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I still miss the face-to-face connections of an on-ground university

Laptop and Coffee

I really enjoyed this morning at TLC. The first three sessions I chose, along with the morning keynote, had me thinking about students and how best to connect with them. I’ve always been tech-forward and started using email to connect with students in the late 80’s. But I still miss the face-to-face connections of an on-ground university – the heart to heart chats during office hours, the dynamic in-class discussions with lots of participants, even running into a student at a grocery store or coffee shop. So, I’m always looking for ways to recreate a bit of that experience and these sessions did not disappoint.

The first session focused on bringing in material from current best sellers to find points of engagement with students, even developing mini-discussions connecting a best seller with course content. In the second session we took a deep dive into assignment feedback and explored how to use it to best connect and communicate effectively with our students. After the morning keynote, which I’ll come back to, I attended a session that explored the pros and cons of video feedback on written assignments. One of the takeaways of this last session was that both instructors and students reported feeling more connected to each other. If you’re interested in being more connected to your students, I highly recommend reviewing these three sessions.

The morning keynote fit nicely in this group. Dr. Cortés focused on diversity and equity. He focused on the interplay between individuals and the groups of which they are members. As I look at my roster of students, as I read their introductory posts, I understand and connect with them through the groups we share or that we have some knowledge of. This student lived in the town I used to, that student and I share a hobby. If I pay attention to those groups that my students identify with, I can get clues as to who those students are, not unlike the clues I can get in face to face interactions. Those clues can form opportunities for connection through shared experience.

The afternoon sessions aren’t yet done as I write this, but it’s been a very productive and thought-provoking morning.

Dr. Jim Hardy Professor, Division of General Education Ashford University

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