Summer Series 2022

start” by nchenga via Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

A 5-Part Self-Guided Series To Get Everyone Started on the OpenLab

Part 4 of 5: Planning your Semester, Pt. 1

We hope that Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the OpenLab Summer Series have helped you get ready to plan your semester in Part 4!

In this installment, we suggest two tasks to guide faculty in planning their semester. Both tasks help faculty customize the OpenLab course template to communicate with their students. 

Task 1: Explore Student-Instructor Communication in the Course Template

  • The template is a suggested model for designing your course. It is informed by known best practices for online and  hybrid teaching, but can and should be customized to suit your vision for your semester. Before you begin further customizing the template, ask yourself:
    • What information do students need from me to be successful this semester?
    • How would I like students to communicate with me this semester?
    • What kind of class dialogue would I like to see this semester?
  • Get familiar with the different types of communication facilitated through the course template:
    • The template facilitates communication from instructors to students. Under the Course Info tab, you will notice pages for your syllabus, the course schedule, and your contact information—all crucial content for your students to know and have access to on your site. The template also uses a category archive for your regularly updated announcements to students.
    • The template facilitates communication between instructors and students. For example, the home page includes a survey for your students to fill out at the start of the semester so that you can understand the technology and working spaces available to them as they working both on- and off-campus. Responses to the survey can inform your communication with students throughout the rest of the semester, as well as shape your expectations for course assignments and participation. 
    • The template also uses category archives for students to submit their assignments, and suggests a number of mechanisms through which you can provide feedback and grades on student work. (Note that FERPA protects student record privacy, and student work should not be graded publicly.)
    • The template facilitates communication between students! This is a key part of creating a lively online classroom. A category archive for Discussions creates a suggested space for students to hold class dialogue online. A first assignment is suggested to you in which students introduce themselves to each other, and encourages students to respond to each other’s introductions for extra credit.

Task 2: Customize the Pages on your Course

  • Prepare and gather your course materials for your site. These materials convey information from you to your students, and include:
    • Your syllabus
    • Your contact information
    • Your grading policy/ grading rubrics
    • Your course schedule.
  • Update the pages on your course site with these materials! 
  • If you have course readings that are available online, decide now how you will link to these readings from your OpenLab site. Please make sure to read our copyright guidelines as you do this.
    • Are your readings freely available online? Can you provide links in your syllabus/ class agendas/ course schedule?
    • Are your readings large PDF files? If so, we recommend using an external hosting service to host these files, such as Dropbox, Office 365 or other hosting service provided by the college. You can provide your students with instructions on how to access this service on your OpenLab site. 

In our final installment, we’ll focus on answering the questions “how can OpenLab sites further facilitate communication between students?” and “how can students submit work on the OpenLab?”

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