Earlier in the Spring 2018 semester I incorporated an assignment into one of my fully online asynchronous courses that required students to engage in a one-on-one synchronous conversation with me via the Zoom videoconferencing tool, Google Hangouts, or by telephone. I kept the conversation short (15 minutes). The syllabus language I used for 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 sent my students the following questions ahead of time, which served as a framework for our discussion:
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. Do you have any questions or concerns related to any of the following:
A. Technical aspects of the Blackboard shell for the course.
B. Course concepts, course learning outcomes, etc.
C. Previous or future assignments.
3. Have you completed and passed the PRAXIS CORE Exam? If not, how can I help you prepare for this exam?
4. Do you have any other questions for me?
During the 7th week of the spring semester I sent an anonymous and optional survey to my 29 students to potentially explore their perceptions of this assignment. The survey questions were as follows:
- What are three single-word descriptors that capture your overall impression of the 15-minute synchronous discussion/conference with Prof. Surrette? (For example: Useful; Supportive; Clarifying OR Inconvenient; Pointless; Unhelpful)
- Write a few sentences that expand on your overall impression of the 15-minute synchronous discussion/conference with Prof. Surrette.
20 out of 29 students completed the survey. Below I’ve included all responses to survey question #1 and three responses to survey question #2 that I believe are most representative of others students’ responses.
Responses to Question #1:
1. Informative, Helpful, Positive
2. Helpful, Practical, Clarifying
3. Supportive, Helpful, Knowledgeable
4. Helpful, Encouraging, Reassuring
5. Helpful, Useful, Educational
6. Helpful, Useful, Effective
7. Informative, Supportive, Helpful
8. Enjoyable, Informative, Helpful
9. Useful, Necessary, Fantastic
10. Helpful, Useful, Enjoyable
11. Supportive, Helpful Fun
12. Helpful, Informative, Friendly
13. Useful, Informative, Clarifying
14. Clarifying, Useful, Supportive
15. Useful, Helpful, Informative
16. Supportive, Informative, Reassuring
17. Useful, Supportive, Helpful
18. Useful, Supportive,
19. Informative, Helpful, Kind
20. Helpful, Easy Going, Smooth
Responses to Question #2:
1. “I found the 15-minute conference with Prof. Surrette was a nice way to personalize the online class community. People can tend to feel very isolated with online courses; especially if they don't have a center to go to and do all of their schooling at their house or their local library. This was a good way to put a voice/face to our teacher and be able to validate our thoughts and feel like we were being heard. The discussion board posts can only do so much for bringing the students together and this conference was another step towards a traditional college class.”
2. “I really like having face to face contact with a professor instead of just all online. It is nice when you have a question you know who you are sending an email to because I have had some human contact.”
3. “I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation with Prof. Surrette. Seeing how online classes eliminates the contact between people within the class, especially Teacher to student, I loved having that interaction so that we can both understand where we are in the class and how we are doing. I highly encourage this to continue.”
I’m very pleased with the results of the survey. The EDU program at UMA is considering adding this assignment to other courses, especially online asynchronous EDU courses students will take early in their college career.
As always, your input and questions are welcome.