It’s always important to help students be successful, but with returning adults, success often seems more elusive for a variety of reasons. They often have a hard time fitting schooling in with other life demands (including family obligations and work). In addition, many adult students are worried about their abilities as students and about learning in an online environment.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
Many of the learners in today’s online courses are adults who are returning to school to upgrade their qualifications. It’s worth considering what kinds of adult students are in your courses and what their needs are.
Slides, even with text and graphics on them, aren’t particularly as good as instructional content because someone needs to explain what’s on each slide. You are still the presenter and you should explain, right? (Right.)
Giving your students PowerPoint slides with only text or graphics is a problem because slides, even with text and graphics on them, really do not stand alone. It’s hard to add enough context without adding tons of text to explain what’s on the slide. And, well, PowerPoint isn’t really the right media for tons of text. If you want students to do a lot of reading, you really should provide students with printed or downloadable print materials.
Although PowerPoint often gets a bad rap as an instructional tool, it really doesn’t deserve it. PowerPoint’s bad rap comes from it being used poorly. Yeah, it’s easy to produce mind-numbing PowerPoint slides, and unfortunately, mind-numbing uses of PowerPoint are all around us—in online information and instruction, classroom-based instruction, training courses, and in the boardroom. But PowerPoint is just a tool. And like most tools, it can be used well or horribly or anywhere in between.
Online courses are rarely “done.” Over time, things change, including the curriculum and content (because of changes in the field and changes to available content) and the technologies (ways that the content can be delivered and tools for interacting with it and with others in the courses, including you).
When teaching and designing courses, I find that it’s easy to slip into autopilot and use the same tools and strategies over and over. Autopilot can be comfortable and easy, but I know I don’t do my best work in that state. So I try to look at my courses and materials with fresh eyes as often as I can. Often, I’ll ask another faculty member or designer to look at what I’m designing with a critical eye, and I return the favor for their courses.
If evaluation sounds good in theory but feels bad in practice, it may be that you or others are operating under some common misconceptions.
The intermediate statistics class I took quite a number of years ago had two types of learners at the outset—those who were worried about passing the course and those who were sure they couldn’t pass it. The professor clearly understood the “fear-of-stats” phenomenon and used a number of instructional techniques to help learners gain confidence and skills.
Multiple-choice tests are commonly used to assess achievement of learning objectives because they can be efficient. Despite their widespread use, they’re often poorly designed. Poorly