When developing a course, we spend hours thinking about and designing the first day/week experience. We create welcome emails, introductory videos, icebreakers, activities, and more to introduce students to us, our course, and one another. And as we’re busy developing these most important parts of our class, little-to-no time is often given to how we will end our course. And this is often compounded by the realities at the end of the course with the flurry of final drafts, presentations, and grading. On many of my syllabi, the final class simply says “wrap up,” in the hope that I will fill it in with something more specific before the end of the semester.
And while this is true no matter what modality I teach, I found that ending a virtual class without a concrete plan is all the trickier. In an asynchronous online class, students may have their “last day” on any day of the last week, making it difficult to share a final experience together. In a synchronous online course, students often have their last day together; however, it can feel jarring simply to click a button and sign off after having a meaningful, transformative learning experience together.
So how do we help our online students to experience that important sense of togetherness and closure that should be our final class together? Here are a few approaches that you may want to adopt or adapt.
Final thoughts video. A “final thoughts” video is your opportunity to speak directly to this group of students. In these videos, you can talk about the experiences you’ve had together, highlight a few key moments in the course, and encourage them to keep in touch.
Social discussion board. Invite students to share a meaningful moment from the class (maybe a “muddiest moment” or an “aha moment”) or a piece of advice to a future student. You could ask them to share something they found surprising, interesting, or encouraging.
Virtual potluck. A virtual potluck is great because it can be anything your class wants it to be. If you want to be a bit more literal, everyone can bring their favorite snack. Or everyone could bring a joke or meme. Ask your students about what kind of potluck they’d like to share.
Game night. Ending the course with something social can help everyone reduce their stress during a very stressful time. If you’d like to do something related to the class, you could do class trivia using something like Kahoot or Jeopardy. If you’re looking for something simply lighthearted and fun, you could try Pictionary.
Digital badge. Create a digital badge unique to your course and your students that can be given as a reward for completing the semester. Invite students to display it in the learning management system if you have that functionality. If not, you can encourage them to use it in their student profile or on their social media. You can create a digital badge in any visual platform (PowerPoint, Canva) or create one using a free software program like Badgr.
Share-and-tell. Ask students to share something they’ve learned in a class, something that interested them, and/or something that they’ll take away with them. In a synchronous class, invite students to share on video or chat. In an asynchronous class, you can use the discussion board.
Greatest hits montage. There are a couple of ways you can create this video montage. The easiest way is to go back through the course and grab images and screenshots of things students said on discussion boards or created for projects and put them together into a short video. If you feel comfortable doing some video editing you can also edit together student work and clips from student videos and/or your videos. You could also make it a not-so-great-hits montage and edit together some of your bloopers from creating videos.
Reflection wall. This is a space in your class that invites reflection. This could be a personal, course, or learning reflection. Students are invited to reflect in whatever way they feel most comfortable, including text, audio, video, or imagery. You can use the discussion board in your learning management system or another digital collaborative space such as Padlet or Jamboard.
Class collage. This is a collaborative digital space where students are invited to share something about their course experiences through imagery. To create a class collage, you may point students to free image databases such as Unsplash or Pixabay. To create a collage, you can use an online collaborative space such as Google Slides or PowerPoint online.
What are some of the other ways that you end your virtual class on a high note?
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