As you and your students settle into the routine of your online course, you will find yourself learning more about your students and their situations and needs. Through your interaction with your students, you should be learning:
- Their background and interest in the course
- What prior knowledge they have about the content
- If they are an adult learner, what experience they have with the content and/or skills covered in the course
- Where they are located and what time(s) of the week they tend to participate in the course
- If they are an adult learner, how their work schedule impacts their participation in the course
As you get to know your students and their needs, you can adjust schedules, timing of live sessions, discussion questions, and even options for assignments based on their needs and what they bring to the course.
One area that is challenging to online teachers is dealing with the various time zones represented by the students in the class. Keeping track of time zones can help you with scheduling live sessions, knowing better times to call the student on the phone, and knowing when you might hear back from them. Here are some tips to help you with time zones:
- Once you know the timezones of your students, make yourself a little chart similar to the one below:
- 9:00 Eastern / 7:00 Mountain / 6:00 Pacific
- 11:00 Eastern / 9:00 Mountain / 8:00 Pacific
- Time and Date.com is a great site for assistance with time zones.
- Use Qlock to put a time zone widget on your desktop (don’t be fooled by the paid versions – there’s a link to the free one below the prices.)
- Put a time zone widget in one of the HTML blocks in Moodle.
- Find a timezone widget that you like, and add the time zones of your students
- Copy the embed code (it’s HTML code)
- Add an HTML block in Moodle
- Click the pencil to edit the block
- Click the HTML button to switch to HTML mode
- Paste in the HTML code
- Don’t forget to add a block title
Reflect. How do you keep tabs on the needs of your students in a face to face class? Do you feel that you have a good sense of where your students are in your online class? What else can you do to stay connected to their needs and experiences with the course?