Finding Space to connect in an ungraded, optional online environment (a virtual hallway or "Cafe")
As we are more isolated and have moved from the majority of our courses at EMCC being offered in person to the majority being offered online, we need to create space for students to connect.
I have created a Canvas Module that will serve as a "Virtual Cafe" where hopefully students can connect in an non-academic way. My hope is that it becomes a comfortable space for students to check in, connect, and be inspired. I also hope that it will inspire contributions and ideas from my students who may have better ideas than I have to connect and share in the online space.
I hope that sudents will feel more connected to each other at the end of the course. I will measure the success of the Virtual Cafe in a survey. I am utilizing this strategy for the first time in three online courses. One of the courses is an 8-week course. I will act on any feedback provided from the 8 week class in the remaining two classes.
- Detemine if students found the Virtual Cafe to be a positive addition to their online course by analyzing survey data.
- Make any relevant additions.
- Make any needed adjustments.
- Continue or discontinue use.
Meet me in the Virtual Cafe! As I considered challenges that students may be facing during these times, I wanted to create a place in my online classes where students could connect in a non-threatening (non-graded) space much like they would in the hallway or in the physical classroom before and after class and during breaks. I hope that it is successful and helps students to make connections! Research is begining to provide evidence for the importance of hope for goal attainment, especially in academic settings. COVID has caused a loss of connection and a loss of hope for many. The goal of the Virtual Cafe is to address some of this loss.