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Teach Online With Confidence

Helping Educators Engage More Online Students with Less Stress through Simple Strategies

Dr. Bethanie Hansen 

Teaching Excellence Strategist

#7: Accepting A Course Extension in Your Online Class

#7: Accepting A Course Extension in Your Online Class

Near the end of a session, you might need to consider accepting a course extension request in your online class. A course extension is also known as an “incomplete.”

Students request extensions because they cannot finish the class within its allotted time. They might be delayed by illness, an emergency, or a military deployment.

During difficult times, a flexible approach can help the struggling student finish well.

What Should I Consider Before Accepting a Course Extension Request?

When students request course extensions, consider these points:

  1. Have they completed any work?
  2. Do they have a plan for completing the course?
  3. How will you communicate during the extension?
  4. When will you finalize the grade?

Given the many disruptions COVID-19 is causing, extension requests may become more common.

How Can I Partner With Students on an Extension?

If you plan for this kind of arrangement, you can guide students in advance. And, a plan can help you manage your own time better. A plan will also give you reduced stress and confidence partnering with students who need your help.

Planning might include early outreach efforts with students who are not logging in regularly during the class, or who fail to submit assignments on time.

And guiding students means that you communicate the school’s extension policies before the last day of class, then work with anyone who needs help requesting the extension.

Another way to partner with students is to guide them to create a schedule to complete the remaining classwork by the end of the extension date. This might mean sending out reminders, messages, and e-mails to keep up the relationship.

While many colleges and universities offer their own arrangements for accepting a course extension, in today’s podcast I’ll share strategies I have used in my own online teaching that can be adapted for your situation.

#6: Online Celebrations, Reflections, and Memorials

#6: Online Celebrations, Reflections, and Memorials

As the school year ends in a new way and without face to face classes, it’s time to plan online celebrations, reflections, and memorials.

What is an Online Reflection?

Online reflections are opportunities to set aside time to look back over the past academic year and reflect on our experiences. We might come to new understandings about what was learned, where growth occurred, and what was lost. This year, more than any other, there is much to reflect on.

Reflections might take place privately, in one’s own thoughts. Or, reflections might be shared in writing, by virtual means, or in a live conference call. Regardless of how the reflection occurs, it’s essential to think about the past few months and how individuals moved through one of the strangest educational times in recent history.

What is an End of Semester Memorial?

Memorials are more formal opportunities to ceremoniously end the school year. These might include both happy and sad celebrations.

On the one hand, many people will celebrate significant achievements. Retiring from a successful education career. Graduation after attending school for many years. Finishing a set of tough classes. Overcoming significant challenges.

On the other hand, some of us will grieve for what was lost. High school seniors without formal graduation ceremonies. College graduates without live commencements. Virtual ceremonies instead of live events. Retirement without saying goodbye.

Celebrations Bring Meaning to Life

As the academic year concludes, now is the time to decide how to memorialize the year. Celebrations can help us make sense of unclear situations. A ceremony is meaningful because it signifies completion. They connect us to each other. And, celebrations bring meaning to life. Even when they happen virtually.

Some schools are hosting virtual commencements. 

So, will you create a digital slideshow and share it with friends?

Or, will you have a small celebration at home to feel the significance of the moment?

Whatever you decide, remember that a virtual celebration can still be meaningful, enjoyable, and fun. Bringing people together to commemorate achievement or milestones brings meaning to life. And online celebrations, reflections, and memorials are meaningful, even on the Internet.

#5: How To Host Virtual Office Hours When Teaching Online

#5: How To Host Virtual Office Hours When Teaching Online

Knowing how to host virtual office hours is important when teaching online. Office hours are the open space where your students can visit and ask questions. This concept comes from the tradition of visiting one’s professors while attending a traditional university. The more classes have moved online over time, the less students attend live office hours face to face.

How Do You Prepare for Online Office Hours?

Some preparation for office hours will make them more successful. First, advertise your availability. Then, tell students how to access the platform. Next, explain what students can anticipate, such as the waiting room and using their video during the call. Lastly, dress professionally and ensure that you can be on camera a few minutes before the call.

What Do Your Students Need to Know?

Virtual office hours are more useful when they are scheduled at a time when students are more likely to attend. You might be most successful by choosing the same day/time each week. Or, you can schedule the hours on-demand, using a scheduling app like Setmore or Doodle.

What Platforms Might You Use?

Most learning management systems (LMS) like Canva, Blackboard, and D2L have an integrated conferencing platform. If one is provided by your institution, this could be your best option. If not, consider Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Go to Meeting. Some desirable features include waiting rooms, whiteboards, screen sharing, password protection, and recording.

For more tips about hosting virtual office hours when teaching online, listen to today’s podcast.