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Online Education

With nearly 7 million students taking at least one online course, understanding best practices for teaching online is critical. Turn to Faculty Focus for news on the latest trends in online education.


August 15 - How Teaching Online Made Me a Better Face-to-Face Instructor

By: in Online Education

I have been teaching online courses for more than eight years now. I was one of the first at my previous institution to transition a face-to-face (F2F) course to a 100% online course and now, in addition to my F2F courses, I also teach for two fully online institutions. However, I still find many of my F2F colleagues reluctant to make that transition.


August 11 - The Art and Science of Successful Online Discussions

By: in Online Education

Faculty use asynchronous discussions to extend and enhance instructional practices in the online classroom. It is widely reported that online discussions play an integral role in facilitating students’ learning, as well as fostering dialogue, critical thinking, and reflective inquiry (Kayler & Weller, 2007; Morris, Finnegan, & Sz-Shyan, 2005). Despite faculty’s knowledge that discussion forums can serve as a useful learning tool, online discussions are not easy to establish and manage.


August 8 - Promoting Academic Integrity in the Online Classroom

By: in Online Education

Teddi Fishman, director of the International Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University, advocates an instructional design/community-building approach to academic integrity rather than an adversarial approach. Her stint as a police officer informs this stance. As radar gun companies introduced improved speed enforcement tools, the latest radar detectors (often produced by the same companies) rendered such improvements ineffective. “I learned that you can’t out-tech people, and you don’t want to get into that situation. You don’t want to have that arms race. Certainly some security measures are going to be necessary, but don’t get into the habit of relying on technology to establish a climate of integrity, because it can have adverse effects. Nobody wants to feel like they’re being watched all the time,” she says.


August 1 - The Professor, Penmanship, and Online Education

By: in Online Education

This summer I am teaching online, in part because many students prefer to take classes online. Summer is the time for mischief, experimentation and creation—there is just something about that added sunlight, all sorts of plants I know not the names of in bloom everywhere—it just makes you want to try something new.


June 30 - Improve Accessibility in Tomorrow’s Online Courses by Leveraging Yesterday’s Techniques

By: in Online Education

Traditionally, when a face-to-face student requested a sign language interpreter or other assistance, individualized accommodation arrangements were made through institutional channels.

With the advent of online courses, however, the concept of accessibility has emerged. In contrast to the reactive, customized approach of accommodation, accessibility means proactively identifying and removing as many barriers to instruction as possible—before a course is ever opened for registration.
While some argue that building in accessibility is prohibitively expensive, recent lawsuits are driving more and more institutions to view accessibility as a requirement rather than a luxury. Unfortunately, making an online course accessible is tough—unless you’re familiar with traditional print techniques.


June 20 - Effective Feedback Strategies for the Online Classroom

By: in Online Education

Feedback is more than post-assignment commentary. When employed correctly, feedback can impact students on a variety of levels. It helps direct what they should do with their time, how they should feel about their efforts, whether their motivation level is appropriate, whether they are meeting expectations, and more.

Because feedback serves so many purposes in the online classroom, it is important for instructors to consider how feedback is provided, when it is offered, how it is focused or targeted, and what is considered in the feedback.


May 30 - Five Things Online Students Want from Faculty

By: in Online Education

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.


May 20 - Promoting Students’ Self-Efficacy in the Online Classroom

By: in Online Education

As online education enrollment increases, (Allen & Seaman, 2011), innovative practices are needed to improve quality instruction. One area that needs further exploration is that of promoting online students’ self-efficacy. In this article we examine the concept of self-efficacy, as it pertains to the online classroom, and offer practical suggestions for online instructors.


May 13 - Using Self-Determination Theory to Improve Online Learner Motivation

By: in Online Education

According to self-determination theory, a theory developed by Deci and Ryan, three basic psychological needs affect motivation: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Susan Epps, associate professor of Allied Health Sciences, and Alison Barton, associate professor of Teaching and Learning, both at East Tennessee State University, have used this theory to develop ways to improve online learner motivation.


April 29 - Integrating Technology into the Online Classroom, Part II

By: in Online Education

In Part I of this article, we wrote about the value in collaborating with peers. Here we conclude the piece by sharing with you the steps we followed in forming our group, while offering advice on how a similar approach could work on your campus.


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