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Using the Private Chat as a Planning Tool

Language Success Story
September 21, 2020

The Language Center would like to hear your stories of successful online instructional activities, connections with students, teaching experiences, encounters with technology, and the like to share with our community. No success story is too small to share! See below for our most recent success story about connecting with students and gauging their understanding of class material. Please send your success stories and any questions to Kate Paesani at kpaesani@umn.edu.

One challenge in the online environment is knowing whether or not students are understanding the materials, and if they are not, why. I find that dividing my attention between the material that I am presenting and the gallery view of students doesn't give me enough cues as to whether students are comprehending the material or not.  And my invitation to ask questions is often met with dead silence.

At the end of the first week of classes, I asked all of my students to use the Zoom chat function and send me a personal message letting me know whether or not they were feeling comfortable with the Canvas site, with the course materials etc. and any suggestions they had. Knowing that everyone was participating, and that their questions and concerns were not being made public, I got useful feedback that helped me better plan for the next week's sessions. This took no preparation; it was easy to save the chat and refer back to it and reach out to the students who were feeling lost, and to plan to discuss other's questions and to incorporate suggestions into the next lessons. So this was a success at the end of the first week, and something that I will continue to incorporate into my classes.

– Ginny Steinhagen, German, Nordic, Slavic and Dutch