As we close out 2018 and plan for the new year, I like to reflect back on teaching successes and challenges from the past year that can help me improve my teaching practices in my courses for the next year. Except for a few guest lecture spots, most of my teaching has been online since 2008. During this time I can say that I have become very aware of the definite similarities between face-to-face courses and online courses. The most significant similarity being capacity for making connections between instructor and students – and among students themselves – that can be fostered through class discussions. Of course, that is where the differences – and challenges – reside as well. Fostering those interpersonal connections while advancing learning in an online course takes strategic and significant effort on the part of the instructor – especially in the first few weeks as we get students acclimated to the learning environment and our expectations.
I could go on however, I am going to share the article “10 Tips for Effective Online Discussions” by Edwige Simon, Director of the Graduate Certificate in Language Teaching with Technology at the University of Colorado Boulder. Simon shares her experiences leading and managing discussions in her online courses along with a document that she uses to communicate discussion expectations and grading criteria to students.
Feel free to share your thoughts, reactions, and ideas about Simon’s article and online discussions below. I wish you best of luck as you prepare for your next semester of classes in 2019!
How many of us, in the development of our online courses, have wondered exactly when to include video, what type of video to include so that learning is positively impacted, and then how to create the video needed? In our most recent webinar, ODEE’s Jason Connelly, Instructional Designer for Distance Education, presented on how we can go about addressing such questions when planning to integrate video in our instruction. You can view and listen to the webinar recording by clicking the following link, The When, Why, & How of Creating Video for Instruction, or copying and pasting into the address bar of your web browser: http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p2fjyrgyhtg/.
Join us on November 27th from 12:00 – 1:00pm when Anna Brady of the Dennis Learning Center will present on strategies for maximizing motivation of students in an online course.
So here it is everyone! One calendar to show them all – all the hot conferences in education technology that are coming up in the next year starting this summer. If you are curious about one or some that you haven’t been to, reply to this post with your question and we’ll be happy to give a description of what it’s like to attend as many of the folks here at ODEE have experienced many of the listed conferences.
As someone who has taught online university courses since 2009 and taught high school level social studies for 13 years before that, I have met many colleagues who share similar experiences teaching. One commonality? Academic integrity is something we all strive to promote in our courses yet still find elusive in some respects. We try different methods for monitoring student activity in Canvas tests and quizzes and we develop writing assignments that are more authentic in nature in hopes that we get an authentic product from our students as a result. I came across this short article offering up three other strategies we can implement in our courses to help alleviate plagiarism. If you have any strategies that have worked well for you, whether online or face-to-face, please feel free to share them in reply to this post.
In this webinar, Dr. Brian Lower and his team, Kylienne Shaul and Ella Weaver, talked about some of the steps they have taken to develop a deeply engaging large online course, ENR2100: Introduction to Environmental Sciences. They will especially describe how they have used writing-based assessments and peer-review processes to enable students to think more deeply about the material and extend their understanding through interaction (in both on-ground and online versions of the course).
2013 in-person ENR Poster Session, the inspiration for a virtual poster session assignment that helps drive student engagement in the large course. For more information and examples of student work, visit https://u.osu.edu/environmentalsciencesymposium/
As an online instructor who has been teaching in this mode since 2009, I am always keeping an eye out for strategies other online instructors use in their courses to make the learning experience more engaging for students while also maintaining the instructors sanity. Preservation of our mental faculties is important if we are to be effective instructors. To this end, I thought I would share a short article I came across the other day that highlights ten strategies you may or may not be using in your online classes to help manage the grading load and communicate with students: Ten Online Teaching Tips You May Not Have Heard. While I admit that some of the tips given I am skeptical about jumping on board with immediately, others are strategies I’ve used that have helped out tremendously (creating a forum, rubrics, etc…). Take a look through the article and see if you notice a strategy you might like to try out the next time you teach an online course. After all, we don’t know how a strategy will work until we try it, right?
It is well-established in the lore of online instructors and those who support them that lecture-centered teaching is not as effective as almost any other kind. Who wants to share the road with young drivers who only ever heard about how to steer but never got to try it yet? Who wants to be the first patient of a surgeon who got a solid B on all the quizzes but has not yet seen blood? Proper learning must include lots of opportunity for students to put their hands (and minds) to work. People learn by doing not listening. Humans can only pay attention to lectures for 10 minutes before losing attention, less online. (What is the longest cat video you ever watched? And cat videos are intrinsically awesome.)
It makes intuitive sense. But this is a university; we do evidence, not intuition. (And use semi-colons is obscure but technically acceptable ways.) As I was reminded recently by a colleague during a consultation, it’s not enough to be correct in academia. One must also share one’s bibliography.
So what is the evidence for the lecture lore?
The list below is intended to begin to answer that question by listing a few of the broadest, clearest, most influential, and most evidentiary write-ups on the subject. Thus, I will also include a request: if you have a bibliography you like to use — or even just a compelling research publication or persuasive presentation not included here — please add it in the comments below.
Eric Mazur, “Confessions of a Converted Lecturer,” University of Maryland, Baltimore County, uploaded 12 November 2009
If you are teaching, you are almost by definition an expert researcher, which can make it difficult (ironically) to provide clear guidance to novice researchers, such as your students. Steps in the process that you complete so automatically that you may have stopped noticing that you are doing it — such as framing clear research questions and ignoring useless and misleading sources — can be serious obstacles for your students.
In this webinar Chris Manion (Writing Across the Curriculum coordinator at the OSU Center for the Study of Teaching and Writing) and Amanda Folk (head of Teaching and Learning at the OSU Libraries) discussed straightforward steps you can take and resources you can make use of in your course to help your students conduct purpose-driven research that will extend and feed their learning.
So the joke from Spinal Tap has worn a bit thin, I realize, but this is such an excellent resource that I’m not too worried about needing the perfect hook.
Namely, Faculty Focus has published an end-of-the-year Top 11 Teaching and Learning Articles, which seems like a perfect occasion to direct your attention to this high-quality resource. I also recommend that you sign up for their free newsletter (aka, listserv), which you can do via the form on the right side of their page.
The Faculty Focus newsletter provides a judicious and manageable stream of e-mails with brief but insightful (and minimally booster-ish*) explanations of advice about teaching. Articles usually emphasize issues specific to online but always address them with a mindset that remembers that learning and teaching retain some fundamental identities whatever the medium. It is neither the be-all nor the end-all of teacher PD, but I find it to be a useful regular occasion to re-learn or re-think.
*While “less booster-ish,” their free newsletter does recommend paid services from time to time.
If you have similar resources you find particularly helpful, please recommend them in the comments below, along with a brief explanation of why you find them useful.
Happy post-Thanksgiving everyone! If you are like me, you are still recovering from over-eating wonderful food and, of course, a an edge of your seat game on Saturday. Whew!
Now that I’m back at work, reading through emails and checking Twitter posts, I have come across a post by the director of the Office of Education Technology at the U.S. Dept. of Education, Joseph South. He discusses what transformative learning is and how technology can be used to empower teachers and students through transformative learning experiences. Although there is a certain k12 slant to his perspective, much of what he discusses is easily relatable to higher education whether we are talking about face-to-face, hybrid, or online modes of course delivery. I’d like to share South’s post with you and gather your thoughts on how you have or are thinking of using technology to engage your students in transformative experiences. Click here to read South’s article.