EdTech Tips to Improve the Remote Student Experience

by Kelli Van Wasshenova

Originally posted Oct. 16, 2020

Complete video playlist: EdTech Tips to Improve the Remote Student Experience

Overview: EdTech Tip Series Based on the Remote Student Technology Survey

VIDEO: Overview of the EdTech Tips to Improve the Remote Student Experience

This week we are addressing the results of the Remote Student Technology survey where our remote students gave feedback on their experiences in the virtual classroom. The summary of survey results can be found in this post in the Provost’s Office section of MyDenison.

For each of the sections below, you may want to watch the entire video for each section or click on any of the blue underlined hyperlinks to see specific parts from the videos that address the suggestions. There are also links to more in-depth demos and tutorials included.

A HUGE thank you to Suzanne Baker, Cheryl McFarren, and Jordan Katz for taking the time to be interviewed for this video series. You can click on the links below to jump to some of the strategies and suggestions they spoke about in our interviews.

Tip 1: Improve audio in hybrid classes for remote students

VIDEO: Can you hear me now?

Survey Results

  • Seventeen students report not being able to hear students in their classes.
  • Problems hearing (some) students (and faculty) in the physical classroom

Suggestions

  • Check-in with students to make sure they can hear.
  • Assign a student in the classroom to watch the chat in case a remote student is having issues.
  • Move the mic around the room. Ask students in the classroom to project their voice, enunciate clearly, and turn towards the mic in the room for their remote peers.
  • Check the learning spaces site for details about your classroom
  • Turn on closed captioning in Google Meet for real-time captions or share transcripts of Zoom recordings. You can also upload a video to a private YouTube channel and closed captioning/transcript are automatically created.
  • Google Meet Captioning: Demo Clip & Google Support Site
  • Zoom Transcript: Demo Clip & Zoom Support Site
  • YouTube captioning: YouTube Support Site
  • Faculty repeating student’s words helps (but can create a “barrier” between students).
  • Faculty may need to stand closer to the mic or may want to test a voice amplifier, which can be checked out from the library. You can also schedule a consultation with Dan Timmermann at ets@denison.edu to test one in your classroom (see video clip on More Audio Options) ETS is continuing to explore audio solutions for spaces converted to classrooms this semester, so contact us for a consultation in your classroom.

Discover what other Denison faculty members are doing

Click on their names below to see them and hear what they are doing.

Tip 2: Ensure remote students can see what is happening

VIDEO: Do you see what I see?

Survey Results

  • Problems seeing the whiteboard/chalkboard clearly 
  • Thirteen students report not being able to see the whiteboard/chalkboard clearly or at all. Their notes are incorrect or incomplete and they need to take time to watch the class video to correct them. 

Suggestions

  • Check video resolution: Record in 720p and not 360p by changing Meet/Zoom video settings In Meet select your “Send resolution (maximum)” as “High definition (720p)” in your settings.

Discover what other Denison faculty members are doing 

Click on their names below to see them and hear what they are doing.

  • Suzanne Baker
    • Screen shares writing prompts and activities 
    • Changes cameras based on what she is doing in class (discussion, notes, etc) 
    • Has someone in class take a photo of the notes on the board for the remote students 
    • Shared Google Docs for notes
  • Cheryl McFarren
    • Get to know each other on Zoom early in the semester
    • Remote teaching using Zoom for lectures are on Mondays so everyone can see
  • Jordan Katz
    • Flipped class this semester
    • Provides lectures in video format to make sure remote and on-campus students all receive the same course content
    • (See the next video to hear more about how Jordan approaches in-class group work.)

Tip 3: Connect on-campus community with remote students

VIDEO: Connection

Survey Results

  • Lack of connection with those on campus 
  • Some students reported feeling forgotten by the professor and classmates. 

Suggestions

  • Check-in with remote students at the beginning of class to make sure they can hear and see class activity. (See tips one and two above for more information on hearing and seeing.) 
  • Assign a student in the classroom to monitor the chat to help remote students stay connected. Student(s) in the classroom may also be in charge of raising their hand to indicate that a remote student has a question, a contribution to the discussion, or is having trouble hearing or seeing. 
  • Reframe your thinking to focus your teaching on the remote students. Students within the physical classroom will still be able to raise a hand if they need help or have a question and remote students will feel as though they are part of class. 
  • Periodically survey or poll your students to see how they are doing.
  • Use Google Calendar appointment slots to check-in one-on-one with students.

Denison Faculty members discuss connecting with students building community in their classes.

Click on their names below to see them and hear what they are doing.

  • Connecting with Students
    • Cheryl McFarren on connecting with one another in Zoom. 
    • Suzanne Baker on checking in during class and one-on-one with students outside of class. This promotes individual wellness and commonalities between remote and in-person students. 
    • Cheryl McFarren on being transparent with students. 
  • Hybrid Group Work
    • Suzanne Baker on synchronous and asynchronous group work. 
    • Jordan Katz on his approach to active cooperative learning, and how he uses group work to promote connection, accountability, and engagement. 

Tip 4: Reduce challenges that our remote (and on campus) students are facing

VIDEO: Remote is sure hard to handle

Survey Results

  • Many students reported on the added layers of difficulty of being a remote student in a hybrid class. 
  • They need more time to respond in classes, especially if they are typing into chat. 
  • Beyond the scheduled class time, time differences cause problems with timed assignments, such as posting a response to another student in a discussion board by a certain time or scheduling mandatory small group discussions outside class with busy students on EST/EDT. 
  • They perceive some professors have a lack of understanding the additional challenges of remote learning in a hybrid classroom. 

Suggestions

  • Sit in on a colleague’s class as a remote student to understand the remote experience in a hybrid course better. 
  • Provide separate office hours for just remote students. Ask a department TA to host review sessions for remote students. Encourage study groups involving remote students. 
  • Build in time for a 3 to 5-minute reflective pause midway through your class session. 
  • Provide flexibility or alternatives for timed assignments with dependencies for remote students. 
  • Be consistent with schedule and expectations. 
  • Provide clear, written instructions and schedules for students.
  • Use a Google Doc to keep students aware of what is due and when. Keep all links in the doc. 
  • Full video demo on how you can use a Google Doc to do this. 
  • If breaking your class into groups, create Roster Groups and use the “viewable to” option in Notebowl to sub-assign assignments that are due on different dates for each group. 
  • Avoid timed electronic exams as there are many variables that can cause students to lose an internet connection and then be unable to finish an exam. This adds to the stress remote students are already feeling.

Denison Faculty members discuss what they do to try and support students during this time.

Click on their names below to see them and hear what they are doing.

Structure and Organization

  • Cheryl McFarren on not making assumptions about what students understand. 
  • Suzanne Baker on providing clear weekly schedules complete with links. 
  • Jordan Katz on helping students prepare for exams. 

Exams: Keeping the focus on content, not technology

  • Jordan Katz on how he approaches exams with his remote students to give them the most equitable experience possible as his on-campus students. 

Adapting & Communicating

  • Suzanne Baker on late work and communicating. 
  • Cheryl McFarren on how we are all in this together and how this is part of their educational experience. 

BONUS: Kelli does magic

Tip 5: Help remote students who have internet connectivity issues

VIDEO: Everything’s Not Lost

Survey Results

  • Many students report missing part of class/discussion and then struggling to catch up while following class when they reconnect. 
  • Some students report that they cannot watch video assignments because of limited bandwidth and their connection dropping, which is frustrating and exhausting. 
  • Some students report that they are late with their submissions at times because of their lack of connectivity. 

Suggestions

Other Remote Student Resources

More information

Please review the Center for Learning and Teaching’s blog with numerous suggestions for the hybrid classroom from Denison faculty members. Contact your instructional technologist or sign up for a consultation appointment for exploring other solutions to hybrid classroom edtech challenges. Supporting the student hybrid experience is our prime focus the rest of the semester.

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