Nicole Kraft, Ed.D.
How Are You Teaching?
Maintain Engagement and Have Some Fun
Courses Taught Remotely:
- Comm 2221
- Comm 3403
- Comm 4202
Dr. Nicole Kraft was fairly well positioned to make the transition to the remote teaching environment in that her classes were already flipped and developed using the Carmen Common Sense model she helped develop with USG. As chair of the Senate Council on Distance Education, Libraries and Information Technology, she was also comfortable using tools like Zoom and Slack, which had already been incorporated into her classes.
The challenge she faced was how to keep the active learning style utilized in live classes, and to do that she has used a combination of resources, including guest-speaker visits, Zoom break-out rooms, polls and games.
Kraft, who is also director of Ohio State’s Sports and Society Initiative, has maintained a synchronous element to her classes but limited the twice weekly session to no more than an hour. Each session is broken into short models that allow students to keep focused and stay engaged.
Classes often start with a fun poll (topics have included biggest challenges with new learning environments, Tiger King, and political and sports news) and conversation around that topic incorporating chat and live voices.
She then uses breakout rooms to allow students to conduct small group work for a low-stakes assessment or a short project related to the day’s learning goals, before coming together as a group to share their work and thoughts.
Guest speakers with expertise in the topic area will often join to add a voice and perspective, and the use of chat has made for even greater engagement from students.
Kraft has also sought to engage students outside of classes with a variety of activities, including:
- Zoom calls with sports figures like Indy car driver Graham Rahal and college football broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit
- Journalism-themed movie nights using Netflix Party to chat during films
- Zoom bingo
- A Crossword puzzle with campus-themed clues for extra credit.
She also communicates regularly on Twitter and using class Slack channels so students know they have a voice and an advocate beyond class time.
“It is so important, especially now, to realize our students are people first—people who are doing their best to stay stable amid an ever-changing environment,” she said. “Classes cannot be simple lectures and assignments. We need to engage the whole person and make sure our students know the faculty are partners in their learning process.”
Her April calendar offers daily challenges, like bringing a snack to class or changing their Zoom profile to a favorite image.