As we begin another semester during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a number of advantages to many of our Lethbridge College classes running online (lowering the possibility of virus transmission, for one!), as well as a number of issues to consider. Will students in your class have access to reliable Wifi? Do they have obligations that make it difficult to attend classes? What time zone are they living in?
Asking a few key questions can allow instructors to get a sense of student concerns and issues related to technology and remote and/or online instruction during COVID-19. The answers to these questions can help you gain empathy for what your students are facing during the pandemic and can inform whether your teaching practices and expectations of students are appropriate in the context of your class and students’ access to materials. The questions below are adapted from informal questionnaires created by eCampusOntario, Educause, and Harvard Graduate School of Education (included at the end of this page):
- What device will you primarily be using to participate in the course? (Phone; Tablet; Laptop; Desktop)
- Please select the technology and/or equipment you have access to during this course. (Computer (laptop ordesktop); tablet; webcam (built-in or separate); phone that can take and view photos; WiFi (good to excellent); WiFi (bad to moderate); a quiet space to work in; printer; scanner; Microsoft Office (Excel, Word, Powerpoint) or equivalent; microphone (internal or external); earphones or headset; access to Canvas; other)
- Do you have any concerns about the amount of bandwidth or data you have access to or about the quality of your internet connection? If yes, please specify?
- How much time per day can you access your primary device for coursework (some people share devices with others)?
- Where are you currently living? (In residence at Lethbridge College; in Lethbridge, not in residence; in Alberta; in Canada; outside Canada)
- When it is 9 a.m. in Lethbridge, what time is it in your time zone?
- If you’ve already taken one or more remote and/or online class(es), which of the following learning/educational issues have been a challenge for you during the transition to remote learning? Check all that apply. (Finding time to participate in synchronous classes [e.g., live-streaming lectures or video conferencing at a set time]; unclear expectations around course/assignment requirements; competing class meetings and schedules; personal preference for face-to-face learning; course lessons or activities that haven’t translated well to a remote environment; difficulty focusing or paying attention to remote instruction or activities; Instructor availability/responsiveness; personal motivation/desire to complete coursework; Other)
- What concerns do you have that might limit your ability to engage in learning activities over the next few weeks (e.g., caring for children; responsibility for taking care of a sick family member; needing to share computer access in your house, etc.)?
- Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about working in an online environment and/or in this course? This could be concerns, suggestions, etc.
You may wish to use or adapt some of the above questions (or come up with new questions appropriate to the context of your class) in a survey to your class. Please take a look at the three examples below to get a sense of some of the quick survey options that can be used to learn more about your students in an online class during COVID-19.
ECAR. (2020, April 7). Educause DIY survey kit: Remote work and learning experiences. Educause. https://er.educause.edu/blogs/2020/4/educause-diy-survey-kit-remote-work-and-learning-experiences
Flynn, A., & Kerr, J. (n.d.). Remote course questionnaire: start of the course. From Remote teaching: A practical guide with tools, tips, and techniques. eCampusOntario. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/14v9H7Jh-vDhBaiNHUxjSXTMRXvi9ctr-ZodIlzXJHeA/viewform?edit_requested=true
Makig Caring Common Project. (n.d.). For Educators: COVID check-in survey (new!). Harvard Graduate School of Education. https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu/resources-for-educators/covid-check-in-survey
Educational Development Specialist