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As a professor who teaches online and hybrid data science-related courses, I know the challenges of keeping students engaged. Most challenges are out of my control. Additionally, there is a distinct difference between the face-to-face, online, and hybrid experiences.
I had to accept the online and hybrid experiences are unlike the in-class experience. In my simple definition, it just “feels” different; however, just because it feels this way at first doesn’t mean we can’t be effective and impactful educators. Some best practices for encouraging connection, interaction, and personalization in online and hybrid learning include:
• Encourage frequent student interaction through discussion boards, forums, and group activities by posing thought-provoking questions to stimulate discussion.
• Establish a communication schedule and provide timely responses to student inquiries using multiple communication channels, including email, chat, and video conferencing.
• Incorporate video messages and announcements to add a personal touch.
• Provide individualized and constructive feedback on assignments and assessments and use the students by name.
As much as we would like to keep learning as a face-to-face experience, the educational ecosystem is transforming. If we’re going to remain relevant, we must stay open. It’s okay that online or hybrid learning “feels” different. Change always does at first until it becomes the norm.