There was a question on one of the listserves I am on about communication with students and student participation.

In all of my online or hybrid classes, I have the students collect Participation points. For each unit, students must collect a pre-announced number of points. Usually around 30 points.

Here are the ways that participation points can be earned in the online class…

• Meaningful participation on a instructor designated discussion board = 2 PP
• Collecting video codes = 2PP each (I embed codes via audio or video into some of my lessons, they can turn them in to prove they’ve been watching the lessons, but I don’t tell them which videos have codes… it’s just a surprise when they get one)
• Asking a meaningful question on an online homework question = 1 PP
• Answering a question on an online homework question in a meaningful way = 1 PP
• Submission of a problem or activity in written form (when requested by instructor) = 2-5 PP
• Mini-projects = 5 PP
• Coming to online office hours for help or attending an online class meeting = 1-2 PP
• Participating in an online class meeting = 1 PP (in addition to the attendance points)

I keep track of student points in a grading grid (I have one for each student… see picture below) and I ask them to do the same. At the end of each unit, I email them the grade I have for them, and if they have a difference of opinion they can point out where they have points that I did not catch.
They may earn up to 5 extra points, so they could conceivably earn 35/30 if they participate a lot. In each unit there are more than 30 participation points available, and of course, homework questions and answers are unlimited. So the student can select the activities that they would like to participate in. (much as they would do in a classroom, when they decide whether or not to raise their hand, or try a problem that you have asked them to)

In the hybrid classes, I alter this so that each hour of class attendance = 5PP. I count up the days of class before the next test, multiply by 5 and then add 10. Thus, they must earn 10 points online during the time between tests. If they miss class, they have to participate more online to make up for it.

Also, for the hybrid class, someone may earn 2PP extra for being the class notetaker (using a digital pen and notepad). They can take the notes with them and I can upload the notes to the website using the digital pen (converted to a pdf file). Often, students have been absent are eager to be the notetaker for the class to make up some of their missed points.