This week we asked students to share their remote learning experiences with two simple prompts:
- A challenge I’m facing with remote learning that I wish instructors knew about…
- Something one of my instructors did that I really appreciated…
We’ve heard from more than 1500 students so far, and four clear themes stand out: remote learning works best when faculty are flexible, organized, provide opportunities for interaction, and are reasonable about student workloads.
Students shared how challenging remote instruction is for them due to time zones, childcare, eldercare, screen time, mental health, Internet glitches, and shared spaces. Students wanted more empathy and flexibility from their instructors and praised faculty who were understanding, accommodating, compassionate, lenient, and patient regarding due dates and expectations during this unprecedented time in students’ educational career.
- Have a back-up plan and post course materials on Canvas.
- Provide alternatives to participation and communicate your policy to students
- Follow Academic Council Policy to not count attendance toward grades and create make-up policies for participation.
- Have assignments available for longer time periods and due at consistent times.
I really appreciate: flexibility especially with assignments. Since I have no place to work, it’s hard to complete assignments within short time frames.
A challenge I’m facing: A lack of leniency with homework grading/deadlines. I am struggling with my mental and physical health and I feel like, given the circumstances, instructors should either give smaller volumes of homework or more time to complete it. It’s also very difficult when instructors take advantage of the fact that we aren’t physically in a lecture hall and so they make the online lectures longer than the allotted class time.
I really appreciate: that my instructors are recording their lectures. I appreciate that they have been respectful of my time during the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of things have changed for everyone and I am grateful that they have been flexible.
A challenge I’m facing: I am still a non-traditional undergraduate student, even amidst a global pandemic. I have family in town that are immunocompromised and work in healthcare, and therefore I still need to take care of them, especially now. Beyond taking two upper division classes, I’m taking two gen ed classes, working, shopping for my family and taking care of my own mental health. As we all adapt, I notice some of my professors will only give between 1-2 days for us to complete assignments by releasing them a day or two in advance of when they are do. This is un-accomplishable and unfair, especially for those of us that still have duties beyond school and have trouble adapting to online learning.
The transition to remote courses has been hard for students, too. Since we all organize our Canvas sites differently, students can feel lost and have a hard time keeping track of all the assignments, quizzes, discussion board posts, meetings, etc. Students appreciated consistent organization, weekly emails clearly outlining tasks, and updated assignment due dates so Canvas calendars and To Do lists were automatically populated.
- Organize Canvas content consistently each week and add due dates so assignments end up in student calendars.
- Consider a weekly email to remind students of what tasks are required and what resources are available to them.
- Looking to clarify expectations and navigation in your course? Check out these good ideas.
I really appreciate: My instructors that have a clear calendar that is all encompassing. It’s really comforting to have some stability and a solid schedule in these times where there’s so many new aspects of life!
A challenge I’m facing: I wish that all of my instructors and GEs would provide detailed updates each week about when assignments are due or what is expected of me each week. I need straightforward guidelines and it is a lot to balance several different courses online if you don’t have a clear picture of what is expected from us each week.
A challenge I’m facing: There is no easy way to keep track of assignments. Half the battle is finding out what is due and when. I know this is just as difficult for instructors and GEs, but having a very concrete schedule is important in my success.
I really appreciate: My instructors effectively laid out the material on canvas that is an engaging and time efficient manner. So far I have greatly enjoyed the provided readings and curriculum.
A challenge I’m facing: Due dates. I have a lot of assignments scattered everywhere and there’s not a lot of clarity on when everything is due. This is consistent with most of my classes.
A challenge I’m facing: The lack of assignments/dates posted ahead of time on Canvas. I’m a big scheduler and to not have access to assignments/quizzes/etc. that are due a couple weeks from now makes it difficult for me to plan my time accordingly/get ahead if I’m able.
Most students really appreciated consistent opportunities for Zoom class meetings, office hours, discussion, or even just social meet-ups. Students miss interactivity with their instructors and peers and appreciated more interaction (e.g. in Zoom breakout rooms). However, many students need the flexibility (and accessibility) that video-recorded class sessions provide.
- Even if most of your content is delivered asynchronously, invite students to optional Zoom discussions or group office-hours.
- Bolster engagement with Zoom tools such as the chat feature, breakout rooms and polling to give students the opportunity to interact during a Zoom session.
- If you are pre-recording lectures, be sure you break them up into smaller segments and add opportunities for students to engage; for example, embed video segments into a Canvas quiz with reflective or application questions or instructions to post on the discussion board after each segment.
- Looking for ideas to deepen interpersonal connection in your course? Check out: examples of what colleagues are doing and advice from TEP and UO Online.
I really appreciate: That professors stay as long after class to answer more questions even though the class time ended and they could have just closed the meeting.
A challenge I’m facing: The lack of engagement with the students over zoom. I know this is a difficult problem to manage with all classes being virtual, so I have thought of some ways to solve this problem. Some instructors have asked students to “shout out” questions and interrupt the professor as they are presenting slides, which can make nervous students feel too shy to speak up. There is a chat feature where students can write their questions, but professors often don’t take note of it. If the instructors could pay attention to the questions coming in through the chat, I would feel more engaged in the class. I could also see benefit in showing more activities like live coding or sample tests rather than just lecture slides.
I really appreciated: One of my professors opened up extra office hours and continuously checks-in on our weekly progress.
I really appreciate: One of my professors is trying to keep active learning practices in zoom via polls, breakout rooms, etc. and while I may not really like breakout rooms to talk to strangers, it does help me pay attention more and feel a little more included in the zoom calls.
A challenge I’m facing: Engagement in a course when it is not live. Recordings are much more difficult to maintain attention and interactive learning is basically nonexistent.
Students feel like their work takes longer remotely and some are overwhelmed with the increased workload of navigating remote education. Others are dealing with increased stresses, work, family obligations, and uncertainty. They have really appreciated instructors who simplify course navigation and minimize the number of individual tasks students must find and complete.
- Academic Council’s Academic Continuity Plan allows for instructors to adjust course expectations, assignments, and assessments in accordance with student learning objectives
I really appreciate: My professor gave us extra time to complete the first homework assignment and has decreased the length of homework assignments which has really helped ease my stress in that course.
A challenge I’m facing: It takes an extreme amount of extra effort to learn this way. In addition to that, it takes a lot longer to get through assignments because we are trying to teach ourselves as we go. My attention span is significantly lower staring at a computer all day so live Zoom sessions that are 2 full hours are torture. I feel teachers are assigning us more readings and assignments because they think we have extra time on our hands. Due to the extra effort and time it takes to complete anything, I am feeling completely overwhelmed and spending over 8+ hours every day doing school work to try and keep up. I am only in 15 credits.
I really appreciate: My instructor cut down on the busy work normally assigned so it’s a lot more manageable while being at home.
A challenge I’m facing: It has been challenging to balance so many assignments without clear instructions. Some professors have been giving more work and assignments than we would receive in an in-person class. Besides the work load, it has been difficult knowing what to expect when the professor does not provide clear guidelines and expectations.
I really appreciate: Since we have been more responsible for our time management, one of my professors has made the assignment deadlines more flexible. this has relived a lot of anxiety and made the class more enjoyable