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eLearning is like a sewer, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.

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Best Practices

New Semester Checklist – Top 5

top5If you teach online in higher ed, then you are familiar with the effort, energy and involvement it takes to engage with your students in that environment.  If you’ve taught online for more than a few semesters, then you know that you do need to put some thought into your transition of teaching a class from semester to semester.  Thought goes into your course materials, learning objectives and how your class is setup in Blackboard or whatever flavor of LMS you use.

Ask any teacher, course builder or instructional designer and they can probably give you an extensive checklist of items to pay attention to before the semester starts.  This blog post however will cover only our take on the Top 5.

  1. Copy/request copy of course.
    In anticipation of the new semester, make copies or request copies be made of the courses you are transitioning.  It is difficult to work on getting ready for a new semester if you do not have a place that you can do so without affecting your current students.

    * For those of you who just use the same course and only the students change, it still might benefit you to have a “sandbox” or “working” course where you can develop outside of the production course.

  2. Check your syllabus.
    Go through your syllabus and check for things like:

    • Is the textbook correct?
    • Is your contact information current?
    • Do you have the same office hours?
    • Change any due dates and scheduled activities (course schedule).
    • Ensure learning objectives/activities match with their counterparts in the course (in case you’ve changed them).
  3. Check Blackboard (LMS) content availability and due dates.
    Nothing can be more frustrating for students than to come to content in your course and find they don’t have access to or can’t see the item or activity that is supposed to be there.  Go through your due dates and availability dates to be sure that they line up with the current semester.  Blackboard provides the Date Management tool that does this all in one place.
  4. Update your welcome message.
    Providing a contextually relevant and current welcome, video, audio and/or paragraph will not only go along way toward connecting you to your students, it will demonstrate that you are actively interested in your students.
  5. Update course announcements.
    During the course of a regular semester, you will send out multiple updates or announcements to your students.  Be sure to remove irrelevant course announcements and update/reschedule announcements so that they reflect the correct date or time of year.
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Experience BbWorld 2016 From Your Office!

Each year, I count myself fortunate to attend the penultimate elearning event, Blackboard World.  If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you will know that the sharing of information from the cognitive surplus that is the BbWorld community is the high point of my year.

Sharing is Caring

Each year I share out my experience by blogging about the sessions I’ve attended, the latest news from Blackboard and what our industry leaders and forward thinkers are saying.  Well hold on to your hats folks, cause I have some news for you:

You can be a part of Blackboard World without leaving the comfort of your home sate, city, office or couch!  Yes, that’s right, you can be a part of BbWorld Live 2016.  Blackboard world will live stream sessions from the world’s largest elearning event over the course of three days!

bbworld_live

Visit the BbWorld Live website to signup for the day that lines up with your track! In the Higher Education track alone, you can choose to live stream 8 sessions!  Between every session, Blackboard will be hosting interactive Q&A with speakers, facilitating live-chats in the discussion forum, taking polls, and giving away prizes.  You can even register to win an iPad!

The catch to all of this?   There is no catch!! It is free!  So do yourself a favor, signup for BbWorld Live today, and be a part of elearning’s biggest event of the year!

Best Practices For Utilizing TA’s In Your Online Course

Having an Effective TA for Your Online Course

We all know that teaching online requires instructors to think differently about how their course is delivered. While the methodologies of learning are still in play, the online medium requires you to proactively account for multiple learning strategies when putting together, delivering and interacting with your course and students.

Online instructors fortunate enough to work in departments who provide Teaching Assistants, feel like they have a lifeline in this strange “new” online world. However, the fact that you have a Teaching Assistant does not make the stars align, world peace occur and automatically make everyone fall in love with your course. There are some things to consider about utilizing TA’s in your online course that can make the overall experience more successful.

Combat Inferred Digital Nativity – #providehowtosforTAs

Digital Native PhotoWe like to think that the next generation is more “plugged in” and that they “get it” (whatever “it” may be) when it comes to technology. While this may be true for their smart phone (Let’s take a selfie!), it does not guarantee immediate understanding of your institution’s Learning Management System.

This is why it is important to put your TAs/Doctoral Fellows through the same kind of technology “how-to” sessions that are available to you as a faculty member. At Sam Houston State University, TAs/Doctoral Fellows have the option of participating in any of the teaching online certification programs, which provide a strong base for starting out on the right foot, particularly for those who will teach online courses in the future. These technology development efforts help increase course interaction, engagement and ultimately satisfaction for both instructor and student.

Use your TA to Increase Student Engagement – #notjustforgrading

Increase Online Student EngagmentThere are three types of interaction in any good online course:

  • Student/Content
  • Student/Instructor
  • Student/Student

Each one of these plays an important role in student satisfaction as well as student success. With online class size growing, it does become more challenging to engage every learner in the student/instructor interaction more than a few times during the course. TAs can play a very important role in helping to increase student/instructor interaction, as they fall under the “instructor” umbrella in this equation.

You can assign your TA to work on specific discussion forums within the course to provide feedback, answer questions, or to gently nudge students in a particular direction to ensure objectives are met. This ability to flex your teaching assistant is not limited to discussions. They can help out with blogs, wikis, web conferences and more. This can help increase the one-on-one interaction time you provider learners throughout the duration of the course.

Use your TA to Increase Instructor Presence – #untilwefindacloningmachine

Instructor PresenceThere are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a week and honestly, there is such a thing as a work/life balance. Leverage your TA to help with office hours, web meetings and other times where you may be spread too thin to be in two places at once. They can also help with answering “virtual office” or “general questions” discussion forums if you are at a conference, out of town or fulfilling research requirements.

Put a Face to your TAs Name – #gettingtoknowsue #orstew

More than likely, you have a place in your course where you introduce yourself to the class. It may be in your Virtual Office area or in some other spot. It probably has a picture, some contact info and a brief bio. This would be a great place to add a second item that introduces your TA to the online students. That way when students see discussion replies, grade book feedback and more, they will know who it is from.

Making the course more personal for your students is always a best practice. Connecting your students to you and your TA will allow the students to feel like that they “know” you and this is especially important when it comes to online feedback.

Use your TA to Unleash your Online Grade Book – #feedbackmachine

Online GradingOnce a course is developed, where is the one place where you may spend most of your time in? The answer is overwhelmingly, the grade book. A well-used grade book or grade center can make the difference for you, as well as for student success and satisfaction.

Gone are the days where students would check the door to the classroom twice a semester (midterms and finals) to figure out how they were doing. Nowadays, students receive updates on their phones when an assignment in their course has been graded, when an exam grade has been posted, or when their group projects have been evaluated.

Leveraging your TA to help with the grade center can help decrease grading turnaround time and increase the amount of times a student receives personal feedback on graded items in the course. Any LMS worth its salt has a Rubric tool that faculty can employ to ensure grading guidelines are followed down to the individual criterion by the teaching assistant. Even if you limit your TAs to a particular number of assignments to grade, it will help with the amount of grading you have to do and the amount of time it takes to get that grade to the students.

TAs add value to what you are already doing in the online course. They are an important supplement and providing them with technology skills, leveraging them to increase student engagement, introducing them to your students, using them to increase instructor presence and empowering them to enhance feedback with your grade book are best practices that can contribute to success and satisfaction for you, your students, and your online course.

Being Ready for Finals in an Online Course

ReadinessWith finals fast approaching, your students should be dutifully studying up on course materials, completing academic research and course activities that will help them be able to handle the questions and concepts they come across during end-of-semester assessments.   Your course materials have covered topics large and small that will help them make appropriate inferences, connect the dots and generally understand the subject matter they have been interacting with over the course of a semester.

Even when hitting all of your targets academically speaking, your students may have problems when it comes time for finals in an online environment.  We all know that technology failures operate under the “when, not if” principle, but there are strategies and practices that your students can put into place that will help them surmount any obstacle thrown their way.  The following practices will benefit your students when it comes to the end of year exams:

BEFORE STARTING THE EXAM

Power Up!
Plug your laptop into the power outlet unless you are absolutely certain that your laptop has enough battery power to last for the duration of the test.

Tether Up!
If you have the option, turn off your wireless connection and plug your laptop into the nearest available network port or use your desktop computer if available.  Wireless issue can cause your exam to disconnect and your instructor may not be fond of resetting your exam attempt for the umpteenth time.

Go Solo!
Close down any other programs that my distract you from the test or interfere with your network connection.  Having only one active program ensures your computer will be running at its best.

Idle Computers are the Devil’s Playground
Check your laptop idle time to make sure that it will not go into sleep mode prematurely and sabotage your assessment attempt midway through.

Be Up for Pop-Ups!
Disable all pop-up blockers. These blockers come installed in the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox, in third-party toolbars such as Google and Yahoo, and they can come with utility software such the Norton products from Symantec.

Get Patched Up!
Ensure that your laptop has the latest Operating System (e.g., Windows) patches. Automatic updates can disrupt your current browser session or make your laptop very slow.

Are You Compatible?
Use a web browser that is compatible with or certified to work with the current version of your Learning Management System.

Using Special Software?  Practice, Practice, Practice!
If you are using a lockdown browser or special proctoring software, be sure to download and install it BEFORE you take the exam. Your instructor may provide a practice assessment that will let you make sure you are familiar with the special software involved.

DURING THE EXAM

Don’t Get Click Happy!
When beginning the quiz/test, click the quiz link ONLY ONCE and wait at least a minute for the quiz/test to load.. Do not keep clicking on the quiz/test/test link. Clicking on the quiz/test link two or more times may trigger a message saying you already took the quiz/test. If, after clicking once and waiting the full minute nothing happens, contact your instructor or test proctor immediately.

Leave-off of Leaving
Once you have started the quiz, do not leave the quiz/test page for any reason. Using the browser’s back and forward buttons to move to and from the quiz/test will end the quiz prematurely and prevent you from further access until your instructor clears the attempt. If you are permitted to view other online resources during the quiz/test, open a new browser to view them.

Problem?  Reach out and Touch Someone
In case of computer problems during the test notify your instructor as soon as possible. He or she will reset your quiz/exam attempt or authorize a designee to do so. Your instructor may have policies on if they allow you to reattempt the quiz at all.

Sizing it up BEFORE You Begin!
Do not resize or refresh your screen after loading the quiz/test. Make sure the screen is the size you want before going into the quiz/test. Most browsers refresh the page when you resize the screen so the browser will try to reload the quiz/test if you resize/refresh.

Fight Unit Fatigue – Chunk it Like a Boss

Chunk It Like a BossWe have all experienced a first glance at what looks like an insurmountable obstacle in our learning endeavors. Maybe is was the practicum for your Masters degree, maybe it was your dissertation, maybe it was all the grading you had to catch up on after you returned from vacation.

Undoubtedly, there are strategies that we as instructors can employ to make the amount of material seem less ominous. Whether we distribute our course across, weeks, units, topics or lessons, chunking our content makes it more digestible for our students.

In this day and age many of our students are viewing courses through the lens of multiple devices, many of those with the display real estate of a tablet or smart phone. Why not take the extra step and chunk our units as well?

I like to take the extra step to organize my units across a content item and 2 content folders (depending upon the amount of coursework). Each of my units contains three things:

1. Unit Objectives
2. Unit Content
3. Unit Assignments


Example of Chunking It Like A BossObjectives (Content Item)

The objectives are a great way-stone for my student in the course. They remind the student why they are learning what they are learning and what they should be getting out of each unit. The objectives are generally a content item that the students see immediately upon entering the unit, so they don’t have to dig any deeper to see what they will be learning about.

Unit Content (Content Container)

The Unit Content container contains all of the readings, videos, articles, links and lecture materials for the particular unit. Putting them in the same spot each time leaves no room for second guessing by my students as to where the content will reside. I also place a download link at the end of the container for students who don’t like to read content on a computer/device.

Unit Assignments (Content Container)

The Unit Assignments container contains all of the assignments for a particular unit. I do this to avoid having the assignments show up at the bottom of a long list inside a unit. It allows me the flexibility to order my assignments as I see fit and utilize more folders if the assignments include large projects that work through multiple submissions. By chunking the assignments, the students will see 2 or three assignments per unit rather than 3 assignments added to what may be up to 9 other content items from readings/lectures.

At the end of each of the Unit Content and Unit Assignment container, I provide a link back to the main unit page in case the students need it.

I know that multiple clicks can turn off some students, but have found via student feedback that they appreciate this layout and are secure in the fact that they always know where to look in my online courses for course materials.  Hopefully after reading this you may want to start Chunking it – Like a Boss!

Want to take your Blackboard Course to Next Level? Be Graphic!

bestpracSo, you’ve been at this Blackboard thing for a couple of semesters and you are starting to feel comfortable with the learning management system.  You’ve mastered the art of uploading and attaching files to content.  The discussion board is your boon companion and you are collecting assignments digitally from your students via the assignment tool.  Navigating the grade center is like riding a bike and you feel good about it!

What now?  Learn a new tool or technology? Live inside your course for the next 6 months?  Well, you could do those things, but let me suggest a slightly different approach.  Have you considered adding an important layer to your Blackboard course by inserting images?

Importance of Images

  • Convey course information in an alternate method.
  • Students pay more attention to articles/readings with graphic content.
  • Breaks up monotony of “text-only” Blackboard pages.
  • Increases student engagement by making them use a different part of their brain.
  • It just looks better!

Below are examples of a Blackboard content area without graphics and a content area with graphics.  Which one looks better?  Which one would you rather read?

Blackboard Course Content Area Examples
In this example the graphics are more of the decorating variety, but they do add color and continuity to your course.  Imagine having your course banner at the top of every major content area in your course.  In this case there are examples of images in a content item, learning module and content folder descriptions. Almost anywhere you use the content editor in Blackboard, you can place an image.

Inserting an Image

  1. Click the Insert/Edit Image button on your content editor.
  2. Browse to where your image is saved and attach it.
  3. Type an Image Description (for screen readers).
  4. Click the Insert button.Insert Image dialogue

Editing an Image (Alignment, Spacing and Size)

  1. Click on the image you have placed in the Content Editor.
  2. Click the Insert/Edit Image button.
  3. Click the Appearance tab.
  4. Adjust your Alignment, Spacing and Size.
    Insert - Edit Image - Appearance Tab

With a few clicks of your mouse, your Blackboard course can go from black and white text to a colorful tapestry of text and images that convey meaning to students in a number of different ways!

Resources – Free Images For Your Courses

Teaching Online – The Middle Distance

Long Road Ahead PhotoWhen running a race, it is easy to think of it in three parts. First, there is the start, where you build slowly all the while being excited about the journey you are on. Then, there is the finish, where your goal is in sight and you race to the end of your journey. The bulk of the time of your race is spent in the middle distance, where you are trying to put one foot in front of the other and keep your eyes on the prize.

If you think about it, teaching an online course can be broken up into the same three categories. The start builds slowly as the students and instructor develop the routines they will follow as they move through the course. The finish is completed in a mad frenzy as students race to deliver classwork and submit end-of-course assessments. The majority of the course is handled in the middle distance, where students work to meet weekly objectives and make their way through the course.

For a runner, the middle distance can be the toughest part of the race. For an online instructor, the middle distance of a course can be just as challenging. However there are some strategies/practices you can put into place to make this part of the online course easier to handle.

Keep the Pace

paceIn order to stay on track for a strong finish it is important to pace yourself when running any race. Going too slow can dramatically affect your finishing time and going too fast can burn you out so that you don’t finish strong or for that matter, finish at all.

Pacing yourself as you teach an online course is just as important. Going too slow for your students can disengage them from the course and from meeting learning objectives. Conversely, blowing through course materials is also detrimental for your students’ comprehension and retention. Establishing a pace that keeps all parties engaged and involved while not leaving folks behind is a great best practice when teaching an online course.

Stay Engaged

Student EngagementAs you move through the long stretch of any race it is easy to lose focus, lose track of what your goal is and just disengage from what you are trying to do. Staying checked in while you run ensures that you know where you are, what you are doing and where you need to be to complete the race successfully.

Staying engaged is possibly the most important thing you can do as an online instructor. Though it may seem monotonous at times, checking in and interacting with your course can mean the difference between student success and failure. If you know how your students are doing (because you are engaged), then you know what course corrections to make, what affirmations to give, and how best to direct your students as they move through the course.

Be on the Lookout for Obstacles

ObstaclesAs you move through any run, it is important to keep an eye on the road in front of you for any obstacles that may trip you up. Getting tripped up can reduce your pace and disengage you from your plans for the run. Listening to fellow runners and race officials can help you in this regard. Having a lay of the land can also be a tremendous asset.

Obstacles can be just as problematic in an online course. Keep an ear to the ground with your students through discussion forums and e-mails to help them work around any roadblocks that may occur. Keep in touch with “race officials” aka the support desk or LMS administrators so that you and your students are aware of what is on the road in front of you. Knowing what course activities might cause issues for your students (third-party tools, multimedia or new software) can help you be sure your students are prepared for any issues that arise.

Whether you are at the middle distance of running a race or teaching an online course, keeping pace, staying engaged and being on the lookout for obstacles can help you be successful and finish strong!

#bestpracticemonday 5 “Resolutions” for Online Instructors in the New Year

New Years ResolutionsEach new year brings new growth, new ideas and new commitments for us to do things to make ourselves better personally and professionally.  Whether we are inspired by too much turkey over the holidays or an urge to start with a clean slate, no other time of the year seems more appropriate for these determinations. Perhaps this year, we may consider some New Year’s Resolutions for our online courses!

Let’s face it, online teaching, like too much turkey, can really weigh you down. During a long semester, we can get buried in grading assignments and responding to discussion posts, and the lofty goals we started off with for engaging our students can seem dimly out of reach.

With a holiday break and a start to the new year/semester fast approaching, now is a great time to resolve to adopt a few pedagogically sound teaching and learning best practices for our online courses. While there may be several measures we can adopt to improve the overall quality of our online teaching environments, here are five easy to follow, easy to apply techniques that will make our online courses that much more engaging. Remember you don’t have to do all 5!

1.  Model How the Course will go for Students with a “Getting Started” Unit

Getting StartedA smart move for any online instructor is to implement some kind of ‘orientation unit’ for the online student.  This unit can serve the purpose of introducing the student to his or her online course environment, as well as other important course information.  Expectations, rules of the road, and an operator’s manual are usually communicated within this unit.

It is important to set this unit up just like every other unit in the course.  Model orientation content and activities in such a way as to reflect how the rest of the units will be structured.  The student will not only gain the benefit of understanding how the online course operates, they will get the added practice of going through course units as they would normally throughout the course.

2.  2-4-6-8 it’s Time to Differentiate

Differentiated Instruction GraphicWe would be hard-pressed to negate the notion that are our students are not identical. Each of our learners comes to us with varying degrees of abilities, aptitude levels, interests, learning experiences and needs. While it may not be feasible to get to know each of our students on a personal basis, we can make some general deductions about the learning diversity that is present in every course we teach.

This is where Differentiated Instruction comes in. For those of us in the field, the term refers to the theory that since no two students will learn exactly the same way, instructors have the opportunity to structure and design their teaching environments using a variety of instructional methods that may reach a broader swath of the student body. The online environment really lends itself to this approach. With the advent of various technology tools, we can now choose to diversify our approach to lectures, activities and assessments and more.

If you are wondering how to add more diversity of instruction to your course, start with the following. It’s as easy as A-B-C!

a.      Realize your students are unique, and discover ways to get to know them.

Realistically speaking, we may not get to know our students as well as we would like. But we can implement an activity or two to catch a glimpse into who they are and what their learning approach may be. For instance, at the beginning of your course, introduce an ice-breaker discussion forum and ask your learners what they do in their free time. You will be surprised by what you can learn!

b.      Look critically at your course, and identify a few areas where you can introduce diversity of instructional methodology.

Sit back and consider your students’ learning objectives. Take a look at how you are introducing and enforcing these key concepts at the moment and select an area or two where you may introduce a different approach. Perhaps an audio lecture may be a welcomed alternative to the text-based reading. Or, perhaps you may want to spice up your course with content from the Khan Academy, Ted Talks, or NBC Learn. Often regarded as “mashups” the introduction of external collective knowledge in an online course adds variety, and piques students’ interests.

c.       Consider the Context and Role of the Online Instructor.

The online environment can present us with options we may not have readily used in our face-to-face courses…so make the most it! While having lots of choices may seem daunting, starting with one or two will help keep them manageable. Online Instructors should think differently about their teaching, because in the online environment where rich, educational online resources abound, we become more of a guide on the side, than a sage on the stage.

3.  Set Due Dates to Coincide with Support Desk Hours

This resolution is an easy one to keep!  First, learn your Technology Support Desk hours (SHSU Online is 7am – Midnight, Mon-Sat).  Once familiar with Support’s hours of operation, make sure any due dates, tests or technology oriented activities fall when the Support Desk team is available.  This is important because the students will have someone to call when the technology doesn’t work or their interpretation of how the technology should work is different from actually happened.

4.  Set a Schedule for Course Interactions, Be Consistent

SchedulePart of being available in a course, and establishing ever-important instructor presence, is letting your students know when you are available.  A great way to do this is to establish a routine for your course interactions.

  • For starters, you can let them know that you will get back to them on questions posted in your Virtual Office discussion forum a time period you establish at the beginning of the term (usually within 24 – 36 hours)
  • Hold regular “office hours” with the asynchronous chat tool (Skype, Bb Chat or Collaborate, Google Hangout) where you will be available in real-time to answer your students questions if need be.
  • Post an announcement and send it out via e-mail once a week summing up the previous week’s events and highlighting the important aspects of the next week.

By establishing a routine, you form a habit of being available in your course that your students can count on.

5. Have fun!

Remember the excitement of teaching? The opportunities to lead, change, inspire, and innovate? Perhaps you connect with the intrinsic motivation of knowing you are making a real and tangible difference in many impressionable minds. Whatever that original point of motivation is for you, we can all connect with what originally prompted us to teach.

Being an online instructor is the perfect chance to express your teaching philosophies in a number of diverse and effective ways. Make your course as exciting as your teaching. Personalize it. Make it your very own. Let it show your unique teaching style and at the end of the day, resolve to have fun doing what you do best…teach!

#bestpracticemonday: Teaching Online – “Running” into Problems

Running Technical GlitchSo I run 3 – 4 times each week.   This past week on my shorter run, I was studiously trying to avoid being run over by less-than-aware drivers when I stepped into a bad spot in the road.  Before I knew it, I rolled my ankle and scraped my hands on the pavement as I went down.   Because I was close to traffic I immediately got my bearings and took some deep breaths.  I was only about a quarter of the way into my run and I wanted to finish so I begin what I can only describe as a hop-limp running style as I continued on my way.  After about 30 yards I was approaching normal, but running carefully just to be sure.  Eventually I was back at my normal pace and finished my run somewhat later than normal and a little scraped up.

So now you know more than you ever wanted to know about my exercise habits.  The funny thing about my adventure is that it is analogous to how online instructors should handle technical problems when they arise. When you “run” into problems while teaching an online course, follow these steps:

Get Your Bearings

Get your BearingsWhether it was a technical glitch or one of your activities/assessments didn’t work as expected, it is important to get your bearings.  Whatever the problem take a deep breath and realize that it will be okay.  Reflect that same thought to your students by posting an announcement about the issue and/or communicating with them via e-mail or other method.  Reach out to your support network to find out what happened so that you can answer questions posed by your students.  If you don’t know, it’s okay to let your students know that you don’t know, but that you are in the process of finding out what happened.  Figure out where your students were when the event happened so that you can move onto the next step…

Keep on Moving (the limp-hop)

The Limp Hop - Walking wiht a bootIn most cases you are under a time constraint when teaching online just as you are in a face-to-face course. You have a set amount of work to do in a limited amount of time.  So even if you have a partial work stoppage due to a technology glitch or outage, it is important to keep moving forward.  How can you do this?  Try using another tool to finish the activity that the students were working on when everything hit the fan.  *Best Practice Alert:  If you are using a technology intensive tool for a course activity/assessment, it is always a good idea to have an alternate activity planned in case something goes wrong.  Think of it as like having printed slides of your presentation just in case the projector doesn’t work in your face-to-face course.  Find another way to continue the activity so that your students won’t miss out on the the learning experience.  For example, if you were using a blog, try switching to a discussion forum.

What really goes without saying here is that you keep the lines of communication flowing.  During downtimes and technical glitches of tools, the students just want to know that they won’t be penalized and that the world is still turning.  Even if the course seems to be inching along, a follow-up e-mail letting them know that you are still with them does much to lessen anxieties.   It may seem like a glacial pace compared to what you were doing when the problem occurred, but continuing to move forward at any pace will give your students a sense of comfort that you are still in control of the course and they are still in control of their learning.

Getting Back in the Groove

Get Back in the GrooveOnce the problem has passed it is important to ensure that you and your students are back in the normal rhythm of your course.  Communicate with your students and let them know that all systems are “go” and that they should return to normal course interaction practices.  If the tool that had the problem is to be used in an assignment let the students know that you will watching for any issues that may arise.  You will notice a familiar refrain when it comes to doing these things.  Each step in the disaster recovery process involves communicating with your students!  It may take some encouragement on your part, but your students should slip back into the familiar course interactions that they are used to.

As with most situations when you deal with technology, it is not a matter of if it will fail you, but when it will fail you.  Keep in mind, how you respond to these problems and glitches often has more of an effect on your students than the problems themselves.   Make sure to get your bearings, keep on moving, and get back in the groove and everything will be all right.  You may have a few scrapes and soreness, but you and your students will come through it and finish strong!

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