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Podcast: Strong Student Relationships in Online Courses

Digital Backpack logo featuring Kevin Santer
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In this episode, Jeff chatted with Kevin Santer, Lead instructor with the Career & Technology department at Michigan Virtual. Kevin shared his story about coming to education after a successful career in the computer science industry and how he’s been able to build meaningful relationships with students as a fully online instructor.

Here are some notes about the episode:

  • CatCat is a web app that Jeff reviewed in the episode. It offers learning pathways and the means to curate learning pathways, which feel like short courses. It can be used to curate pathways for teachers or students as learners. Jeff concludes that its biggest plus might be for professional learning.
  • Shortly after his interview for this episode was recorded, Kevin Santer was named 2019 Michigan Virtual Online Teacher of the Year.
  • Much of our discussion this episode centered around what it’s like to teach secondary students online. The Teacher Guide to Online Learning might be a good read if you have little or no familiarity with online learning and have an interest in helping online learners be more successful.
  • Kevin discussed developing his own chrome extensions to support his team and, eventually, all educators. Chrome extensions are small software programs that customize your browser’s abilities in some way. To get thinking about how you might use chrome extensions, House of #EdTech podcast episode 15 Must-Have Chrome Extensions for Educators 2019 offers a good intro to using chrome extensions for education.
  • Have thoughts about something you heard on this episode? Leave a voice message to tell us about it! Your voice message could appear on a future episode.
  • If you like listening to this podcast and want to apply and explore the concepts a little more deeply, consider joining us in Podcast PD (Screencasting, the Future of Education or Google Forms, Failure-Free Failing & CBE).

Make sure to subscribe to listen to future episodes!

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The Digital Backpack

The Digital Backpack

The Digital Backpack, powered by Michigan Virtual, is a podcast dedicated to sharing tips and tricks for teachers as they navigate their journey through online and blended learning. Join the host Jeff Gerlach as he discovers new tools and resources for classroom use, talks to practitioners who are doing great things with their students, and has some fun!

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Limited Course Capacity

We’re sorry to inform you that we have reached capacity for several of our Semester 1 and Trimester 1 courses. You’ll notice when attempting to enroll students in our Student Learning Portal that some courses are unavailable. While we are no longer accepting new enrollments for these courses at this time, many courses continue to remain open for enrollment.

With many students across the state 100% remote, demand for our online courses is greater than ever before. Because every course we offer is taught by a Michigan-certified teacher, this high volume of enrollments has created capacity issues for our teachers who provide each and every student with individual feedback.

While the Michigan Virtual team anticipated and planned for significant increases in student enrollments this Fall, the increased demand we’ve experienced has been unprecedented. As a result, we are taking steps to hire even more part-and full-time teachers to support larger numbers of student enrollments for Semester 2 as well as for Trimester 2 and 3. 

For schools that still need online learning options this year, please fill out the form at the bottom of our virtual pathways page to meet with someone to discuss other solutions. While some of our teacher-led courses are full, we may still have the capacity to help you in upcoming terms or can discuss timing to implement a whole-school or collaborative program in which local teachers from your school/district use our online course content to teach students. We also have free course content and resources available for you to use.

We know this is an incredibly stressful time for all, and we’re sorry if the courses you’re looking for are unavailable. We never want to turn away a student who wants to learn from us. Our top concern, however, is student success, and we have a policy to not take on additional enrollments if we cannot guarantee that all students will have a quality online learning experience. 

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate the unusually high volume of enrollments we are receiving.