Peter Macdonald, SCTE Director, proposes a number of methods to honour the “humanity” in your teaching. Consider reaching out to your students on a personal level, by way of:

  • interactive classroom introductions at the beginning of your course and in each class thereafter (perhaps, while taking attendance for subsequent classes);
  • responding empathetically to technology-related challenges that your students may be experiencing; and
  • inviting your students to contact you individually after class about course-related concerns (through virtual office hours or otherwise).

For more details, view the T&L post, Maintaining an Engaging Online Learning Environment.

Peter Macdonald
SCTE Director

Consider how you might “take the pulse” of the class without relying on contextual cues.

“In class, I ask my students how they’re doing. You can’t separate what’s happening in the program with what’s going on in their lives.
David Johnston

David Johnston
Program Director, Master of Supply Chain Management

Consider creating short opportunities during which you can ask students to turn on their webcams and connect. During a pandemic, students have limited options for learning spaces and may not be able to keep their webcams on throughout the entire lecture.

At the end of lecture to bring the class together and bring some humanity to the classroom, I ask everyone to give each other a wave. Ashley Konson

Ashley Konson
Instructor of Marketing

Fostering Engagement in Breakout Rooms

In the age of ‘Zoom fatigue’, instructors need to ensure that their synchronous sessions are making good use of students’ time and energy. Breakout rooms are great for allowing a more manageable small group discussion, but these discussions need to be carefully structured.

Use Breakout Rooms for “Speed-Dating” Style Networking Opportunities

Joe Fayt, Instructor of Marketing, uses breakout rooms to host networking sessions in the last 15 minutes of class. For the first few weeks of class, students can join these networking sessions and have one-on-one conversations with their peers. This provides students the opportunity to build connections with their classmates and to find peers with shared interests / specializations which is helpful when it comes time to do groupwork.

Share Discussion Topics in Advance to “Warm Up” for the Main Discussion

Kate Ellis, Instructor of Marketing, has considered how to get some of her quieter students involved in class discussions. She often posts the topic of a group discussion ahead of time to give students an opportunity to reflect on possible contributions. She’ll then present a related question and assign students to breakout rooms to get the discussion started. For example, if the class will be discussing customer experience, she’ll use breakout rooms to give students an opportunity to share their best or worst retail experiences.

Drop in on Breakout Rooms to Provide Targeted Feedback to Students

Joelle Pokrajac, Instructor of Accounting, asks students to share their screens while they’re working on a task in breakout rooms. As students are in their breakout rooms, she’ll join each room and talk to the students about their work and provide feedback on it. This encourages students to feel more confident about presenting their work in the main classroom. When everyone is back in the main class, each group presents their work which allows students to see the different approaches and perspectives that can be taken to solve the problem.

Joelle Pokrajac
Instructor of Accounting

Purposeful Polling 

Polling students in Zoom is a great way to interact with your students and gauge their understanding of course content. Possible poll uses include:

  • Prediction. Have students predict something about a case, story, or technique you’re going to cover in the class.
  • Knowledge checks. Have students answer a problem to give them an opportunity to practice and consolidate what they’ve learned. Review common answers to address common mistakes.

David Johnston, Program Director, Master of Supply Chain Management, shares how he has used polling as a tool to better understand his students and the circumstances they’re in as they participate in his class.