Monday, January 12, 2009

Points for Successful Teaching Online

What makes an online instructor successful? Certainly, the same qualities that make the traditional classroom instructor successful apply to the online instructor. When online, however, those qualities (and any shortcomings) can be magnified.

Teaching online, however, requires the instructor to play a greater role in facilitation, guidance, and management. The instructor needs to make that extra effort to been seen as approachable and accessible to the student.

In eSchool News (January 2009), Managing Editor Dennis Pierce listed the "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" (Chickering & Gamson, 1987):
  • Encouraging student-faculty contact,
  • Encouraging cooperation among students,
  • Encouraging active learning,
  • Giving prompt feedback,
  • Emphasizing time on task,
  • Setting high expectations, and
  • Respecting diverse talents and ways of learning.
Pierce interviewed Bill Phillips of the University of Central Florida. Phillips recommends that the instructor must demonstrate authority and gain students' trust right from the start. He suggests that the instructor can establish trust right away by sending a note to students individually before the course begins, introducing themselves and setting clear goals and expectations.

In a conversation with some Faculty at Drexel, I learned that this simple note of welcome provides big returns. The students feel that they are important as individuals, and that they are recognized not only as another enrolled student. At the end of the course that these students attended, their feedback indicated, again, the good impression that first note of welcome made on them. It impacted their view of the instructor, the course, and their individual responsibility for the success of the course.

Phillips also noted that some measure of redundancy of course information is important: posting directions and reminders in many places throughout the online course environment, so that students can easily find course requirements and other important material, is important to the student's success and comfort level.

When teaching online, the message is clear: good, open, frequent communication is the key. Clearly identifying objectives and expectations provides the focus the students are looking for, and a road map that points to the successful completion of the course.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome 2009!

What do you know? What don't you know? What do you wonder about?

What would you like to learn this year? Make 2009 your year to discover something new.

Learn a new skill. Learn a new language. Learn some new software.

Seek out the new, the unknown. Go beyond the territory you know. Expand your vision.

Make 2009 the year you become more.

Happy New Year: Peace, prosperity, and learning.