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