Shared Community Insights on Engineering Remote Student Support

Emerging Insights on Navigating Remote Student Support (July 2020 ASEE Webinar)

This webinar, facilitated by Becky Bates (Minnesota State University, Mankato), Krishna Pakala (Boise State University), Kerrie Douglas (Purdue University), and Julie Martin (The Ohio State University), explores strategies for effectively supporting students remotely, sharing insights on virtual office hours, empathetic syllabi and in-class icebreakers, instructional techniques to support students in class, and additional ways that faculty, staff, and peers can interact to support student success. Below is a collection of insights on remote student support shared in the chat pod by webinar attendees.

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Using Social Media to Engage with Students

  1. Blending the personal and informal aspects of social media are part of the point.
  2. I could update my Facebook page as a way for students to become more acquainted with me., if they want.
  3. Perhaps I could use one thing (FB) for personal, and something else for school.
  4. For me, LinkedIn is open, Twitter is public, and Facebook is my personal social network.
  5. If you’re not into social media platforms that steal and sell your data, you *could* adapt these ideas for use inside a content management system.

Virtual Office Hours

  1. I have found that having office hours the night before exam is a big hit. I have sometimes made it into a big group discussion online as they are studying.
  2. Google Hangout office hours are popular with students.
  3. Calling office hours “study sessions” encourages students to study together.
  4. You can have limited group, semi-private conversations on Zoom, Slack, Discord, and WhatsApp
  5. Try reframing the name “office hours” to make it less formal, e.g., Ask a Librarian, Question Session, Morning Coffee Chat, Ask Us…
  6. Some students want faculty to keep doing office hours on Zoom post-pandemic. This would be a big help to commuter students.

Instructional Student Support Strategies

In Class

  1. Build in icebreakers and fun activities for students (to help manage stress): Boise State Students: We Will Survive, Coronavirus Version
  2. Don’t hang up at the end of online class! Stick around for questions and informal interaction.
  3. I pre-recorded weekly “Lobby” videos that I posted in our LMS to guide students at the beginning of each week on what was happening that week. Since my course structure is based on Lee Sheldon’s multiplayer classroom, the “Lobby” is the first place every video game player starts (like the lobby of a hotel when you first arrive).
  4. Calling [students] by name is always a big winner.
  5. I ask students to show themselves [via webcam] at least once if they have a camera, especially if they aren’t otherwise active.
  6. Virtual Workshop: Universal Design for Learning: How Can Inclusive Teaching Methods Challenge And Support All Students?

In Between Classes

  1. I thought it [was] interesting that students check course management system more often than their email (for announcements). Text most often, of course.
  2. I set up a class WhatsApp chat at the beginning of spring semester as a way to interact more quickly.
  3. I am most familiar in my life outside of academia with WhatsApp. We created a class agreement about using WhatsApp and all 30 students in my elective wastewater design course used this application.
  4. Question about weekly check-ins – I scanned the list for “big” problems, addressed those individually and then addressed the global challenges in seminars and classes.

Exams and Presentations

  1. I switched to oral exams in the spring, and it was AWESOME. Oral exams are extremely creative and very valuable because they can emulate actual interactive industrial technical meetings.
  2. If asking students to create video presentations, be sure to give them some training to create videos. I’ve had my first-year engineering students at Northeastern University create video reports for years before online/hybrid teaching & learning. Provide a rubric, examples of excellent videos from previous student teams, and model good video creation strategies.
  3. Make sure however they submit [presentations], ensure that it’s visible. The biggest challenge I find is that students put in the work and then their classmates can’t view the final product.
  4. For classes where you require peers to ask questions, doing threaded discussion allows both the ask-er and answer-er to think about and give good responses.