Supporting students transitioning to online
Acknowledge anxiety and offer supports
You can support students by acknowledging their concerns, opening respectful discussions about them, and providing links on unit sites to good quality information such as:
- Deakin’s COVID-19 (coronavirus) FAQs – comprehensive, current information about COVID 19 and health, Deakin’s response, public health information, etc.
- Transitioning to online study – advice from Deakin Life for students on where to get help with studying online, tips to manage health and wellbeing, how to set up a study space, ways to connect with others, etc.
- Financial counselling – DUSA provide a range of services including financial counselling, a ‘student survival centre’, advocacy, legal service and so on.
- Counselling, medical, health, disability support services.
- Accommodation options.
Provide accessible, flexible learning resources
Many students may come across barriers such as poor Internet access and/or computers at home, materials that are not accessible to them or modes of study they are not used to. Some may be in noisy, crowded environments or need to take care of children at certain times. Accessible, flexible resources and activities will be key to their success:
- Provide alternative, low-bandwidth formats, eg:
- For video, provide an audio-only option and a transcript
- For PowerPoint, provide a PDF version of slides and lecture notes in Word
- HTML and Word are generally the most accessible formats
- Provide lower resolution, JPG/GIF or similar formats for images wherever possible.
- Be flexible about time, eg: record BB Collaborate, Zoom and other real-time seminars and provide links to them online.
- Some students with disabilities may experience barriers and need supports such as captioning or live captioning of video-based classes, seminars and learning resources, or assistance to manage online group work. Contact the Disability Resource Centre for support.
- Make sure resources are digitally accessible, as far as possible, but if a non-accessible resource is your only option then work with students to find an option that works for students with access difficulties.
Help students develop digital literacy
Anticipate that even ‘digital natives’ can have gaps in their digital literacy skills when it comes to studying at university. Build in supports:
- Provide links to UniStart (student-facing) Deakin’s digital tools, guides for CloudDeakin, Skype, and Blackboard Collaborate Ultra as well as IT Help Desk resources and contact details.
- Demonstrate how to use e-learning technologies in (recorded) seminars and classes.
Create a nurturing learning environment
Inclusive teaching online needs to be learner-centred rather than content-driven. This means creating an environment in which students feel safe and confident to ask questions, participate in discussions and collaborate in groups: all students need to feel they belong as valued members of the learning community. Setting a class code of conduct and modelling respectful communication are key steps. Further information on teaching inclusively online is available from the Online/blended teaching page of this site.