the other hand, a silly icebreaker may cause students to assume that they can take a casual attitude toward your course. It can be a touch call. How have students reacted to the course in the past, with you or with colleagues? If they seemed anxious or even afraid, then it may be better to err on the side of fun. If they seemed too relaxed— attendance problems, inadequate effort on assignments, insufficient preparation for quizzes and exams—then you could start out better with a more serious icebreaker, preferably focused on the course content.
Finally, from 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Professors, edited by Robert Magnan:
8. Work with your students as a team.
We may be perfectly organized, yet our students have trouble following us. Or we may enter the classroom still trying to put it all together, and emerge triumphant, knowing our students were with us all the way. Strange? Not really. Often our feeling of organization actually undermines our progress. Two different worlds: we create organization through preparation, but our students perceive organization through communication. Show your game plan!
Enjoy! And have a great semester!