Providing your students with choices in how they demonstrate their learning can positively affect their commitment and motivation, allowing them to draw upon their strengths, and meet their personal learning needs.
1. Be flexible
Teaching is unpredictable in any environment. Adopt a flexible approach to teaching and learning in your course, course delivery plan, assignments, and deadlines. This is imperative for your students, who depend on you to maintain a sense of structure while being sensitive to their circumstances.
- Consider providing all students with additional time to complete a test or assignment.
- Provide students with time to adapt when making changes to the delivery of a course. A minimum of 48-hour notice (preferably more) is essential.
- Keep in mind that students may need to make changes to their living environment in order to participate online (e.g. children who need attention, access to a suitable computer, a quiet place to work, etc.).
- Develop a plan for how you can be flexible around deadlines.
- Allow flexibility for students to access content and participate in activities at their own pace, but within a consistent structure. Even if you have synchronous, scheduled online activities, consider recording them and consider a consistent time in which online participation is due. For example, the module for each week is made available on Monday at 9am and due to be completed at each student’s own pace by Sunday at 10pm. This offers flexibility for students within a consistent structure.
2. Alternative Assessment
To assess cumulative knowledge across the course, alternative assignments may be just as effective as a final exam. Take-home exams or open-book, timed online exams may be the form that is required but when possible, consider other forms of assessments such essays, posters and portfolios that allow students to demonstrate they have met the course learning outcomes.
- Assess only what has not been assessed. Focus on your learning outcomes to make this decision. You don’t need to assess ALL of your content (and never can in an exam).
- Consider alternative writing assignments that are shorter, but still require the student to apply critical thinking skills and communicate their original thoughts.
- Consider how to make questions more individualized. If you need to assess questions which may have a right answer, consider accompanying this question with an individual reflective question that asks students to describe in their own words, what they learned, or to demonstrate their individual understanding of the process/procedural question they answered.
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