Tips for Starting Strong in Spring 2022Harper College will begin the Spring 2022 semester online. Whether you were planning to teach online or need to kick things off virtually until we return to campus, these tips will help you to start the semester strong!

  1. Send a clear welcome message to students by January 14 via email and Blackboard announcement. Welcome students and provide clear instructions on how to access materials and engage in learning activities the first week of class to have a strong start once classes begin on January 18.
  2. Provide a short welcome video to introduce yourself and the course. Record a short welcome video to introduce yourself and reiterate important first steps for students. Let them know how they can get engaged with the course in the first week. If possible, share your screen and provide a walkthrough of critical course resources.
  3. Hold an optional, virtual session to meet students and go over important class info. If your course is an on-campus, blended, or online LIVE course, you can hold the session during the times you were originally scheduled to meet. If your course is online ANYTIME, hold the session within the first few days of the course. Encourage students to attend to meet you, meet one another, and get their questions answered. Use the time to review critical course information and get to know the students. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Webex are great options for holding virtual meetings and allow you to record and post the sessions for those that didn’t opt to attend live.
  4. Hold virtual check-in sessions with individual students or small groups. Ask students to sign up for a time to meet with you via a tool like Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Webex. If your course is an on-campus, blended, or online LIVE course, consider providing the times during your originally scheduled on-campus meetings. Hold short meetings with the students to get to know about them and their learning needs, introduce yourself, and check-in that the students have what they need to get started.
  5. Provide an activity to help students engage with the syllabus during the first week. Hands-on activities like a syllabus reconnaissancesyllabus scavenger hunt, or syllabus quiz can help students get off to a strong start with a more thorough understanding of the course.
  6. Provide recorded “mini-lectures” that cover critical topics in the first weeks. Record and post short videos in Blackboard that provide a quick explanation or example of critical course content to go along with the readings and resources provided in the first weeks. Encourage students to watch by providing a follow-up quiz, assignment, or other activity.
  7. Provide a clear structure in Blackboard for organizing materials and assignments. Regardless of your course modality, providing a clear structure in Blackboard can help your students easily access resources and assignments. If you’d like a head start, the Academy can provide you with a pre-built Blackboard template for Spring 2022 that includes orientation activities and a weekly folder structure. The template is built out for the entire semester, but you can choose to include only the weeks where your class will be taught remotely.
  8. Connect with the Academy for resources and assistance. The Academy has a variety of resources available. Some that you might find particularly useful as you start Spring 2022 include:

We hope these tips help you start the semester strong and remember that the Academy team is here and ready to support you!