Tips for Effective Online Discussions

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!

Webinar: “The When, Why, & How of Creating Video for Instruction”

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.

Register for Maximizing Motivation webinar here.

AccessEDU Episode 7 – Rahim Abdi

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Episode 7 – Rahim Abdi

“We want to remove access barriers, right? So, we don’t want to lessen the experience for anyone else. We just want to ensure an equivalent experience for users with disabilities. So more often than not we end up with a much more accessible and much more usable product [for everyone].

In this episode of AccessEDU, your host interviews Rahim Abdi, an accessibility analyst and homegrown expert to learn more about the technical side of accessibility.

Referenced in this episode:

Read a transcript of episode 7

 

AccessEDU Episode 6 – Margaret Price

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Episode 6 – Margaret Price

“The fact that a book is all stuck together in one piece, in a sense, is an adaptive technology because otherwise we would probably lose pages … If we start thinking of all features of technologies, whether they’re print technologies or digital technologies as adaptive for some reason, then students start to get really excited and interested.”

In this episode of AccessEDU, your host interviews Margaret Price, a professor in the disability studies program at OSU. She shares insights into her strategies for making her classroom more inclusive.

Referenced in this episode:

Read a transcript of episode 6

Strategies for Curtailing Plagiarism

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.

Article link: Keys to Stopping Plagiarism

ODEE DELTA Webinar Recording (4/5/2018): “They Know, They Care”: Recovering Struggling Students in the Online Context (Audrey Begun and Jennie Babcock)

photograph of a lifeguard in a lifeguard stand on a beach near sunset or sunrise, with empty beach to the right of the picture, taken from behind, very scenic

Lifeguard by Md. Shafiul Alam Chowdhury

Recording available at http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p4hzrdo7e7v/

It is easy (well…) to tell when a student in your in-person class is struggling: you can see their detachment, their boredom, their sleeping, their scowling, their sadness, their confusion, their disappointment. Online courses don’t provide the same access. In some cases, an instructor may never lay eyes on a particular student. So how does a person even know that a student needs help?  And when you know, what can you do about it?  Are we compelled simply to write off some percentage of our online students as lost sheep?

Dr. Audrey Begun and Dr. Jennie Babcock offer some concrete strategies to resist that fatalism in this webinar (recorded Thursday, April 5, 2018).  Drawing on their years of experience in teaching and advising, as well as insights and methodology from the discipline of Social Work, they describe four domains of specific steps instructors can take to reduce the likelihood students will start to struggle, recognize quickly when it is happening, and intervene usefully.

Recording available at http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p4hzrdo7e7v/

What is Digital Flagship? (webinar recording)

Last week we were excited to host Cory Tressler from ODEE for a webinar discussion about Digital Flagship.  He explained what it is and how it will impact the university and paused for Q/A throughout.  If you were unable to attend the webinar live, below is a link to the webinar recording.  (Please pardon the abrupt start of the recording as the preliminary introductions were inadvertently cut off.)

If you have any questions about Digital Flagship, please email digitalflagship@osu.edu.

Webinar recording: http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p85i2euixuw/

AccessEDU Episode 5 – Anna Voelker

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Episode 5 – Anna Voelker

“[Astronomy] is just completely full of mystery that scientists get to constantly investigate. In terms of accessibility, what really kickstarted it was a class here at Ohio State, called Shakespeare and Autism.”

In this fifth episode of AccessEDU, Megan interviews Anna Voelker, a senior at OSU who was recently awarded the President’s Prize to complete a project at the intersection of astronomy and accessibility.

Referenced in this episode:

Read a transcript of episode 5

Webinar Recording: Metacognition Online (10/17/2017)

Webinar recording available at: http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p5517xb3ik4/

To update the old adage: teaching a person to fish is great and all — certainly better than giving them fish — but what if we could do better?  What do you call it if you teach them how to get constantly better at fishing?  How to judge their own fishing skills honestly and make intelligent choices about where to focus their efforts?  How to make use of research about the feeding patterns of fish populations to avoid wasting effort and maximizing returns?

Ok, that’s probably enough with that metaphor. 🙂

In the DELTA webinar hosted on October 17, 2017, Dr. Matthew Stoltzfus (Chemistry) described the cutting-edge practices he has adapted from research-driven guides (like Saundra McGuire’s Teach Students How to Learn) and developed to intervene effectively with the mostly-lower-level students in his Introduction to Chemistry courses.  Beginning with the simple (but oft-overlooked) recognition that there are different levels of understanding and proceeding through an array of proven strategies, Dr. Fus helps students understand precisely what new ways of thinking college will demand of them (that high school did not) and how they can take concrete steps to grow those new wings.*

 

*The growing of wings being the ultimate goal of learning, according to Plato’s Allegory of the Chariot.

Webinar Recording: A Beginner’s Guide to the Ohio State eLearning Toolset (8/31/2017)

View the recording at http://carmenconnect.osu.edu/p458d5horg7/

You know the old saying, “When all you have’s a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail”?  Back when I started with ODEE (before it was ODEE), that was nearly true of the tools available to instructors at Ohio State: there was Carmen and there was CarmenWiki.  Since then the toolset has grown like the pit crew for a NASCAR team, and there is no longer just a single way to do most things.  To help sort through the options and provide a high-level map of what-all systems are available for free to every instructor at Ohio State, our colleague Valerie Rake stopped by the studios at Mount Hall on August 31, 2017 to present a basic explanation and illustration for each system, as well as details about how to get help getting started.