July 10

From “Sage on the Stage” to the “Guide on the Side” to “Ace in the Digital Space”

The new name for the role of faculty in online learning, coined by Jennifer Mathes in an OLC Insights post truly got my attention.

The shift of the role of a teacher as the Sage on the Stage to the Guide on the Side fits well with digital teaching and learning, as students are expected to take a more active role in their learning. The same goes in the classroom where different pedagogical approaches are practiced, and student-centered learning is nothing new.

However, teaching online is not an easy task, and requires much more work ahead of time as well as during the courses than many would think. Teaching effectively requires more than being just a Guide on the Side. Thus, Jenifer Mathes coined the term to indicate to the scope of activities an online teacher is faced with.

She states: “I chose to describe the role as an Ace because we find, in the online or blended course, that a faculty member has to be the expert in many things (tech support, advisor, coach, subject matter, etc.) to their students. They are the first ones that students will go to when they run into an issue.”

This also reminds us of the importance of teacher support and resources.

Remember we are here to help in Miller Center 118!

Miller Center building front entrance summertime

 

February 13

First Time Teaching Online?

Online Learning Consortium promotes their Online Teaching Certificate which covers a wide verity of topics. However, here is their brief overview of the basic skills instructors usually wonder about if they have not taught online:

  • Educational Technology: While the basics of email, discussion boards, and PowerPoint are necessary, you’ll also want to learn to use meeting software as well as have an understanding of learning management systems. Additionally, it can’t hurt to have a base understanding of how to troubleshoot computer issues, internet connectivity hiccups, and incidents of malware to keep your systems running smoothly.
  • Time Commitment: Think online teaching will take less time than teaching face-to-face? Not necessarily. You’ll find that more time is spent one-on-one with students via email and chat rooms, especially with asynchronous programs. And since many online courses are open to students across the globe, you may need to consider the time differences when scheduling synchronous sessions.
  • Student Engagement: Unless you are working in a blended learning environment, you may never meet students face-to-face. If that’s the case, take the time to cultivate an online presence so students and colleagues can get to know you. Also, plan to spend time responding to emails and discussion board posts.  Most institutions have policies surrounding faculty-student communication requirements.
February 8

Instructor Presence and Immediacy

Dwinnells (2017) gives great advice on how to keep up with your online students and give them the feeling that you are present, or as he called it: How to Keep from Going MIA in Your Online Course. Many researchers have confirmed that instructor presence or immediacy positively correlate with student satisfaction and success. I will list his suggestions with my comments below. Click here to view the full Faculty Focus post.

  1. Set times to “go to class.”  Advise your students (and do the same yourself) to check in every day for a few minutes and see if t here is a new discussion post or a question (for you), but actually “attend” the class for a half hour to an hour, two to three times a week.
  2. Find ways to personalize your course with your presence. Include media such as a welcome video or audio at the beginning of the course, or in Announcements, and consider video/audio feedback for some assignments. If you can’t do an audio/video try to post a picture of yourself and add some biographical information such as your hobbies and interests, besides your office hours and syllabus. This helps humanizing and personalizing you as an instructor, which ultimately creates a sense of presence and a feeling of community and safety for your students. Encourage them to do the same in a designated discussion forum.
  3. Seek opportunities to engage students in creative ways. Try to personalize feedback, mention your students’ names whenever you can.
  4. Use discussion boards wisely and often.
  5. Remember that online does not mean off-line: “One could have a beautifully designed online course, but with an off-line professor the learning experience will lack the depth, breadth, and richness of a true learning experience.”

Another point to consider is how nonverbal communication and gauging emotions is lost in online courses. There are ways to assess your student’s emotions and behavior in a fully online class.  Here is a short article on emotional presence and why it matters.

 

January 23

Five Ways to Make Your Online Classrooms More Interactive

An article by Amy Peterson, a senior vice president of course design, development and academic research at Pearson,  posted on the Faculty Focus website lists 5 ways to make your Online Classroom more interactive.

Since I like lists I thought I’d share her thoughts briefly here. To read the full article, follow this link.

The convenience and flexibility of the online learning environment allows learners to develop new skills and further their education, regardless of where they live. However, online learning can sometimes feel isolating for students and faculty. The question is: how do you build a sense of community in your online courses?

1. Integrate real-time interaction

Integrating opportunities for real-time interaction into your online course can help change that and develop a sense of community in a course. You can facilitate these interactions by setting up opportunities for class members to meet online synchronously both formally and informally. Using web conferencing applications, you can create a variety of synchronous interaction opportunities, such as office hours, small group discussions, whole class discussions, and study groups.

2. Get creative with discussion boards

In an online environment, you can structure your discussions so that everyone contributes, plus they’ll have more time to consider what they want to say before responding. Class size helps determine how you organize discussions. In a larger class of, say, 100 students, you can set up smaller discussion groups of 20 or so people so that students can get to know their fellow classmates. One technique that fosters richer dialogue is creating discussion prompts that are open ended, such as requiring students to provide examples or asking them to interpret a concept from a variety of perspectives.

3. Maximize engagement with non-task interaction

Non-task interactions are those exchanges that are not part of the direct learning, but help create a supportive learning community. You can facilitate these types of interactions by leveraging the social networking capabilities that are available in many learning management systems, such as chat and webconferencing. St. Cloud State and D2L Brightspace have Wiggio for example.

4. Use multiple communication tools

You’re not alone in wanting to increase and enhance student engagement and interaction. Students can meet each other in real time on Skype and Google Hangouts. Preprogrammed communication, such as introductory videos, content presentation, and email, are still important components of online learning, but student interaction can take the learning further, faster.

5. Have a plan around the tool

A tech tool is only as good as you the way you use it from a pedagogical perspective. When you move a face-to-face course online, or create an online course from scratch, consider how interaction will support the learning goals in your course. By enhancing the opportunities for interaction in your online classrooms, you can take an already powerful learning opportunity to the next level for all of your students.

December 5

Online Presence and Engagement in Courses – CoI Interactive Map

Teacher and social presence and engagement with other classmates and the course materials continue to be the greatest indicators of success in online classes.

Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework is a framework developed by Randy Garrison, Terry Anderson et al. (University of Calgary) to help the educational experience of e-learning. It is based on the three “presences” in the classroom: social, teacher, and cognitive. There are many ways for teachers to show their presence in an online course. starting with clearly communicated course objectives and due dates, providing feedback in a timely fashion, encouraging discussion within the course, etc.

Click here to access the interactive map (you can click on each term) of CoI framework and learn more.

garrison_anderson_community_of_inquiry

August 12

#DLNchat: How can digital learning improve outcomes for students?

online_livingroom 011On Tuesday EdSurge, the Online Learning Consortium and Tyton Partners co-hosted the first #DLNchat on Twitter to discuss: “How can digital learning improve outcomes for students?”  A few highlights include:
  • Marisa Dye, instructional designer at Oklahoma State University, shared that digital learning can help remove the social barriers to learning
  • Marilyn Morgan, lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Boston, stressed the importance of aligning incentives to encourage faculty experimentation with digital learning tools
  • Dr. Connie Johnson, provost at Colorado Technical University, emphasized the need for greater interoperability between systems

You can join next time: Mark your calendar for #DLNchats on September 13 and October 11, both at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT. If you’ve never done a Twitter chat before, there’s no need to panic-just browse this primer ahead of time.

Click here for a summary of the Twitter chat on Digital Learning.

August 2

Managing Online Learning: Free Online Courses

IMG_2802FutureLearn and The Open University with partnerships from universities across continents offer a selection of free online courses (with possibilities of gaining certificates too). Here are the five courses listed that can help you understand online learning better – you can recommend it to your students or take a look yourself if interested. Click on each link below to learn more/enroll in the course.

Get Started with Online Learning: This free online course will explain how you can study online without putting the rest of your life on hold.

Learning Online: Learning and Collaborating:Become an effective online learner and develop your online communication skills when working with others.

Learning Online: Managing Your Identity: Reflect on how you want to present yourself online and take positive steps towards these goals.

Learning Online: Reflecting and Sharing: Get the most out of online learning by reflecting and sharing your learning with others.

Learning Online: Searching and Researching: Improve your online research skills and your ability to critically analyze sources of information.

July 29

How to Design Standards-Based Online Courses

David Raths wrote for Campus Technology about two universities that use Quality Matters rubric and how it helped specific faculty members benefit from it.

Bethany Simunich, director of online pedagogy and research at Kent State Online (OH) shares about her institution using QM: “…there are key benefits to designing a whole course upfront. In a face-to-face course, designing and teaching are more merged. You can make more changes on the fly. “With online teaching you have to design it all out ahead of time, and that is the thing that QM helps with so much,” she said. It helps faculty think through not just the pedagogical design, but also about things specific to the online classroom — creating a good course structure and good navigation; inserting the teaching presence into the course; and having students create their own social presence. “I need to purposefully think about all those things before my course begins,” Simunich added. “The QM rubric goes through all of that to make sure I have all the facets of my course. When I design an online course, I think about the entire design before the course begins. When it starts, I concentrate on teaching.”

Read the full article here.

July 12

The Chronicle Vitae: There’s No Such Thing as Asynchronous Teaching

The Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae Columnist Nicole Matos published an insightful and interesting post on teacher presence (presence, timeliness, and responsiveness) in online courses. You can view the full post, but here I will list her main suggestions:

  • Online teaching should be “just-in-time” teaching. Instructors need to be every bit as mindful of timeliness and urgency in an online course as they are in a face-to-face classroom, and maybe even more so. In a traditional classroom, you wouldn’t normally answer a student’s question with, “I’ll get back to you on that in a few days,” or worse, with a sort of blank, unreadable stare (“Did the professor hear me? Do I even exist?”). But that is the impression created when you fail to respond to emails in a timely manner or leave essays sitting unattended in an online folder. Does that mean online instructors need to be on call 24-7? No. It is perfectly acceptable to maintain business hours, or to set your own quirky hours, so long as you communicate those time limits to your students.
  • Remember to both look forward and gesture back. Because different course materials are often sequestered in different folders or on different screens, it is important for online instructors to consciously build bridges between past, present, and future information. To that end:

  1. I frequently provide quick-and-dirty summaries of past topics, both for reinforcement and review: “Discussion so far looks great! We have been talking about such things as why literature is more like biology than you would think, about the Rhetorical Triangle, and about the differences between literary, pragmatic, and pleasure reading.”
  2. Then I might connect that content to new material: “Both the broad question of how you ‘dissect’ a literary text and the interactions of the Rhetorical Triangle lead directly into our reading for Thursday, where we will consider different modes of literary criticism.”
  3. Finally, I might suggest ways to integrate old and new content: “Does it make sense to attempt to map the different schools of literary criticism against the Rhetorical Triangle? That’s an experiment I’ll urge you to try in our next discussion.”
  • Standardize your course schedule. With students checking in at various points, it is up to the teacher to create some moments of unified class time. In online courses, students are generally free to take advantage of looser scheduling, completing assignments on Monday and Wednesday one week, and on Tuesday and Thursday another week. But I strongly recommend that you not take the same liberties in structuring your due dates or grading. I have seen online courses in which due dates were rotated on three-day, four-day, and five-day cycles, to the confusion of all.Instead, I standardize my due dates — discussion posts are due on Tuesdays and Thursdays, all other projects on Fridays by noon, for example… I am as explicit as possible about when exactly I’ll be doing my grading: “I expect to be grading these assignments on Sunday afternoon, so look for my responses then.” If I have to vary my schedule, I announce the change: “I’m a little behind, but will be completing this round of grading on Monday between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.” Such small courtesies matter an extraordinary amount to online students.
June 8

Open Course: Designing and Teaching for Impact in Online Courses

Indiana University is offering a self-paced open and free for all course through Canvas network on DESIGNING AND TEACHING FOR IMPACT IN ONLINE COURSES.

The course started June 6th, but you can enroll anytime. It takes about 2 hours of work per week and you can receive a badge for completion. The course offers help with design and with online teaching. ” It explores the backward design process beginning with learning outcomes, followed by assessments, activities, and content. It also includes topics such as online presence, course structure, usability, visual design, accessibility, multimedia, syllabi, and course management. It is a non-facilitated course where participants can work through the modules at their own pace based on their own needs and interests.”

Course map Canvas credit to Indiana Univeristy Designign and Teaching for Impact in Online CoursesWe would definitely recommend it to those who are interested in the topics mentioned above, and for faculty concerned about offering a quality course online that would support student success.