“Distance learning is here to stay. Educational institutions should have a vision for what type of distance learning programs they will implement and the standards they will hold to. Institutions will master distance learning, or in some cases, distance learning trends and demands will master the school.” This is the conclusion of Joseph McClary of Liberty University in his article, “Factors in High Quality Distance Learning Courses,” appearing in the Summer 2013 issue of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. In it, he examines the components of a high quality distance learning course and some of the barriers to their development.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
best practices in distance education
Years ago at a faculty meeting Larry Ragan, PhD, director of Faculty Development for Penn State’s World Campus, was trying to soft-sell the idea of performance expectations for online faculty. He didn’t want the discussion to be misinterpreted as an indictment against their teaching style, but he also saw an opportunity to share proven practices for improving the online teaching and learning experience. Finally a senior faculty member grew tired of the tip-toeing around the subject and said, “If you don’t tell us what is expected, how will we know what to do to succeed?”
Most online courses rely heavily on text-based communication, but given the vast array of audio and video tools now available to instructors and students alike, it’s never been easier to enhance the media richness of the online classroom. However, just like with home improvement, you have to select the right tool for the job.
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?
There are two common assumptions about teaching online that can sink even the most well-meaning neophyte. One is that “teaching is teaching” regardless of whether it’s face-to-face or online and there’s no reason to deviate from the proven principles that work so well in the traditional classroom. The second assumption is that teaching online is all about the technology, and if you design your course properly, it pretty much runs itself.
A survey of senior campus officials responsible for managing online and distance education programs revealed some interesting findings, including almost half of the participants not knowing whether their program is profitable.
Despite the many benefits, teaching online also comes with its share of challenges. This special report will help you establish online instructor best practices and performance expectations for creating a successful teaching and learning experience.