Creating an Online Learning Experince

This week we were asked to review the learning material and contemplate three questions over setting up an online learning experience. The answers to the questions and a short synopsis of my thoughts on successfully launching an online course can be found below.

  • What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?

The significance in knowing the technology available to you is that the better you know and understand the technology the better course you can create with it. Dr. Rena Palloff states that students “like to be able to see who that instructor is and to hear them speak” (Laureate). If an instructor knows the technology available to them than they can prepare a course using that technology to better meet student’s needs. In my class I have a small biography about myself; to help introduce myself to the students better I recently recorded myself reading my biography. This not only allows students to see me and hear my voice but it gives them a sense of who I am. Another good reason to know the technology available to you is that your students will also need to use that same technology in your course. If you understand how your course technology works you can better help your students use it. Also if student have problems with the technology you will be able to help them quicker than if they created a help ticket for the university technical support.

  • Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

Communicating clear expectations to learners allows both you and the learner to have a more stress free learning experience. It is important that students understand not only what is expected of them in the course but also what they can expect from you. When students know that you grade their assignments every Tuesday they do not have to worry when they will receive a grade. Having clear expectations allows students to focus more on learning and having fun than worrying about rules, as Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010) state “Clear and unambiguous guidelines about what is expected learners and what they should expect from an instructor makes a significant contribution to ensuring understanding and satisfaction in an online course” (p. 55)

  • What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?

I feel that when an instructor is first starting out online he or she should make sure that they have a solid introduction and biography about themselves for the students. This information about yourself helps the students see you as a person and builds your social presences as not only the instructor but also as a peer, “If you give some personal information… it helps to humanize you” (Laureate). This information you share about yourself is very important and instructors should not overlook the creation of a very well created “getting acquainted” posting. Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010) state “Many faculty forget how important it is for them to post a rich and substantive getting-acquainted posting about themselves” (p. 76). This information connects you with your students and encourages your students respond and become more engaged in the course. Another important consideration for all instructors is to make sure that you and your students have fun in this course. The technology and resources available for a course makes it easy for any instructor to find not only great learning material but also design and create activities that not only teach but are also fun and engaging for the students. As Dr. Rena Palloff explains “engaging with one another and engaging with the content and engaging in this class should be fun.” (Laureate). My personal thoughts on successfully launching an online learning experience is that the more time you put into the creation of the course at the start the less work you will have throughout the semester. Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010) suggest that it will take “twenty to thirty hours” (p. 55) to create a course that is if you are familiar with the course and the technology. While this may seem like a lot of time I feel it is well worth it because if done correctly the course will flow easily from this. However an instructor should not fret or worry about creating the perfect course the first time. As you teach the course you may notice problems with the content or even newer content will become available. The best part about an online course is that it can be exported and imported into a new course the next semester; this will then give you more time to update old material or fix any bugs you found in the first use of your course. The more time you put into creating the course at the start the more time you will have later in the course to teach and interact with your students. Finally, many of the ideas and tips I learned about this week were not necessarily new to me. I have been teaching online for a year now and I have also been helping faculty create and update their online courses for three years. While I have seen many of these tips being used and in play it is nice to read about them now and understand why they were being used. I think one of the biggest things I learned this week was how important the discussion board is to an online course. I have always used the discussion board in my courses but I never really understood just how important it was to an online course. The discussion board is listed for three of the ten course beginning tips in my book. A discussion board in an online classroom “give students a way to describe how they are integrating incoming knowledge with their existing knowledge structures” (Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R., 2010, p. 85). In an online classroom the discussion board is where a large percent of the learning of material takes place. It is in this area where students connect what they learn to what they know and express it to others. Also when students read others responses they get see a different perspective and this helps solidify the knowledge they learned. When creating an online course I need to make sure I take sufficient time to create not only a well-designed discussion board but also discussion questions and the rules for students to reply to those questions. References: Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Evaluating distance learning theory [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

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4 thoughts on “Creating an Online Learning Experince

  1. Rosa Gallardo says:

    Daniel,
    As you have suggested technology is one of the key aspects in an online learning by the fact that online activities need technology; I agree with you on this matter. It is indispensable that the facilitator and learners must get familiar with the use of the CMS/LMS/LCMS. Also learners should know the goals and expectations of the course, as well as their own goals and expectations. In the first week is very important to engage the students in an online learning and experience how it will be conducted. One of the ways is to use icebreakers that allow learners to know the facilitator and fellow classmates.
    In this week, I read a summary of the Emerging Trends & Technologies in the Virtual K-12 Classroom course, and I found very interesting how Melissa Loble (2014) have addressed questions that learners may have. She added a FAQ section. I will add that section to my getting acquainted Web page because it will clarify the learner expectations and trigger more questions. What is your opinion in that regard?
    -Rosa
    Reference
    Loble, M. (2014). Emerging Trends & Technologies in the Virtual K-12 Classroom. Retrieved from https://www.coursera.org/course/k12virtualtrends

    • Rosa,

      I think that sounds like a great idea and as long as the questions or general course questions I feel that could work in any course. To simplify things for you if you were teaching more than one course would be to have general questions student may ask in any course saved as a template and then add more specific course questions through the semesters. This would allow you to build a string FAQ for each session. One word of warning though, when creating and using these FAQs in multiple semester always make sure you are going through them and updating the information and getting rid of old questions that may not apply anymore, this will allow you to have a up to date list as well as help keep the size of the document from becoming to large. As we have learned in the past online learners can be intimidated by large articles or long videos and choose to not watch them or to skim through. With this in mind would you set a size limit for your FAQs? Maybe only allow yourself to have a certain number of questions so therefore you can have the most important questions featured with out giving the students a large document to peruse. One last idea is to make sure the students can access the question the want to read quickly, I would suggest a index at the beginning with links to the questions for quick navigation if needed.

  2. Daniel,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the three questions posed in class. I specifically agree with your perspective regarding the importance of a strong introduction/biography. I agree that a good introduction provides a foundation for which the learners gain confidence from. The text supports your thoughts by stating that “it is imperative that the trust-building process is established at the social level so that content discussions can be open and substantive” (Boettcher, p. 54). The social presence that the introduction provides creates transparency that you would not get otherwise. I also think it’s just as important that learners share information with each other to build the same level of trust.

    Additionally, I like that you acknowledged how a course does not need to be perfect the first time out. From my experience, many instructors and IDs struggle with this, and for good reason. There is a lot of organizational pressure to deliver top quality work and we lose sight of the fact that the design phase is where the learning takes place. As an ID, I have designed several courses where I can say that the second and third time around were my best pieces of work. We are enriched with every experience that we encounter and it’s important to embrace it and adapt.

    Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  3. Hi Daniel, you make a great point about having a great introduction and bio. I agree that it helps the students get to know the facilitator and can help them feel a little more comfortable in the learning environment. When I first started at Walden, even though I was comfortable in other online forum discussions, I was a little hesitant at first to participate and share my thoughts. The more I practiced, the better I felt, partly due to understanding where our professors were coming from and what they expected from the students in the course.

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