In a follow-up to the online seminar “Creatively Engaging Online Students: Models and Activities,” Curt Bonk, professor of instructional systems technology at Indiana University, offered the following response from a participant who asked, “What is your favorite method to increase interactivity in an online class?”
Our courses are rolled out to online students with assignments scheduled for each week. Some of these assignments are relatively easy, meaning there will be weeks that are “light” in terms of scheduled assignments, while others will be “killer” weeks because of especially difficult assignments and/or a large number of assignments. While you need to prepare students to do all the assignments, it is especially important that you pre-assist them for those killer weeks. If you don’t do this, their anxiety can markedly increase, their involvement in and enthusiasm for the course can decrease, and you can lose them altogether.
In a recent conversation, an online teaching colleague complained that her school had wrongly listed her as “adjunct instructor,” rather than “adjunct professor,” in its faculty roster. “That term ‘professor’—it means so much more than merely being an instructor,” she complained. Au contraire, I countered: ultimately, titles—and one’s accomplishments—count for little throughout any online course one teaches and never equate to long-term respect.
Teachable moments, those special times when students are most ready and willing to learn, are traditionally considered unplanned opportunities. But should teachable moments be treated like unexpected gifts or can they actually be set in motion with a little advanced anticipation and planning by the instructor?
In my classroom-based courses I have always valued discussion as a powerful learning tool that provides students with opportunities to explain their reasoning and understanding, learn different perspectives and points of view, and re-think and possibly revise their own conceptions based on careful reflection of potentially disparate viewpoints. As I prepared to teach my first online course five years ago, it was only natural that discussion would be a part of it.
Students with disabilities are drawn to online courses for many of the same reasons as everyone else, but it’s often the anonymity that makes learning online particularly attractive to someone who’s spent his or her life trying to mask a disability. For online instructors, this can present new issues. After all, it’s hard enough distinguishing
I have always enjoyed teaching in the classroom environment. There is something special about watching a student’s eyes light up as a new concept changes perceptions. When I first taught in the online environment, I wondered how I would communicate with students without seeing them in person. Would they get my assignments? Would they understand the requirements? Could they produce the level of work I expected? Could we overcome the potential miscommunications of the written word?
Despite the many benefits, teaching online also comes with its share of challenges. This special report will help you establish online instructor best practices and performance expectations for creating a successful teaching and learning experience.
Has email overtaken your life? Teresa Marie Kelly offers hope. As a distance education faculty member at Kaplan University, Kelly knows first hand how easy it is to fall into the email trap and offers the following four tips for to help online faculty create a better work-life balance. [...]
One of the best teaching tools in a traditional classroom is the team project. When students work together, they learn a great deal – not just about what they’re studying, but about how to work with others toward common goals, with shared responsibilities, for shared reward. Traditional classrooms have an innate advantage in bringing students together … the students are sitting there right in front of them. A collaborative project can begin by simply seating the team at the same table.