Social Cues in the Online Classroom

In a recent New York Times article, researchers point out that popular self-paced “brain training” programs have not been demonstrated to improve performance in school or work (DeSteno, Breazeal, and Harris 2017). They chalk up the problem to the lack of social cues in online teaching, such as facial expressions and voice inflections, which are a fundamental part of human interaction.

Tips from the Pros: Librarians are the Forgotten Course Design Resource

Most institutions provide instructional design teams to support faculty in creating online courses. At my institution, each department has an assigned instructional designer, and most faculty members consider designers to be an indispensable part of the course development process. The same cannot be said for librarians, however, as my experience has been that most instructors view librarians as valuable sources of resources but not as actual resources themselves.

The Purpose of Educational Technology Is Interactivity

I recently delivered the keynote speech at a teaching conference for medical school faculty. The theme of the conference was Technology in Teaching, and the organizers asked that my keynote serve as a motivational pitch to get faculty members interested in using technology in their teaching. This means that I needed to explain why they should use technology rather than the traditional blackboard.

Flipped Learning Mistakes

“Flipped learning” has become a hot catchphrase in education circles as of late, with many faculty members feeling the pressure to flip their courses to escape the drawbacks of the traditional “stand and deliver” model of teaching. The flipped learning model takes the traditional in-class lecture and puts it online as a pre-class activity, thus leaving the face-to-face class available for interactivity, such as answering questions. Yet many faculty and students report dissatisfaction with flipped classes, which has led people to question the whole premise of flipped teaching.

The Online Course Test-Drive

Drexel University is among several schools that offer students a free “test-drive” course before taking a full online class (Goodman 2017). This is a shortened version of a regular online course meant to allow students to determine whether online learning is right for them. Drexel says students who take the course are twice as likely to enter an online program than those who do not. The test-drive also prepares students for online education in a…

Six High-Touch Processes for Improving Student Learning in Online Classes

In the fall of 2016, we embarked on a journey to integrate high-touch processes into our online introductory courses in psychology and business administration. Examples of our processes include such well-known technology best practices as instructor personalized videos (including weekly course communication), synchronous events (including a welcome orientation for students), text messaging, virtual office-hour sessions for students, contacting at-risk students during the first week of class, issuing reminders of upcoming due dates, and following any missed assignments with a personalized message.