Blog from March, 2017

Now you have the power to activate an online discussion for your onsite class – without having to go through your director!

Why would I want to do this?

How does this work?

 1. Starting on your Home page, click the “Add Online Discussion” link for the relevant course.


2. Then click the blue button to activate the discussion. 


3. Now you will see a "Discussion" link on the class toolbar, when you enter your class.


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More tips for tagging

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Here's a great tip from Eileen Everett (LA 121: Art History through the 19th Century) for using tagging in online discussions:

Tagging is a great way call out a bunch of students in a big class, once a lot of student posts have come in. Though I may respond individually to some of those posts, I also want to address the class as a whole, while acknowledging the recent posts. Here's an example:

Thanks to Deokgil [tag], Brandon [tag], Pola [tag], and Haylie [tag] for starting the discussion off this week! You each have presented viable theories about who this woman may be or what she represents. Nice work!

Class: in case you are wondering about the soon to be Duchess of Urbino, here is some biographical information (to add to Brandon's!)...

Notification Settings

As you may have noticed, there is a certain amount of redundancy in the notifications that are available. But each user can decide which alerts, if any, they want to receive on their mobile devices (through the AAU Classes app) or by email.

  • So, for example, students might opt to get alerts for "You are tagged in a comment" but not to get alerts for "Instructor comments/markup on your post."
  • Or they might want push notifications on mobile device when they're tagged, but only a weekly email for instructor comments and markup.

BEST PRACTICE: Since you can't know how a student's notifications are set up, it makes sense to err on the side of over-notification and tag a student if you want to make sure she sees your comment.

You can also set up your own notifications to reduce redundancy and ensure that you receive only the most useful alerts.


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And now you can find and answer their questions more easily...

Beginning this week, Online Education is rolling out a new feature in the Discussion that will allow your students to mark a post or comment as a question, helping to draw extra attention to critical requests for assistance or clarification.

Here's how it works:

  • When your student marks a comment as a question for you, you will receive a notification that a question has been asked. Clicking on the notification will take you directly to the post or comment containing the question.

  • You will see the marker on the student's comment or post, indicating that this is a question for you.

  • You can answer the question by posting a comment.
  • You might also want to tag the student to let him know his question has been answered.

    Students receive automatic notification when their instructor takes certain actions in the Discussion. If the student asked her question in a post, then she will get an alert when you respond. However, if she asked her question in a comment on someone else's post, only the author of the original post will get an alert — and not the student who asked the question.

    BEST PRACTICE: You can't go wrong tagging the student, once you've answered her question.

Learn more

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Time for a Module 5 Check-Up!

We're already about a third of the way through the semester — can you believe it? You're posting your first set of progress grades, and your students are submitting their initial feedback on your class. So now is a great time to think through how your class is going and to consider whether you want to make any tweaks to your teaching.

Here are some tools to help you assess your teaching performance so far.

  • This semester the Academy introduced new Online Teaching Standards, including a downloadable rubric that you can use to assess your own teaching performance. If you have questions about these standards – or about your teaching – you can post a comment, below, or email me at or talk with your director.

LEARN MORE: Standards for Online Instructors.

  • Your students submitted their initial feedback on your class in Module 4. Currently, you can review directly only the numerical data from these evaluations; talk with your director about any written comments you may have received.

  • You might also find it helpful to ask students for more direct feedback on your course and your teaching by creating your own evaluation

    Resource created by Faculty Development. Click to view or download this handout.

  • Once you receive feedback from your students, what should you do about it? How should you respond to students' comments?

    Resource created by Faculty Development. Click to view or download this handout.

Can we help?

Post a comment, below, or contact me directly (; 415-618-3547).

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