Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Looking for teaching online advice

I am looking for advice from those who have way more experience than me. On Friday, November 12th I start a class with 60 new academic directors.  They are from all over the country. The class meets via WebEx 12 times from November - June and online.  There is probably so much you can tell me. Maybe you could share 1 or 2 things that you think I should do to best facilitate the learning of my students. Thank you so much for your insights.  I will keep you posted on how it goes.



  1. 1. Have learners develop ground rules for both the online portion and any web-conferencing, particularly the web-conferencing to ensure everyone is fully engaged.

    2. Maintain regular and structured activities between web-conferences in the online portion. The majority of learners have complicated lives and will wait towards the end of a deadline to get things done. Keep this in mind if you want collaboration to occur.

  2. Thanks Trey for your insight. I like your ground rule idea. I am concerned about how best to meet the needs of such a larger group. You are right, these folks are VERY busy. The capstone assessment is a portfolio. The assignments are suppose to be artifacts for the portfolio. Maybe I should ask to see a version of their portfolio before it is due.

    I have received some great feedback by e-mail. I will summarize that and share on the blog.

    I hope you are doing well. If you haven't connected to Marc I would recommend you do that soon. He has some good news to share. Marc has also been helping me learn Captvate and Twitter. I am very gratiful. I Hope all is well with you and your family


  3. Here is a summary of the great advice I received about teaching online. Thank you SO much. I have already put some of these ideas to work and others are in the works. I can’t tell you how valuable it was to hear from you. As far as my first WebEx…. It didn’t go all that smooth. I don’t think I caused any permanent damage. But if Bjork is correct, see quote below, the difficulties I have encountered will ultimately result in my enhanced long-term performance. One can only hope.
    1. Prompt responses to any communication. Consistent and timely interaction/participation/feedback by the instructor in the discussions and course (posting regular announcements, for example) to keep everyone feeling connected and on-target.
    2. Quick turn around on grading
    3. Post the online calendars of multiple courses to help you keep track.
    4. Have a presence in the online discussions but not a dominant one.
    5. Ways to utilize WebEx (synchronous, instructor-student and student to student interaction)
    a. Consider using the Grouping feature in WebEx for brainstorming or other group activities.
    b. Bring in experts to present and to field student questions.
    6. A detailed syllabus delivered 1 week in advance.
    7. Well organized learning plans: what to read/view and where, what assignments are and how to submit them, etc.
    8. A discussion board where course related questions can be answered once.
    9. Build in opportunities to share with peers: questions, concerns, and advice/experience or best practices.
    10. Examples. Students like it when you can show them an example of a product you want them to produce. This seems to be especially important in a class where you are not face to face present-there is some communication lost even when extremely explicit, but being able to show them (through a Jing presentation or a copy of a good example) seems to really help.
    11. Have the learners dev ground rules for both the online and we conferencing portion.
    12. Maintain regular and structured activities between web-conference and online portion.

    “It has been demonstrated in a variety of ways, and in a variety of motor, verbal and problem solving tasks, that introducing variability and or unpredictability in the training environment causes difficulty for the learner but enhances long term performance and the ability to transfer the training to novel task environment” (p. 181). Bjork, D.R. (1994) Memory and metamemoryL Considerations in the training of human beings. In J. Metcalfe & A.P. Shimamura (Eds.), Metacognition: Knowing about knowing (pp. 185-205). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  4. One thing that I have always had a problem with in the online classroom is the feeling of connectedness. It always feels like the class come much more 'prepackaged' than a traditional class, and thus I felt more distant from the teacher (and the other students.)

    I don't really know how to make online teaching feel less 'prepackaged' except for the synchronous part - if you are using WebEx, you will be able to get real-time feedback. Is your whole class being done synchronously? Or asynchronously? Or a combination?

    If it is asynchronous, one thing to try to overcome is the feeling that there are 'hurdles' for the student to go through in order to meet the minimum goals. I know - I am getting a huge collective 'sigh' from Karen and Trey as I write this... I never felt like I was learning when I was jumping through the hurdles - so when did I learn? When I was engaged. So - how do you get the learners engaged? THAT is the question. I like a lot of the points that you have already shared with Beth - I think the idea of having them share the portfolio with Beth as they are preparing it would be a great way to make a 'real' connection.