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?”
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
online teaching tips
Technology enables students to connect with each other, the instructor, and the content. However, distractions—in the form of real-time electronic conversations and a barrage of dozens of commercial and personal interjections—can be omnipresent. Perhaps the online instructor needs to provide his/her own steady stream of engagement that can serve to interrupt (at least temporarily) the flow of extraneous information that competes for both time and focus.
Online teaching redefines the faculty member’s schedule. The feeling of being a 24/7 professor can lead to frustration. Managing one’s time as an online teacher can be a challenge. As the popularity of online education continues to grow, teaching faculty need to develop effective time management behaviors to be efficient and not just busy. Here are ten strategies I like to use:
Our courses are rolled out to online students with assignments scheduled for each week. Some of these assignments are relatively easy, meaning there will be weeks that are “light” in terms of scheduled assignments, while others will be “killer” weeks because of especially difficult assignments and/or a large number of assignments. While you need to prepare students to do all the assignments, it is especially important that you pre-assist them for those killer weeks. If you don’t do this, their anxiety can markedly increase, their involvement in and enthusiasm for the course can decrease, and you can lose them altogether.
Teaching any online class is time-consuming and can be a juggling act. The instructor must keep students engaged and motivated, adhere to a variety of deadlines, quickly answer all student emails and postings, react to in-class “emergencies,” stay on top of all school policies, and teach the subject in an easy-to-understand manner—while remaining a patient, upbeat, and constant presence through it all. This is no easy task, and while we each have developed approaches to help us, there is one often underused “tool” that online instructors can employ: the students in one’s 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.
Do you have a fear of teaching an online course? Do you think that your personality will not shine through on the web? Has this stopped you from teaching online in the past? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions then you need to know that there is nothing to fear. Teaching online does not mean that you have to lose the personal touch with your students.
When we teach online courses there are many fundamental issues that concern us: knowledge of our subjects, teaching strategies, engagement of students, school policies, deadlines, grading and returning of assignments, posting announcements, and responding to students—the list goes on.
Student participation is perhaps the biggest challenge of teaching online courses, says Deborah Raines, professor and director of the Accelerated Second-Degree BSN Program at Florida
Take a few minutes to consider the following online teaching tips to help you start out the new year revitalized, enthusiastic, eager, and just happy as hell to be teaching online