Community & Collaboration

A course should be welcoming, encouraging, and supportive. The instructor should be present in video or audio lectures, discussions, announcements, and feedback. People from a variety of backgrounds should be able to participate equally.

What works:

  • A "welcome message" is present in the syllabus or elsewhere in the course

  • The language used is accessible and welcoming to students, and the tone conveys confidence that all students can succeed

  • Expectations for participation in the course community are clearly stated

  • Students are given opportunities to express their thoughts and communicate with one another

  • Accommodations can be requested easily and without stigma

  • Feedback on assignments is timely and meaningful

  • After reviewing the course, you understand the instructor’s teaching philosophy and approach

Whether we think so or not, we’re social, and we learn better together. Building a learning community with regular and healthy communication where students feel comfortable engaging with the instructor and their peers is key for facilitating learning.

Fostering community can be one of the most challenging aspects of remote instruction, but it's not impossible. It simply requires a different kind of effort from what is required in a physical classroom. It's helpful to think of that effort in three types of activities:

Setting Expectations, Creating Spaces, Checking In
Setting Expectations: Making expectations (and your rationale for your expectations) for community and communication clear to students.

Creating Spaces: Making it easy for students to communicate with you and with one another, both synchronously and asynchronously through discussion forums, office hours, and group work.

Checking In: Communicating regularly with all students and as needed with students who aren’t meeting expectations or require extra attention.

Getting to Know Your Students

Students come to UC Santa Cruz with diverse life experiences, identities, prior knowledge, motivation for learning, and academic and cultural strengths, which creates a unique educational ecosystem in our classrooms. In our remote instruction setting, there are also differences in computer/hardware/software, internet access, broadband capability, and shared home learning environments that our students have, which can create challenges for instruction. The better you “know” your students, the more likely you’ll be able to create an inclusive and equitable classroom experience that provides rich opportunities for learning.