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Online Layout, Pacing, and Feedback

Sally Corran Harris & Matthew Pilkington, English

Matthew Pilkington






During the fall 2020 semester, the online classes I teach with a graduate teaching associate, Matthew Pilkington, went well, with students appreciating the set up and pacing, as well as the timely feedback.

For online classes, I use modules in Canvas, establishing consistent due times and pacing the tasks so students build on their skills up to the final assignment of each unit. Most work is due on the same day each week, with one or two tasks deviating from that to allow for peer reviews and interaction. Students must complete tasks sequentially so they are sure to have the material they need to complete the assignments. This set up requires Matthew and me to be responsive to students’ questions through email and on discussion boards. Additionally, we provide regular announcements, update videos, emails, and individual conferences to respond to students’ particular needs this semester.

Here are some of their comments from a non-required discussion board (included here with their permission):

I have thoroughly enjoyed this class. This has been the best online class that I have taken yet. I enjoy being able to work ahead while still having set deadlines. The instructions for this class have been crystal clear and any questions that I did have Matthew emailed me back in a timely manner and was very helpful.

-Peyton Elizabeth Smith


I liked how during the online set up, we had a full week to complete each set of assignments, and how the next assignment didn’t open until the previous was completed. This made it super easy to keep track of what I had done and what still needed to be done.

-Anna Killian


I really enjoyed the structure of the class, especially the layout. It was very helpful having everything in modules and having a list of assignments to follow. Overall, I think this class will be very helpful in the near future and am glad they require it.

-Austin Martin


It was very helpful in all aspects from the class discussion board to the peer reviews. This class was set up perfectly for me and the scheduling and consistency made it much easier to keep up with. If there was one thing I could do about this class to make it better, it would be to keep it fully online but have an hour of class one day a week for people to get on a zoom call and have an optional live discussion. This could be created in the student registration process so that the hour would be part of the schedule to prevent having other classes during said time.

-Jeremy Cy Ruth


Personally, I didn’t think there were any issues that would have prevented the class from working well. The layout of the Canvas site (particularly the Modules tab) was clear and super well-organized, and the available videos and discussion boards were great resources in helping to complete assignments. Overall, the course was super beneficial and was not overwhelming. This class wasn’t a requirement for my first degree, but I’m glad that it was for this second one that I am working on. I think it will be very helpful in the future.

-Rachel Evans


I enjoyed this class much more than I expected to. I previously felt that writing was one of my strengths, but this class challenged me to learn a different aspect that is more applicable in our everyday lives. The modules were well organized and each had useful and practical information. My favorite part was probably having the opportunity to see feedback from both my instructor and my peers. This additional feedback was beneficial and helped me see different opinions on my assignments.

-Josie Alana Willingham

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