Director’s Blog

Pandemic Pedagogy: Asynchronous Student Engagement

by | Nov 1, 2020 | Director's Blog

If you’re not holding synchronous classes, how can you still connect with your students and create opportunities for them to interact and engage with the course material? I made a short video on this topic and I also summarize my advice below.

  1. Find out how students are connecting currently. For example, many students are using Discord to talk with their classmates about school. Set up a channel, space, etc based on what they are already using so that they are more likely to use it and connect with each other.
  2. Utilize Canvas discussion boards. In order for these to be effective, they need to have some structure. One example is to start off with a question. The first student to answer then has to pose a related question. The next student must answer the new question and then pose another related question, and so on and so forth. This keeps students from just repeating what others have said or simply saying, “Yes, I agree.” For other ideas, you can watch this recording of our 15 minute workshop on discussion boards.
  3. Set up group projects that can be done asynchronously. Students can work together on papers or projects in Google docs, Jamboard, or other platforms without having to all be there at the same time. This helps students who may be in different time zones.
  4. Hold office hours synchronously. Make sure to schedule at different times and encourage students to come. Many students don’t know what to expect or why they should attend office hours so be explicit about how they work. You can set up a waiting room in Zoom so that students don’t interrupt each other when they’re talking with you.
  5. Set up a Zoom study room. Open up a Zoom session and let students join so they feel like they’re studying together. They can simply study quietly or talk through things together as a group. You don’t need to be present – just open up the room for a certain time period.

As always, share your strategies with me! I love to hear about what’s working.

In other news…

What I’m currently reading: The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. The main character is simply a delight, and the writing style will place you squarely in ancient times. It reminded me of Madeline Miller’s books, The Song of Achilles and Circe (one of my favorite novels).

What I’m currently drinking: Rooibos Old Fashioned. I recently discovered the chef Ottolenghi and have been cooking his recipes like crazy during quarantine (check out Ottolenghi Simple for some lovely recipes). His Rooibos Old Fashioned takes a bit of work, but is well worth it, especially if you are a fan of Fernet.

Andrea Aebersold

Andrea Aebersold

Director, Faculty Instructional Development

Andrea Aebersold is the Director of Faculty Instructional Development at University of California, Irvine. She earned a PhD in English and was an associate professor of teaching before coming to UCI. She specializes in active learning, evidence-based teaching, and reading mountains of books.