What is an Online Course? n A course taught either mostly or entirely over the internet n Instructors publish lecture notes and assignments on web pages n Students access the pages through their computer
n Students interact with each other and their instructor through: – E-mail, discussion boards, and live chat rooms. n Tests and quizzes can be completed online using testing software -or- n - the student may be required to come to campus and take quizzes and tests in a proctored environment.
Why Teach Courses Online? n Online learning provides opportunities for students who may not be able to physically attend class due to: – a physical disability – work and/or –family obligations.
n If done properly, an online class can be just as beneficial to the student as a class taught in a traditional format. n In fact many students claim that they actually learn more in the online courses because: –there is more individual interaction.
What Skills/Technology Do Students Need? n In order to be successful in an online course it is important for the students to be: n Self-motivated and well organized. n Much more responsibility is placed on the student to learn in an online course than in a traditional course.
n Students must also have access to the appropriate technology requirements for the particular course they are enrolled in. Some of the basic requirements include: –Access to a computer with a color monitor –A 28.8 baud (or better) modem –Internet and browser access (i.e. Netscape 4.0 or better) –An E-mail account
What Should the School Provide to Help Students? n Many students are fairly new to online technology, so it is important for the school to provide support for the students enrolled in online courses. n It is the instructor's responsibility to "teach" the course. However, the teacher often gets bogged down helping student's work out technology problems
n Therefore, it is important for the school to provide a technical help desk for students (and instructors) to be able to contact when technology problems occur. n This will help to keep the students from getting frustrated and will leave the instructor free to teach.
What are the Time Requirements to Develop an Online Course? n Depends on: –How familiar is the instructor with the technology to be used to create an online course. n There is a large learning curve the first time an online course is developed because time must be allowed to learn how the technology works.
n It took me approximately 250-300 hours to develop my first 3 credit hour course online. –75-100 of those hours were spent experimenting with technology and learning how the pieces of technology that I chose to use worked. n My second course took about 175 hours to develop.
What are the Time Requirements During the Semester? n Time requirements during the semester will vary greatly depending on: –what types of students are enrolled in the course, –how long you have been teaching the course -and- –how far into the semester you are.
n At the beginning of the semester I spend an average of 20-25 hours per week –grading assignments, –handling student concerns -and- –dealing with technology problems. n By midterm I am usually down to spending an average of 10-15 hours per week in the online course.
What Types of Software are Being Used? n Course Management Tools such as: –Web CT, PageOut, Top Class, Blackboard –which can be used to create course content and usually come with their own quizzing feature and discussion and/or chat board.
n Web Page Editors such as: –Front Page, DreamWeaver, Cold Fusion –which can be used to create course lecture and other content pages for your online course. n Discussion Boards such as: –WebBoard –which can be used as a means of class discussion between students and the instructor.
n Collaboration Tools such as: –NetMeeting, Adobe Acrobat –which can be used to share various resources such as software and/or documents
What Should be Included in the Online Course Pages? n Most people do not want to read large amounts of text on the screen. –it advisable to provide printed materials (such as a good textbook) whenever possible. –Many textbooks come with online materials already created. Ask your book representative.
n Important Items to be Included Include: 1. Links to important areas & help 2. Instructor contact information (link to instructor's homepage) 3. Technology support contact Info. (student help desk) 4. Easy to navigate links (allow the student to get back, consistent) 5. Easy to read font sizes and colors
n Check that special features (hover buttons) can be seen by all standard browsers (Netscape & Explorer) n Check that the web addresses work from off-campus locations. –Sometimes if you use words instead of the port numbers in your URL addresses it is not recognizable by all service providers. –For example use: 220.127.116.11 instead of: online.lakeland.cc.il
How Do I Organize Course Assignments & Deadlines? n a variety of methods can be used depending on the course. n Structure the course in a way that is easy for the students to follow. n A few ways you can organize are: –Divide assignments by Chapter –Divide assignments by Units –Divide assignments by Weeks
n Deadlines are another area to consider: –Some instructors have no deadlines for course assignments as long as everything is completed by the end of the semester. –Other instructors have something due everyday in their online courses. n Assigning a due date on a per chapter basis works best for me. –all parts of the chapter assignment are due by a specific deadline.
How Do I Communicate With Students? n Support packets may be sent in the mail to online students. – (problem with accurate student addresses) n School may provide a link from the college's homepage to go to a list of online courses being offered and link to the homepage of each course.
n Most communication with students is done through E-mail. –Problem with students who do not check their E-mail regularly. –Another problem is students who change their E-mail address in the middle of the course. n A discussion board can also be used to post announcements and/or provide a place for students to ask questions.
What are the Areas of Concern Regarding Online Courses? n There is a question of honesty. Who is actually doing the work? n Technology problems can inhibit student learning. n There is much more work involved for both the instructor and the students. n Communication is often delayed because of technology problems and/or students who don't check their E-mail.
What are the Benefits of Online Courses? n Online courses provide opportunities to students who work while normal classes are in session and therefore are unable to attend regularly. n Online courses provide opportunities to students who cannot physically come to campus.
n More individual interaction between students and the instructor. n More active learning because the student is responsible for covering the material in the chapters. n Students tend to participate more in online discussions because they feel more anonymous and are therefore not inhibited by fear.