Become an Innovative Online Nurse Educator

The Architecture of Engagement: Part 1

Aug 11, 2020

Earlier last month, I shared a a link to download a report entitled, "Actively Engaging Students in Asynchronous Online Classes" by Shannon A. Riggs and Kathryn E. Linder (2016) in The Online Educator Facebook Group. Even though this paper is from 2016, it is full of excellent ideas and strategies to keep students engaged in the online classroom. When many people think about active learning strategies and engaging students, they typically think about interactive activities and assignments. While this is certainly a big part of it, I want to remind us to also consider other engagement strategies such as how and what we communicate in our Syllabus and how we orient students to our class, as well as the way we design our course.  Riggs & Linder (2016) refer to these three components as the "Architecture of Engagement" and this is what I will be focusing our next few blog topics on. This blog post is the first in a 3 part series on The Architecture of Engagement as described by Riggs & Linder (2016) and will include the following topics:

  • Architectural Element 1: Syllabus Communication and Engagement Policy
  • Architectural Element 2: Course Orientation
  • Architectural Element 3: Modular Course Structure

Today's Topic:

Architectural Element 1: Syllabus Communication and Engagement Policy

According to  Riggs & Linder (2016) in IDEA Paper 64, actively engaging students in asynchronous online classes, involves setting clear expectations for students about the structure of the course. This can include communication about how often a student should log in to the LMS, letting them know when the beginning and end of a week or Module will be, and what types of activities can be expected. Some sections in my Syllabus that adhere to this strategy include communications related to

  • Teaching Strategies- these may range from video lectures to readings to website links
  • Time Commitment- I typically ask students to set aside at least 9-12 hours per week for a 3 credit class
  • Educational Technology- I use a lot of Discussion Board and VoiceThread assignments so I always include links to where students can learn more about each
  • Feedback and Grading Timeline- I typically require 2-3 days to grade low-stakes assignments and 5-7 days for high-stakes assignemnts
  • Assignment Guidelines and Rubrics- always include BOTH guidelines and rubrics for all course assignments
  • Appropriate Methods of Communication- I request students to communicate with me primarily through email but I mostly encourage them to ask their questions in the Q&A Discussion Forum first, if possible
  • Student Participation- I encourage student participation and reinforce that discussion board and VoiceThread initial posts and responses to a colleague have 2 different due dates, to further encourage engagement
  • Grading Policies and Lateness- I make it clear that I do not allow late Discussion Board or VoiceThread assignments (unless arrangements were made ahead of time) and I adhere to the college policy on late papers
  • Plagiarism- I include a link tot he college policy on Academic Integrity
  • Netiquette- rules and guidelines related to proper behavior in the online classroom are clearly outlined in the course syllabus
  • Technology Requirements- I don;t have any specific requirements, however I do recommend certain web browsers to students that seem to work best with our college Learning Management System

What do you include in your Course Syllabus that is unique to the online classroom? Share your thoughts, experiences and ideas in The Online Educator Facebook Group by clicking the link HERE. Also, as a treat don’t forget to GRAB YOUR FREE GUIDE to the 3 Secrets to Teaching Online Successfully.

I am a nurse and a college educator. I help other motivated educators leverage the tools needed to teach online successfully so that they can create lively, engaging, quality courses from the comfort of their homes!
© 2020~Natasha Nurse-Clarke~ All rights reserved. Originally published at This content can not be used for commercial purposes, including selling or licensing printed or digital versions of this content. For non-commercial purposes, please credit Natasha Nurse-Clarke~


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