Inter(action)

This week, I was tasked with taking a deeper look at my current interactions within my course prototype on Brightspace. Are they meaningful and authentic? Do they facilitate discussion and collaboration? Hoping that my course would be engaging (I can only hope) I have included various forms of student-student and student-instructor interactions within my course prototype. However, there is always room to grow, learn, and add new variations that are tailored to my students!

Before online learning begins, within each program, in the first semester, students are provided with online learning guidelines and best practices. At the beginning of each course, I ensure that I reiterate those guidelines to students and I monitor student-student interactions throughout the course. I also engage the students in an online learning discussion where we discuss the guidelines and debate further best practices that are tailored to the students in the cohort. For example, my previous cohort preferred for discussions to be more organized and we implemented a respectful guideline that each student should virtually, or physically, raise their hand when they want to talk next. This helped eliminate the confusion of students talking over one another and students not talking because they did not want to interrupt. 

Below is a comprehensive list of what interactions I currently have implemented and my justification.

  1. Bongo
    • Brightspace’s virtual classroom, Bongo, is used for interactions between students and the instructor. It is very similar to Zoom and includes the same tools, like the whiteboard feature, collaboration functions, break out rooms, polls, and more. My course contains students from various campus locations (Yorkton, Prince Albert, and Regina) and a virtual classroom is definitely needed. Although Bongo is a great online space for discussion it has a sign-on feature that sometimes does not foster an engaging virtual classroom space. When students sign on, they have the option of joining only with audio or with video and audio. I find that at the start of the semester, students were very nervous choosing the video option and often chose the audio only option as the easy non-social option.
  2. Capstone project & groups
    • Students are given the option to complete their multimedia digital storytelling capstone project independently or in a group of two. If students chose to work as a group, I have enabled groups with Brightspace and students can self-enrol within groups that are connected to their capstone project. Within the groups, students are able to communicate amongst each other and use their group locker, which stores and shares files between group members. As well, they can hand in their project as a group within the assignment submission section. It is a really interesting space that instructors can monitor and it keeps everything centralized and organized for the students collaborating together.
  3. Travel Club
    • The Go Where Eagles Dare program includes a Travel Club, which is essentially a cohort name that the students chose in one of our synchronous meetings. I created a specific email for the Travel Club that they have access to through Microsoft Outlook. Besides the email, students actually meet as a Travel Club several times throughout the program and are able to participate in discussions, cultural events and activities, fundraising, storytelling, and assist with the next academic year recruitment. For example, although they are spread out amongst the province, students fundraised for some of their travel expenses through a Sarcan bottle drive. Anyone, no matter of their location, could donate to Sarcan and provide them with the specific code for our fundraising. As well, I found that by the students choosing a name and creating a space for them, they were more engaged with one another and the content. I even heard students say “what happens in Travel Club stays in Travel Club”, so it has definitely helped to build a sense of community even though they are spread out amongst the province. 
  4. Surveys 
    • Throughout each module are formative assessment surveys that students are required to complete. For example, one of the surveys is related to activities and excursions that interest them when in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Students are able to complete some research, suggest some activities and excursions, and provide me with any associated links. I am able to use this information to tailor the trip and experience towards student’s interests. This information is invaluable and the surveys are user friendly, organized, and an accessible way for students to inform me of their ideas and perspectives on a variety of topics. I always enjoy reading the surveys because it lets me know what is, or is not, working. 

If you have any suggestions for further student-student or student-teacher interactions please comment on my blog post below!

2 thoughts on “Inter(action)

  1. hi Chantal
    I agree with you that student-teacher interaction is very important and using different sources of interaction makes teaching-learning more interactive and helps to develop the interest of the students. Using od capstone project in the lesson plan is very interesting and interactive. with the help of this project Students in the groups can connect with one another and share their experiences and knowledge with each other. It helps to broaden their knowledge

  2. Hi Chantal, I love how interactive and engaging your course sounds. I wonder how things like surveys would work in an everyday high school classroom? I have tried them before and I find high school students don’t know themselves as learners very well, especially when compared to adult learners.

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