Classes designated as Online or Web are typically designed for fully-asynchronous delivery. Though online faculty often require some synchronous contact in the form of individual conferences or group meetings, there is no regularly schedule class time for this to occur.
These classes are a week-to-week experience in Blackboard, with instructor context, materials, learning activities, discussion, and assignments. Instructors engage through Blackboard discussion, announcement, feedback, and recorded videos.
Asynchronous Course Delivery
Any communication and/or activities that take place outside of real time are asynchronous because they occur whenever students have the time to complete them. Viewing lecture videos, reading their textbook, or writing a paper are all asynchronous activities that the students undertake while taking an online course. Examples of asynchronous communication include course related announcements, an email from a student, discussion boards etc. Examples of common asynchronous communication tools in Blackboard include:
- Course Announcements: The Announcements tool in Blackboard is something you can use to send regular overviews or summaries each week, remind students about upcoming assignments, or clarify student questions for the entire class.
- Icebreakers: It is always a good idea to have some sort of an icebreaker activity such as an introduction forum where your students can get to interact and know a little about each other. And, get to know you, their instructor, as well.
- Discussion Boards: Online discussions are one of the main ways for you to start, sustain, and nourish a sense of community in your course. Discussion boards and forums allow you to set up such spaces for your students.
- Blogs, Journals, and Wikis: Blogs, journals, and wikis are interactive tools available in Blackboard that allow you to create web-spaces for your online students to share their thoughts and work.
Online and Web Modalities in Spring 2021
For more information about Spring 2021 teaching modalities, including individual advice from UM faculty members, visit Keep Learning.
Getting Started with Online Instruction
If you’re new to fully-online instruction (or even if you’re not), The Essentials of Online Teaching and Content Delivery course is self-paced and asynchronous, and covers course design topics, including instructor role adjustment based on course modality, Community of Inquiry, social presence — student engagement, and course management and learning guidance. While the content focuses on teaching in the online environment, these effective course design practices can be utilized when creating a course in any mode.
Finally, it’s a good idea to start the semester with the Semester Start Checklist for Online Instructors and the Syllabus Checklist for Online Instructors.
Core Teaching Strategies for All Classes
There are many decisions to be made in creating an online course, including how to format it and what strategies you want to use. To help make the decision-making process more manageable, you should incorporate the following best practices. If you incorporate each of them, you will successfully fulfill most of the requirements for online course delivery.
Core Teaching Strategies for Specific Contexts
After you’ve decided your strategies for sharing materials, providing practice opportunities, engaging students and remaining present, you can adapt specific in-person features of your course to an online format. This matrix will suggest a few high-impact ways to focus your efforts adapting your course to teach at a distance, using the tools already available to you and your students. Resource links are provided for more information on specific toolsets and teaching strategies.
Keep expectations realistic, for yourself and your students. It takes significant time and effort to plan out and create an ideal, at-a-distance version of your course. But the suggestions below can help you build a valuable learning experience in this unique context.
See Teaching Tools for ideas about how to implement specific teaching methods in the digital classroom.