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Practical Ideas, Tips & Best Practices to Enhance Online Courses. Mava Wilson, PhD Associate Professor of CIS Lee University. Introduction. Teaching online since mid-nineties Designed several online courses Teach one or two online courses per semester Current project

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practical ideas tips best practices to enhance online courses

Practical Ideas, Tips & Best Practices to Enhance Online Courses

Mava Wilson, PhD

Associate Professor of CIS

Lee University

introduction
Introduction
  • Teaching online since mid-nineties
  • Designed several online courses
  • Teach one or two online courses per semester
  • Current project
    • Administrator for university’s Computer Literacy course
    • Converted to online Fall 2011
    • Less than 250 students Fall 2011 (6 sections)
    • Greater than 375 students Spring 2012(8 sections)
presentation overview
Presentation Overview
  • Design Tips & Guidelines
    • Beforecontent is developed
    • Before classroom is designed
  • Be Prepared
  • Practical ideas for success
    • Necessary content
    • Useful information
    • First-day & first two-weeks
  • Practical pointsand best practices
    • Personal experience
    • Research

Goal: stress free / rewarding beginning

assumptions about presentation audience
Assumptions about Presentation Audience
  • Using Course Management System (CMS)
    • Moodle, Blackboard, Sakai
  • Main focus is asynchronous course
  • Course content expert and have “seated” course content designed and developed
online instructor very important
Online Instructor - Very important
  • To feel prepared!
  • To feel confident about your online classroom
  • To convey a positive presence
  • To set desired tone through your communication

Your goal is to:

  • To promote class community
  • To assist students to feel confident
  • To enable student’s learning
important design tips
Important Design Tips
  • What do you want your students to learn?
  • What are the course goals & objectives?
  • What do you want them to walk away with?

KEEP the above in mind as you design your materials

  • Start with end results
  • Plan/Build your course backwards
  • THEN… Everything should be included
design guideline one decide
Design Guideline One - Decide
  • Will your students work at a set class pace?
    • design with open/close dates
  • OR can students work ahead?
    • design with everything open then have close/due dates
  • Questions to ask… course content will help determine answers:
    • Discussions required?
    • Group work required?
design guideline two decide on
Design Guideline Two – Decide on
  • Weekly format or topical format - Questions to ask…
    • Will students read & view assignments, participate in weekly discussions, and complete assessments on weekly basis?
    • OR completed by due dates?
  • Something to remember
    • Online courses are taken for many reasons
      • Convenience
      • Work schedule
      • Family responsibilities

Scheduling as seated course may not be optimal

design guideline two cont
Design Guideline Two cont.
  • Content grouped together by week or topic
    • Lecture, videos, PP
    • Readings, discussion forum, grading rubric
    • Homework assignments & dropboxes
    • Quizzes / Tests
  • Grouping by content typemay be confusing – DON’T group
    • ALL lectures together
    • All PP’s together
    • All quizzes and/or tests together

Logical design will eliminate confusion and questions

design guideline three determine
Design Guideline Three – Determine
  • Format of instruction and assignments
    • Textbook readings / online links
    • Formal lectures via PP or demonstrations or recordings
    • Homework assignments / papers
      • Submission format
    • Projects
    • Discussion forums
design guideline four determine
Design Guideline Four – Determine
  • Format of assessments
    • Multiple choice / true-false tests
      • Monitored
        • determine who will monitor and setup arrangements
      • OR via online classroom testing with timed testing
        • test with open/close dates & times
    • projects – open book
    • reports/papers
    • Combination / Other formats
design guideline five determine
Design Guideline Five – Determine
  • Communication policy
    • be very clear in letting the students know policy
    • require Subject to distinguish class email from all other email.
      • CISS 100 Question
      • CISS 101 – help with Excel
  • Extremely important that students feel your presence - that
    • YOU are there
    • other students are there
    • be specific and communicate expectations
  • Set YOUR time limits
    • Consider setting software rule for email to automatically go to folder to “organize” class messages (easy to find, access, and answer)
design guideline five cont decide on
Design Guideline Five cont. - Decide on
  • Email communication
    • answer within 24 hours except weekends (communicate this to students)
    • acknowledge questions quickly even if you respond with a “get back with you by ????” message
  • Provide answers to FAQs in a forum – anticipate questions
    • will prevent multiple email/questions
  • Office hours discussion forum
    • provide answers quickly
  • Schedule online weekly/daily office hours via email/chat
    • Important that students know you’re available and answer questions immediately
  • Phrase communication very clearly and explicitly
    • Wording of messages is very important
    • Communicates/sets tone between the instructor and student
      • Casual / Informal / Formal / etc…
design guideline six establish
Design Guideline Six – Establish
  • Online Learning Environment Student and Instructor Roles
    • Advantages
    • Disadvantages
    • Instructor’s Role
    • Student’s Role
    • Instructor and Student Rules
design guidelines one to six
Design Guidelines One to Six
  • Guideline One – Decide if students will work at Class Pace or can Work Ahead
  • Guideline Two – Decide what format you will have in your class… Weekly format or topical format
  • Guideline Three – Determine the Format of the instruction and assignments
  • Guideline Four – Determine the Format of the assessments
  • Guideline Five – Determine your Communication Policy
    • Students need to FEEL your presence
  • Guideline Six – Establish Online Learning Environment Student and Instructor Roles
gather convert develop
Gather, Convert, Develop

Gather Content

Convert & Develop

  • Syllabus
  • Book information
  • Handouts
  • Homework Assignments
  • Discussions
  • Projects
  • Assessments
  • Save in Central Location
  • Convert to PDFs
  • Convert to HTML
  • Write discussion questions
  • Find links & online sources
  • Develop material
building online classroom be prepared
Building Online Classroom - Be Prepared
  • Walk through everything
    • First day’s steps
    • Class links – test
    • Discussion forums
    • Read/View All content
      • Syllabus
      • Handouts
      • Videos
      • PPs
      • Dropboxes (place to turn in assignments)
building online classroom be prepared1
Building Online Classroom - Be Prepared
  • Look at online classroom from student’s point of view
    • Change CMS to student view
    • Use “dummy” student account
  • Anticipate and answer questions about
    • Format
    • Content
    • Grading policy
    • Due dates
    • Discussion requirements
slide20

Wait a day or two…

Examine Again

Will Always find Something to Clarify

necessary content for first day
Necessary Content for First Day
  • Syllabus
  • Clear grading policy
  • Book information and other required course materials
    • Location to purchase or acquire
  • Course Schedule
    • Very detailed with no room for questions
  • Contact Information
    • Email response policy
    • Online “office hours” -- students can expect immediate reply
      • Email OR chat during certain hours/certain days
necessary content for first day cont
Necessary Content for First Day cont.
  • Getting Acquainted discussion forum – students should
    • Introduce themselves
    • State reason for taking class
    • Read/respond to others postings
    • Will create community or a “I’m not so alone” feeling
  • Minimum of three to four weeks of class content – preferably the WHOLE course content (last weeks can be tweaked)
    • Lectures (including PPs, videos)
    • Assignments (including readings, homework, projects, papers)
    • Discussions
    • Assessments
useful information to include
Useful Information to Include
  • Instructions on forwarding email
    • Student’s convenience and success
  • Alternate technology use
    • PCs versus MACs
      • Policies
      • Issues that may arise
      • Where to go for help
  • Technology help contact information
    • CMS issues
    • Email issues
useful information cont
Useful Information cont…
  • Student FAQ
    • Last day to drop/add
    • Withdrawal date
    • Last day of class
  • Technology definitions and how-tos (especially freshmen courses)
    • How to submit to dropbox
    • How to post/reply to discussion forum
    • How to communicate with other students
  • Lock/unlock CMS content based on completion
    • Lock Assignments until Course Agreement is read
    • Use school CMS technology expert to design
    • Validates that students have read/viewed Course Info
before first day
Before First Day
  • Email your students – message should include
    • Welcome to Class
    • Course Access
    • First day’s requirements
    • Class expectations
    • Student’s confirmation for correct course/section
  • Message format and wording sets class tone for semester
    • Formal
    • Informal
    • Casual
during first two weeks
During First Two Weeks
  • Confirm new students in class
    • Check formal roll vs course roll
    • Send out email messages to new students
    • Ensure that first assignments are complete
  • Monitor students first assignment completion
    • Good beginning is essential for positive experience
    • Slow beginning usually brings negative ending
  • Encourage and emphasize teacher presence
    • Class emails & Course announcements
    • Participation in discussions
    • Positive reinforcements
practical points
Practical Points

Practical Point #1: Students expect instructor to be available 24/7

Practical Point #2: With current Instructor technology – smart phones, iPads, etc. learn to ignore email “dings” and impulse to answer

  • If you answer, will set expectation of immediate email response

Practical Point #3: Set CLEAR guidelines for answering student email

  • Answer email within 24 hours during week
  • May answer email over weekend – but do not expect
  • Mayanswer email at night – but do not expect
practical points1
Practical Points

Practical Point #4: Online teaching is not less time consuming

  • Time spent before course begins
  • Time spent in communicating
  • Time spent in maintenance
  • Time spent in grading

Practical Point #5: Online teaching is not less work

  • All material is written OR designed / presented for asynchronous delivery
  • After 2 or 3 iterations course building will be less
  • Always changes/updates to be made
practical points2
Practical Points

Practical Point #6: Online teaching can be very rewarding

  • More community – with classmates in today’s techy format
  • Know students personally via email and forums
  • Students get more “one-on-one” from faculty via written communication

Practical Point #7: Online teaching can be very convenient (for a faculty member)

  • Can do office hours from home
  • Can create materials from wherever
  • Can actually “teach” class from anywhere
slide30

the busyness of online teaching can be offset by

the convenience of doing it on MY schedule &

the reward of student success

10 principles of effective online teaching best practices in distance education
10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education

Principle #1: Show up and Teach

Principle #2: Practice Proactive Course Management Strategies

Principle #3:Establish Patterns of Course Activities

Principle #4: Plan for the Unplanned

Principle #5:Response Requested and Expected

Principle #6: Think Before you Write

Principle #7: Help Maintain Forward Progress

Principle #8: Safe and Secure

Principle #9: Quality Counts

Principle #10: (Double) Click on a Mile on My Connection

Ragan, L. C. (nd). 10 principles of effective online teaching: best practices in distance education. Special Education Report . Magna Publication. Retrieved from www.facultyfocus.com

slide32

Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online (Judith V. Boettcher, 2011)

compared to

Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education(Chickering, & Gamson, 1987)

Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever (Chickering & Ehrmann, 1996)

Seven Principles of Effective Teaching: A Practical Lens for Evaluating Online Courses (Graham, Cagiltay, Lim, Craner & Duffy, 2001)

seven principles of good practice compared with ten best practices2
Seven Principles of Good Practice Compared with Ten Best Practices

4. Good practice gives prompt feedback

Teachers need to provide two types of feedback: information feedback and acknowledgment feedback

Best Practice 1: Be Present at the Course Site

Best Practice 2: Create a supportive online course community

Best Practice 3: Share a set of very clear expectations for your students and for yourself as to (1) how you will communicate and (2) how much time students should be working on the course each week

Best Practice 6: Early in the term - about week 3, ask for informal feedback on "How is the course going?" and "Do you have any suggestions?"

seven principles of good practice compared with ten best practices3
Seven Principles of Good Practice Compared with Ten Best Practices

5. Good practice emphasizes time on task

Online courses need deadlines

Best Practice 3: Share a set of very clear expectations for your students and for yourself as to (1) how you will communicate and (2) how much time students should be working on the course each week

seven principles of good practice compared with ten best practices4
Seven Principles of Good Practice Compared with Ten Best Practices

6. Good practice communicates high expectations

Challenging tasks, samples cases, and praise for quality work communicate high expectations

Best Practice 8: Focus on content resources and applications and links to current events and examples that are easily accessed from learner's computers

Best Practice 9: Combine core concept learning with customized and personalized learning

seven principles of good practice compared with ten best practices5
Seven Principles of Good Practice Compared with Ten Best Practices

7. Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning

Allowing students to choose project topics incorporating diverse views into online courses

Best Practice 5: Use both synchronous and asynchronous activities

Best Practice 9: Combine core concept learning with customized and personalized learning

Best Practice 10: Plan a good closing and wrap activity for the course

Chickering & Gamson (1987), Chickering & Ehrmann(1996),

Graham, Cagiltay, Lim, Craner, & Duffy, (2001) & Boettcher (2011)

slide39

Online Teaching isn’t sodifferent from Seated Classroom Teaching

Classroom Medium is the Difference

resources
Resources

Faculty Focus – Focused on Today’s Higher Education Professional

http://www.FacultyFocus.com

  • Sign up for free newsletter & free reports

Recent Topics:

  • Creating Effective Responses to Student Discussion Postings (June 2, 2011)
  • Tips and Tricks for Teaching in the Online Classroom (Sept 19, 2011)
  • Teach like it’s 1990: Online Teaching Fundamentals are always in Style (Oct 21, 2011)
  • Practical Advice for Going from Face to Face to Online Teaching (Feb 9, 2012)
slide41

Questions?

Mava Wilson, PhD

mwilson@leeuniversity.edu

references
References
  • Boettcher, J.V. (2011). Ten best practices for teaching online: quick guide for new online faculty. Designing for Learning Website. Retrieved from http://www.designingforlearning.info/services/writing/ecoach/tenbest.html
  • Boettcher, J.V. & Conrad, R.M. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, A. Wiley Imprint.
  • Chickering, A.W. & Ehrmann, S.C. (1996). Implementing the seven principles: technology as lever. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 49(2), 3-6. Retrieved from http://www.aahea.org/bulletins/articles/sevenprinciples.htm.
  • Chickering, A.W. & Gamson, Z.F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 39 (7), 3-7. Retrieved from http://www.aahea.org/bulletins/articles/sevenprinciples1987.htm.
  • Graham, C. R., Cagiltay, K., Lim, B.-R., Craner, J., & Duffy, T. M. (2001, March/April). Seven principles of effective teaching: A practical lens for evaluating online courses. The Technology Source, Retrieved from http://media.tcc.fl.edu/distance/ecourse2/QM_intro/SevenPrinciplesEffectiveTeaching.pdf
  • Ragan, L. C. (no date). 10 principles of effective online teaching: best practices in distance education. Special Education Report . Magna Publication. Retrieved from www.facultyfocus.com
  • The Hanover Research Council-Academy Administration Practice (2009, July). Best practices in online teaching strategies. Washington DC.
other references
Other References
  • Abramson, G., Bibeau, S., Birrell, S., Lundy, J.L., Norton, M., Star, L. & Toral, P. (2001). Practicing the Skills of Online Communication. In J. Price et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2001 (pp. 2829-2834). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
  • Abramson, G.,Bibeau, S., Cohen, D., Maas, B., Norton, M., Scalese, E., Smith, W. & Star, L. (2001). Learning to teach, train, and mentor online. Proceedings of SALT Educational Technology 2001. Arlington, VA, July 25, 2001.
  • Norton, M. (2001, Winter). Plan of an online learning environment: certificate in computer technology for ministers. Journal of Instruction Delivery Systems, 15(1).
  • Norton, M.F. (2001, Summer). Teaching in the virtual classroom. Journal of Instruction Delivery Systems, 15(3), 21-25.
  • Norton, M.F., Wolfe, D.R. & Havens, S. (1999, April). Managing classes when the classes are online. Presentation at New Horizons 1999 Harnessing Technology for an Effective Workforce. Richmond, VA.