Did you ever consider the possibility that your greatest influence as in instructor may be with the lost sheep who are not participating in your class? Some students quit participating in an online class toward the middle or even the end of the semester if they are feeling overwhelmed and that they can't endure to the end. Some never get started.
As instructors, we can send a powerful message that we care for these students as we encourage them to return and finish the course.
So, how do we find these lost sheep?
Class Engagement Option
One way is using the new Class Engagement feature located under My Tools>Classlist in your course. This tool is especially useful for the first several weeks of a course in quickly identifying and reaching out to students who haven’t logged in or begun participating in course discussions. The short video below will walk you through with more detail.
In the first several weeks, it is important to establish classroom management expectations. Doing so helps your students understand better the course and your policies. They will turn in assignments more frequently and on time. Use the gradebook to find students who haven’t turned in assignments by the due date and send them a quick and encouraging reminder email for the first several weeks. The short video below will walk you through this process with more detail.
Know your dates. You’ll want to know the Add deadline date for each semester. Why? Well, if a student adds your class a week after it has begun, you’ll want to step in and provide support. This can include a brief communication, by phone, email, discussion board post or instant messenger, that outlines what they need to do to catch up. You’ll also want to release final grades for that student, since it won’t be released along with the others you did earlier. Finally, you’ll want to make sure to enroll them in any groups in your course, if your course does not automatically do group enrollment.
Drop Deadline Policy
Be aware of the Drop Policy. It is never your duty as an instructor to remove students from your course enrollment on your own. Students who may wish to drop from a class should be referred to the Pathway Support Center for Pathway students and the Online Support Center for BYU-Idaho students.
Know Your Resources
BYU-Idaho has been blessed with sufficient resources so that we do not have to search for our "Lost Sheep" alone. We have some great assistance with the Pathway Support Center, the Online Support Center, and our Academic & Advising Support Centers. In addition to technical assistance, you can also refer students to these resources for advising, counseling, and tutoring. If you are not sure where to turn for help, you can utilize these resources.
If you notice that a student is starting to miss assignments or miss an entire week in class, it is important to contact him or her as soon as possible. Many times, a student will respond positively to a teacher reaching out; students often just need some encouragement.