You are not going to be able to get that song out of your head today. Apologies.
Many instructors ask me how to get to know students when they don't see them in a classroom. I pondered this, did a bit of research, and wanted to ask this question to the community.
- Definitely encourage students to add an avatar. I dislike that it is called an avatar because that means students like to upload pop culture icons instead of their photo. The photo helps to connect name and face for the instructor. Give the students 10 points or some incentive to upload a recent photo.
- Inventory of you. To practice using the assignment tool, throw the students some points and ask them to upload answers to a list of questions you provide. Bonus points if they name the document correctly (such as Lastname_Inventory).
- Use video tools for assignments and presentations - instead of all paper-based submissions, have the students give you an intro or overview of their paper topic while walking through campus (pausing to show his/her/their face).
- Office hours - don't make office hours mandatory, but give incentives to show up (maybe a freebie on an exam). I find students are hesitant to bother an instructor so make it an expectation that you will connect throughout the term. Prior to an exam or big assignment, have sign-ups for office hours (extend your times).
- Linger. If you have weekly live sessions, hang out before or after the session and invite students to gather. Some of the best discussions occur after the session is over.