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1 Online Education Teaching Learning Technology May 2003.

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1 1 Online Education Teaching Learning Technology May 2003

2 2 Online Teaching? What are the important elements of planning, initiating, and maintaining on- line classes? Why are discussions essential for success of on-line classes? What makes a DL course successful for you and your students?

3 3 Nature of On-line Instruction All communications must be in writing Have to think about responses Everybody is on equal footing – all students and the teacher Instructor is facilitator and not a lecturer who stands in front of classroom and presents material

4 4 Nature of On-line Instruction People participate differently Face to face classes are instructor centered On-line classes are student centered

5 5 Before you Begin, Know about On-line Course Attrition The three top reasons 45-50% of students withdraw from or fail an online course are: Lack of student responsibility – time management, infrequent logons, and nonparticipation. Technical difficulties – real or perceived problems, computer illiteracy, and user error. Isolation – a feeling or belief that they are working alone without the help of their teacher or classmates.

6 6 Misconceptions about On-line Education Online classes will be fairly sterile and impersonal Online education is only for "techies “ Online classes will be easy -- easier than conventional classes.

7 7 Swift Trust Online faculty role changes Faculty perceptions of online community building Correlation to theories of swift trust with coding scheme Strategies for trust formation

8 8 Swift Trust, 2 Swift trust is a concept relating to temporary teams whose existence is formed around a clear purpose and common task with a finite life span. Its elements include a willingness to suspend doubt about whether others who are "strangers" can be counted on in order to get to work on the group's task... and a positive expectation that the group activity will be beneficial. It is built and maintained by a high level of activity and responsiveness.

9 9 Swift Trust, 3 Faculty who become successful virtual professors overcome the coldness in the electronic media with social communication clues in discussion conferences. The most effective online teachers get a good start in the very first week of online classes Once established, swift trust remains

10 10 Swift Trust Summary In order to build swift trust at the beginning of a course, the instructor needs to structure clear contributions for each student to make, help them cope with any technical or task uncertainties, model and encourage response to each others' contributions. Early encouragement of social communications (and explicit statements of commitment, excitement and optimism) also strengthen trust.

11 11 Community Building Strategies Establish early communication Class members need to perceive the instructor’s presence as soon as they enter the course Develop a positive social atmosphere Class members respond to perceived caring in course Model solidarity, congeniality, and affiliation

12 12 Community Building Strategies, 2 Reinforce predictable patterns in communication and action Students need carefully structured activities and regular feedback Involve class members in tasks Students need to be involved in meaningful tasks in the first week.

13 13 Tips for Beginning On-line Class Plan course schedule Post E-mail contact point for students – tell them to e-mail you and answer them Publish welcome letter and syllabus Set up Webboard or WebCT before first day of semester

14 14 Tips for Beginning On-line Class Introductions should be first task Introduce yourself You get to know students Students can get to know each other Give students assignments [early and often] Get them into habit of visiting on-line classroom in the first weeks of class Encourage participation in on-line discussion forum [WebCT or Webboard]

15 15 Tips for successful on-line teaching Provide meaningful and frequent feedback MOST class business should be shared rather than to create behind the scenes discussion Send personal notes throughout the online course to simulate the informal chat that often occurs at the beginning or end of a traditional classroom meeting. [WebCT mail] Keep track of how learners are progressing

16 16 Keys to successful on line teaching Interaction among participants Group activity Getting feedback on things posted is very important to most people Online education is inherently student- centered

17 17 Tips for successful on-line teaching Encourage learners to engage each other in debate In many classes, size precludes the course instructor from responding individually to each learner response - emphasize learner comments in a summary statement Encourage learners to be on the lookout for URLs that interface with the course content units – can use for next class Encourage learners to complete course evaluations

18 18 Course Requirements Learners want guidelines from faculty regarding course requirements. Learners were dissatisfied when URLs were inoperative or incorrect. Learners want to immediately apply information gleaned in class to life or work situations. Learners did not like being required to purchase books, articles, various programs or other required material that were not fully utilized by the course instructor.

19 19 Administrative suggestions Sets course agenda, objectives, rules, and decision- making norms. Posts course materials (syllabus, assignments, discussion topics, etc.) at the beginning of the course. Posts timely bulletins about changes and updates to course. During first week, assures that all students are ‘on board’ and responding (contacts privately by phone or email if not). Returns student calls/emails within 24 hours. Refers student problems to advisors and follows up to assure resolution

20 20 Planning Discussions Instructor’s office Student lounge Private forums

21 21 Discussion forum organization Use the “timed release” formula. List the most frequently used forums first. List currently used forums next, meaning when you move to the next unit, unit 2 goes above unit 1, etc. Use color codes to unify forums for each unit. Label the forum as you did in the instructions.

22 22 Initiating Discussion Questions Assign a section of the class a question to answer in Unit 1, a different section for Unit 2, etc. Assign small groups a question they collaborate on and then report to the entire class. Give students options of questions to answer.

23 23 Initiating Discussion Questions (Continued) Assign each student their own question. Assign all students the same question.

24 24 Maintaining Discussion Questions Peer review of individual assignments in public forums

25 25 Characteristics of effective discussions Support course/assignment learning objectives Generate interest Questions facilitate thought, not “just the facts” Can be applied to everyday life or professional goals Provide clear explicit instructions Receive points and/or graded

26 26 Characteristics of effective discussions (Continued) Reflect a percentage of the course grade that is appropriate, feasible, and significant Provide a rubric or other evaluation tool that details the evaluation process Require reply to other participants Include effective facilitation

27 27 Facilitating discussions The “too hard” facilitator Doesn’t trust his/her designed discussion questions to elicit useful responses Controls the discussion Enters too quickly and/or too often into the discussions The “too soft” facilitator Believes that discussions aren’t significant or an effective way to learn. Believes he/she has designed questions that should result in active discussions without further interaction on his/her part. Initially has very active and productive discussion forums without “stepping in”

28 28 Just right Approach Makes his/her presence felt but doesn’t dominate. Enters discussions when asked a question directed specifically to him/her. Redirects only when information is incorrect, or is off-topic Allows time for students to respond to each other, before commenting. Immediately stops inappropriate, rude or hostile postings. Promotes critical thinking through Socratic questioning.

29 29 Discussion Suggestions Write effective discussion responses Provide examples Function as gatekeeper 24 hour response 36-48 hour wait period at beginning Compensate for lack of nonverbals Delete rude or inappropriate postings Provide clear and explicit instructions Make objectives clear to students Provide and stress the evaluation process

30 30 Facilitation suggestions Manages discussion and student interactions with leadership and direction. Posts thoughtful discussion questions related to the topic and appropriate to the desired cognitive outcomes (Bloom’s Taxonomy). Moderates discussion, models desired methods of communication. Engages students, fosters sharing of participants’ knowledge, questions, and expertise. Privately (by email or phone) asks noncontributing students to participate in discussion.

31 31 Faciliation suggestions (Con’t) Contributes outside resources (online, print-based, others). Contributes advanced content knowledge and insights, weaves together discussion threads. Helps students apply, analyze, and synthesize content. Fosters group learning. Minimum of 10% of discussion postings are from the instructor. Provides public and private acknowledgment to students who contribute to discussion.

32 32 Technical suggestions Proficient with all technical systems used in the course. Helps students troubleshoot technical systems used in the course and refers to appropriate help sources, as needed. Helps students quickly feel comfortable with the system and the software.

33 33 Evaluation suggestions Provides students with clear grading criteria. Reminds students about upcoming assignments. Expects college level writing (in higher ed courses). Grades/corrects spelling and grammar mistakes. Provides examples of desired writing/assignments. Provides resource ideas for completing assignments. Assists students who are having problems (by email or phone) completing the assignments.

34 34 Evaluation suggestions (Con’t) Acknowledges receipt of assignments within 24 hours. [WebCT can do automatically] Returns students assignments, with detailed notes and grade, within 96 hours. Contacts (by email or phone) students who have not completed assignments within 24 hours after assignment due date. Helps student work out plan to complete assignments

35 35 Evaluation/Assignments almost any form of assessment or evaluation is possible with online classes assignments and projects that involve critical thinking, creativity, problem- solving and group discussion/interaction are more appropriate for online education

36 36 Rules of Netiquette Brief is Best. Careful with Formatting Provide Structure Manage Participation Public domain Be kind and gentle.

37 37 Faculty Responsibilities for On-line Discussions Learners want prompt feedback from faculty and seem to appreciate it when these comments were posted in the discussion forum in a timely manner. Learners want specific feedback and view comments such as "nice job" or "good response" as being indicative of a disinterested or lazy faculty member.

38 38 Faculty Responsibilities for On-line Discussions Learners do not object to opinions being challenged as long as the individual was not belittled or humiliated for offering the response. Learners prefer that negative comments be given privately, preferably through a phone call.

39 39 Facilitating Discussions Learners appreciate and seemed to learn much from the responses of other learners. Learner responses seem to be a valuable aspect of the course. There is perceived guilt among some learners about not posting when postings of other learners have captured the essence of what they wanted to say.

40 40 Facilitating Discussions Learners do not like it when fellow classmates did not keep current with the weekly online posting requirements. Learners prefer discussion forums that encourage open and honest dialog; are not dominated by one or two "dominant voices;" and are not used to express non-course- related concerns or complaints.

41 41 Facilitating Discussion Present a personal introduction the first week Send a picture of yourself to all learners at all sites Communication using asynchronous postings to the discussion forum allows learners to post at their convenience Quality of discussion usually reflects a higher level of scholarly discourse than is typical in many FTF classes

42 42 Facilitating Discussion Post a weekly summary of the class discussion for the prior week develop a response to a discussion topic before it is presented to the class keep learners up to speed with the discussion's progress Keep all comments positive in the forum- discuss negative feedback privately

43 43 Facilitating Discussion Learners frequently have expertise related to the subject matter of the course and should be encouraged to share their knowledge Online courses are not conducive to lecturing, so instructors who facilitate learners' mastery of course objectives by encouraging discussion Keep notes about each learner so that you are reminded about learner interests and experience.

44 44 Seven Principles of Effective Teaching: A Practical Lens for Evaluating Online Courses by Graham, Cagitay, Lim, Craner, and Duffy

45 45 Principle 1: Good Practice Encourages Student-Faculty Contact Instructors should provide clear guidelines for interaction with students. Establish policies describing the types of communication that should take place over different channels. Set clear standards for instructors' timelines for responding to messages.

46 46 \Principle 2: Good Practice Encourages Cooperation Among Students Well-designed discussion assignments facilitate meaningful cooperation among students. Learners should be required to participate (and their grade should depend on participation). Discussion groups should remain small. Discussions should be focused on a task. Tasks should always result in a product. Tasks should engage learners in the content. Learners should receive feedback on their discussions. Evaluation should be based on the quality of postings (and not the length or number). Instructors should post expectations for discussions.

47 47 Principle 3: Good Practice Encourages Active Learning Students should present course projects Students learn valuable skills from presenting their projects Often motivated to perform at a higher level Students also learn a great deal from seeing and discussing their peers' work.

48 48 Principle 4: Good Practice Gives Prompt Feedback Instructors need to provide two types of feedback: information feedback and acknowledgment feedback. Two kinds of feedback provided by online instructors: "information feedback" and "acknowledgement feedback." Give detailed personal feedback to each student. During the semester's busiest times, instructors can still give prompt feedback on discussion assignments by responding to the class as a whole instead of to each individual student.

49 49 Principle 5: Good Practice Emphasizes Time on Task Online courses need deadlines. Regularly-distributed deadlines encourage students to spend time on tasks and help students with busy schedules avoid procrastination. Deadlines provide a context for regular contact with the instructor and peers.

50 50 Principle 6: Good Practice Communicates High Expectations Challenging tasks, sample cases, and praise for quality work communicate high expectations. Give challenging assignments Provide examples or models for students to follow, along with comments explaining why the examples are good Publicly praising exemplary work communicates high expectations

51 51 Principle 7: Good Practice Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning Allowing students to choose project topics incorporates diverse views into online courses.

52 52 AVOIDING ONLINE DISCUSSION PITFALLS ProblemSolution Students are quickly overwhelmed by too much information. If teachers do not clearly organize conversations, participants become confused. Plan and streamline course discussions. Plot the duration and focus of discussion threads. Students should also take turns running discussions about course readings. Students are easily stumped by online tasks, including cutting and pasting text on the Web. Students may lack Web expertise, misunderstand directions or are unsure what's expected of them. Structure online activities. Provide guidelines for posting material, how often to comment, length of comments and what to say in them.

53 53 AVOIDING ONLINE DISCUSSION PITFALLS Student comments lack justification. They often make comments without providing evidence. In your own postings, model ways to support arguments. Cite research studies or theories to back up your comments. Students seldom connect their online comments to specific course concepts because they don't realize they're expected to. Many times comments are unrelated to readings, theories or research topics discussed in class. Frame questions in terms of concepts. When posting a discussion question, ask students to answer it using specifics from readings. Students are too nice on the Web. This may be because students also see each other regularly face-to-face or because their comments are recorded online. Encourage role-playing. Assign students to play out roles of devil's advocate, pessimist or optimist to help them take different sides and spur debate.

54 54 AVOIDING ONLINE DISCUSSION PITFALLS Peer camaraderie is lacking. Students tend not to reach out to each other online as fully online as they do face-to-face. Assign online buddies. Pair up students to help each other troubleshoot software problems and respond to questions about course content. Instructors struggle to teach and not preach. Instructors easily fall into lecture mode. Encourage students to initiate discussion topics. Require them to take turns running discussion threads about readings. It's difficult to form a "community of learners" online. Because students can't see each other, it takes time for them to build trust and speak freely. Encourage students to interact casually. Create discussion threads or areas for hanging out and personal introductions.

55 55 AVOIDING ONLINE DISCUSSION PITFALLS Web postings are time consuming to grade. Students often post large amounts of text, making it hard for instructors to keep up. Award points according to set criteria. Give points for posting regularly, interacting concisely with others and showing deep thinking, rather than for generating lots of text. Computers crash. Students' computers or Internet connections may malfunction, or glitches may plague online discussion software. Troubleshoot. Check in regularly to see whether students need help using the discussion software or whether you need to call technology support personnel about more serious software problems.

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