male college student with phone and laptop December 1

Tips for Making Your Traditional Discussions More Engaging

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Engagement may be beyond the classroom.

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online student: PBL December 1

Using Online Protocols for Discussions

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After teaching online for a number of years, I grew weary of the normal “make an initial post, then respond to two others” discussions. Was there another way to engage students? How could I make discussions more meaningful and in-depth? Were there ways to ensure that all students had a voice in a conversation?

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online learning November 27

Promoting Meaningful Engagement

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Live sessions in an online course create dynamic exchanges that lower students’ anxiety about their learning by connecting them with their professor, classmates, and institution. They also enrich students’ learning by giving them the space to think through ideas and encouraging them to reflect critically upon the course content and the perspectives of others.

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September 16

PA017: Online Synchronous Sessions

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More and more colleges and universities are using ‘live chats’ and ‘virtual office hours’ to connect with students. On this episode, Jim and Beth review the article, “Build Community, Extend Learning with Online Synchronous Sessions” by Rob Kelly, published on Faculty Focus on March 14, 2014. Jim has used ‘live chats’ in his classes for several years, and during the podcast he shares his insights based on those experiences.



online student May 6

Ensuring Student Success in Online Courses

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Students like online classes due to their flexibility and convenience. But not all students do well in these courses; the statistics indicate that online classes have a much higher dropout rate compared to traditional face-to-face classes. The attrition rates in online courses tend to be 10 to 20 percent higher than in face-to-face classes. While there are some personal factors that could influence a student’s decision to drop out, many of the factors are related to institutional and course level support—and these barriers can be addressed with thoughtful planning and implementation. Institutional level factors like technical support, academic support, advising, and availability of resources can support student success in online courses. At the course level, there are many simple strategies and techniques that instructors can use to support students’ success in their online classes.


adult studying online March 14

Student Engagement Strategies for the Online Learning Environment

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During the past year and a half, our faculty development unit has been gathering data from students about how engaged they felt in their online courses. We wanted to use this data to develop a variety of strategies for faculty to use to better engage their students. Research provides evidence for the connection between higher student engagement and persistence and retention in online programs (Boston, et al., 2010; Wyatt, 2011). Encouraging student engagement is especially important in the online environment where attrition rates are higher than in the face-to-face setting (Allen & Seaman, 2015; Boston & Ice, 2011).


student studying on laptop November 17, 2015

Wallflowers in the Online Classroom

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What does it mean to be a wallflower? Such a person might be thought of as shy and might sit apart from others at a party or social gathering, choosing to listen and observe rather than participate. And in the online classroom, a wallflower might be the person who reads course information and discussion boards regularly, but never posts. So how do instructors know if this online wallflower is really engaged in the course?


teaching online October 30, 2015

Promoting Learning: The Instructor’s Main Mission or a Secondary Duty?

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As instructors, promoting learning is, or at least should be, our primary task. As an online instructor, I must enforce deadlines, respond to requests for accommodations, post announcements, provide guidance and clarity, assess student performance, provide feedback, and post grades. Instructors have a variety of duties inside and outside the classroom to meet the standards required by the university, yet our primary mission should remain ensuring that students are gaining new knowledge.