A really good start

Every semester I encourage students to start their online class by posting in the forum (variably called the Pub, or Coffee House, or Taverna, depending on the class). I usually ask them to do a couple of things, like update their Profile, take a distance ed readiness quiz, and introduce themselves. Although I encourage them to reply to each other and make connections, I always have classes where it’s all left-justified responses to my post – they don’t talk to each other.

This semester is totally different – they’re all talking about what it’s like to take an online class, and what their hopes are for this one, and how they’re getting organized to stay on track (not staying on track is, to my mind, the #1 reason for failure in online classes).

What made the difference? Well, I made a video about the class, but I’ve done that before. No, I’m convinced it was putting this video, usually just a link for the class, embedded right there in the forum.

I’m guessing that they “see themselves” in the video, students like themselves. They watch it because it’s right there at the start of the class, inside the discussion, right at the top.

The video is patched together from last year’s extra credit assignment, where I asked students to make a video clip with advice for new online MiraCosta students. I graded them higher if they filmed on campus and offered a really good tip. They had to give me permission to use their video publicly. Then I just edited and uploaded to YouTube.

It will be interesting to see how things go from here. Will they talk more in the posting forums, where discussion is not required? I don’t even have a grade for discussion or contribution this semester. Will they stay motivated? Will they stay enrolled? Let’s find out.

3 thoughts on “A really good start

  1. This is fantastic, Lisa! Regardless of the medium, just connecting current students with past students like that is so powerful; it shows that students really ARE an important part of the class, that the class is not just the textbook and lectures and tests. One of the things that I do in the first week is have students explore the archive of past student projects, and that is a huge boost, both in terms of jumpstarting their own projects, but also in conveying the message that their work really matters, beyond just doing it for the grade.

    Thanks for sharing this, and I hope you have a fantastic semester! I look forward to future updates.

    I have two new experiments doing this year – a Growth Mindset thing and a Curation thing. After the introduction to each of those during the first week, it’s optional, but I hope students will want to participate. So far, their responses have been very illuminating. I will learn more this weekend. 🙂
    Growth Mindset
    http://onlinecourselady.pbworks.com/w/page/99035216/growthmindset
    Curation
    http://onlinecourselady.pbworks.com/w/page/99177014/curation01

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    1. It’s so funny that even though I’m a historian, it did not occur to me that one of the things happening here is indeed a connection of the past with the present!

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      1. Oh, I had not thought of that either: your students are making history! 🙂

        In my classes, it’s the idea of the chain of storytellers. My students are storytellers too, right along with the storytellers who provide the readings for class.

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