My institution moved all courses online this term. I spent a great amount of efforts:

  • Pre-recording 3 hours of lectures (accompanied by 2% weekly asynchronous quizzes on Moodle)
  • Holding two 1.5 hours of live Q&A sessions weekly on Zoom

However, the attendance of the Q&A sessions have been embarrassingly low (less than 30 out of 320 students). Although students attempt to follow the weekly lecture videos, the vast majority of them only do so about 1 or 2 days before the weekly quizzes are due.

Nonetheless, students simply just complain about the workload in general (not just because of this course, but for the accumulated required screen time from all other courses).

The end-or-semester course evaluation will start soon. While I am confident that I have done all I could have creating quality learning materials, I am pessimistic about that the majority of students might just put very negative comments just because they are not happy about all courses moved online, not because of my teaching quality.

Is this something I shall expect in this very difficulty time? To me, it is just unfair to receive evaluation from students who mostly do not even engage in the content in the first place.

Let me know how you folks think?

  • 5
    There isn't really an answerable question here. Needs a rewrite.
    – Buffy
    Nov 17 '20 at 14:12
  • 2
    And a zoom session with more than 30 students seems pretty unmanageable. They probably have a right to be frustrated.
    – Buffy
    Nov 17 '20 at 14:14
  • 2
    @Buffy Managing Zoom sessions with more than 30 students requires planning, discipline, and (ideally) more than one human being running the show—You can't just pretend to be standing in front of a lecture hall—but it's definitely doable.
    – JeffE
    Nov 17 '20 at 15:04
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    @Buffy "you can only respond to one person at a time" -- I am curious, how is this aspect different in a live session?
    – GoodDeeds
    Nov 17 '20 at 15:19
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    @Buffy Larger classes call for different types of interaction than smaller classes. Not worse, just different. If you walk into a class of 100 expecting to do the same thing you did with 20—or vice versa!—you're going to be disappointed.
    – JeffE
    Nov 17 '20 at 20:54

I can't really answer the question, which seems to assume (and presents as the major issue) that you get bad feedback which may not be true (the students still have what the other lecturers do to compare, so I wouldn't assume they use your specific feedback to complain about the general situation).

I wonder if you had to do pre-recorded lectures. We do (and record) lectures in real time with students present online, which has the advantage that students can ask specific questions on issues that may affect their understanding of what follows when they arise. (I do realise that this could be problematic with 320 students, however it may work in your favour that only a small number of them appear to be willing to interact.) Surely it makes things somewhat more lively.

One thing you could do is to have online surveys about their satisfaction, how they perceive the course, what they like, and what can be improved. You don't seem to have a clear idea on how students use and perceive your course, and you could do something to improve your knowledge on this.

To some extent online teaching encourages students to hide and not participate and do things last minute. However I'd think something more can be done to encourage interaction. I also have a written questions and comments forum, which is well used (if mostly of course by a minority of active students, but that's how these things always are and were before the age of Covid) on top of being available for online Q&A.


I'm not sure that you have a specific answerable question here, but here are some things I did to improve my online teaching in the current environment:

  1. Prior to the start of the semester I send out a survey to everyone registered for the class, asking about their preferences for course delivery methods. I gave a few options like a) live (synchronous) lecture sessions, b) pre-recorded (asynchronous) lecture videos, c) live Q&A / recitation sessions on Webex. There was a very strong preference among the students (by 2:1 margin) for certain modalities versus others. I started the first few weeks of the class using the method preferred by the students

  2. After about three weeks of the class, I send another survey, asking how they liked the class delivery. I thought they might change their minds after actually seeing how their choices really worked out. Majority of the class liked format. Several students did not like the format, but they offered helpful suggestions on how to improve and I incorporated those (e.g. switching from one video conferencing system to another one, changes to homework assignments).

  3. 10% of the grade in the class is based on class participation. Students get class participation points for things like a) attending live recitation sessions, b) attending office hours, c) posting on the class discussion board, etc. This gave them incentives to stay engaged with the material, even though the class was online.

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