My Survival Plan For My 1st Online Class

I am being very strategic with the title of this post. This is my survival plan, not a guide. As in, this is what I plan on doing but I have no empirical evidence or future-seeing, crystal-ball-gazing, tea-leaves-reading abilities that could indicate whatsoever if my plan will succeed. I just wanted to get that out there before you read this post and think of following this bullet-hole ridden plan.

Anywhosen, I teach two 1-credit introductory courses: one for pre-nursing and one for pre-dental hygiene students. The primary focus is to prepare them to apply to their health program of choice and to teach them what it means to be competitive for the programs. I cover topics such as parallel planning, time management, how to write a personal statement, finding volunteer opportunities (especially during covid) and more. I’ve taught this class for two years already and have made many improvements since my first fall semester as an instructor in 2018. However, aside from an online module here or there, I’ve never taught an online class. So…here goes nothing!

Flexibility is the name of the game

The German in me is inherently rigid and inflexible (thanks, mom!). I don’t do spontaneity and I don’t like a change in plans. Nevertheless, flexibility will be key this semester. Not just for my own sanity but also for the success of my students. I’ve changed “attendance” to “engagement”, comprised of 3 factors: watching the pre-recorded lectures, attending the weekly Zoom session and completing any “in-class” activities. My hope is that if a student has to miss the synchronous Zoom discussion, they won’t miss the actual content nor will it tank their grade. In addition, as someone who used to be shy, I completely understand the anxieties that come with speaking in front of others. So for those for whom that is less than comfortable, they can make up the points with the other two factors.

Pre-recorded lectures

I got this idea from a webinar my institution hosted and loved it! I’ve pre-recorded 4 of my 14 lectures so far and am hoping to have them all done before the semester begins (we’ll see if that actually happens). Each lecture is no more than 8 – 14 minutes in length. Again, this way students have access to the content both before and after the Zoom session. And! If I do get everything done ahead of time, the class should essentially run itself. The type A in me is geeking out HARD over this. And if you’re wondering, I’m using Canva to make the powerpoint presentation, Loom to record the screen and my voice and Kaltura to caption the video and add a quick quiz question so that I know they watched it. Loom actually offered free pro accounts to educators because of Covid. I’m unsure if that is still being offered but it doesn’t hurt to check it out if you’re interested! Although the free version still has lots of features.

Only one deadline to rule them all (Lord of The Rings reference…)

Ya, so this one I’m a bit nervous about. Other than a few “in-class” assignments and rough drafts of their personal statement, all other assignments will have only one due date – the last day of the semester. I’m hoping (I’m noticing that this whole plan relies on hope…) that this will allow students the flexibility and time they need to get everything done, especially if extenuating circumstances arise such as if they or a family member falls ill. This should also eliminate the need for me to extend any deadlines. Have you done something like this before? If so, please tell me it worked out!

I will keep you updated on how all of this goes. So far I’m really happy with the content I’ve created. Although, if I’ve learned anything from the past, I’m usually more excited than my students…

Oh and if you have any tips or suggestions for me, please let me know.

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