keyboard June 16

Creating Rich Learning Experiences Even When Class is Canceled

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In my corner of the country, we experienced an unusually harsh winter which resulted in many class sessions being canceled due to school closures. Our faculty, and likely other groups of faculty in our region, received an email message that stated:

If you cancel your face-to-face session, I expect a comparable experience will be online for your students.

This is easier said than done. For faculty who don’t regularly deliver coursework online, the expectation to “just move your teaching session online” can be an overwhelming task. It’s not as simple as putting that day’s lesson online. Teaching effectively online requires a skill set that can only be acquired with knowledge and experience. It doesn’t happen automatically.


online student May 4

Designing Group-Based Learning Activities

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For a while in my online teaching career, I’d been reluctant to use group learning techniques with my students. My students are primarily undergraduate majors who have been out of school for a while and generally need more hand-holding (or so I thought). What I’ve learned after many years online is that even though my students work individually, they also work collectively as a group. In fact, my wonderful students often initiate working in teams when discussing issues in the forums, studying for the midterm, and giving each other advice for tackling the final project. I realized that group learning was already being used in my courses, so I concluded that I could expose my students to group-based learning activities and assignments that would benefit them in the long run.

When designing group-based activities, an instructor should consider these areas:

1) Group formation (how the groups are formed)
2) Group roles (assigning leaders and other roles)
3) Group conflicts (dealing with issues and conflicts)

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Male student on laptop April 20, 2015

Five Steps to Improving Online Group Work Assignments

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Online Group Projects – Yikes! You can hear the moans and groans of students echoing through your computer monitors as you start the first week of your online course. The reasons for requiring a group project vary from one discipline to another, but there are educational and career motives for requiring group projects. Students will have an opportunity to develop team skills, improve communication skills, and leverage their own personal interests and experiences to contribute to a group project.





December 9, 2010

Using Wikis for Collaborative Learning

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If you are looking for ways to facilitate collaboration among students, consider using a wiki—a website that contains pages that can be easily created and edited by multiple users. Several characteristics of Wikis make them excellent choices for projects that involve brainstorming and research and that require a final report, says Rhonda Ficek, director of instructional technology services at Minnesota State University Moorhead.



January 14, 2010

Seven Signs that You've Built a Community of Learning

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In “Social Dynamics of Online Learning: Pedagogical Imperatives and Practical Applications” the authors write that “Failure to address the social and relational dynamics within online courses may result in greater feelings of isolation among the distance learners, reduced levels of student satisfaction, peer academic performance, and ultimately increased attrition. … More often than not, most students wait for the professor to ‘do’ something that magically knits or binds them with others in meaningful ways.”