Through regular student feedback, Jennifer Luzar, associate professor of language arts at Northwood University, has compiled the following things students want in their online courses and ways that she has adapted her instruction accordingly.
1. Quick responses – From the time she started teaching online, Luzar has made it a point to respond as soon as possible to her students. The typical reply from students is, “Wow! Thanks for the quick response,” as if this is not usually the case. “I used to be surprised by that because I feel that as online instructors it is our responsibility to try to get back to these people as quickly as possible,” Luzar says.
The 2012 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group reveals the number of students taking at least one online course has surpassed 6.7 million. Higher education adoption of Massive Open Online Courses remains low, with most institutions still on the sidelines.
Have you ever worried about the level of participation in your online courses? Perhaps you have difficulty encouraging students to interact with one another, or maybe you find student responses to be perfunctory. Surely there must be a way to encourage the kinds of participation that really supports learning.
Students with learning disabilities tend to learn better in the online environment, but institutions are not doing enough to prepare instructors to meet their needs, says Mary Beth Crum, an online instructor at the University of Wisconsin—Stout and Walden University.
It’s not easy to get unanimous agreement on anything these days, but on this most educators can agree:
- An instructor’s personality impacts student learning;
- More is learned in a class than just course content; and
- It can be difficult to show your personality in an online course.
“There is no personal interaction between student and teacher…the spontaneity of teaching is lost…the only rapport exists in exchanging bits and bytes of info.”
Perhaps you’ve heard someone make this objection to online learning? Or even uttered it yourself?
My answer to this is very simple: hogwash.
No one doubts the assertion that online students are more likely to be successful if they feel connected to their instructor and fellow students, but just what is the best way to build those connections? In a recent interview, Todd Conaway, an instructional designer at Yavapai College, shared a few tips on building student engagement,
Why are you interested in improving your courses and instruction?
That was the question posed to attendees to kick off the online seminar Five Steps to Improve Your Online Courses and Instruction by presenter Dr. Patti Shank. Most of the respondents selected as their answers “to better support students” or “I hope this will reduce some of the hassles of teaching online.” A few of the more honest ones chose “I’m expected to do this” and a couple more came because they “need to address specific problems.”
I recently conducted a survey of more than 300 online students to learn of their most vexing issues with online courses. One item—of the 40+ mentioned—was cited by 68 percent of the students: poor feedback from their instructors. [...]