Advice from Ambassadors
SUNY Online Teaching Ambassadors are nominated annually by their SUNY campus as exemplary online educators who are enthusiastic and effective in online teaching, and who can be positive and strong advocates for online teaching in our SUNY community. SUNY Online Teaching Ambassadors contribute to the SUNY Online Teaching Community of Practice in a variety of ways that showcase their expertise and support their peers.
Our Ambassadors have contributed some advice from their years of teaching online, to support instructors who have had to transition to online teaching.
Alfred State College
Professor, Business Technology
“I found increasingly in recent years how important it is for those of us teaching online to ensure that the design and delivery of our courses is purposeful and integrates teaching strategies that show students that you care. There are 2 resources I am currently using that I have found to be very instructive:
- the importance of using Universal Design for Learning (UDL) which is based on 3 major principles: ensure you provide multiple means of engagement for your students, provide multiple means of representation (ensuring that the information in your course is able to reach all learners), and provide multiple means of action and expression. I am using a simple checklist developed by Understood for All, 2019.
- a recent brief article I read in The Faculty Lounge, by Laura Freberg and Nina Angelo, 2021, addressed 4 Teaching Strategies That Show Students You Care, which is super important when you are teaching online and they include: 1.keep your classroom active whether remote or in person; 2. ensure your coursework is diverse and relatable; 3. replace traditional exams with alternative assessments; 4.track students progress and when necessary, intervene early.
I am working these now as I continue to update and renew my online classes to meet these important goals.”
Nassau Community College
Professor of Social Work/Human Services
“One of my favorite activities involves the online development of applied learning group work projects for students in the Human Services program at Nassau Community College. In each of my classes, I start by developing an understanding of the importance of effective group work skills in human services and social work. That understanding led to the development of ongoing applied learning group work projects between and amongst the students in my classes that were facilitated online, via Zoom. In these applied learning groups, students developed essential skills in the form of hypothetical community needs assessments and service coordination plans. Beyond the reading and lecture material of the coursework, students learned how to apply that material to real world experiences, developing valuable work skills in the process. I could not think of a better way to support online learning than to encourage the development of applied learning group work amongst all students. Cultivating applied learning group work online also facilitated the welcome benefit of peer social engagement while embracing a proven learning technique.”
Stony Brook University
Clinical Associate Professor, School of Nursing
Program Director, Registered Nurse to Baccalaureate Program
Program Director, Registered Nurse to Master’s Program
“My advice would be to stress the importance of keeping in touch. I instruct my students as follows:
Keeping in touch in an online program is VERY important. With that in mind, please check your Stony Brook email account and Blackboard for announcements at least once a day, Monday through Friday, throughout the semester. Contact me immediately if you have any issues with an assignment or anticipate difficulty meeting a deadline. The quickest and most reliable way to reach me is by email.”
Fashion Institute of Technology
Associate Professor, History of Art
“My advice for first-time online instructors is to have an easy diagram or a drawing (even a hand-written note) that shows types of activities for learning in your class. This process will help both instructors and students to have a quick summary or a visual memo about the course. Having a recurring assignment in a similar format is also helpful for students. Less is more. Let students figure out or find out ways to obtain information. We should provide resources, but not answers.”
Alfred State College
“In the discussion board forums, students usually choose two or three peers to respond to their postings, therefore, valuable information is missed. After each discussion board and assignment, I write up a summation of the collaborative content and put it on announce for all to review.”
SUNY Polytechnic Institute
Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing
“What I have learned from teaching online nursing courses for the past 8 years is the importance of engagement. As an instructor, I always ask myself, am I engaged enough to ensure the students feel supported in their learning. How I make sure this occurs is by responding to emails the same day or less than 24 hours, becoming involved in the discussions, and giving feedback using the sandwich method. This method is to first give positive feedback, next give constructive feedback of what may be lacking, and then follow with another positive comment. Students want to know what they are doing well and where they need to improve. Also, make sure your assignments and discussions are linked to your learning outcomes where the students feel engaged and not doing busywork. Asking for formative student feedback helps with what the students need in the course.”
Farmingdale State College
Assistant Professor, Psychology
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of education. Online teaching is more prevalent than ever. I’m sure everyone has heard a horror story or two about online teaching; however, it’s important to highlight the advantages of online teaching. Online teaching increases accessibility and removes geographic barriers. Furthermore, I have seen firsthand that students who may be anxious to participate in the classroom flourish in the virtual environment. Planning is of utmost importance when teaching online. It’s important to remember to be patient with your students (and yourself); everyone is still learning!”
SUNY Polytechnic Institute
Associate Professor, Human Resource Management
“I am now teaching a visually disabled learner online and this has been a very positive, rewarding experience. Working with a visually disabled student, I thought more carefully about my reading assignments and I added more audio.”