Teacher Tap

Students Have Great Ideas

Listen to students. They have great ideas for your course. Encourage them to constantly evaluate the course and provide suggestions. For example, an activity might take twice the time that you planned. Why? Ask your students. Be prepared to trim one assignment, expand another, or cut an activity entirely later in the course to meet their needs.

Be Flexible. Let students take a leadership role in the class. When things are going well, encourage them to go in expanded directions. If the course is getting off-track, ask students to help refocus activities or assignments. You'll be surprised at how motivated they'll be when they see that you care enough to involve them in decision making.

Ask Students to Reflect. Students enjoy reflecting on their work and sharing with others. They also like to help make courses better. Ask students to evaluate activities and provide ideas and suggestions. You might have your students keep work logs that include the amount of time they spend with particular activities. This will help in your future planning. Ask students if the assignments were worthwhile and a good use of time. Ask them about the quality of the reading materials and directions.

Explore Sharing Options. Try various approaches to sharing. You might have a class web project, an ongoing project that goes from semester to semester, as well as individual projects. Look for a "real world impact" rather than just a posting of projects.

Take the Leap. Start small and keep it simple. Encourage student leadership. Be flexible. These are all things that can increase your success. Most of all have fun and enjoy learning with your students!

Adapted from Virtual Sandcastles: Teaching and Learning at a Distance by Annette Lamb and William L. Smith.


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