In the virtual classroom

  • Set the tone for a positive classroom culture via email, a class announcement or in the first class
  • Open your classroom a few minutes early so that students can join/log in and have conversations with other students, similar to the way they would in in-person classes (these could be prompted to encourage engagement as well)
  • Encourage students to ask questions as a way of increasing direct interactions
  • Motivate students by using technology like Microsoft Teams or Zoom to engage in fun activities and challenges
  • Offer students the opportunity to connect with each other outside of the classroom (via engaging discussion boards, text, WhatsApp, etc.)
  • Consider uploading information about campus and community mental health supports to the online learning platform (Blackboard, Canvas, D2L, Moodle)
  • Have your students come up with a list of ways they can support each other throughout the school year
Curriculum design
  • At the beginning of class, take some time to do a quick overview of the previous lecture to remind students of what was last covered
  • Structure the course to enable small group discussions through breakout groups, virtual discussion groups, etc., in order to create spaces for comfortable collaboration and engagement between students
  • Set online office hours where students can come to get clarification on course material
  • Incorporate breaks into online lectures to help encourage students to move, relax their eyes and have a mental break throughout the day
  • Consider making synchronous learning pieces (such as live lectures) available asynchronously, or have other asynchronous options (such as pre-recorded lectures or detailed lecture notes/summaries) with which students can engage so they can participate in coursework at the time they’re most productive
  • Remember students may be scrambling – they may not yet have all the materials for the course for a variety of reasons, including finances, lack of access to their belongings, anxiety about the course/schoolyear, etc.
  • Be sure to balance the notions of rigour and support to help students grow their skills while still being flexible
Reach out
  • Take the time to reach out to a few students each week throughout the course to check-in and see how they’re doing
  • Connect students to mental health supports when necessary (More Feet on the Ground provides a list of resources available on all Ontario campuses)
Guide: PDF Version