How do we create a sense of classroom community in an online environment? How do we create opportunities for students to get to know one another when they can’t meet in person?
Hold an open pre-semester office hour
Send a welcome email or post a short video introducing yourself and the course to your students
Add a “practicum” to your course, allowing students to complete interactive, hands-on activities either on their own time or in small groups organized by time zone, area of interest or focus, special project, etc. Schedule a consultation about teaching remotely
Craft activities that promote community and social interaction.
Set up a class-specific Slack channel, Campuswire, or other mode of communication. This seems to be better than the standard Blackboard discussion board, as students can post news, DM, and engage with material at a higher level. Students can also share knowledge and ask questions outside of class on these channels.
Create opportunities for more contact with students and faculty, as well as for peer interactions: group chats, take-home exams, collaborative projects, discussion board posts in small groups.
During the Semester
Ask the students to share their goals for the course with you via email or in-office hours
Use your students’ names, and ask students to use one another’s names
Open your virtual classroom 10 minutes before class begins, allowing students to talk informally with you and one another
Articulate your expectations for classroom participation (do you expect students to keep their audio or video on when on Zoom?)