Off to a Good Start
Regular support from the Mentor will make it easier for students to interact with their course providers, the course materials, and their online teacher. Here are some ways to establish lines of communication.
It's important to touch base with your online students early in the process to do the following:
- Complete online provider orientations for mentors. Most online providers have instructions, resources, and/or orientation materials that help Mentors get up to speed. In some cases, an orientation is required before Mentors are given their login credentials.
- Create a roster to keep track of your students. Information to capture might include: name, user name, password, course name, teacher name, email contact, etc.
- Arrange an initial meeting/orientation either in-person or online, to help your students understand expectations and access their courses.
- Get copies of the students' welcome messages from the providers (if you were not copied on these emails).
- Get copies of the students' syllabi and any pertinent course timelines such as course start and end dates and local grade reporting deadlines.
- Keep a log of check-ins with students or take attendance during lab hours for online courses. This will ensure that students are making regular contact with you throughout the term.
- Share information about the Course Support roles with the students so that they know who does what to support them at school.
- Make sure the students have completed the orientations or course overviews made available by the providers or online instructors. Some schools require students to submit the results or evidence that they completed the provider’s orientation.
- Suggest that the students share logins (DLD email and course platform) with their parents and introduce online teachers to parents who are involved in supporting their student’s learning.
- Emphasize the importance of the student’s clear and inclusive online communication with the online teacher and classmates. For example, if a student is going to have anticipated absences, he or she should work with the online teacher to mitigate or adjust due dates. Help students frame communications with their teachers, if needed.
- Encourage students to take advantage of all course discussion groups, as well as connect with other students at school taking online courses, even if they are in different courses. This helps students stay engaged with their courses.
- Confer with the DLD Registrar in your school about drops right away to keep your school's drop fees to a minimum (see the DLD Drop Policy for more information).
Schedule lab time to meet with students who work on their online courses at a designated time in the computer lab. This enables students to easily seek help with and demonstrate any content or communication issues that may come up with the courses or online teachers.
- Be sure to work with your school's technologist before classes begin to make sure school computers will allow students to fully participate in their online courses.
- Work with the lab teacher to prioritize online course-ready computers for online students.
- Engage provider, school, community, and home players to resolve any issues that prevent students from progressing: e.g., cannot get a media player to work, cannot get computer time at school, and Internet connection difficulties.
If you don't meet regularly with students in the computer lab, schedule time to meet face-to-face with the student’s current progress and grades at hand.
- You can use this time to address any content or communication issues the student may be having with the course or instructor. Email and phone check-ins may be required to fully resolve problems.
- Encourage your students to take full advantage of email and the phone to share questions, comments, and concerns with their teacher. Be aware of the areas in which your students are having particular problems, and intervene if necessary, to make sure that both student and teacher are communicating clearly.