By Nick Schwieterman on January 14, 2020
As courses increasingly utilize online components at UCLA, the demand for effective online communication tools rises as well, as highlighted in a recent Daily Bruin article about the design and efficacy of online classes.
We’d like to address some of these concerns, but also to establish some best practices and effective methods for communicating in the online classroom with our existing tools. While all of the communication methods mentioned here work for entirely online classes, they also strengthen face-to face and hybrid instruction.
With the variety of teaching models in place, there are nuanced differences and features between online, and face-to-face classes. For example, expectations around communication online differ. In face-to-face classes, students may reserve their questions for an upcoming class session. In an online class, however, where there is no upcoming class session, how are these raised?
These online classes are always “on” and communication is critical for keeping students engaged and participating. Some of the communication tools that are built in the learning management system (CCLE) encourage communication, but these also “demand” prompt feedback by the instructor and the other students to be effective and engaging.
CCLE does offers a suite of tools to facilitate communication for any type of class. Familiarizing yourself with these tools is worthwhile for all methods of instruction. We’ll look at several communication methods are introduced and discussed which utilize the ecosystem of tools provided by CCLE.
The discussion forum is a universal communication tool found in almost all Learning Management Systems. The forum tool is great for creating a place where students can discuss a topic, pose questions of their own, or upload content and collaborate on a problem in an asynchronous format. Forums can be graded or ungraded and can also be used as an Announcement which emails all participants in a class. For more information on effectively using Discussion Forums see the guide: https://humtech.ucla.edu/instructional-support/ccle-activities-resources/ccle-forums-basic/
Zoom is a video conferencing tool that provides a way to have face to face, synchronous communication between two or more participants. Zoom calls allow for sharing video, audio, and device screens. This is a great way to host virtual office hours, meet students virtually, or to hold synchronous class discussion if your course warrants it. For more information on effectively using Zoom see the guide:
Poodll is a simple audio recorder embedded in CCLE Assignments that allows for a recorded message to accompany assignment feedback, or to serve as the feedback itself. It is a great way to leave simple yet approachable feedback that flows differently from standard written text. Likewise, Assignments can allow for Poodll submissions whereby students can submit audio as part of their assignment. In these uses, Poodll can be a good tool for both informal evaluation and submission contextualization. For more information on effectively using Poodll see the guide here:
(https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DqG9roplLUWAye7gu5d-IUr787gZGbJW7KKom3YMUdk/edit – Poodll specific guide not on website)
There are many methods, and many reasons, to create media for your class. Reasons might include supplementing your course lecture to flipping the classroom. For online classes with no lecture component, media are the medium through which the course concepts and instructor identity are delivered. Creating media therefore is important for all class types.
While creating media can seem like a daunting task, research has shown that more informal, low production, and short videos are more effective at retaining attention and delivering information (http://up.csail.mit.edu/other-pubs/las2014-pguo-engagement.pdf). Humanities Technology supports the creation of both video and audio through their studio, Studio H. For more information on and scheduling of the studio, see: https://humtech.ucla.edu/labs/studio-h/
There are many ways to communicate for all different class types. This article highlights only some of the methods which are available in CCLE. Of course, there are many ways to enhance communication for all class types and exploration is encouraged! If you are interested in discussing any of the methods or tools mentioned here, or not mentioned here, you can always reach out to the The Teaching Resource Center at email@example.com, by calling 310-825-4864, or stopping by at 1020 Public Affairs.