By Sally Cunningham and Alisha Winter
Incorporating online learning into the traditional classroom brought forth numerous challenges and opportunities. Through our work as students-as-partners, we were able to help navigate these uncertainties and discover paths through the untread territory. Each week we share examples of common perceived challenges and how we collaborated with instructors as OLTCs to design for delight.
Maintaining Student Connections
One professor we worked with noted the loss of meeting students in the halls or around campus and the organic conversations that happen when you aren’t confined to the classroom.
With the school almost completely closed down and in-person gatherings outlawed, we wanted to help this professor create a way to connect with their students without the pressure of being camera-ready. Together, we came up with the idea of a “Walk and Talk” as an alternate Office Hours block.
Every week, the professor would join an open Teams call (without video) and walk on her treadmill, fold laundry, or stroll around the block. Students could join the call to ask questions or just to chat, the only requirement being that they also be active.
This solution helped to get both the professor and students out of their chairs, away from screens, and into a new kind of online connection space.
Several keen students became regulars at the Walk and Talks and it was a great way for shy students to engage with the professor outside of class. A student said: “It took pressure off me having my camera on and making direct eye-contact while I asked my questions and it was a relief to be able to get some chores done when so much of the semester was spent parked in front of my computer!”