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tips for online instructors


Building Community and Creating Relevance in the Online Classroom

Remember feeling nervous before starting your first day on the job? You may have experienced butterflies in your stomach, had questions about expectations, or concerns about learning the rules and finding information. Students feel the same way with a new professor, regardless if the class is face-to-face or online. With technology, you can reduce new-class jitters and get your students on track for success.


A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: Raising, Communicating, and Enforcing Expectations in Online Courses

As an instructor new to the online environment, I carefully reviewed the syllabus and the requirements for the course discussions and assignments and incorporated the following ideas from Myers-Wylie, Mangieri & Hardy: a “what you need to know” document that includes policies about late work, formatting, source citations, grading and feedback, and the dangers of plagiarism; a separate “assignments at a glance” calendar that details due dates and submission instructions; a “frequently asked questions” thread in the discussion forum; detailed scoring rubrics for each assignment, and example assignments. As is typical in the online environment, my course was equipped with areas for announcements and discussions and a grade book with a place to post comments for individual students. I used all these formats to communicate with students about course requirements and provide detailed feedback.


Three Ways to Breathe New Life into Your Online Courses

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.


Creating a Sense of Instructor Presence in the Online Classroom

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:


Recent Seminars


Six Practical Strategies to Improve Your Online Courses

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

7 Assessment Challenges of Moving Your Course Online (and a Dozen+ Solutions)

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.


Tips for Humanizing Your Online Course

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.


What Online Teachers Need to Know

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.


How Can I Enhance the Impact of Feedback in Online Classes?

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.


How Can I Set Time Management Priorities in Online Teaching?

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.


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