FRAME YOUR COURSE
1. REMEMBER, THIS IS NEW FOR EVERYBODY
Both professors and students may be new to the online learning environment, which means clear communication is key. Make sure you’re engaging your students with the right medium for your audience, and don’t make the assumption that just because your students are younger than you, they are more tech-savvy. Mazi Raz said it best in his webinar: “Online learning needs to go beyond engaging ears and eyes.” Don’t be afraid to get creative and do more than just discuss the case.
2. USE SYNCHRONOUS AND ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING METHODS
Synchronous learning is when class engagement and feedback happens in real time (i.e. debate or discussion in the classroom, live facilitation). Asynchronous learning happens when students are at different places in their learning journey (i.e. questions/reading in advance, discussion board responses). Since most cases are problem-based there is a lot of context to unpack. Start with an asynchronous learning method, such as asking them to answer questions in advance about the decision that needs to be made in the case. Then, transition to a synchronous learning method where you provide the ‘twist’ of the case, the enigmatic event or decision that is at the core of the case, and redirect everyone to dive deeper into that insight via live discussion. You can then return to an asynchronous discovery by having the students reflect individually after the group discussion.
3. CHOOSE A CASE THAT TRANSITIONS WELL ONLINE
Cases that transition well online often include clear and/or controversial topics. Multi-part cases are great as well because they naturally provide opportunities for both synchronous and asynchronous learning. Cases with big turning points and high ambiguity are also engaging because they don’t always have a straightforward answer; they encourage deep discussion from the students. To keep interest high, choose cases that are reflective of recent events, well written and contain novel ideas. Using supplements or multimedia tools such as video or podcasts to augment the content is also a great way to increase engagement; catering to different learning styles will go a long way with your students.
COMBINE CHARACTER WITH COMMUNICATION
4. BRING CHARACTER TO THE CONVERSATION
Effective leadership involves communicating clearly, and committing to learning, growing and building your own character. Character is made of many elements and it’s important to know which ones to focus on and when. Bringing humanity to your interactions through effective body language, vocal intonation and eye contact will be immediate indicators to your viewers of how you intend on carrying forward the connection. If you can elicit an emotional reaction from your audience, it means they are engaged.
5. PRACTICE CLEAR COMMUNICATION
Speak clearly and be cognizant of your rate of speech. Note the para-linguistic moments in your conversation (other vocal tones that aren’t necessarily speech such as breathing or sounds of acknowledgement), and allow for pauses and reflective moments in the discussion. Finally, ask your audience for feedback on your presentation skills so you can continue to improve them.
Set an expectation about preferred communication style. Monitor the quality of the spoken and written discourse during the class, and pay attention to how people are writing out their responses in discussions and chats. Make sure you have language guidelines pre-determined in your class (i.e. no acronyms, no emojis, professional and respectful language only).
6. EXPERIMENT WITH TECHNOLOGY
Be sure to connect with your institution’s IT department to see which learning tools have been approved by school leadership and how you can be technologically supported with their preferred software. Very often, schools have a specific learning management system (LMS) in place to facilitate online options. Learn to use the features of your technology prior to taking it live. It will reduce uncertainty for the presenter and provide a smoother experience for the learner. Take the opportunity to learn new tools and investigate other resources such as YouTube channels, Zoom, and video editing software.
7. CHOOSE RELEVANT RESOURCES
Be mindful of how many tools you expect your students to learn; having access to multiple resources is great but it’s important to simplify the students’ transition and learning. Choosing relevant resources is always better than choosing more resources. Make sure you have permission before introducing external resources to your class, respect copyright, and reference your sources.
8. PEOPLE ARE YOUR BEST RESOURCE
Talking to others is one of the best resources available to us. It demonstrates our courage to ask for help and share insights with each other. We all have a trusted network of people and we should be reaching out to them and experimenting with methods that work and don’t. Audiences are more forgiving than we think so don’t worry about not knowing the answer, needing to reach out for help or making mistakes on your first attempt of anything.
ENCOURAGE CLASS PARTICIPATION
9. ALLOW FOR DIFFERENT CONTRIBUTION FORMATS
Provide different contribution formats so all types of learners and personalities can thrive. In addition to live discussion via video, asking for written responses or comments on posts encourages all participants to think about their responses and show that they are actively engaging. It brings out unique perspectives from students who may not normally participate in a live discussion and it allows the professor to trace the thought processes of the group as a whole. Also consider providing time for breakout sessions, use cold calling tactics, use discussion boards and provide readings prior to class.
10. SET THE CONTEXT & ASK FOR VIDEO PARTICIPATION
Remind your class it is still a professional environment and that the point of the classroom is to provide a safe space for ethical learning. Anonymity is discouraged as the students should be familiar with their classmates and be visibly and aurally accountable for their contributions; hold students accountable for what they say and how they say it. When possible, ask participants to turn on their cameras, especially in gallery view, because it creates a sense of community and accountability (high quality video is important but high quality audio is more important, so also keep that in mind). Encourage students to dress as they were coming to class.
Collaborative insights from:
- Matt Quin (Ivey Publishing, Director)
- Mazi Raz (Ivey Academy, Director of Learning Design & Strategy)
- Kanina Blanchard (Ivey Business School, Lecturer, Management Communications & General Management)
- Martha Maznevski (Ivey Business School, Professor, Organizational Behaviour, Director for Executive Education)