In this series of posts, we’ll ask instructors to describe their experience at the onset of the online GE creation process. Once the semester has finished, we’ll revisit them to see how things went.
Dave Ewoldsen is a creative and engaging scholar and researcher who teaches in both the Communications and Psychology department. He brings a student-centered approach to his classes as well as his work across the university. In his courses, he often teaches his students about theory and challenges them to apply complex concepts within their environments. His student-centered approach is his principal focus as he cultivates his online general education course for fall.
Q: Thinking back to the initial decision to create the online general education courses and your involvement, what were some of your first concerns or questions?
A: I was very concerned about the level of technological support. Obviously, Ohio State has the hardware to carry out this project, but I was not certaine had the personal onboard to help the faculty develop the course content.
I was also concerned about the misperception that online courses allow a professor to more easily teach a large number of students. The reality is that online courses take a lot more faculty time to teach if it is done properly because of the demands placed on the faculty member involving interaction with the students.
Q: One aspect of any online course is the incorporation of technology, and this can happen to varying degrees and in different directions. What decisions about technology are you making (or have you already made)? What questions arose in relation to software and services available?
A: We are trying to use a variety of different ways to teach the course besides the standard talking powerpoint presentation. So we are trying to be creative in how we can use the technology to teach the course.
We are also trying to be creative in how we use the technology to assess students’ learning. The course I am teaching is traditionally a large lecture course where the major assessment involves tests. In the past, tests and quizzes have accounted for up to 95% of the grade in the class. With the online course, tests and quizzes will still be important, but they will account for about 1/3 of the final grade. Students will also be expected to actively participate on discussion boards and to aid in the construction of a class wiki that will highlight many of the topics covered across the semester. Students will be required to go beyond the classroom for the wiki assignment with the goal of instilling in the students a sense of how they can find more in depth materials for the course as well as integrate the material that they found with other people’s ideas.
Q: What do you hope to see happen in the course when it begins in the fall that will differ from a traditional course?
A: The online format should allow students to elaborate more on the course content and to learn how to integrate the theories they are learning into their day-to-day lives. These skills will be a much larger part of the online course than they ever could be in the face-to-face course with 400 or more students.
Q: What would be your advice to other instructors and professors who are just beginning the process of converting a traditional course into an online course?
A: Get rid of the misconception that teaching an online course is easier than a face-to-face course. But on the other hand, I find that online courses open up many possibilities for creatively engaging the students. But in developing an online course, you have to start early. Also, to take full advantage of the online format, it is important to understand that creating an online course is not simply recording your face-to-face lectures. There is so much that you can do in an online format to engage the students.