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Encouraging Contact Between Students & Faculty #onlinelearning #COVID19 #remotelearning

Chickering and Ehrmann described asynchronous communication as an important example of how technology can be used to facilitate student-faculty communication outside of class. They point out that asynchronous technology such as email increase opportunities for students and faculty to “exchange work more speedily and more thoughtfully and safely.”

Communication with students during these times of uncertainty is more important than ever. I’m pleased to report that my college has really stepped up faculty support as they cautiously make plans to allow some students and faculty to come to campus this Fall. The plan is to offer the following four types of courses:

  • Hybrid courses (partial online/partial in-person) will be called On Campus 50% for student communication. The schedule will provide meeting days/times and the associated room number.
  • Remote synchronous courses will be totally online with synchronous meetings via Zoom, WebEx, MashMe or other video tools. Students will see the name VIRTUAL in the schedule in place of the room number and the days/times will remain for scheduling the synchronous sessions.
  • Remote asynchronous courses will be all online and students will not have any specific times to meet online. Optional synchronous office hours or help sessions can be scheduled. Students will see the name REMOTE in the schedule in place of the room number and no days/times will be listed.
  • Online courses will remain the same as in the past with no changes.

In an Instructional Town Hall, the college shared some great information with faculty to help them prepare for a variety of course modalities. They provided the following guidelines for communicating with students:

  • 2 weeks before class starts, email students describing how the class will run
  • 1 week before class starts, email students again
  • Regular communication – set expectations

I plan to follow their recommendations and reach out to my students at least 2 weeks before class to describe how our online class will run.  I’ll let me students know that our online course will be primarily asynchronous, and we’ll use VoiceThread for our learning interactions.VoiceThread Slide

Chickering and Gamson’s research revealed that student contact both inside and outside of class is a most important factor in student motivation and involvement. During these COVID times, it is critical for instructors to find multiple ways to connect with their remote students.


Supporting the 7 Principles of Good Practice During a Pandemic


It is no secret that technology and online education are disrupting teaching and learning. This disruption started well before the COVID pandemic. Some people argue that this disruption to education is long overdue. My hope is that this time will provide

photo of woman using laptop

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

faculty and teachers an opportunity to re-think their teaching practices as they pivot to teaching online. When Chickering and Gamson published the seven principles of good practice, we were in the very early stages of using computers and the Internet in education. Chickering and Erhmann’s (1996) essay entitled, “Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as a Lever”, encouraged educators to employ technology in ways consistent with the seven principles of good practice. They stated, “Any given instructional strategy can be supported by a number of contrasting technologies (old and new); just as any given instructional strategy, some technologies are better than others: Better to turn a screw with a screwdriver than a hammer – a dime may also do the trick, but a screwdriver is usually better.”

Modern technologies, when applied with the seven principles in mind, can increase student engagement, learning, and satisfaction. This blog series will describe how faculty and teachers can use 21st century technology to support research-based principles of good practice.


Chickering and Gamson (1987) introduced the “Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” over thirty years ago to improve undergraduate education. These principles were based on decades of research on college level teaching and learning. The Seven Principles of Good Practice are:

1. Encourage Contact Between Students and Faculty

2. Develop Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students

3. Use Active Learning Techniques

4. Provide Prompt Feedback

5. Emphasizes Time on Task

6. Communicates High Expectations

7. Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

Chickering and Gamson noted that “while each practice can stand on its own, when all are present their effects multiply.” I believe these principles have stood the test of time.   

Since this seminal research was first published, a plethora of new technological innovations have been introduced that impact current pedagogical practices. Both old and new technologies we use in education today are what Ehrmann (1995) described as “worldware” which refers to software or technology that “isn’t designed for instruction” but is also used for teaching and learning.

The exciting thing about today’s worldware is that it is much easier to use and is often available for free! In addition, schools and universities are adopting learning management systems which incorporate easy to use tools that can effectively support these principles. Crews, Wilkinson, and Neill (2015) examined how the seven principles can be applied to online course design to improve student success. They concluded that “all seven principles are essential in the development of teaching within the online environment.”  

Chickering and Ehrmann encouraged faculty to explore technologies that are “interactive, problem oriented, relevant to real-world issues, and that evoke student motivation.” This blog series will describe how innovative teachers leverage 21st technologies to support each principle of good practice. 


Chickering, Arthur W.; Gamson, Zelda F. (March 1987). Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. AAHE Bulletin, p 3-7.

Chickering, Arthur W.; Ehrmann, Stephen C. (October 1996). Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as a Lever. AAHE Bulletin, 3-6.

Crews, Tena B.; Neill, Jason K.; Wilkinson, Kelly (2015). Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education: Effective Online Course Design to Assist Students’ Success. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol. 11, No. 1.