Want Engaged Students? Design for Flexibility.

Being flexible with assignment options and adapting to the diverse needs of students contributes to creating practical assignments, classroom connections, and more engaging learning experiences.

Our student’s needs are changing. As we listen to our partner institutions and are active in our online and in-person classrooms, we see and hear the demand for adaptability and flexibility in course design. We don’t want to compromise on quality, but we also need to reevaluate our teaching methods, reassess our expectations, and, most importantly, recognize the diverse needs of our students.

Flexible Assignment Options

Sheila Fry, COO of The Babb Group, successfully experimented with offering students options. “This year, I have adapted my assignment submission approach to allow varied ways to submit an assignment to allow students to show mastery in a way that fits their strengths.” This shift in approach has diversified the submission process and opened the doors for students to showcase their skills in formats that resonate with their strengths.

Learn more about simple and practical ways to add games to your classrooms with USDLA president Valary Oleinik on the DigitalEDU Dialogues podcast.

The feedback Fry received echoes the sentiments of many educators who have embraced a more inclusive assignment submission strategy. By accepting a mix of written work, presentations, and videos, instructors have witnessed a fascinating array of submissions. This approach caters to our student body’s diverse talents and makes grading more engaging and interesting. As educators, we have the privilege of guiding students on their learning journeys and adapting our methods to accommodate their strengths, which fosters a more supportive and enriching academic environment.

Grace and Empathy in the Classroom

Dorothy Miraglia, VP of Professor Services, adds another layer, emphasizing the importance of flexibility in our student interactions. “I learned to be more flexible with my students. Not a pushover, but take more time to get to know them and their struggles outside the classroom to make things more accommodating.” We must stay attuned to student’s individual struggles outside the academic realm, allowing us to provide a more compassionate and understanding learning environment.

Miraglia’s call for grace is a poignant reminder that, as educators, we often do not know the full extent of our students’ experiences and hardships. By listening and understanding, we build stronger connections with our students and create an environment where they feel supported and valued. In the face of uncertainties, a little empathy goes a long way in fostering a positive and conducive learning atmosphere.

Integrating flexible options in our classrooms through course design and instructor interactions can lead to successful outcomes for students and institutions.

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Angela Britcher

Angela Britcher is an instructional designer and content creator with The Babb Group. She is also an adjunct professor of business and communications.
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