Online Teaching & Technology Blog

Center for Online Learning, Research and Service @ Illinois Springfield

Category: Communication/Feedback

Regular and Substantive Interaction in Online Courses

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) defines online courses as those in which all or the majority (75% or more) of the instruction and interaction occurs via electronic communication or equivalent mechanisms, with the faculty and students physically separated from each other. UIS defines online learning as sections delivered online and asynchronously. The Department of Education describes regular and substantive interaction between instructor and students as an essential element of an online course. Failure to comply with the Department of Education’s regular and substantive interaction regulation can have a negative impact on student financial assistance.

The four main criteria of “regular and substantive interaction” are:

  1. Interaction must be initiated by the instructor. This arose from the original intent to differentiate distance and correspondence education. It also clashed with excellent teaching models that made extensive use of other forms of interaction.
  • Interaction must be “regular” and probably somewhat frequent. Interaction should be predictable (e.g., on Monday and Wednesday, once a week) or scheduled (e.g., specific dates in the syllabus).
  • Interaction must be “substantive” – of an academic nature. “Substantive” activities tend to be those that further learning or assess that learning. Interactions of an organizational, procedural, or informal nature do not count.
  • Interaction must be with an instructor that meets accrediting agency standards. Interaction is provided by institutional staff who meet accrediting agency standards for providing instruction in the subject matter being discussed.

Resources:

https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/media/Regular-and-Substantive-Interaction.pdf

https://teaching.resources.osu.edu/keep-teaching/regular-substantive-interaction-online

http://louisville.edu/policies/policies-and-procedures/pageholder/pol-regular-and-substantive-interaction-in-online-and-remote-courses

https://newsroom.unl.edu/announce/teacherconnect/7286/41450

https://www.cgcc.edu/sites/default/files/online/Regular%20and%20Substantive%20Interaction%20in%20Your%20Distance%20Learning%20Class_0.pdf​

https://wcetfrontiers.org/2020/04/03/new-regs-review-1-regular-substantive-interaction/​

https://www.everettcc.edu/files/programs/elearning/Regular_and_Substantive_Interaction_Primer.pdf

COLRS Blog:

Discussion Board Best Practices – https://blogs.uis.edu/colrs/2020/04/01/discussion-board-best-practices/

Template for Feedback – https://blogs.uis.edu/colrs/2013/02/28/a-template-for-feedback/

Student Expectations for Feedback – https://blogs.uis.edu/colrs/2013/02/28/students-expectations-regarding-feedback/

Canvas Teaching Tip: Sending Messages to Students from the Gradebook

An easy way to communicate with students about their performance in your class is by sending messages to a subset of students using the Gradebook. You can use the Gradebook to send messages to select students based on their status or performance on a specific assignment:

  • Haven’t submitted yet—email students who haven’t submitted the assignment, even if they have been manually awarded a grade.
  • Haven’t been graded—email students whose assignments have not yet been graded (submitted or unsubmitted).
  • Scored less than [point value]—email students who earned a grade on their assignment less than X number of points.
  • Scored more than [point value]—email students who earned a grade on their assignment more than X number of points.  

Although one message can be sent to multiple students at the same time, each student will receive an individual message. You can also message students individually in the Gradebook by using the student context card.

Open Gradebook

In Course Navigation, click the Grades link.

"Grades" item in the course menu

Open Assignments Menu

arrow pointing to assignments menu

Hover over the assignment column header and click the Options icon.

Message Students

"message students who" highlighted

Click the Message Students Who link.

Select Message Category

select message category indicated by arrows

By default, Canvas will show names from the Haven’t submitted yet category.

In the drop-down menu:

[1] Select the category of students you want to message. Based on real-time data, Canvas will show the names of the students who fall in the category you selected 

[2] You can also remove students from the message by clicking the Remove icon. Canvas will also generate a subject line based on the category 

[3] You can edit the subject line if needed.

Send Message

Message students who feature highlighting message box

[1] Type a message to the students in the message field.

[2] Click the Send Message button.

Note: Although one message most likely will be sent to multiple students at the same time, each student will receive an individual message.

How to Contact Your Students Before the Semester Begins

With all the uncertainty that we all have for this Fall, our students definitely feel these stresses. One way that we can reduce this uncertainty is by contacting our students early to let them know what we are planning for our Fall classes. This includes whether or not there will be face-to-face sessions planned and/or synchronous online sessions via Zoom and dates/times if you have them already.

Even though our Canvas courses aren’t populated yet, you can get a list of student emails from Enterprise following the instructions below and contact them before they are added to your Canvas course. Students will be populated into Canvas on August 17. After this you can message them directly through Canvas. (More on this topic can be found in the COLRS Teaching Blog)

Instructions to access students enrolled in courses using Self-service (Enterprise): 

  1. Go to the Enterprise Self-Service system. (https://apps.uillinois.edu/selfservice/ )
  2. Click on UIS.
  3. Login with your UIS NetID and Password. 
  4. Click on the Faculty & Advisor Services tab across the top of the page.
  5. Click on the Faculty Services link.
  6. Click on Class List – Summary to view your class roster in a condensed format. 
  7. Click “Display E-mail Addresses” at the bottom of the page.

Teaching Tips from UIS Faculty

Experienced UIS Faculty shared their teaching experiences as part of the 2017 Faculty Teaching & Learning Academy at UIS.  This program was administered by the Provost’s Office at UIS.

 

Time Management in the Online Classroom

Laurel Newman, Te-Wei Wang and Marcel Yoder led an excellent discussion about time management in online teaching. Watch the recorded Blackboard Collaborate session to learn their strategies.

Students’ Expectations Regarding Feedback

Journal of Educators Online study of online graduate students looking at what should be included in effective feedback and how should effective feedback be provided to students found five themes of effective instructor feedback:

Themes of Effective Instructor Feedback

Theme

Summary

Student Involvement and Individuation Effective feedback is a mutual process involving both student and instructor.

  • Feedback should include personalized messages & examples that reflect the student’s contributions
  • Feedback should be private
Being Positively Constructive Effective feedback provides constructive guidance that builds confidence.

  • Feedback should be positive, encouraging & friendly
  • Feedback should provide suggestions for improvement
Gentle Guidance Effective feedback guides through explicit expectations and ongoing coaching.

  • Feedback should create structure & guidance
  • Feedback should provide clear ground rules & state expectations
Timeliness Timelines for effective feedback are mutually established and met.

  • Feedback should be prompt
  • Instructor should set expectations on time frame for feedback & announce if time frame will not be met
Future Orientation Effective feedback is applicable to future situations.

  • Feedback should guide students on how to improve for future class activities