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:

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.

Cool Ed Tech conferences in 2018-19!

Image of yearly calendar of ed tech conferencesSo 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.

Happy conferencing!

Click here to view/download the conference calendar.

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

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

Webinar recording:

Webinar Recording: Collaborating Live in an Online Environment

Male student studying with computer at 11th floor Thompson libraryWhether you are teaching an online, hybrid, or face-to-face course, at some point during the course you may want to engage with your students synchronously via the Internet.  You may have a remote guest speaker, a need for students to meet in groups, student presentations, you name it.  All of these experiences and more can be done through two OSU supported tools: Collaborations within CarmenCanvas and CarmenConnect.  On September 20th, Jacob Bane and Marcia Ham presented different ways each of these tools could be used to engage with students live outside of the traditional classroom.  Click the following link to view and listen to the recording of the 1-hour webinar:

Please join the Office of Distance Education and eLearning’s DELTA team on October 17th when Dr. Matthew Stoltzfus will present a webinar discussing the topic of metacognition in an online course.

Ten Online Teaching Tips

Faculty working on laptops outside.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?


Supporting Students Online Forum


Photo of staff gathered during the student support forum in March 2017Last month the Office of Distance Education and eLearning hosted a forum that brought together those around campus who are supporting or who would like to support students through digital channels. This event was a time for networking between peers, information sharing of best practices (Writing Center presentation and Adviser panel discussion) and information gathering of the support needed to offer digital resources for students. Twenty staff and faculty members from across the university attended the event. The group represented faculty, student support groups, support staff, and advisers.

To kick off the session, participants were asked the following question: What supporting student’s online scenario keeps you up at night? Their answers varied and are listed below.

  • Students don’t always interpret written instructions the way faculty intend
  • Support for graduate students (Master’s Thesis support)
  • Connecting students to the community through sporting event tickets, etc.
  • Connecting and engaging with students
  • Career development support
  • Student understanding of OSU procedures and deadlines
  • After hours support
  • Keeping online students motivated
  • Students handling of setbacks (e.g. exam failure, family problems, emotional hardships, suicidal thoughts)
  • Data validity

Through conversations during the forum, participants demonstrated interests in finding out more about

  • chat options available for support at the Writing Center;
  • best practices for providing constructive feedback and methods for online students to be successful on written assignments, projects, etc;
  • graduation rates;
  • co-curricular options and support for students.

There were several observations about challenges of supporting students online that the group shared:

  • Students like to work with the same person (advisor)
  • Students like coming to visit campus and feeling part of the student body
  • The misconceptions about the work around online learning is not as bad as it used to be; most students are now familiar with online courses
  • Some student advisers have created a type of “Bingo Sheet” curriculum plan to help students map out their courses
  • A blog can be used to support students and share how they can be involved in the university experience

During the course of conversations, participants gained a greater understanding of the issues to consider and a better familiarity with online student needs such as an awareness of time zones, awareness of the schedules of working adults, special issues of military students, etc. As the forum concluded, attendees identified the following as potential next steps in the effort to support students online:

  • Continue to offer this type of forum on a semester basis to encourage knowledge sharing and gathering
  • Questions to explore:
    • How are various departments leveraging chat features? Can our students do chat with IT help like we can? Are there other uses for chat?
    • How can programs (and ODEE) make use of the data from the student online readiness tool to support students?
    • How could sending a “Student Welcome Package” with Buckeye swag to the homes of new students help them during the “app gap” period?

Stay informed

Stay in touch with ODEE events to be notified of the next Supporting Students Online Forum and other professional learning opportunities by subscribing to the Workshops listserv and/or the Digital Digest.  If you are not a fan of signing up for listservs, you can also see a list of upcoming ODEE events at

Imagine Twitter in Your Online Class!

You may have already seen this nugget circulating online or if you follow Henry Griffy (@Griffy2osu) on Twitter.  For those who haven’t seen it, I thought it was a great place to start thinking about how Twitter can be used creatively in an online class (or a face to face class as well).  “50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom” provides just that.  Although developed with the k-12 classroom in mind, there is no reason these ideas couldn’t also be used in a college class.  In fact, there is also a list of “50 Ways to Use Twitter in the College Classroom”!  As you look over the now 100 ways to use Twitter, consider how other social media outlets could also be used such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.   Another quick tip for Twitter in a Carmen course: You can create a widget on the course homepage that shows the class Twitter feed if you have one set up!  Cool, huh?

Open conversation about teaching and developing online courses

DELTA is offering a virtual Q&A session for online instructors and course developers on May 5 from noon-1:00pm.  The session is an open discussion where attendees can ask questions about teaching online and/or developing their online courses This is a time when attendees can engage in conversation with ODEE instructional designers and colleagues around the university. The session is hosted through CarmenConnect with an audio conference call-in line.  Click here to register for the Q&A session.

Presented by DELTA.