When John Pyle was vice president at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, one of his goals was to focus the campus’s energy on implementing the operational plan. “There was a lot of energy once the strategic plan was developed, but we kind of lost steam in implementing the operational plan,” he says.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
Although the online classroom environment provides tremendous flexibility of time and place of study, establishing and communicating a course pace and pattern of work can aid both instructor and student, and alleviate confusion of course operation.
The initial design of your course will have a big impact on how much time and effort will be required to update it in the future. Here are some tips from the University of Michigan School of Nursing to consider as you create your course to accommodate future changes:
For quite some time now I’ve been interested in a widely held set of assumptions faculty make about the need to assert control at the beginning of a course. The argument goes something like this: When a course starts, the teacher needs to set the rules and clearly establish who’s in charge. If the course goes well, meaning students abide by the rules and do not challenge the teacher’s authority, then the teacher can gradually ease up and be a bit looser about the rules.
When given a reading assignment, some students feel they have met their obligation if they have forced their eyes to ‘touch’ (in appropriate sequence) each
I have always enjoyed teaching in the classroom environment. There is something special about watching a student’s eyes light up as a new concept changes perceptions. When I first taught in the online environment, I wondered how I would communicate with students without seeing them in person. Would they get my assignments? Would they understand the requirements? Could they produce the level of work I expected? Could we overcome the potential miscommunications of the written word?
The cliché that you only get one chance to make a first impression is especially true when you teach online. Each item you post—email, discussion message, announcement, etc.—must be created with much thought, and none is more important than the first post to your class.
Avid golfers and baseball players often talk about the elusive “sweet spot.” Find it, and you can make the ball go exactly where you want it to go, almost effortlessly. There’s a sweet spot to teaching, too. And, just like in sports, it takes a little experimentation to find and is a thing of beauty when you get it right.
Teaching and learning support professionals, particularly those who must perform miracles as a “Department of One,” can have one of the most challenging jobs on campus. They not only support the course design, content delivery strategies, technology integration, and training/orientation for faculty and students in online learning programs (asynchronous and synchronous formats), but they also support all other teaching/learning needs for classroom, blended, and any other teaching environment. This professional may be an instructional designer, an educational technologist, or very often, a designated faculty member with some or all of these skills.
It’s important at the beginning of a course for students and their instructor to find out about each other. This exchange of information helps to create classroom climates of respect and fosters a spirit of exchange that can encourage students to ask questions, make comments, and otherwise participate in dialogue throughout the course.