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If you have signed on to teach an online class that is set to begin in the next week or so, you will probably be teaching over the holiday break.  Typically, online programs observe a traditional university break – at least two weeks spanning Christmas and New Years weeks.  The school will probably let students know in a mass email about the holiday schedule.  However, here are a few things you can do to make the break in the term a bit more manageable for you and your online students.

  1. Remind them again, early and often.  Yes, the school will send a reminder and students should calendar themselves, but since online students are separated in space and time from you and the larger university, its fair to throw in reminders.  I’d say once at course start (perhaps even in your welcome email) and once a week before the break, maybe in a post to the announcements thread.  It should also be mentioned in your syllabus or course calendar.
  2. Clarify that you are taking a break, too.  If students are taking two weeks off with no participation or log in requirements, the same goes for you.  Tell students that you will not be looking at the forums or maybe even responding to emails during the break period.
  3. Don’t expect that a break means more time to work. A break is just that – a break.  Its tempting to assign a big project over the break assuming students will have more time to work on it.  This is not completely empathetic to the needs of the adult online learner and undermines the idea of a true holiday break.  
  4. Welcome students back.  A break is a break, but likewise, when its time to come back to class its time to come back.  Before class adjourns for the holiday make it clear when class will resume.  Send out a reminder the say before class is to start, welcoming them back to class and outlining that expectations for participation to begin the next day.

We at AdjunctWorld wish you a happy winter term.  Enjoy the computer-free time!  If you have any other suggestions for making the holiday break smooth for both online instructors and students, please comment below!

5 Responses to “4 Holiday Reminders for the Online Classroom”

  1. Jo Macek

    Thanks for the tips! I also send a note and post an announcement wishing students a “happy holiday” or “relaxing break” or something along thought. I get several responses from students – this makes for a nice online community and a warm-fuzzy for everyone.

    • Brooke Shriner

      Yes, Jo! The holidays and the mutual need for a break and good times with family, when discussed in class, is a great community-builder. When I comment on discussion posts the week before the break and the week after, I will sometimes say “Impressive participation this week, Mary! Especially since I know the holidays demand a lot of our attention and time. I appreciate your dedication to this course :)” Or something like that.


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