tips for online faculty
As an instructional designer and online instructor at the Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville, Dionne Thorne has worked with many instructors as they develop their online courses. Based on this experience, she offers the following advice on the course design process:
High-quality, individualized feedback is essential for effective online teaching, providing multiple benefits. Good online feedback strengthens your connection with students and keeps students engaged with your class. It can also take an extraordinary amount of time. However, since many of the same issues crop up semester after semester with student after student, it’s possible to collect your comments, store them in feedback banks, and use feedback technology to distribute individualized yet automated feedback.
The design of your course pages can have a significant effect on the learning experience in your online course. Good design can draw students in, help them comprehend the information the first time they read it, and enable them to easily retrieve information, says Sheree Webb, an instructional designer at Tyler Junior College.
You’ve been assigned your first online class to teach and you feel like you’re ready. You’ve done your homework and learned the ins and outs of the institution’s course management system. You’ve structured your content in purposeful ways and developed thoughtful guiding questions to situate student learning and motivate them. When the class starts, however, you realize that while everything is technically functioning correctly, many of the students are not engaged. While you were looking forward to teaching online and interacting with students, the students are approaching your course as if it’s an independent study. This wasn’t what you anticipated when you agreed to teach online!
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:
Teaching online is a rewarding experience; but any instructor who makes the transition to online education, thinking it will be easier and less time-consuming than face-to-face classroom teaching, is in for a big surprise! Establishing a regular presence in the online classroom, grading assignments and discussions, and maintaining records and notes from term to term are all time consuming – but essential – tasks. Learning to take care of the details of online teaching more efficiently makes it possible to be more effective in your teaching. The following is an abbreviated version of guidance I provide to new instructors about ways to keep their course files organized, students engaged, and workload manageable.
Through better communication you will strengthen student relationships with you as an instructor, deepen student engagement with course content, and increase their level of participation in class.
Presenter Jill Schiefelbein draws on her experience as an adjunct professor at Arizona State University and as a communications consultant to show you the ins and outs of teaching in a virtual classroom.
Shrinking budgets and increasing enrollments are putting online instructors in the position of teaching larger classes. Accommodating more students means rethinking how you teach your courses. Otherwise your workload can quickly become overwhelming.
On Tuesday, I provided general suggestions on course-based grading expectations practices. Here I share some ideas for grading specific assignments.
Use a bank of comments that are precise, detailed, and clear. The smart online educator is the one who has a bank of comments from which he/she can draw on to give students feedback on any number of items in the course. But there are two important items here that will make these precast comments most effective: 1) Have comments point out not only when something is wrong but also why it is wrong and how to get it right. In this manner, each comment becomes a mini teacher’s aide in the assignment. 2) Adjust (personalize) any comment as is necessary when your comment as written does not exactly match the problem you see in the student’s assignment. This way each comment is a perfect fit for the error, allowing the student to learn more fully.