Monica Rothschild-Boros, an art appreciation and cultural anthropology instructor at Orange Coast College, uses a combination of embedded lecture questions, threaded discussion, and innovative assignments to engage students and get them to think critically in her online courses.
For the past nine years the Sloan Consortium and the Babson Survey Research Group have taken a look at the state of online learning in the United States. The 2011 survey reveals that the number of students learning online has now surpassed 6 million, with nearly one-third of all students in higher education taking at least one online course.
Once upon a time people told stories to share experiences and to teach. With the growing popularity of distance learning modalities educator have been searching for ways to enhance social presence and reflective thinking in the online learning experience. The use of digital storytelling might be a strategy to bring human thought and emotion into online education.
After years of double-digit growth and more than 4.5 million students currently learning online, almost everyone agrees that online education has moved from the periphery of higher education to the mainstream. It also has moved into the sight line of the federal government, which has stepped up efforts to better monitor, structure, and regulate online education.
We want our students to learn what we have to teach them. We want them to retain it. In the best case, we want them to enjoy the work, assimilate the driving principles, and look forward to each opportunity to make their work better. We diligently gear up and learn how to use slick software that allows students easy access to a wide variety of materials.
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.
Some students are reluctant to enroll in online courses, afraid they will miss some of the social aspects of the face-to-face classroom. For these students, it makes sense to incorporate online synchronous sessions to provide some of the benefits of the face-to-face class while maintaining most of the flexibility of an asynchronous online course.
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:
Everyone wants a blueprint for managing their distance education program, but sometimes the best thing to do may be to throw away the old business model and begin thinking about new ways to deliver and share online courses.
Transparency by Design, an initiative from a consortium of adult-serving educational institutions with significant commitments to distance education, is based on the premise that a well-informed student—or prospective student—benefits everyone. A key focus of the plan is providing program-specific outcomes data that allows students to make informed decisions about their education investment.