tips for online instructors
Online teaching is growing at a rapid pace. To meet the increasing demand of online education, many courses have been designed to enable the instructor to be more of a facilitator rather than an active participant in the classroom space (Ragan, 2009). However, building an active, student-centered learning environment in online classes is needed to prevent instructors from becoming stagnant and to motivate and inspire them to take on a variety of roles as the students’ “guide, facilitator, and teacher” (Ragan, 2009, p. 6). This article will discuss the unique needs of the online student and suggest three strategies to meet these needs through effective, innovative online instruction.
Online instructors need to be intentional about creating a sense of presence in their courses so that students know that somebody is leading their educational experience. According to Larry Ragan, director of instructional design and development for Penn State’s World Campus, this sense of presence consists of three dimensions:
If you’re new to the online classroom, or having been teaching online for years, we invite you to spend an hour with Oliver Dreon, PhD, director of Millersville University’s Center for Academic Excellence, for this one-hour online seminar. You’ll learn how you can use a half-dozen research-based, easy-to-implement practices to help you create truly student-centered instruction, and come away with a tremendous “toolkit” of ideas for making your online classes even better than they are now.
Online Seminar • Recorded on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Not all online courses are created from scratch. Many—if not most—are online versions of courses that have previously been taught face-to-face. In these cases, where an instructor or instructional designer is adapting an existing face-to-face course for online delivery, assessments already exist.
Taking an online course can be an isolating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several key techniques you can employ to humanize your online courses and thus improve the learning experience as well as success and retention rates.
The majority of us teach the way we were taught growing up (Southern Regional Education Board, 2009). This presents a challenge for online faculty, who most likely received their education in a traditional, brick and mortar school. Online instruction is much different from face-to-face instruction. Over the past nine years, I have discovered four basic elements that contribute to being an effective online teacher.
When it comes to helping online students learn, few practices pack the pedagogical punch of quality online feedback. But common practices in face-to-face and online feedback can undercut the basic goal of feedback, which is to help students understand, and learn from, their missteps and mistakes. Learn how to upgrade your online feedback, making it more specific, timely, and effective—in less time than you might spend grading one paper.
If you’ve noticed a disconnect between what matters and what you spend your time on, using proven time-management practices in your online teaching can help you do a better job of providing feedback and achieving instructional priorities.
I began my teaching career as a resident (classroom) instructor teaching Army officers about leadership. My teaching techniques are based on Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model (ELM) that involves the following steps: (1) Concrete Experience, (2) Publish and Process, (3) Generalize New Information, (4) Apply, and (5) Develop. ELM, which has worked very well for me in the classroom, directly emphasizes that adults learn when they:
- Discover for themselves
- Take responsibility for their learning
- Have a venue to receive experience and feedback
- Understand why the lesson is beneficial to their personal and/or professional lives.
Developing an online course with student expectations in mind can enhance student engagement and promote development of self-motivated learning. This pointed and practical session will show you how to meet online students’ desires without sacrificing your standards.