Faculty Stories: Scott Sandok
Describe what you are trying to accomplish with the specific project or teaching practice featured here.
My goal is to create an online course that is as engaging and supportive as my face to face classes. My goal is for student’s efforts to be on the subject, not the navigation tool. That said, I try to leverage the tool to provide as much of “baseline” feedback as possible so that students get instant validation or information to help guide them along their learning process.
ROLE OF ACADEMIC TECHNOLOGY
What technology/tools are you using in this project or teaching practice? What is the role of the technology in this project or teaching practice?
My courses all make heavy use of many of the features within D2L. I try to “stage” the course so that future units become available only after the initial work has been completed. This helps to avoid overwhelming students – I know I would be overwhelmed if presented an entire semester’s worth of work on day one!
I use conditional releases on announcements to give feedback to students. I use the D2L checklists to make sure that the expectations are clear on what needs to be accomplished every week. I use rubrics to help ensure consistency of grading and to help automate some standard feedback. I incorporate directly into every checklist a list of preferred supplemental videos, alternative resources, and links to tutors that are available if students have questions.
I also really try to let D2L help me automate some of the “foundational” concepts by creating quizzes that provide immediate and consistent feedback to students. I’ll let the student learn on some low stakes assessments that build competencies and that can be automated. This gives instant feedback, which helps the students, and allows me the time to focus on giving meaningful, constructive feedback on discussions and papers.
How does this project or practice influence student learning?
Students appreciate receiving fast feedback. By automating some of the grading of the basics of my courses, I can then ask deeper discussion questions that build on an assumption of material topic competency. When working with students on meaningful discussions, and it’s in these more advanced questions that some logical inconsistencies can be flushed out.
What comments have you received from students about this project or practice relative to their learning? Do you have a direct quote from a student or students that addresses this?
I don’t think good teachers get acknowledged enough for their hard work. I hope this email finds you doing well. But I just want to say we students really do appreciate the immediate and quality feedback you provide us. Your course is constructed almost perfectly in favor of the students. It really does set students up for success.
Appreciate your strong efforts,
I know every week you ask if we have any suggestions or improvements for this course and I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you. Your class has been phenomenal, I thoroughly enjoy your lectures every week, along with your detailed descriptions and graphs. Seeing what you look like makes it feel more like an on campus class, and I appreciate that. Going into this semester I was dreading this class, I hated economics with a passion, and I was thinking it would be a repeat of xxxx. However you have changed all of that, you truly want us to learn and it shows. Because of you, I no longer hate economics, I’m not a huge fan of it, but I at least now have an understanding and willingness to try to learn more about it and that is because of you. Thanks for doing what you do, and for caring. Keep it up, your students appreciate it.
How has this project or practice changed the way you teach, or made your teaching better?
Teaching online has really forced me to consider all barriers that students might encounter, and how we can systematically and proactively address these barriers. If I can determine what challenges my students face, and where their frustration stems, I have the opportunity to address it before it become a frustration. Teaching online has made me think much more systematically and holistically.
How does this project or practice relate to assessment in your course(s)? How do you assess whether the project or practice has been successful/useful in the above areas – such as impact on student learning?
The feedback I have received from students is vital. I ask my students for feedback every semester and I dedicate time every semester to make one substantial improvement based on feedback. I also love data. I look at the success rate of every question asked in multiple choice format and identify where students are struggling. I go back and modify my online videos to enhance sections that might have been unclear or incomplete. I look at my discussions and identify where students might have gone off topic and clarify my questions and expectations. I recognize that my course is evolving, and that I need to adapt and enhance every semester.