The largest component to the success of operating the course is facilitating a learning environment through engagement with the learners. We’ll discuss how to decipher course analytics to choose appropriate course engagement strategies, and tips for promoting learner engagement. The topics discussed here are:
- Understanding Data Downloads
- Course Communication
- Commenting on Assignments
- Widget Updating
- Assigning Custom Roles
- Course Adjustments
Furthermore, for some best practices, be sure to check out this Tips & Resources section on Engagement.
Understanding Data Downloads
The NovoEd Data Download feature provides a wide variety of data about your course to explore. To access this page, navigate to the gear icon and select Data Downloads from the dropdown menu. The data can help you better understand what learners are doing (and not doing) in the course and provide insights. When creating Data Download queries, think about how the data relates to your expectations. What has been successful? Where are the areas of lower engagement? How can some of the other strategies on this ‘During: Engagement’ page help address the areas of lower engagement?
- Understanding what is happening in the course
- Spot potential issues that need more investigation
Please find more details on how to use Data Downloads here.
Things To Check
- Do you have a plan to regularly check the Data Downloads?
- Do you act on the data provided?
Course instructors have the opportunity to communicate with their students through the NovoEd platform through both announcements (displayed on the course homepage) and emails (send to their personal inbox, depending on the learner’s email settings). Course communication provides an excellent opportunity to update, remind, and excite learners about the course. In particular, the email ability allows the teaching team to reach out to the students even when they are not visiting the course itself. When putting together a course communication, think through your main objective. What will learners do after reading the communication? How can you make communication more enticing to read?
- Personal, and helps the learner feel more connected to the teaching team
- Reconnects learners to the course and provides suggestions for interaction
Example Email Topics
- Welcome Email
- Welcome Students at Start of Course
- Course Update (Usually Weekly)
- Plan for week
- Action items
- Reminder Email
- Don't forget an upcoming assignment!
- Action items
- Learner / Course Spotlights
- Random Excitement
- Highlight submissions
- Other excitement
- Current Events/Trending Topic
- Link to article/other resources
- Encourage as a forum discussion topic
- Midpoint Check-In
- Provide a reiteration of course objectives
- Ask reflection prompting questions about if the objectives have been accomplished
For a more detailed outline of the types of emails to send at different stages of the course, please refer to the Tips & Resources section on Course Communication.
Here’s how to send emails and create announcements.
Commenting on Assignments
An excellent way to demonstrate an interest in the student’s work is by directly commenting on their assignments. Not only does it indicate that instructors are looking at the work they have assigned, but it also enables students who receive comments on their assignment to feel their work has been acknowledged and evaluated. Furthermore, it helps stimulate discussion among students. When commenting on an assignment, think about the impact it will have on the learner. What do you want the learner’s takeaway to be?
For some pieces of advice on how to give feedback, please refer to this Tips & Resources article.
- Modeling effective commenting and interaction
- Demonstrating that the instructors care about the learners
Here’s how to comment on an assignment.
The widgets functionality on the course homepage provides a great opportunity to help guide learners to different locations within the course. As the priorities of the course evolve, updating the widgets is an easy way to adjust the homepage to meet the needs of the course, or just to update the weekly action items. When updating widgets consider how it will change the learners’ attention on the homepage. What will be their new focus? How will the widget change their focal point?
- Guiding learners in directions to improve their engagement
- Showing involvement by keeping content current
Here’s how to edit a widget.
Things To Check
- That the widgets on the home page are current and correct?
- That they are clear and visually appealing?
Assigning Custom Roles
NovoEd provides the opportunity to assign students and teaching assistants a unique role that will be displayed whenever the individual interacts with the course, whether it is posting on a forum or commenting on an assignment. Custom roles can be especially effective to invite back successful students as community TAs or when provided to students who stand out to intentionally initiate more interaction with their peers. When thinking about custom roles, consider how a person will be considered differently when provided with a different role title.
A good practice is to introduce these individuals with custom roles in a section of a page or even on a separate page. Include some background on them and set expectations as to what your learners can expect from them.
- Modeling and promoting social interaction
- Rewarding success and engagement
Find out how to create and assign custom roles here.
Examples of Custom Roles
- Course Champions or Course Catalysts
- Course catalysts can play the role of teaching assistants, providing students feedback and answering learners' questions.
- Course catalysts are sometimes past course participants who are interested in continuing their engagement with the course.
- Community Catalysts
- Community catalysts function as community builders on the course. Their presence is meant to increase a sense of belonging to course identity, and to maintain the morale of the course learners, as a higher sense of both has been shown to lead to higher engagement in the course.
- Specific responsibilities can include posting notes of encouragement on discussion pages/personal messages, coordinating team dynamic issues with teams who have raised concerns
Sometimes you will find it beneficial to provide a due date extension or make other modifications to the timeline of the course. Make sure you inform students of any changes you make and update any locations in the course pages and/or syllabus where specific dates are referenced.
- Responsiveness to different difficulties/abilities/commitment than expected
- Anticipates issues and addresses problems
Here’s how to adjust release dates for lectures
- Assignment Deadline Adjustment
- Assignment Difficulty Adjustment
- Forum Structure Adjustment
- Peer Review Adjustment
- Additional Helpful Materials (Creating FAQs)
Things To Check
- That you are actively adjusting based on analytics and student comments?
- Did you test the fix from a student perspective?
- That you aren’t creating false expectations for future responsiveness