March 11, 2020

Are your students prepared for a fully online course? Find out by asking them.

Posted by Laura Guertin

I was waiting for my institution to make the call. And then, it came today…


Earlier today, this tweet was also posted online:


And I share this tweet from the WHO because we as faculty are all having different reactions to this information. But how are our students feeling – about learning online, about social distancing, about what is happening in their own lives, etc.?

So I’m now shifting all of my classes to be delivered online for at least the next three weeks. I’ve taught online before, I’ve taught blended courses, I’m comfortable teaching online. Ideally, prepping for online delivery takes more time for the most effective and engaging experience than the few days I have to work with, but this is our situation and we move forward.

I have the tools to teach online – but do my students have access to learn online? Do all of my students have a home computer, or reliable access to the internet that won’t max out their data plans? Do my students have the textbook, or is it locked in their dorm room where they don’t have access to it because they are at home and not coming back after spring break? What concerns do they have about learning online, especially if they have never taken an online course before? And importantly… how are they feeling about the pandemic and how it is impacting society and behaviors?

I have to give credit to two tweets (thank you Andrea Kaston Tange and Lance Gravlee) I saw that inspired me to create a survey for my students to (a) share with me their access to technology and the textbook; (b) offer suggestions for ways we can interact online and topics/areas to explore in format we weren’t going to do face-to-face; and (c) offer them an opportunity to tell me what they are worried about beyond my course, so that I can perhaps offer some support and directions to assistance. It’s similar to a survey I would give to students on the first day of class for an online course – just modified to gather information for the first day of an unexpected online course.

Here is the form – feel free to duplicate and add questions appropriate to your setting and situation.

LINK to MS Form

I’ve sent the form with a video of me as a “talking head” telling students we are going to get through this together. I look forward to seeing their responses and how we can all move forward together as a community.

Please continue to share your ideas, resources, and anecdotal stories of how you are working with your courses during these shut-downs, online offerings, etc. Just as we need to be here for our students, we can be here for each other providing the same support.