HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
One instructor’s study of student participation in online discussions in two of his asynchronous online courses over a five-year period has yielded some interesting results that have influenced how he conducts his courses.
How do you motivate online learners?
It’s an age-old question that continues to stump online instructors as well as the managers of distance education programs trying to solve the attrition problem that continues to drag down this otherwise thriving segment of higher education.
In my classroom-based courses I have always valued discussion as a powerful learning tool that provides students with opportunities to explain their reasoning and understanding, learn different perspectives and points of view, and re-think and possibly revise their own conceptions based on careful reflection of potentially disparate viewpoints. As I prepared to teach my first online course five years ago, it was only natural that discussion would be a part of it.
Larry Ragan, director of faculty development for Penn State World Campus, may have given a new spin to the old expression “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Except, unlike the philosophical musing that’s become immortalized as one of those motivational posters, Ragan’s focus is on improving online learning.
The intermediate statistics class I took quite a number of years ago had two types of learners at the outset—those who were worried about passing the course and those who were sure they couldn’t pass it. The professor clearly understood the “fear-of-stats” phenomenon and used a number of instructional techniques to help learners gain confidence and skills.
Institutions of higher education nearly always feel a budgetary crunch, and this holds true for online programs. However, the costs of running a successful online program run far beyond the expected line items of salaries, technology, and marketing. Faculty turnover and attrition can bring a number of serious but unanticipated costs to a program, costs that are may be poorly understood due to a lack of research identifying these costs.
Students with disabilities are drawn to online courses for many of the same reasons as everyone else, but it’s often the anonymity that makes learning
In the online classroom, faculty work hard to engage their distance learners and build a strong sense of academic community in the electronic setting. Screencasting can be an effective and easy way to do this. Screencasting allows you to take a digital video of what you are doing on your computer desktop, and most screencasting tools allow you to narrate your video while recording. The possible uses for screencasting are endless; these include providing course orientations, delivering instructional lectures, providing feedback, and encouraging student sharing.