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Good Teaching Practice in Distance Learning. Dr. Steve Broskoske Misericordia University EDU 568 Distance Education and Hybrid Technologies. Outline. Class activity: What is different about teaching at a distance? Best practices for teaching at a distance. Teaching in blended courses.

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Good teaching practice in distance learning

Good Teaching Practice in Distance Learning

Dr. Steve BroskoskeMisericordia University

EDU 568 Distance Educationand Hybrid Technologies


  • Class activity:

    • What is different about teaching at a distance?

    • Best practices for teaching at a distance.

    • Teaching in blended courses.

    • Assessment in distance courses.

    • Writing an effective course syllabus for distance learning.


  • Hands-on activity:

    • Explore PA Online K-12 Schools.

    • Cloud computing.

      • Google Docs

      • Other Google Apps

    • Advanced Web Page work.

Traditional vs distance teaching
Traditional vs. Distance Teaching



Depending on the medium, teachers have few if any visual cues from students on which to react.

Learning community rapport must be fostered by the instructor.

  • Teachers react to visual cues from students, and adjust teaching methods, speed of delivery, etc.

  • Learning community rapport grows due to much social interaction.

Traditional vs distance teaching1
Traditional vs. Distance Teaching



Due to reduced interaction, the teacher must be available for questions and other communication more readily than in-person classes.

  • Teacher sees and interacts with learners at each class session.

Traditional vs distance teaching2
Traditional vs. Distance Teaching

  • Amount of pre-planning and organization.

  • Technical support required by learners.

  • Teacher’s comfort level using technology.

  • Teacher’s ability to use appropriate teaching methods for that medium.

  • Delivery of course materials.

Is distance teaching for you
Is Distance Teaching for You?


Best practices for teaching at a distance
Best Practices forTeaching at a Distance

  • Extensive pre-planning and formative evaluation is necessary.

    • Teachers cannot “wing it.”

    • Distance learners value instructors who are well prepared and organized (Egan, et al., 1991).

Best practices for teaching at a distance1
Best Practices forTeaching at a Distance

  • Provide a well-designed syllabus and presentation outlines (Egan, et al., 1991).

    • Structured note taking, using tools such as interactive study guides, and the use of visuals and graphics as part of the syllabus and presentation outlines contribute to student understanding of the course.

    • Instructors should tailor visuals to the characteristics of the medium and to the characteristics of the learners.

Best practices for teaching at a distance2
Best Practices forTeaching at a Distance

  • Teachers must be properly trained both in the use of equipment and in those techniques proven effective in the distance education environment (Egan, et al., 1991).

Best practices for teaching at a distance3
Best Practices forTeaching at a Distance

  • Learners find learning more effective when:

    • Instructor seems comfortable with the technology.

    • Instructor maintains eye contact with the camera (if the medium permits this).

    • Repeats student questions before answering.

    • Possesses a sense of humor.

Best practices for teaching at a distance4
Best Practices forTeaching at a Distance

  • Provide timely feedback regarding course assignments, exams, and projects (Egan, et al., 1991).

Best practices for teaching at a distance5
Best Practices forTeaching at a Distance

  • Increase interaction:

    • Learner-learner: Learners benefit significantly from their involvement in small learning groups, which provide support, encouragement, and feedback.

    • Instructor-learner: Learners are more motivated if they are in frequent contact with the instructor. More structured contact might be utilized as a motivational tool (Coldeway, et al., 1980).

For some students, distance courses will never offer sufficient interaction as will an in-person course.

Best practices for teaching at a distance6
Best Practices forTeaching at a Distance

  • Instructors usually make class participation a higher percentage of the class grade.

    • Instructor access to the permanent archive of threaded discussions allows more objective grading (quantity and quality).

    • More students at a distance (including shy) are more open to participating in discussions, due to:

      • An initial feeling of anonymity.

      • Lack of physical presence.

      • Absence of many of the usual in-person cues to personality.

(Smith, Ferguson, & Caris, 2001)

Best practices for teaching at a distance7
Best Practices forTeaching at a Distance

  • If a distance course is properly designed, distance courses actually can be more interactive than traditional ones, providing more personal and timely feedback to meet students’ needs than is possible in large, face-to-face courses (Horn, 1994; Hirumi & Bermudez, 1996).

Best practices for teaching at a distance8
Best Practices forTeaching at a Distance

  • Rubric for Assessing Interactive Qualities of Distance Learning Courses (Roblyer & Ekhaml, 2000)

  • Assesses interactivity according to 4 areas.

Robyler & Ekhaml Rubric

Ideas for improving online methods
Ideas for Improving Online Methods

  • Let’s gain some ideas to improve online methodologies:

Improving Use ofDiscussion Boards

Improving Group Work

Explore online resources
Explore Online Resources

  • Explore the following helpful resources:

    • RubiStar (rubrics)

    • QuizStar (quizzes)

    • TrackStar (online “tracks” activities)

    • Assign-a-day (classroom calendar)

Teaching in blended courses1
Teaching in Blended Courses

  • A review of distance course offering institutions reveals:

  • Success in distance courses does not involve a focus on technology. Rather, it involves focusing on pedagogy, instructional quality, and sound instructional decisions.

Teaching in blended courses2
Teaching in Blended Courses

  • “Any educational environment, online or traditional, that permits highly interactive instruction supplemented with practical applications of content provides a framework for successful acquisition of knowledge.”

(Ernst, 2008)

Teaching in blended courses3
Teaching in Blended Courses

  • Comparison of traditional, on-line and hybrid versions of the same course.

    • Outcomes: General equivalence.

    • Active participation: On-line version higher.

    • Overall student performance: Classes are roughly equivalent.

    • Student assessments of instructor and course: Slightly better in the traditional than in the on-line course, but both were better than general university assessments of comparable level courses.

(Vengroff & Bourbeau, 2006)

Teaching in blended courses4
Teaching in Blended Courses

Benefits of In-person

Benefits of Online

Students feel comfortable and safe to participate in online discussions.

More time engaged in learning during the week.

More material for assessment (logs of discussions).

  • Social aspects.

  • Direct access to instructor.

  • Instructor can directly assess student understanding of material (asking and by visual cues).

What to teach in person in a blended course
What to Teach In-person in a Blended Course

  • Delivery requires in-person presentation if:

    • Immediate flexibility.

    • Immediate interaction.

    • Monitoring of pacing.

    • Providing visual or hands-on materials.

Cheating in distance assessment
Cheating in Distance Assessment

  • Unfair retaking of assessments:

    • May be possible for students to retake an assessment multiple times until they do well.

    • Potential server problems:

      • Change system clock.

      • Break connection to server, state they lost connection, and buy time before logging back into exam.

(Rowe, 2004)

Cheating in distance assessment1
Cheating in Distance Assessment

  • Obtain outside help during assessment.

    • From another person in the room.

    • From other people through electronic means.

    • From search engines and other online sources.

  • Getting answers to tests in advance:

    • Low tech: Ask other students about test before taking it.

    • High tech: Utilize spyware to view answers of others.

(Rowe, 2004)

Preventing cheating
Preventing Cheating

  • Include human-proctored traditional paper-and-pencil tests.

  • Restrict networking capabilities and watch security issues.

  • If students take the same assessment at different times, draw questions (and responses to multiple choice) randomly from a large pool and reorder them.

(Rowe, 2004)

Preventing cheating1
Preventing Cheating

  • Compare answers given by students on assessments to find similarities beyond those due to chance.

    • If suspected, offer a second test in essay format.

  • Offer some essay questions (vs. true/false, multiple choice).

(Rowe, 2004)

Ongoing class assessment strategies
Ongoing Class Assessment Strategies

  • Muddiest Point:

    • Ask students to name the one thing they had trouble understanding.

  • Empty Outlines assessment:

    • Ask students to outline a portion of the lecture in a limited amount of time. If results are mixed, ask if students had trouble understanding concepts or just in organizing them.

(Martin, n.d.)

Ongoing class assessment strategies1
Ongoing Class Assessment Strategies

  • One-minute Paper:

    • Ask students to name the most important item they learned in today’s class.

    • Assesses listening and critical thinking.

    • Technique improves as students expect this activity and are prepared for it.

(Martin, n.d.)

Effective syllabus for a distance course
Effective Syllabus for aDistance Course


  • What items should be included in a course syllabus for distance learning?


Effective syllabus for a distance course1
Effective Syllabus for aDistance Course

  • Technical requirements or additional hardware/software needed.

  • Technical support (if available).

  • For blended: Overview of the delivery mode and class meeting information.

  • Course format: study units, reading/viewing assignments, special projects, etc.

Effective syllabus for a distance course2
Effective Syllabus for aDistance Course

  • Calendar showing due dates for assignments and exams, and detailed instructions about how to submit assignments.

  • Faculty-student and student-student communication expectations.

    • Information about how interactions will be conducted (e.g.; discussion boards, chats, instant messaging, voice conferencing, other types of synchronous or asynchronous communication).

Effective syllabus for a distance course3
Effective Syllabus for aDistance Course

  • Expected response times (e.g., emails answered within 24 hours): timeline for when students can expect feedback or grades from assignments and tests.

  • Specific policies on assessment.

  • Academic integrity policy.

Activity elements of an effective distance course syllabus
Activity: Elements of an Effective Distance Course Syllabus

  • What other points should be covered in a syllabus for a distance course? Let’s explore some more through the links below:

Writing a DL Course Syllabus

DL Syllabus Guidelines

Activity elements of an effective distance course syllabus1
Activity: Elements of an Effective Distance Course Syllabus

  • Examine the following syllabi for distance courses. Are all of the important needed elements present?

  • What are your thoughts on presentation?

Sample DL Course Syllabus

Sample DL Course Syllabus

Activity create a rubric
Activity: Create a Rubric

  • Using Rubistar, create a rubric for student participation in an online course (or portion of course if blended).


Hands on



Explore pa online k 12 schools
Explore PA Online K-12 Schools

Pa virtual charter school
PA Virtual Charter School

  • In 8th year. Charter renewed until 2017.

  • Students are provided with computer hardware and software, and tech support to parents.

  • Students who typically attend:

    • Religious reasons.

    • Don’t like their particular school district.

    • Special education students.

  • Educational experience:

    • Students sign into Blackboard every day. Need 900 hours (180 days).

    • No snow days. Have a school calendar.

    • Parents take large responsibility for teaching students.


  • Faculty communication:

    • Hold sessions on Elluminate.

    • Twice a month talk to students for an hour, one-on-one.

    • Group meetings.

    • Hold a discussion with parents every month.

  • Social aspects:

    • Hold proms, parties, and graduation ceremonies regionally.

    • Face-to-face social or educational functions offered often.


  • Make sure that parent is teaching the student: informally assess, practice skill (on Elluminate).

  • Ensure parents are not helping during assessment.

  • Teacher must see student work (either faxed or mailed).

  • Grading: No letter grade given. Instead: mastery, met standard, working to standard.

  • PSSA and Dibels are given face-to-face.

Teaching conditions
Teaching Conditions

  • Teaching and collaboration:

    • High level of collaboration among faculty.

    • Faculty meetings:

      • 3 regional professional developments annually.

      • Weekly faculty meetings.

  • Faculty work conditions:

    • Non-union.

    • Act 48 provided free-of-charge.

    • 8:00 – 4:00 have to be online.

Introduction to cloud computing
Introduction to Cloud Computing

  • Currently:

    • Applications reside on individual PC’s.

  • (Near) Future:

    • Applications will reside on servers on the Internet, and people will utilize these programs vs. using programs that reside on their individual PC.

Introduction to cloud computing1
Introduction to Cloud Computing

  • Benefits:

    • Constant, incremental improvement vs. downloading major updates.

      • Time saved.

      • No major re-learning curve.

      • Eliminates problems of not upgrading.

      • Companies can be responsive to user needs/desires.

    • Reduces problems of program malfunctioning and data loss.

    • Can be less expensive than purchasing and upgrading software.

Introduction to cloud computing2
Introduction to Cloud Computing

Explore Google Docsand Other Applications

Grading and assessment1
Grading and Assessment


  • Participate in discussion board topics.

  • Submit material to a class Wiki, and participate in organizing the listing into a practical, usable resource.

  • Create and add material to a personal blog.

  • Teach a topic of choice (approx. 15 minutes) to 1 or 2 other class members (or to others outside of the class using an online distance learning tool.

  • Participate as a student in at least one other class member’s presentation.

  • Create an audio podcast to provide educational content to students at a distance.

  • Create a Web page for a hypothetical blended course, and link to resources created throughout the course.

Final project
Final Project




Web page for blended course (real or hypothetical)


other technologies


Advanced web page work
Advanced Web Page Work

  • Let’s examine how to put the finishing touches on the Web page for our course project.

Next week
Next Week

  • Introduction to the Promethean Board.

  • Presentations of course projects.