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The UMS Faculty Focus blog publishes articles on effective teaching strategies for technology-enhanced, classroom, online, blended, or flipped learning experiences.  Faculty e-Learning Grant recipients and other UMS faculty are welcome to contribute. Please contact the UC Faculty Development Center if you are interested in writing an article for UMS Faculty Focus at uc-fdc@maine.edu

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Monitoring students’ academic progress during an asynchronous online course

Communication with students in many of the online courses I teach at the University of Maine at Augusta is strictly asynchronous.  I communicate with students by sending them emails, uploading documents to Blackboard, generating videos, etc.  Students communicate with me mainly through email and their assignment submissions (discussion boards, written papers, etc.).  I can go an entire semester without having a traditional back-and-forth conversation with many of my students.  There are tremendous advantages to this type of communication in that it allows students who are place-bound and/or time-bound the flexibility to fully participate in the course.

However, I’ve been contemplating the incorporation of an assignment into one of my fully online asynchronous courses this spring that will require students to engage in a one-on-one synchronous conversation with me via the Zoom videoconferencing tool or by telephone.  I plan to keep the conversation short (15 minutes), but hopefully impactful.  The syllabus language I’ve used is related to this assignment is as follows:

6. Videoconference meeting with Instructor: (1), (20 points total).  On one occasion you will be required to schedule and participate in an approximately 15-minute meeting with your instructor to discuss your academic progress and other topics related to EDU 251 – Spring, 2018.  This meeting will take place via videoconference technology – Google Hangouts or Zoom or by phone sometime during the fifth or sixth week of the semester.

I plan to send them the following questions ahead of time, which will serve as a framework for our discussion:

1.  1. Are you satisfied with your academic progress at this point in the course? If not, what are some ways I can help you to improve during the remainder of the course?

2    2. Do you have any questions or concerns related to any of the following:

A.    A. Technical aspects of the Blackboard shell for the course.

B.    B. Course concepts, course learning outcomes, etc.

C.    C. Previous or future assignments.

3.   3. Have you completed and passed the PRAXIS CORE Exam?  If not, how can I help you prepare

      for this exam?

4.   4. Do you have any other questions for me?

My hope is that students will find this 15-minute conversation to be meaningful and supportive of their ability to navigate Blackboard and accomplish the course learning outcomes.  Presently, I’m thinking of ways I could collect data about students’ perceptions of this assignment. 

If you’re currently teaching fully online and asynchronous courses please let me know if you do anything similar to what I’ve proposed, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Take care and see you in February,







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Tim, thank you! I am going to "poke" some of our colleagues who have added synchronous distance communication elements in their online asynchronous course, so that they could add their thoughts. We, as an institution, will probably need to add definitive course classifications to the catalogs in the future, so that our prospective students are aware what they are signing up to. emoticon "Live online", "Asynchronous online", etc.