I’ve been teaching Abnormal Psychology with LaunchPad in hybrid and in-person courses for multiple years, but this summer semester was my first attempt at teaching fully online. Compressing the 15-week course into 8-weeks was one challenge, but others included how to best communicate all the things that often get said in the classroom, not just about content, but also about how to use resources like Launchpad. Below are some lessons learned:
Things kept from previous classes that worked well:
- An extensive syllabus, including not only requirements and schedule, but also all assignment components, and an expanded section on the computer access and skills necessary for success in the course. This includes reminders to plan for emergencies, and always have a backup.
- LearningCurve – these quizzes have been a great tool for my students for many semesters, and this did not change in the online modality. I require students to complete these as they read the chapters, and encourage them to return to them as a study tool before tests.
- Frequent reminders/FAQs – there are always questions about LaunchPad and how it is integrated into the course. I keep a list of both the questions asked, and how these are answered, so that in future courses I can post these as a reference. I also schedule announcement posts in the first week of class reminding students how to do things like integrating their LaunchPad account into the LMS (we use D2L Brightspace).
- Test questions – many of which I have obtained from the Instructor Resources included in LaunchPad. While testing did have to be moved into the LMS, the items remained the same, allowing me to compare results across modalities.
Things that had to be adapted to the online modality:
- Early semester presentation on how to use LaunchPad. In previous semesters I have worked through this in person – for the online course I recorded a mini-lecture of me working through the site, navigating one LearningCurve quiz, navigating to the grade book, etc.
- Lecture presentations – while I have recorded lectures and provided these online in order to use a “flipped” classroom model for previous hybrid sections, teaching fully online reduced the opportunities for students to discuss questions about these lectures with me in person. This was dealt with by adding the discussion modules below.
Things added to the online course:
- Discussion boards – in place of in-class discussions, students were required to post their questions or comments on each chapter, and respond to their colleagues. This allowed an opportunity to correct misapprehensions and answer questions about content. In addition, this further encouraged reading of the textbook, which was the prompt for these discussion posts.
- Online interaction with instructor and TA – as always, students were encouraged to come to us with problems as early as possible. New modalities for this were necessary, and a discussion board was added for this purpose.
- Activity Checklists – in order to organize the many components of the online course, and to help with flow in a compressed (8-week) semester, a checklist of tasks was created for each week of the course. This included links to:
- the e-book with instructions to read the relevant chapter
- the relevant Learning Curve assignment, which had been integrated into the LMS
- any additional reading
- the posted video lecture\
- the required discussion posts in the LMS
This addition also helped streamline student’s use of LaunchPad, as the checklists were in the LMS, but linked to components of LaunchPad which had been integrated. Links navigated to Launchpad, but scores appeared in both gradebooks.
- Class average scores on all tests were approximately the same, in some cases slightly better, than in the previous 3 semesters of teaching the course in other modalities.
- As usual, there were some students who failed to complete some or all of the LaunchPad assignments, however the proportion of this seemed lower than in previous semesters.
- Final grade average was slightly higher than in most recent semesters, with a higher proportion of “A” grades.