- Instructors are faciliators who enable students' movement through the course materials.
- In online courses (especially fully online courses), the instructor becomes more like a “guide on the side” and less a “sage on the stage.”
- As guides, instructors actively monitor student progress through email, discussion forums, or chat.
- As an instructor you are still the subject expert and should still strive to introduce something of "you" into the course lectures and other content.
View the "Assessing Online Facilitation Instrument" (AOF) developed at CSU Humboldt for a good overview of the facilitation of an online course.
- The AOF is a series of mechanical tasks to be performed by the course instructor that add up to a well-run course and a positive experience for the students.
- The AOF divides the facilitator's tasks into the following task categories:
- Managerial: Handling organizational, procedural, and administrative tasks.
- Social: Creating a welcoming online community in which learning is promoted.
- Pedagogical: Guiding student learning with a focus on concepts, principles, and skills.
- Technical: Assisting participants to become comfortable with the technologies used to deliver the course.
Converting an existing face-to-face course to an online class is equivalent to creating a new course. The flexibility of the online format can also make some things easier once the course is up and running.
- Many instructors report that teaching an online course is a more work-intensive experience than teaching face-to-face, but their interactions with the class are also more intense and energetic.
- Instructors need to adapt to a new approach to teaching, including learning to facilitate online discussion and re-examine traditional assessment methods.
- The traditional hour-long lecture+PowerPoint is not relevant in the online environment:
- Topics need to be more concise, lectures more direct and focused.
- Face-to-face PowerPoint files have too many holes for online use (they are outlines, after all)
- PowerPoint can be used as a starting graphic design canvas for some lecture content, but most online lectures are best thought of as Web movies.
- See below for more on PowerPoint and online lectures.
- Students may require guidance from the instructor on how to be an online student, in addition to needing help with the course content itself.
- Just as the students will work through the materials in an asynchronous manner, so too can the instructor monitor the course in ways that are convenient for their schedule.
- They generally read text, engage with multimedia, type a lot, work collaboratively.
- They “attend” lectures, discussion forums, etc. at times that are convenient for them.
- Students should be encouraged to self-schedule regular attendance hours during the week.
- They experience course content in a variety of modalities, from text documents to narrated slide-based presentations and other multimedia to social networking-based interactions to activities that are largely learner-directed.
- They collaborate in small groups to create projects and presentations.
The schedule for your online course is ultimately up to you as the instructor. However, online courses should not require "in-person" meetings that take place on campus without good cause (e.g., to meet legal requirements to personally observe a student).
Most online courses run "asynchronously", meaning the students do their work each week independently according to a course calendar. It is perfectly acceptable to schedule occasional synchronous sessions that will take place in the Collaborate web conferencing environment, perhaps for small group meetings or presentations. Remember, though, that one of the great advantages for students enrolled in online courses is the flexibility to complete the course work at times that are best for them. So, not only will lots of regularly scheduled sessions be difficult to arrange and coordinate, but they will erode one of the primary strengths of the online format itself.
This is not to say the course will be free of structure or deadlines; you're not running a correspondence course. A good balance might to organize the class along the lines of "synchronous asynchronicity", meaning everyone moves through a shared set of deadlines but reaches those deadlines independently.
The content of a lesson should determine the technology used to deliver it.
- "Chunk" your lecture into discrete topics or subjects and make the chunks individually accessible. Remember: on the web, shorter is better!
- Audio narration, with or without visual accompaniment, is a great balance between hi-tech "cool" and pedagogical appropriateness.
- Lectures, as a concept, should not hold the same central emphasis they do in a face-to-face class. Try to incorporate different learning "modalities" (discussion, web activities, etc) into the learning experience in addition to lecture.
Transform your lecture notes into concise web-based learning units that correspond to assigned reading chapters (or other markers).
- These are usually multi-page prose text documents that are converted to web documents and illustrated with pictures, sound/video clips, and other materials you would normally display in a face-to-face lecture.
- Here, “multi-page” means each page covers a discrete sub-topic of the main topic (3-4 pages, max).
- Look into purchasing SoftChalk's LessonBuilder software to construct the units.
- Avoid simply dumping PowerPoint files designed for a face-to-face lecture onto your online course without providing significant additional context. PPT files are not lectures!
Add audio narration to a set of PowerPoint slides and convert to a web movie for posting on Blackboard. Microphone required (a built-in one, if present, is perfectly acceptable). View some examples of various lecture tools
Screencasting: use Screencast-O-Matic, Camtasia Studio, or other capture application to capture a video “talking head”, audio from a microphone, and computer screen.
- Upside: Includes picture-in-picture video, a potentially cool feature if used appropriately. Lecture can be exported as a convenient web movie file, ideal for Blackboard.
- Downside: Learning curve to learn new application; talking head can be a distraction from other visual content in the presentation.
Work with Learning Services to create short video introductions to each unit or weekly material.
- These can be as long or short as desired and filmed in your office or around campus - the possibilities are pretty wide open.
- Videos will complement other lecture materials and can be archived for use in future courses using our MediaSite server.
- MediaSite files can be linked to directly from your Blackboard course site.
Some combination of these is also possible (and even desirable), depending on the instructional content.
Transforming a face-to-face lecture into something useable in an online course will be one of the more challenging parts of creating an online class. Remember that pedagogy and technology go hand-in-hand and it is recommended that you plan lessons to use the least amount of technology possible.
PowerPoint is, at its core, a supplementary tool for live presentation, whether that’s face-to-face or via audio and video talking head presented on the Web. A live audience uses PowerPoint slides to follow along with the main points of your presentation in real time. Without some sort of live component, PowerPoint slides can be uninformative and counterproductive in an online environment.
- Drawbacks of relying on PowerPoint files as your sole online lecture material:
- Raw PPT files are very large and can require significant additional download time.
- They require an additional application in order to view them (not free!). When possible, your online class should not require additional purchased software.
- Slides without context (i.e., the content you add when standing if front of a class) do not work pedagogically online.
- They are overkill, in a web environment, just for displaying text bullet points and perhaps a graphic.
- Raw PPT files push users away from the web site they're on right now in order to view information that can more efficiently presented on the web.
Is it possible to make PowerPoint slides that are designed well enough for the specific needs of the online environment? Probably, but most of us aren’t that skilled. Moreover, the best designed PowerPoint slide is still going to be less good, all things considered, than using other tools to create truly Web-friendly content.
Ok, so PowerPoint is out. What to use instead? PowerPoint can be a starting point for creating lecture material, but view the discussion about lecturing in an online environment, above, to see where to go from there.
Yes, however using video ripped from DVDs or VHS tapes in an online class is a tricky situation that depends on the particular video, the amount you wish to use, and the purpose for using it. Some uses are perfectly fine while others fall into a gray area of copyright law.
- The TEACH Act area of this site has more information about specific instructional scenarios that might answer your question.
- Consult with Glenn Pillsbury about your particular need.
On the other other hand, there are many places on the web that stream legal and free videos, lectures, and interviews, such as:
Visit http://www4.uwm.edu/libraries/media/streaming.cfm for a larger list!
No. It is not copyright infringement to link to or display YouTube videos. The legal relationship between YouTube and whoever uploaded the content is impossible for you to determine. Moreover, it's never an infringement merely to link to something on the web.
- Discussion Forums
- "The sequential and recorded qualities of threaded electronic discourse and its particular demands, such as exactness, coherent organization of thought, clear, and authentic expression, have powerful affordances for collective knowledge building." (source)
- Discussion topics should provide fodder for debate and argumentation related to a topic in the course.
- Participation should be required and graded according to a rubric.
- Review the Best Practices for more information about incorporating discussion into your online class.
- Small Groups
- Divide the students into groups right at the beginning of the course and make it clear that the group is the core unit of community in the course.
- Group summarizes and critiques the previous week’s discussion
- Group creates review summary of one week’s reading/chapter
- Google Docs
- Groups should collaborate using the Presentation tool that's part of Google Docs:
- Each student must create a free account at docs.google.com and send the email address they used for the account to a temporary group leader.
- Group leader starts the Presentation file and "shares" it with the other members of the group.
- Students decide on a topic and work out which members are responsible for specific parts of the presentation.
- When the Presentation is complete, group leader generates the HTML code needed to embed the project in Blackboard and:
- Sends the code to the instructor who puts it into a new content item
- or -
- Embeds the code themselves into a new thread or post for comment and discussion by the class.
- Sends the code to the instructor who puts it into a new content item
- Groups should collaborate using the Presentation tool that's part of Google Docs:
- Synchronous web meetings. Be careful about relying on set schedules for course work in a fully online course.
- Zoom web confernces are the university's recommended tool for organizing and hosting virtual meetings and scheduled class sessions online. All members of the campus communiy, including students, have access to Zoom and to create meetings. More information about Zoom
- Go Beyond Blackboard
- Create a Facebook group for the class
- Use Twitter to gather student thoughts in more "just-in-time" fashion
- Use VoiceThread to generate audio/video/text comments about course content (this works great for visual and audio materials!) or to get comments on student presentations.
First, you should be comfortable that any test you assign in an online course is essentially an open-book test, whether it’s designed that way or not. This is simply a reality of online courses.
- Blackboard and Moodle have tools for creating a variety of tests, quizzes, and surveys for assessment, including the ability to handle a wide range of question types.
- Structure your assessment to look for synthesis and critical thinking over rote memorization. Standard things like multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank tests can still accomplish these types of assessments, but the content of the questions needs to be different.
- Use rote memory-testing questions in practice exams and self-assessments.
- Use large question pools and randomized questions for real exams using multiple choice questions
- Just as in face-to-face classes, assessment of student progress and mastery involves more than tests.
- Finally, publicize ahead of time policies and statements about academic honesty and penalties for cheating.
Watch a faculty roundtable about cheating in online courses (recorded April 24, 2012)
There is no foolproof way to prevent cheating in any setting, whether face-to-face or online. The unproctored nature of most online exams does, however, subject them to a greater possibility for cheating to occur. Poorly constructed online exams can also make themselves open to cheating.
Here are some ideas for strenghtening the security of your online exams. Many of these ideas are borrowed from CSU Sacramento's recommendations.
Reinforce intellectual honesty at every opportunity
- Create an "honesty exam" with a single question that asks the student to affirm their agreement to follow a Code of Conduct. Use Blackboard's selective release tool (or Moodle's conditional activity settings) to make the real exam visible upon successful completion of the honesty exam.
Make it difficult for students to pass along answers to their friends:
- Build as large of a pool of questions as possible to decrease the chance that each student will see the same set of questions.
- Randomize the questions in the quiz.
- Randomize the answers within each multiple choice question in the quiz.
- Display the questions one at a time.
- Do not release the correct answers until the quiz availability window has passed.
Make it difficult for students to look up the answers during the quiz:
- Set a time limit on the quiz and enable "auto-submit" to submit the quiz automatically if the timer runs out.
- Include more higher-order questions that challenge the student to create, synthesize, and argue.
Additional suggestions (these will take some organizing and additional time, and perhaps money)
- Consider requiring the students to take their exam in a proctored location, and with ID verification.
- Schedule 5-minute Skype conferences with each student and probe their understanding of the material on the exam.
While emailing attachments back and forth will certainly work, in many situations Blackboard’s built-in file uploading tools provide for a centralized “funnel” for collecting student papers and other files.
- Use the Assignment tool to create an assignment that will be “turned in” when the student uploads their file using the assignment’s interface
- To utilize peer review, use Blackboard’s Groups feature or enable the ability in the discussion forum settings for students to upload files as part of their post.
- Learn more about creating a Blackboard assigment.
Contact Glenn Pillsbury, Instructional Designer with any questions about organizing and delivering an online course. He can help talk through pedagogical questions as well as handle specific technological tasks.