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.
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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.
Sometimes content delivered in a traditional classroom setting can fall flat in an online course where your students don’t get to benefit of your voice inflections, gestures, etc. If you have material that you like to deliver face-to-face, but are concerned about presenting it in the online arena you can be creative when you include the material in your course and be assured that the content is delivered in a manner that you are comfortable with.
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 you think about all the reasons why a college or university would want to offer courses online, “Because it’s easy” isn’t one of them. Yes, it’s a smart way to grow your programs and reach a greater number of students. Yes, it can be an attractive revenue stream. And yes, in order to attract today’s learners – adult and traditional-aged students alike – you likely need an online offering.
When designing an online course we tend to create the course based on our needs and time restraints, and often do not think of our students and the reasons why they are taking an online course. To effectively meet our students diverse needs, we must step back and ask ourselves:
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.
Social presence is an important concept in distance education. So, how can we increase social presence in online teaching? Here are some ideas for you to try.
I’ve been teaching online since 2001. I’ve always felt a certain sense of excitement when discussing philosophies, pedagogy, or instructional strategies with others and creating active, energetic online classrooms. So it was disheartening when I “hit a wall” and things started to feel really monotonous.