Students tend to mirror patterns of engagement modeled for them by faculty. Frequent communication, follow-up, and feedback initiated by faculty will translate into increased student attentiveness to the learning environment. The isolation associated with this time of pandemic is creating significant mental health challenges for all people, but especially people age 18–24 (see a report by the CDC about this). For students who will be out of St. Louis, their courses are likely to be a primary connection with the university, so communicate as much and as often as possible.

Consider the following guidance:

  1. Poll students prior to the beginning of remote learning to determine what resources (including computer and internet access) are available to them. You can set this up as a Survey in Canvas. This will help you create accessible course content. See creating a survey in Canvas.
  2. Post frequent announcements in Canvas to keep students updated. Aim for a minimum of one announcement per week. See creating an announcement in Canvas.
  3. Clearly communicate your expectations to your students as well as what they can expect from you. How many times per week do you expect students to log into Canvas? Are they expected to attend synchronous meetings? When should they expect new content? How should they ask questions?
  4. Use the student view tool in Canvas to ensure that course materials are available to students. See Student View in Canvas.
  5. Create an “FAQ” Canvas discussion board that encourages students to ask questions and also answer questions of other students is a useful tool. See this page on creating a discussion board in Canvas.
  6. Build-in frequent opportunities for formative assessment to help keep your finger on the pulse of student learning.  
  7. Utilize the analytics within Canvas to examine which students have or haven’t accessed the course. Reach out to struggling students early and often. See Canvas Course Analytics.
  8. Chunk material into digestible pieces. Instead of posting a 50-minute recorded lecture, post several 10-minute lectures interspersed with other course materials in a Canvas module.

Ensuring An Inclusive Learning Environment. The move to remote learning will impact some students more severely. The financial strains of purchasing digital equipment, maintaining high-quality internet service, having sufficient home space and privacy, and removing other needs and distractions that can detract from a student’s educational experience are not shared equally across the WashU student body. It is then critical to make sure that the learning environment that you establish is as welcoming and inclusive as it can be. General advice can be found here on ensuring an inclusive learning environment.