An instructor’s “digital” personality can influence student achievement, retention or completion, and satisfaction with courses, says Todd Conaway, an instructional designer at Yavapai College in Arizona. This is why he encourages instructors to infuse their personalities into their online courses. A growing number of tools and technologies can help.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
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.
The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning reveals that online enrollment rose by almost one million students – the largest ever year-to-year increase since the study began eight years ago. The survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide finds approximately 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in Fall 2009, the most recent term for which figures are available.
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.
If you teach a skills-based course and wonder how online discussion can enhance the learning experience, consider Roger Gee’s approach to the use of online discussions in his introduction to accounting course.
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.
Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Harassment: Navigating the Murky Legal Waters of Online Teaching
If you teach online, here’s a simple quiz for you:
- Are you familiar with your college’s intellectual property policy?
- Do you know if you own the class material you have created?
- Do you have permission to use all copyrighted materials you use regularly?
- Do you know how to prevent defamation and harassment issues online?
- Do you have a disability expert on campus that regularly assists in the development of online materials so that you do not violate disability guidelines?
Disruptive students, in any teaching and learning environment, are a challenge to manage, but they can be particularly so online. And it may take longer for an instructor to realize that a student is actually being disruptive online, since online communications can be ambiguous and one always wants to give students the benefit of the doubt.
In the 2009 report, Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, the Department of Education reported that “on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.”
“One of the biggest barriers to online learning is our inability to respond in the moment, unless we happen to be on live chat or video, which is really rare in most of the online learning world,” says Rick Van Sant, associate professor of education at Ferris State University.