Current Issue: September 1, 2014
When teaching intensive online courses and smaller load courses, it is crucial to create a simple, easily accessible weekly course structure for students. While a simple structure is relevant for all online courses, a disjointed structure in a short-term class can cause students frustration and stress and result in lower enrollment and lower student grades. I don’t want students wasting valuable time searching for course expectations, weekly assignments, or lecture content. I have taught in Desire2Learn and Blackboard, and now primarily use the Moodle learning management system (LMS). Regardless of the LMS used, a simple weekly structure can cut down on wasted student time, repeated student questions, and confusion on assignments.
When designing an online course, it’s important to consider how to create learning experiences that will spark learners’ intrinsic motivation. While different learners may be motivated by different factors, there are several models that can provide useful guidance when you’re designing motivating learning experiences. Two useful models are self-determination theory (developed by Ryan and Deci) and the culturally responsive motivation framework (developed by Ginsburg and Wlodkowski). In an interview with Online Classroom, Rebecca Zambrano, director of online faculty development at Edgewood College, talked about elements of these models and how to apply them to online course design.
Imagine a colleague insisting that his students memorize the URLs of the top 20 websites in his field, as well as keep abreast of any changes in those URLs. Would that make sense? Of course not. Students can find any of those sites through a Google search. There is no reason to remember URLs anymore. Technology has taken that task off our hands, and we are glad that it has. It is more important to teach “information literacy,” which is how to find the proper source when necessary. Yet faculty are doing no better than teaching URLs when they toil over citation mistakes in their feedback to students. Citation software takes the work out of memorizing the host of citation methods out there and keeping updated on their latest versions. These systems can extract bibliographic information from a source automatically, or have the user enter it into fields manually. Once the information is stored, the user can tell the system to export his or her work in whatever citation style is desired.
Online instructors frequently cite email as the biggest distraction in managing their online course workload. Those obnoxious pop-ups or auditory dings announcing new email might as well be a siren call, pulling online instructors away from the work at hand and into a stormy sea of email. The good news is you don’t have to drown in your email. You can implement techniques and strategies to decrease the amount of email you receive from students, as well as manage the email you do receive and respond to it more efficiently and, most important, on your terms!
Students tend to engage with concrete ideas and examples better than they do with abstract concepts. This is why, if you teach a lot of theory, you need to find ways to make your instruction interesting, engaging, and relevant, said Tyler Griffin, assistant professor at Brigham Young University, during his recent Magna Online Seminar, “Online Learning That Lasts: Three Ways to Increase Student Engagement & Retention.”
Would a Hybrid Be More Efficient? Analysis of Class Grades: A Traditional Format vs. One With an Online Component
To learn more about how students learn, I conducted a test of a core subject that I teach. It’s titled “The American Experience,” and it’s a required course for juniors and seniors at LaGrange College. I’ve taught the course using in-class presentation of the material and student discussions of key points and questions posed to the class. I’ve also taught the course in an online format, complete with presentations and podcasts, discussion forums and chats. In both cases, papers are emailed to me. But it is always difficult to compare across classes because my traditional-oriented class tests are of the closed-book, pencil-and-paper variety with a format of multiple-choice questions and short essays for in-person classes, while online exams tend toward essays that are open-book and open-note. The solution was to offer a hybrid course that blended the in-person experience with an online supplement. While attendance would be mandatory, accessing the online materials would be optional. If it was made available, would students utilize the online methods? Would the online material help them in a traditional class?
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