classroom management for online courses
Controversy can erupt in any learning situation, and knowing how to manage it is an important skill for any instructor. Online instructors need to be aware of the following challenges when it comes to managing controversy:
The beginning of an online course is a critical time in which the instructor establishes expectations, sets the tone, and helps students navigate the course. Here are some points to consider for the time leading up to and including that first week:
Here are a few tips to ensure your students have a positive online learning experience.
Personal introductions. By using the personal introductions of students, an instructor can get to know his/her students better, thus allowing interaction with individual students in a more personal manner. When students see that the instructor is reaching out to them on a personal basis, it helps establish a rapport and put the student at ease.
In order to be part of an effective learning community, online learners need to feel the presence of the instructor and fellow learners. Jane Dwyer, a senior lecturer at Rivier College, uses the following techniques to create this sense of social presence in her online psychology courses:
Although the online classroom environment provides tremendous flexibility of time and place of study, establishing and communicating a course pace and pattern of work can aid both instructor and student, and alleviate confusion of course operation.
If you think the flexibility of online teaching also means that it’s OK to “wing it” now and then, you’d be wrong. If anything, you have to be more organized, more consistent and more prepared for anything than ever before.
“Managing student expectations is important in any class but even more so for online and blended courses where it’s easy for students to feel lost,” says Susan Ko, executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). “Even well structured, academically rigorous online classes can have diminished effectiveness due to a lack of clear expectations.”
Problem students can create just as many classroom management issues in the online environment as they can in a traditional classroom, perhaps more. Last week in a live online seminar titled Managing Expectations and Handling Difficult Students Online, Dr. Susan Ko, executive director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Maryland University College, provided strategies for mitigating unwanted behavior in online courses. Below is an excerpt of an interview conducted in advance of the seminar.
The online environment may look different, but the players are the same … including the difficult ones. Whatever the issue or level of disruption, you need to deal with it, because difficult students can undermine an online classroom as effectively as they can a traditional one. This seminar provides insight into the online classroom environment and how to stay in control of it.