Teaching online requires radical humanity.

Building a handbook of the strategies and best practices essential for designing and delivering meaningful learning experiences to students online... one chapter at a time.

Table of Contents

...in progress...new chapters being added...

00 / Toward a More Radical Humanity (A Preface)

Teaching requires compassion and empathy. Humanity. But teaching online requires radical humanity. {coming soon}

Section 1 / Teaching Mindfully

You're a master of course content and you know how to spark students from beginner to mastery level. But how do you design a meaningful learning experience within the architecture of the online classroom?

XX / Using Announcements to Give Narrative Shape to Your Online Course

How can instructors develop and implement a comprehensive communication strategy—something separate from content and grounded in pedagogy? >>

XX / How to Get the Most Out of Online Discussions

The discussion board can be a meaningful location for active learning, but what are the best ways to ensure this best case scenario happens? >>

XX / Failure to Launch? – Strategies for Success in the First Week of Online Classes

The first week of an online class is crucial for establishing expectations and a framework for success. So what steps can we take to make that happen?

{coming soon}

XX / Three Things to Consider Before You Kick Off Synchronous Office Hours in Online Classes

While the online classroom provides a variety of robust and structured ways for engagement between students and instructors, how can instructors supercharge the concept of office hours for a new modality? >>

XX / Three Questions Students Ask - And the Answers They Really Need!

It's important to realize that the answers instructors give to students might not be the answers they really need!

{coming soon}

Section 2 / Optimize for Empathy

*You've designed a dynamic learning environment, packed with provocative content and opportunities for deep insight. But how can you support the student learners in your class as real people and not just pixels? And how can you make that learning, that support, come alive so that students engage?

XX / Meet Me Where I Am: Announcements and Discussions for Learner Context

{coming soon}

XX / Lighting the Path: Connections Between Classes and Careers

How can we ensure that students see the connections between general education classes and future academic and career success? >>

XX / A Quickstart Guide to Planning and Recording Audio Lectures

There are benefits to embedding your voice throughout your class for student learning and engagement - but what's possible when you really lean into the strengths of the medium? >>

Lighting the Path: Making Connections Between Classes and Careers

OLC Innovate 2020
Answering Why: Strategies for Motivating Student Learning in Non-Major Classes

Download a copy of my slides >>

Students can have a hard time seeing how general education requirements and foundational classes help them achieve their goals. Students, especially adult learners, want to make measurable progress toward their degrees right out of the gate. Actually, want might be too weak a word. As they balance jobs, families, an income gap, and student debt that grows weekly, they need to make progress as a tangible achievement to keep them going.

Watch a presentation of an early version of this for the 2019 TLC Conference >>

But how do we put the imprint of this journey on individual classes? We can do this in part by creating a context for the learning in our courses and through instilling a sense of direction by infusing reflection in the classroom. It’s our job to show students the connections and lay bare the mechanism.

Read the article at Faculty Focus >>

A Quickstart Guide to Planning and Recording Audio Lectures

Watch the presentation at Get CenterED 2020 >>

When I decided to record audio instructional content for my online classes, I didn't just read my classroom lectures into a mic. Instead, I took a deep dive into the world of podcasting and transformed my weekly lectures, leaning into the strengths of the medium, adding new elements, and making them easily accessible so students can take them wherever they want, and listen however they choose - disrupting the LMS and bringing the classroom to life anywhere!

Read the article at The Scholarly Teacher >>

Download the eBook >>

I want to demystify the process, and help other faculty learn from my mistakes. When I began this, I figured I’d just flip my mic on and start talking. What I learned through a month of research, preparation, and recording showed me that while recording audio lectures isn’t difficult, it isn’t as straightforward as I imagined either.

Download the suggested outline template >>

Listen to my weekly lecture podcasts >>

Using Announcements to Give Narrative Shape to Your Online Course

In order to ensure that students know where to center their attention when they “click” into the classroom, we need to tell them. We need to craft a narrative for our classes, one that hinges on content but connects with our students. And while instructors may feel as if they need to overload every interaction with course content, the online classroom requires instructors to develop and implement a comprehensive communication strategy—something separate from content and grounded in pedagogy. The announcement feature is one tool that many learning management systems allow the instructor to operationalize for this purpose.

Download some sample announcements >>

The announcement functionality in your online class can be more than just a greeting, or a way to wrangle a list of due dates. Students need to understand the narrative of your course and announcements are one of the most important tools instructors have to craft that story. By creating a roadmap—not only to your course but to a larger idea of academic and personal success—announcements in your online classes can support students in their day-to-day work while preparing them for a brighter and more fulfilling tomorrow.

Read the article at Faculty Focus >>

Three Things to Consider Before You Kick Off Synchronous Office Hours in Online Classes

When I first made the switch from traditional face-to-face teaching in higher education to teaching in the online modality (almost 15 years ago!), I was obsessed with finding ways to maintain the classroom experience I was used to. But as the weeks, months, and years went by, instead of thinking I had lost something in the transition, I leaned into the inherent strengths of the online classroom—those things that couldn’t be replicated in a F2F classroom.

It’s not so much about translating strategies from one modality to the other, as it is about developing and learning entirely new ways to do things—methods that are rooted in the modality itself.

Read the article at eLearn Magazine >>

What follows is just a few thoughts on a subject—maybe a push or a nudge if you're thinking about taking the same leap. Sharing what I've done, now that I've done it, might serve to demystify the process for people who, like me, want to try running synchronous office hours in their online classes.

The Project

Radical Humanity: Teaching & Learning Online is a dynamic handbook, built one chapter at a time, covering the strategies and best practices essential to designing and delivering meaningful learning experiences for students online.

Once completed, the source content of the text will remain online free to use. A revised and expanded edition, with exclusive content, will be available in print.

The Author

Dr. Nathan Pritts is a Professor in the Center for the Enhancement of the First Year Experience at Ashford University where he serves as a Lead Faculty for Written Composition and Film Studies. He brings expertise in business communication, advertising & marketing, and online user experience to the General Education classroom, infusing curriculum with foundational outcomes bolstered by clear ties to a student's academic and career path. He's also the co-author of the textbook Film: From Watching to Seeing, currently in its third edition.

instructional videos, podcasts and blogposts >>