During the second week of ATS training, we worked with managing communication with students during an online course. During the modules and readings I was pleased to find many commonalities with observations I had made through trial and error in my own online course. Given that COVID-19 forced me into online teaching last semester without any practice, I was forced to learn on my own best practices of communication. One concept we discussed during this week is the proper balance for interacting with students on discussion boards. There is a sweet medium between to little and too much engagement. On the one hand, instructors should provide some guidance/summation, or point out insightful posts from students. However, if instructors engage in too much discussion, it crowds out the participation of students. It took me a while to figure this out on my own, as I initially took a hands off approach to discussion guidance. Having this training would have been helpful last semester.
This module also marked the first time we used Canvas to build a module, which is basically a week’s worth of content. Although I was skeptical about transitioning off Blackboard (change is scary), I can now say that I am in love with Canvas. The software comes with templates that do a lot of the organizational work for instructors up front. I found it extremely intuitive to insert my substantive content on the Supreme Court within the shell. Adding media was also extremely. Recording a video and cleanly inserting it into a post is as easy as a single button click. There are also plenty of video editing tools. Although I am far from the artistic type, I will play around with these some more to become better versed in options.