Remote Instruction – Fostering Social Interaction
With remote teaching, students have expressed how, among other things, they miss the social interaction that is present in traditional, in-person classes.
Acknowledging and addressing this interaction in a way that complements the curriculum can improve student satisfaction, interest, and ultimately success in the course.
One of the easiest ways to create an opportunity for social interaction is to organize groups that have a designed purpose. The advantages of peer learning are well-documented, but the challenge here is creating interaction in a manner that doesn’t feel too organized or forced. So, while a group project or activity may be a straightforward (and useful) approach, it may not foster what students are looking for.
Encourage voluntary participation
What may not work when compelled may be successful through suggestion. Instructors are encouraged to create opportunities for students to interact and provide infrastructure, if needed. Instructors should not directly participate in these opportunities but rather facilitate and continue them.
These opportunities can include study groups, watch parties, and other similar activities that tie into the course content. When voluntary, these activities may allow students to benefit directly from peer interaction moreso than formal group work and peer learning assignments. These groups would meet outside of Bruin Learn or any other university structure so as to distinguish them meaningfully from graded class activities.
Instructor input can be suggested via Bruin Learn. One way, for example, would be to create a Discussion on the course site to allow groups to organize. The instructor can keep a conversation going in a study group by posting suggested topics for discussion and consideration on a weekly basis (even if that conversation is not happening within Bruin Learn). For film courses, providing students with discussion prompts or lists of things to look for when viewing can foster interaction during watch parties.
It may be best not to attach a grade (or even extra credit) to this kind of group activity. Removing grades and direct instructor oversight can make the activity feel less obligatory.