Learning research indicates that people learn better in the presence of some emotional connection—to the content or to other people. Creating this emotional connection is particularly challenging in the online classroom, where most communication is asynchronous and lacks many of the emotional cues of the face-to-face environment. Nevertheless, it is possible to do, with a learner-centered approach to teaching and a mastery of the technology that supports it, says Rick Van Sant, associate professor of education at Ferris State University.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
advice to online instructors
PowerPoint is versatile in allowing us to add multimedia (graphics, sound, audio, video, text, animation, etc.) to our presentations for keeping online students’ rapt attention. But how much multimedia should you add? In answering this question, I find that taking into consideration students’ learning styles and cultural/international backgrounds can help to lessen the risk of using too much or too little multimedia in your online PPTs.
There are many reasons why students don’t like group work, and in the online classroom the list of reasons grows even longer as the asynchronous nature of online courses not only makes collaboration more difficult but almost counterintuitive.
Many people take it on faith that online education must be run through a learning management system (LMS) like Blackboard, Angel, etc. Those systems were originally designed to allow faculty to move their courses online without having to learn HTML coding. They provided all of the tools needed to deliver an online course in one package.
Instructors have a myriad of technological tools available to enhance online instruction, such as blogs, wikis, and streaming audio and video. I have been particularly interested in streaming audio and video to deliver course content in a dynamic mode that captures the energy of the traditional classroom presentation while taking advantage of the Web’s functionality to combine text, audio, and images. However, given the significant time it takes to design and create a presentation for streaming over the Web, I have wondered whether the time commitment is justified by the learning benefit for students. Do bells and whistles enhance learning online?
Students come to an online course with different interests, prior knowledge, and preferred learning styles. This is something that Stephen Holland, chair of the English department at Muscatine Community College and online learning and training associate at the Eastern Iowa Community College District, takes into account whenever he creates or seeks to improve an online course.
We all have students every course that send us e-mails. Some provide us with information. Some provide us with “excuses”. Some question our instructions. Some question our syllabus and/or course requirements. Some have complaints. Some want “special” treatment. Some feel others have received “special” treatment. In most cases, they want “satisfaction.” And, if you don’t provide this satisfaction, they will go higher to achieve this satisfaction. They will go to your program coordinator the department chair, or dean, or vice president, or even the president.
Many faculty have questions about the relative merits of online courses versus the traditional face-to-face classroom experiences. Researchers also have an interest in the question, and a variety of studies have been conducted with the usual mixed results but overall accumulating evidence that online courses can provide rich learning experiences. But for many faculty, it is still an open and individual question. Many would like to have the opportunity Kathleen Dolan describes.
Online courses are increasingly being developed by a team of instructional designers, curriculum specialists, and instructional technologists. In the majority of cases, these courses feature standardized content such as a common syllabus and assignments, and reusable course modules and learning objects.