There are many steps you can take to make your course more accessible to students. Here’s a list of ideas:
- Check your color contrast ratio
- Don’t rely only on color to convey meaning
- Caption your videos
- Include alt text for images
- Check for broken links
- Structure your documents and Canvas content using headings
- Make sure your PDFs can be read by screen readers
For more advice please see our accessibility wiki pages .
Please refer to the FERPA guide from Student Academic Services. In particular, you need to consider how FERPA impacts any video with students in it (for example, you can’t share a Zoom recording with students in it outside of that course cohort without documented permission), how you ask students to share their work, and providing alternatives if you intend to require the use of any non-SPU-provided web tools or services.
Here are some other things to bear in mind:
- Remember that preparing for an online class is time-consuming. Try to prepare in advance as much as possible.
- Sometimes less is more. Take advantage of the additional time for reflection and potential for deeper (rather than broader) engagement with course material that online learning can provide.
- Practice your technology skills before class starts.
- Remember that your students are also learning new technologies and keep this in mind when you’re planning. Give students a chance to practice key tech skills before class or in the first week. Also plan to scaffold new skills that they need into your lesson plans.
- Once COVID 19 is done and we’re back to campus, consider what tools or techniques from your remote teaching experience can strengthen your on-campus teaching.
- You can build and develop relationships with students in an online environment. These relationships may be different from face-to-face relationships, but they are still relationships and they matter to students.
- Online learning can provide an opportunity for introverted students to shine. Students who might feel uncomfortable participating in face-to-face discussions sometimes find the online environment gives them time to think before contributing and therefore helps them feel more confident about participating in discussions.
- Include mid-quarter surveys so that you can gauge what is and isn’t working for your students and make changes to your course accordingly.
- Module overviews and module summaries can help students understand why you’re doing what you’re doing in your class. There’s an old adage: tell them what you’re going to do, do it, and then tell them what you did. Your module overview is where you tell them what you hope they will learn (your SWBATs). Then in the middle of the module you take them through the activities you’ve designed to ensure that this learning takes place. Finally, you can remind them what you hope they learned in a summary page at the end of the module. (If this last option seems repetitive, you might ask students to post a list detailing what they’ve learned/accomplished.)
- Remember higher order thinking skills. In an online setting focusing on these skills is particularly helpful in the world of assessment. Here’s why. Some of you will be quite concerned about students cheating on exams. If your exams focus on higher order thinking skills (think essay questions), it’s a lot harder for your students to cheat. Of course, this focus on higher order thinking won’t be feasible for all classes and all exams, but it can be helpful when appropriate.
- Remember to make it real: case studies, problem-based learning, and experiential learning can all be transferred to the online setting.
Guide to Canvas statistics and how to interpret them
Canvas provides a wonderful array of statistics about your course and how students are interacting with it. Sometimes, though, it’s not immediately obvious how to interpret the presented data. We’ll say more about this over time, but as a starting point here’s our guide Course Analytics and Statistics.