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First Impressions: Getting off to a Good Start with your Distance Learning Class. Northwest Accounting Educators Conference September 7, 2005 Andy Williams - Edmonds Community College. Workshop Goals. Discuss importance of introductory modules in distance learning classes

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First Impressions: Getting off to a Good Start with your Distance Learning Class

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First Impressions:Getting off to a Good Start with your Distance Learning Class

Northwest Accounting Educators Conference

September 7, 2005

Andy Williams - Edmonds Community College

Workshop Goals

  • Discuss importance of introductory modules in distance learning classes

  • Discuss practices and techniques to qualify students for distance learning classes.

  • Discuss practices and techniques to establish identity, norms and expectations.

  • Focus on teaching and learning through use of technology and electronic media.

Getting off to a Good Start

  • “A person watching a silent two-second video clip of a teacher he or she has never met will reach conclusions about how good a teacher is that are very similar to those of a student who has sat in the teacher’s class for an entire semester.”

  • Malcolm Gladwell, Blink, commenting on a study by psychologist Nalini Ambady

Who are our online students?

  • Goals include professional development and preparation for additional education.

  • They are taking their first formal business courses.

  • They are underprepared. Need to assess technical and educational skill levels.

  • Fully employed with family responsibilities.

  • Need for flexible, not distance learning.

Work-ready Students

The Online Class Process



Expectations & Ground-rules

Objectives & Approach



Retrospective Reflection & Recycling

Student dialog & teacher workload

Techniques: Set-up

Establish Expectations

  • Define assessment criteria and quality guidelines

  • Define and establish consent for community norms, values and practices.

  • “Dress for Online Success”

Techniques: Set-up

Establish Identity

  • “For assessing the reliability of information and the trustworthiness of a confidant, identity is essential. And care of one's own identity, one's reputation, is fundamental to the formation of community.”

    • Judith S. Donath, MIT Media Lab, “Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community”

  • Building trust

  • Building a common frame of reference

Example - Introductory Assignments

  • Introduce yourself to the class by posting a welcome message to the Water Cooler folder. Tell us about yourself and describe a book that you have recently read or is a favorite.

  • Use the Assignment Link to send a word processor file to me with your plan as to how you'll continue uninterrupted participation in the course when your computer breaks and your internet service provider is not available.

  • Complete the Course Survey and post it to the Course Survey folder in the Discussion Forum.

Establishing Identity

Sample Survey and Consent Form

  • Have you taken the self-assessment Are you ready to take an online class? Are you comfortable with the technical requirements for this class?

  • Have you read the letter in the Course Materials that addresses Academic Integrity? Do you accept the ethical requirements for this online course?

  • Are you aware of, and do you accept the participation requirements for this course? Are you aware of, and do you accept the time commitments for this course? Please budget at least fifteen hours per week for focusing on this class.

  • Describe your background in English, mathematics and accounting. Is your background sufficient to satisfy the recommendations for this course?

  • Describe your background and abilities with computer technology. What sort of access do you have to the Internet? Can you download audio and video files? Have you ever purchased anything online?

  • In addition to this class, what other classes are you taking? How many credits? What other responsibilities do you have? (Job, family, etc.)

  • What questions do you have for me, the instructor?

Communication with Students

How to Take This Course

  • “Students who are actively involved in their courses and who accept responsibility for their own learning have a more enjoyable experience and retain more information from the course. Participation is an important part of this course and counts toward your final grade. At a minimum, you should be actively participating three times each week on a consistent basis throughout the week. You will need to check the Discussion Forum and your e-mail frequently, preferably daily…”

And the Research Says…

  • Create a Learning Community among students

  • Promote “5-Way Interaction” between:-Students and Content-Students and other Students-Students and Instructor-Students and Technology-Students and Context

  • Promote interdependence among students

    (Garton, S. (2004) The Iowa Hybrid: The Best of Learning Environments. Paper presented at the 20th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. Madison, WI.)

Techniques for Managing Community

Managing students

  • Motivating students to participate

  • Monitoring student discussions

  • Student-managed discussions

  • Group presentations

  • Off-topic discussions

Managing Discussions: Tips

  • Plan ahead. Use forums and threads deliberately. Seed the discussion.

  • Insist on good grammar and correct spelling.

  • Use clear forum descriptions.

  • Change posting titles in old threads.

  • Cut and paste questions into responses.

  • Delete irrelevant and duplicate posts.

  • Close old forums. Don’t delete.

  • Provide alternate space. (anonymous, rants, off-topic, etc.)

Managing Instructor Workload

Managing Instructor Workload

  • Upfront investment reduces catch-up work.

  • Outsourcing and delegation - SMEs.

  • Laissez-faire vs. censorship.

  • Feedback and assessment.

  • How to stop the conversation!

  • Outreach to non-performers?

Back It Up!

  • Back it up! Take a little time now to back up your hard drive. Files, address book, Internet bookmarks, critical programs, etc. Ten minutes invested now may save a lot of trouble later. I don't know of any scientific research to support, but hard drives tend to fail and laptops tend to be dropped more frequently at the end of the quarter. Murphy's law obtains, and Murphy was an optimist.

  • Also, update your anti-virus software. Make sure that your computer is running the latest versions, and then take the time to scan your machine to make sure that you're clean.

  • Remember the Scout motto ---- “Be Prepared!”

You’re ready for lift off!

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