Distance Learning Training and Resources for Educators

Posts tagged ‘e-learning tips’

Key Tips for Teaching Online

Key Tips for Teaching an Online Courses

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I developed these online teaching tips based on my 15 years experience teaching art and photography on both Blackboard and Moodle Course Management Systems.

 1. If possible…kick the first session (class) off with a synchronous BB Collaborate, Google Hangouts or Skype orientation that addresses exactly how you are going to teach the class and be specific in your expectations for the course participants. Sharing your screen and guiding them through your Moodle/Blackboard courses is an effective way to do this. You will also have to demonstrate how the Moodle (BB / LMS) tools (assignment upload and discussion forum) they will use for submitting work for you to evaluate / critique. If your course is totally asynchronous then create a video orientationto the class. I do one for every online course I teach.

2. Eliminate all gray area from your weekly assignment directions (course expectations) and make it very clear as to exactly what you want your students to do each week and how the students will submit work and engage you and each other in discussions and/or critiques.

3. KISS RULE!!! Keep it Simple as to class assignments and the instructional design plan you implement in your online courses. The more complex your online course the harder it is for you and the students to manage.  You want visual continuity in your course design scheme as well as content continuity as far as how you lay out your assignments, lectures, videos, discussions, etc.

4. Less is More! Remember don’t overload your students with too many assignments / activities. I rather do one or two task each week and do them well than 3 or more activities that may be difficult to manage for you and the students.

5. Be Present and Proactive! This is probably the best advice I can give you. Respond back to student questions and discussion posts in a timely fashion. Essentially follow through on your part as to when you are going to give students feedback on their work. I use the discussion forum as a place for students to submit works in progress and as they post images I go in daily and give them feedback. You set the parameters as to when you will respond back to students and just follow through with the course guidelines that you set.

6. Be Flexible! Students are going to run into technical or personal issues so to keep the stress level down It’s important to be flexible with due dates if a student is running into a problem due to unforeseen circumstances.

7. Synchronous vs. Asynchronous instruction. Use the synchronous approach (if possible) to kick off each weeks lesson and to explain exactly what you want your students to do and how you are going to engage them about their work. This can be in the form of a Power Point presentation or taking them through your Moodle or Blackboard Module step by step. Approximately 80% – 90% of you instruction will most likely be asynchronous in most cases.

8. Be aware of Online Learning Limitations. Its important to design learning activities that are conducive for the online environment. You may find that critiques are best for your class in synchronous mode (BB Collaborate, Google hangouts, or Skype with Join Me Screen Sharing for example). Do what works best for you and your teaching style.

9. Practice makes perfect. There is no doubt the more you teach online the easier it gets and the more proficient (and comfortable) you get engaging students in the online environment. Be prepared to change course if certain learning activities are not working effectively for you.

10. Above all else…Have Fun! Share in the learning journey with your online students! If they see you are passionate and engaged about your course material and giving them constructive feedback on their work in a timely fashion the course will be a success.

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So You Want to Teach Online………

Anatomy of an Online Course

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Being a  educator in the year 2013 is NOT anything like it was in 1987. Not only do we have to know our course content area and be able to teach it effectively. Now we have to be able to teach effectively in a whole new (cyber) environment and be able to weave seamlessly between physically seeing (teaching) our students and communicating (instructing) them totally online.

new skill sets

This takes new sets of skills and a heightened awareness of the challenges the online environment presents us. Harnessing (mastering) this instructional technology and methodology is going to make you more marketable as an educator.

There is no doubt teaching online is a challenge. You must go into it with your eyes WIDE OPEN. The first few years moving your traditional courses over to the online environment takes time and effort climbing the learning curve. There’s no getting away from this reality. The good news is…the more you teach online, the easier it gets. Once you’ve built your online courses and develop a solid grasp on how to manage and teach via the web things get progressively easier.

online teaching

There really are no shortcuts at the very beginning of this process. You have to build your courses and transition yourself and your teaching methodology over to being comfortable, proficient and effective in the online environment.

rethink


Essentially you have to totally RE-THINK how you are going to teach because what works in the traditional classroom doesn’t usually work for the online environment.

Step #1 – Gather all the course content (assignments, lectures, videos, web resources, Powerpoints, etc.) you have and begin organizing it by week. If you are teaching a 16 week semester you have to take a good hard look at your syllabus and course outline and then break (pace/distribute) the assignments, projects, assessments and learning outcomes up over a span of 14 weeks. Leave the first week for course familiarization and last week for wrap-up and exam or final projects.

blackboard vs. moodle

Step #2 – You have to become proficient with the course management system (CMS) your college is using before teaching online. That means taking workshops and taking time practicing adding content and learning the various functions and applications within the CMS (Blackboard, Moodle, WordPress, Angel, Campus Cruiser, etc.) Please note…all CMS’s do the same thing! They are online tools for delivering and assessing course content. If you can learn one CMS you can quickly learn another – it is like driving Buick vs. a Honda.

Step #3 – Once you are proficient with the tools and applications in the CMS and get all your course content loaded, organized and designed within a design scheme then you want to have someone look it over to check if the course expectations are communicated clearly. Sometime we know are material so well we just assume we are being clear when in fact we may assume too much. All course expectations, assignments, discussions and assessments must be crystal clear with no grey area.

brainstorm

Step #4 – Introspection, brainstorming and Soul Searching Time! You have to visualize (analyze) each assignment, assessment, project and course expectation then consider how you teach them in the classroom/studio and then problem solve just how you are going to deliver and assess them in the online environment. There is no one size fits all solution to this and your teaching style plays a role in how you go about it.

e-learning vs. classroom

Step #5 – Once your class is completely migrated from classroom to online its time to be baptized in fire and teach online. Best approach would be to start with a hybrid/blended course (partial online) and work your way to totally online. You are going to make mistakes and will learn from them.
Every time you teach online you will get better, more efficient and comfortable working in that environment.  Effective and efficient workfow and file management are also very important variables when teaching online. They can make or break your effectiveness and keep you from losing your mind from being inundated by student assignments, discussions, e-mails and giving viable feedback. Migrating your traditional classroom courses over to online delivery takes a great deal of thought,  rethinking and planning and should not be taken lightly.

The goal for all of us is to replicate as best we can our unique, creative and dynamic approach in the classroom into the online environment.