Active Engagement Across Learning Environments

Active Engagement Across Learning Environments

UNC Charlotte supports academic classes in a variety of curriculum models including:

  • Face-to-Face (F2F) Instruction
  • Online: Asynchronous (Async)
  • Online: Synchronous (Sync)
  • Hybrid: F2F & Online (Sync)
  • Hybrid: F2F & Online (Async)

These models present instructors with an opportunity to reimagine how to engage students in active learning methods and connect with students who may only join remotely or in-person once a week as well as face-to-face. This guide presents options and considerations for engaging students in active learning strategies across different types of learning environments.

Engaging Students

We know you are looking for ways to make your teaching engaging. The downloadable chart below outlines some common active learning strategies and corresponding approaches appropriate for online teaching in synchronous, asynchronous, and hybrid approaches.

Active Learning Across Learning Environments Activity Matrix (downloadable PDF)

UNC Charlotte Active Learning Academy members discuss opportunities for using active learning methodology in non-traditional spaces in the videos below:

Active Teaching & Learning Online Panel

Flipped Classroom Model and Active Learning in Online Spaces Panel Discussion

Humanizing Teaching

What is it?

More than ever, it’s important that we design instruction with our students’ personal lives, responsibilities, concerns, and circumstances in mind.

Humanizing pedagogy begins by cultivating your human presence online in both synchronous and asynchronous courses. Make sure to welcome and greet your students in Canvas; you can do this with announcements and short videos. Planning and creating intentional strategies to get to know each of your students as more than names on a screen, identifying those who may need extra help, and adapting your course delivery accordingly are all things to consider.
Source: New PocketPD Guide: Humanizing Online Teaching & Learning

When designing and leading instruction, humanizing instructors:

  • Work to meet students where they are, on their own terms, as learners and human beings.
  • Ensure the student is an active member of the learning process.
  • Consider the impact of the current reality, culture, and lived experiences of the learner.

Source: Law, L. P. (2015). Humanizing education: teacher leaders influencing pedagogical change. (Publication No. 14361) [Doctoral dissertation, Iowa State University].

How can I do it?

  1. Survey your students: At the very beginning of the semester use Canvas survey, Google Form, or SurveyShare to survey your students and learn about their specific situations. Think about what would help you to know about students’ previous experiences, home lives, schedules, personal responsibilities, access to technology, and/or personal and/or academic needs in order to provide effective instruction.
  2. Remember that “Learning is a conversation; it requires human connection and interaction.” Creating opportunities for synchronous and asynchronous dialogue among students and between yourself and students will result in effective learning outcomes.
  3. Develop open-ended tasks that allow students to play with new knowledge, apply their learning, and reflect on their learning and experiences.
  4. Use video to introduce yourself, review assignment expectations, introduce and summarize course content, and provide feedback. (Hint: Videos don’t have to be polished to be effective, allow yourself to be real on camera and don’t fret over mistakes, we are all seeing each other in real-time online).
  5. Communicate to your students that learning is more about the process than the product. Reinforce that by weighing their work appropriately in your grading scheme.
  6. Take time to reflect on your own teaching and learning and share these reflections with students. Ask students to share their biggest takeaways from the class as a final assignment.

Sources: Edutopia: 3 Tips for Humanizing Digital Pedagogy, New PocketPD Guide: Humanizing Online Teaching & Learning

Building Rapport

What is it?

Building rapport with students is essentially about building relationships. But how you build rapport with students in an online space may look quite different than when you’re teaching face-to-face. Don’t worry! There is plenty you can do to build relationships with your students, even when you don’t interact in person.

How can I do it?

Through care:

Through communication:

  • Establish a clear communication policy with students, outlining when you will and will not respond to emails and your expectations for student responses. Be sure to hold yourself and students accountable! Decide if you will communicate through the Canvas Inbox or using your UNC Charlotte email and make that clear in your syllabus and in the introduction to the class.
  • Establish two-way communication by providing structures for outgoing and incoming communication. Use Discussions in Canvas as avenues for students to ask help questions, or to discuss and share course-related content.
  • Engage with students in multiple ways and spaces (synchronous sessions, discussion boards, chat, assignment feedback, etc.)
  • Send whole-class announcements through Canvas. These announcements could be reminders about upcoming tasks, additional and optional resources for students, or “just-for-fun” information to share.

Through course design:

  • Plan around student learning objectives and major assessments, rather than the number of class meetings.
  • Make everything due at the same time every week.
  • Limit your reliance on lectures.
  • Set and communicate clear expectations for learning and participation.
  • Get organized so students know where to find resources, where to submit work, and where to find feedback.
  • Consider taking a Center for Teaching and Learning workshop on course design.

Sources: Guest Post: Your Suddenly Online Class Could Actually Be a Relief, Tips for Establishing a Rapport with Online Students, Building Rapport: A Professor’s Resource Site, Distance Learning: A Gently Curated Collection of Resources for Teachers