Using Announcements to Stay Connected During “Off” Weeks in Blended Classes
I don’t know about you, but I found that when I first started teaching blended classes, students treated the weeks that we didn’t meet as a class as “off” weeks — in other words, they didn’t do anything! When we came back to class the following week, people seemed disconnected and somewhat surprised that I had expected them to do some reading or some online activities during the previous week when we didn’t meet in the classroom (this, despite what I thought was pretty clear language to the contrary in the syllabus)
I didn’t like feeling disconnected, and wanted students to be able to refer back to something to remind themselves what they learned in class during the previous class meeting, as well as a fun way to remind them there was no “off” week — just an “online” week.
Here’s what I do. I use the Announcements feature in BlackBoard. To memorialize what we learned during an in-person meeting, the announcement thanks them for coming to class, summarizes what we learned in class, and lets them know what’s coming up (what assignments are due, and what we’ll be doing during our next class meeting, as well as materials they need to review/bring to the next class meeting).
During the “online” week, I put together a simple GoAnimate video to remind them what they should be doing that week so they are prepared when we meet in person again. Here’s an example:
Ok, I admit maybe I have too much fun with the GoAnimate videos. But the students seem to like it, and they’re more engaged and better prepared.