April 15, 2008
How can you engage busy students who don’t have time to come visit you during your office hours? Consider holding “virtual office hours.” You can create “virtual office hours” by identifying and posting specific days and times when you will be logged onto an online instant messenger service (AOL, Yahoo, etc.) or will host an Elluminate session. Instructors who hold virtual office hours commonly create a user name for the IM account that is unique to their name, course, department, or area of expertise. Unique account names make it easy for students to remember and find the account. They also make it easy for you to separate a course account from other accounts. If you host an Elluminate session, each session must be created as a unique event and the link for this session must be sent to students in advance. Use virtual office hours to answer student questions or consult on class projects. If you use Elluminate, you can post a problem or a course assignment on a common workspace. Multiple students can simultaneously discuss, edit, or make comments on the work during a session.
Remember to control your time! Holding virtual office hours does not mean that you must be available to your students electronically 24/7. Just as you clearly identify when you will be present in your physical office and promise to answer the phone or talk to students who appear at your door, you should clearly establish the specific days and times when students can expect that you will be logged into your instant message account, respond to e-mail, or have an Elluminate session in operation.
Thanks in part to Susan L. Brown (Philosophy, Religious Studies, & Interdisciplinary Humanities) and Lucia Bushway (Mathematics & Statistics) for these examples of virtual office hours. Contact ATC for more information on how to use Elluminate to create a virtual office hour or group study session.
November 20, 2007
Keep a jar of candy in your office for students who come to visit. This will also lure your colleagues and improve departmental collegiality! (Health Hint: Unless you have wonderful willpower, stock a candy that you won’t be tempted to eat yourself.)
November 14, 2007
Keep your appointments with students. Students at UWF frequently must make special efforts to drive to campus to meet with instructors and advisors. Some students need to take time off work or hire a sitter for their children to make appointments.
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