Many instructors feel that they need to be experts in mathematics in order to understand analytics. But according to John Vivolo, director of online and virtual learning for New York University, every faculty member can learn to use the course analytics available through their LMS to improve student learning.
Discussion boards. Google documents. YouTube videos. TED Talks. Khan Academy. These are just a few of the many resources some of us have used in our ever-growing arsenal of techie tools. We want to stay on the cutting edge. The Online Learning Consortium predicts this trend toward an increased usage of technology will continue into the foreseeable future. So we continue to hone our skills, taking advantage of an ever-increasing array of technological options. We attend conferences, exchange ideas with colleagues, read up on the latest innovations—all in the interest of keeping our teaching on the technology edge. But I sometimes worry that we may have gone over the edge.
A well-organized syllabus is essential for any online course, particularly large online courses. Peggy Semingson, associate professor of literacy studies at the University of Texas at Arlington, teaches online courses to groups of up to 300 to 400 students and finds that the syllabus plays an important role in setting expectations and tone and answering students’ questions.
Faculty generally view texting as the Devil’s work. It distracts students from the lecture—and even from ordinary activities such as eating and walking. But while it’s true that uncontrolled texting in class splits student attention, controlled texting via in-class polling questions can be a great way to reinforce learning. Free systems such as Poll Everywhere (www.polleverywhere.com/) allow you to insert a poll into a PowerPoint presentation that students answer via text messages. The visual of the…
Blogging can be a tool that aids learning. “Blogs provide students with an opportunity to ‘learn by doing’ to make meaning through interaction with the online environment. ...” (p. 398) They provide learning experiences described as “discursive,” meaning, students learn by discussing, which makes blogs a vehicle for knowledge construction. They exemplify active learning and can promote higher-order thinking. Potential outcomes like these give teachers strong incentives to explore their use.
Autonomy is a key ingredient of motivation. Students are motivated by the ability to choose how they accomplish their learning goals. However, not all students are used to having autonomy, which is why it’s important to find ways to make them more comfortable with taking greater control of their learning.
As every instructor knows, whether it’s shouting in class or shouting online, a student’s rude or aggressive behavior can have unfortunate consequences in the classroom. Two online instructors decided to explore how face-to-face classroom management skills can translate to the online environment. Reviewing a series of community college courses, the authors identify four common disruptive behaviors and present a tool kit of proactive measures that instructors can take to facilitate a productive online learning environment.