Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

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Engaging student activity at the beginning of term for your online class

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picture of a student raising hand

While most of the online instructors have implemented this practice already, I feel that this post  will be helpful for some new instructors.

At the beginning of every term we are getting a few phone calls from instructors asking to help them to find out if certain students have logged in to their course on the first week and help to make decision whether these students got be dropped for the lack of activity.

Here are 3 easy ways to confirm that your students have checked in and participating in the class on the first weeks of the class :

  • Require your students to make a post in Discussions area. This discussion does  not necessarily have to be  the graded one.  A simple discussion like “Introduce yourself “ may serve the purpose just fine. You can require not only to start a new topic, but also ask your students to make one or few replies for their classmates posts. Starting a class with a discussion may set up a proper tone for future communication and collaboration during your class. Also it will let your students practice using  this tool.
  • Ask your students to submit a short essay via the assignments tool. You can choose a topic like “Expectations for this class”, “My favorite ways of communication” or anything else. Keep in mind that submitted essays will be private, available to review only by an instructor. Again this assignment doesn’t have to be graded and it will be great practice exercise for students  to get familiar with the assignments tool.
  • You can always set up a simple “Syllabus Quiz” and check  that your students have read and understood the Syllabus.

Make sure to provide a clear message to your student  about  your first week requirements. Here are a few places where you can post that requirement in your course:

  1. First News item on your Course Home
  2. Syllabus
  3. Welcome email that you may be sending on the first day of the class

Make sure that activities are added to the appropriate module in your content area and are published.

Start the discussion

PCC offers this limited open forum as an extension of the respectful, well-reasoned discourse we expect in our classroom discussions. As such, we welcome all viewpoints, but monitor comments to be sure they stick to the topic and contribute to the conversation. We will remove them if they contain or link to abusive material, personal attacks, profanity, off-topic items, or spam. This is the same behavior we require in our hallways and classrooms. Our online spaces are no different.