engaging online students July 13

Three Keys to Starting Strong in Your Online Course

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The start of the term is a critical time for any course, when students form an impression that can help or hinder them for the duration of a class. There are three key practices that can set the tone for the entire term and have an effect on retention and student success if implemented.

First impressions are important, so reflect on how you welcome students and the tone you use. Many students report feeling overwhelmed when they start online classes, and a verbose first message can exacerbate that. Ideally, your course will have some sort of “Start Here” section or unit, which might contain your syllabus; the course schedule; and links to Learning Management System tutorials, downloads students might need, or campus services that might be helpful (tutoring, financial aid, counseling). I also include a link to a quiz for students to assess if they are suited to online learning. With your “Start Here” in place, your initial message to students can direct them there; avoid being overly wordy, and instead, focus on helping them to feel at home. This helps build your presence and create trust in you, and it can establish you as a part of the learning community of the class as well. You may even want to create a short welcome video, but we will talk about videos later.

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online student on laptop June 3, 2013

Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher

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Teaching face-to-face and teaching online are both teaching, but they are qualitatively different. In comparison, driving a car and riding a motorcycle are both forms of transportation, but they have enough differences to warrant additional training and preparation when switching from one to the other. The same is true when faculty move from the traditional classroom to the online classroom. There are some things that the two have in common, but there are also plenty of differences. With this in mind, consider the following eight roles of an effective online teacher.




November 8, 2010

Solving the Problem of Online Problem Solving

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When first visualizing an online mathematics course, I saw a barren, text-only environment where students learned primarily from the textbook and where instructors provided text-based direction, clarification, and assistance. But typing is not teaching and reading is not learning. Students deserve more from online courses than regurgitated textbooks and opportunities to teach themselves. With today’s technology, we can create a rich learning environment.


August 9, 2010

Digital Storytelling Brings a Human Connection to Online Education

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Once upon a time people told stories to share experiences and to teach. With the growing popularity of distance learning modalities educator have been searching for ways to enhance social presence and reflective thinking in the online learning experience. The use of digital storytelling might be a strategy to bring human thought and emotion into online education.


August 5, 2010

Providing Multiple Paths for Learning

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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.