My Five Favorite Bb Tools for Increasing Retention and Performance + 1
- Monitor how often students log in. The grade center tells the last time a student has logged in and you can run a course activity report to see which days they have logged in, what areas they spend their time in, and get an idea of how much time they are working within the LMS. When students aren’t putting in the time needed to perform in the class, reach out to them. There is a reason they aren’t logging in. What is it?
- Enable statistics tracking on key items of content to see if students are accessing them. Students who are in a course where a large portion of their grade hinges on one or two proctored exam performance(s) can feel lulled by their ability to perform well on the open-book content. Failing to access all learning tools is an early warning that they are living in the moment of the assignment grades and not integrating the content for mastery. Send an announcement to the class to remind them of the importance of those and other items as key course content, particularly when you see students skipping them.
- Program the early warning system to quickly identify students who have been absent for a specified amount of time or who have performed below a certain grade criteria. Use this tool to send reminders to students to log in or to give tips for grade improvement.
- Set all course announcements to be emailed to students. Assuming they check their email, this helps keep them from forgetting to “attend” class, keeps them informed of activities, and reminds them of due dates.
- Take advantage of the dynamic features of the grade center. Carefully set it up to match the criteria in the syllabus and utilize its ability to provide students with a running grade, including the associated letter grade, before they ever access the course. Students are becoming more and more aware of the ability to track their performance with the grade reporting feature-take advantage! Use the grading notes to offer praise and suggestions for improvement. Even when the work is good, offering ways they can do even better will keep them motivated to ask more of themselves.
What is the +1 you may ask? If you haven’t realized that YOU, the instructor, are the +1, go back and read the list again. Each item on the list requires your involvement. Online teaching offers a lot of autonomy. We can literally “teach from the beach” but with that autonomy comes the responsibility to be clearly and consistently present and engaged in the class. Great content, organization, and even solid design will never take the place of an involved instructor.