February 5th, 2010

For a Successful Online Teaching and Learning Experience: Communicate

By:

Regardless of the size of course enrollments, the key to a successful teaching and learning experience for both the learner and instructor is communication. Clearly defining and communicating the expectations will address the uncertainly of what role and responsibility is required of each participant.

The efficiency and effectiveness of this communication will evolve with experience. Chances are it will not be perfect the first, second or maybe even third offering. Refining the course management is a continual “work in progress” that requires a commitment on part of the instructor to carefully monitor, adjust and improve the communications of expectations to the learners.

With proper design, management, tracking and adjustments, the management of he learning activities of the online classroom can lead to a rewarding learning experience for all course participants. The goal is to empower the online learner to take responsibility for managing their own learning experience and free the instructor to concentrate their time and energy on crafting a truly engaged learning experience.

Watching and learning from others, using student feedback, analyzing evaluation data and frequently asked questions can provide insights into where and how to improve the learning experience. Some are of the belief that the tools and capabilities of the online classroom can lead to a richer and more equitable learning experience than the face-to-face classroom because we can provide communications to all participants.

Certainly the opportunity exists to structure a learning experience rich in interaction, student-managed and focused on addressing the needs of the students in attaining the course learning outcomes.

Dr. Lawrence C. Ragan is the Director of Instructional Design and Development for Penn State’s World Campus.

Excerpted from Principles of Effective Online Teaching: #2 Practice Proactive Course Management Strategies. To read the article in its entirety, download the free report 10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching:
Best Practices in Distance Education
here.