Chalking out and strategically crafting the assignments and submissions for an online environment is challenging! As I started on the path of online teaching, I had to get creative and innovative.
From my past experiences of being a Teaching Assistant, an overload of assignments does not board well with the class structure as well as the pace of teaching and learning.
Assessments for the course
I decided to adopt an assessment strategy in which the various assessments will compliment each other in a way that the student is working towards a final project at the end of the course.
The class of 150 (yes, that was the initial enrollment number, which dwindled to about 100 and then 90 – which I will address in my next post) was divided up in 15 groups of 10 members each. A weekly discussion in this group for six weeks made up 35% of the grade. The intent was to prompt students to engage critically work the course material rather than passive learning and regurgitation of the readings for a final exam. I will speak to this component extensively in my subsequent post.
A short online quiz amounting to 10% of the grade was scheduled on the penultimate week of the course.
This group structure was further given the task of peer-review for final project outlines for their fellow students. The expectations for the outline were quantified for clarity in reviewing process.
And finally, a short final project on the topic of students choosing, in their choice of format (audio/podcast, video, presentation, writeup, poster) culminated the course.
The variety in assessments allowed for the students to express their comments and engage critically with the course content. I am thrilled to receive enthusiastic response from a majority of the students for the online discussion setup and the peer-review+final project setup.
What were the goals for the course?
I am determined to tread on with “curiosity” and “peer participation” as my walking sticks as I plan the course structure. As I was building my online course, I stumbled across an insightful piece on teaching in higher secondary classrooms (the piece is not an endorsement). My biggest takeaway was to stay true to your humane side in conducting a class and make every effort for a collaborative relationship with students rather than a hierarchical one.
Idealist as it sounds, I have had some fellow colleagues express discontent about students seeking undue advantage of the collaborative setup in the classroom. This feedback from others helped me stay on top of this potential problem, and I resorted to the use of assertive (note, not attacking, discerning or authoritative) language/tone from the very start of the course.
So, the step is to see how I got on with the actual syllabus. Stay tuned for more on that!