Online Teaching and Learning

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1 Teaching online requires faculty members to shift their roles from instructor to facilitator or coach. Content shifts to customized materials and learning includes many active components. Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek (2012) explained the shift involves faculty moving from a lecturer role to a facilitator or coach role; content changes from just text books to customized materials, from passive to active learning, and from considering credit hours to performance standards. Keengwe and Kidd (2010) identified 4 categories for the instructors role in online teaching: Pedagogical: which involves the facilitation of education Social role: to create a friendly social environment which is necessary for online learning Managerial role: which involves defining the objectives, rules, and decision making Technical role: this role requires the instructor to be comfortable with technology and then transfer this level of comfort to their students Effective online teaching should plan and account for interactions among students, interaction with the instructors, and interactions between the students and the content; these interactions promote students engagement in the learning process (Dashaw & Lee, 2011). Just as in face-to-face instruction, in e-learning instructors will need to engage and be present; they could use same methods and strategies used in the classroom to facilities distance learning (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). The following list presents best practices that instructors should consider as their role changes from in-class lecturers to online facilitators of learning: Use many activities and applications; they are the heart of distance learning Minimize the use of PowerPoint slides as it could disconnect learners from the learning environment When using videos or synchronous communication tools, break down your talk to smaller sections (10 minutes each) and incorporate questions and answers Emphasize activities rather than content (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.) Boettcher (2012) identified 10 best practices in e-learning: 1. Be present online: post announcements, participate on the discussion board, and set expectations on when will you respond to students inquires and when to expect feedback on assignments. 2. Develop a supportive online community by sending weekly messages to students, and promoting peer to peer interactions. 3. Be clear on the expectations for your students and yourself in terms of the communication methods and the frequency of communication. Clearly communicate to students the expected work load for each week. 4. Use a variety of large group, small group, and individual work experiences; students in groups could share and brainstorm ideas and concepts related to the assignments. 5. Use both synchronous and asynchronous activities (See Figure 1).

2 6. Use formative feedback early in the term. Ask students how the course is going and ask for suggestions from them. 7. Design discussion posts that expand the discussions and invite questions, reflections and responses. 8. Focus on content resources and applications related to real world situations and examples. The content should be easily accessed from student s computers. 9. Combine core concept learning with customized and personalized learning. Blogs, discussion forums, small group work and journals are all tools that could help the students in understanding concepts and relationships. 10. Plan a good closing and wrap activity for the course; this could be through the use a reflection paper. Communication: Effective communication is key to the success of teaching online. There are many tools, strategies and activities that instructors could use to enhance students interactions with them, with other learners and content. For the synchronous environment, the teaching strategies are to keep the learners active. In the asynchronous environment, the teaching strategies promote interaction and keep students engaged (Simonson et al., 2012); Figure 1 lists the tools and strategies used for both environments. In online learning, the course should be designed and organized to facilitate the communication at a distance; in addition, the organization of the course will help students in understanding their responsibilities, and how the course will function (Simonson et al., 2012). The activities used to promote quality learning experiences for students should include: Communication with students Collaboration among students Active learning experiences Allow for timely feedback High expectations Respect for diversity (Simonson et al., 2012) Instructional Methods: The instructor needs to select an appropriate instructional method that matches the defined objectives and incorporates assessments that match the outcomes (Simonson et. al., 2012). To start planning for teaching online you will need a detailed plan that keeps you organized and focused on the task. Once completed, this plan will be the course syllabus which will help students to learn on their own and guide them through the course components, expectations and requirements. In the planning process, it is recommended that instructors work closely with an instructional designer who can help in structuring the course, choosing tasks related to your course objectives, and proposing various delivery methods that support the objectives and the learners (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.).

3 For online courses, instructors need to organize the course components to provide easy access to the course content; instructors could build their courses on the Unit Module Topic model (Simonson et al., 2012). For Hybrid courses, instructors need to determine which components will be facilitated online and which ones will be in class. A crucial consideration is that instructors will need to integrate the face-to-face activities with the web-based activities to avoid creating two separate courses (University of Wisconsin Milwaukie, 2012). The following are best practices in selecting an instructional environment: Select of variety of strategies to create a stimulating learning environment, these strategies should actively engage the students in the learning experience. Use both synchronous and asynchronous environments to facilitate learning. o Use a synchronous environment to incorporate many of the traditional classroom teaching strategies. Examples: live discussions, short duration lectures, small group activities. In a synchronous environment, the learner cannot remain passive for a long time. Short Duration Lecture Small and Large Group Activities Help facilitate instructional situations Use audio and video components to facilitate hand- on and discussions Technology Tools: Streaming media Videos Technology Tools: Chat Online quizzes and self assessment surveys

4 o Use an asynchronous environment to engage the students who are at a distance, and encourage them to assume responsibility of their learning. Examples: Problem-based learning, student-led discussions and collaboration. Collaboration Problem- Based Learning Student- Led Discussion Student assume responsibility for their learning Encourage active learning and improve students engagement Create sense of community Technology Tools: Blogs Wikis Technology Tools: Interactive modules or games Promote student engagement Technology Tools: Discussion Boards Forums Figure 1: Communication strategies using both synchronous and asynchronous strategies. After selecting the appropriate delivery method for your web-based components, you will need to select proper technology tools. Listed below are some best practices that you may want to consider when converting materials to web delivery: Avoid putting all the course content from the face-to-face course onto the web Ensure the course is organized with explicit requirements Use announcement to keep the learners constantly informed Choose activities to enable student to achieve the course outcomes Assess applications, analysis and evaluation, not just knowledge Engage learners by utilizing the Web through research, collaboration and communication Apply adult learning concepts for the nontraditional learners enrolled in your course Consider using various course readings to replace or complement text books Provide training for your learners on how to use the web-based components (Simonson et al., 2012).

5 Assessment and Feedback: With planning, almost any technique for assessment possible in a regular classroom is also possible for distance learners (Simonson et al., 2012, p. 269). When teaching hybrid courses, select assessment tools that could be used for the face-to-face class and the web-based components. Generally, in online learning you could use a combination of formative and summative evaluation tools (Simonson et al., 2012); in addition, you could utilize selfassessment and peer assessment tools (TeachStream LLC., 2010). Some of assessment strategies that you could use are: Online tests and quizzes Graded discussion boards (using asynchronous tools) Oral Exams (using synchronous tools) Portfolios Problem-based activities and games Rubrics (Simonson et al., 2012) Julius (2004) provided a list of consideration for assessments strategies and feedback to students in online learning environments: Align assessment to course outcomes Provide clear timeline for submission, grading, and return of assignments Use multiple assessments, including formative and summative evaluations (Examples: projects, quizzes, team work, etc.) Provide specific and clear assessment measures prior to assignments Include activities to support self-assessment and/or peer feedback Provide channels for timely and constructive feedback Monitor the learners progress through the course

6 References: Boettcher, J. V. (2012). Ten best practices for teaching online: Quick guide for new online faculty. Retrieved from Dashaw, B., & Lee, R. (2011). Designed learner interactions in blended course delivery. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks. 15(1), Keengwe, J., & Kidd, T. T. (2010). Towards best practices in online learning and teaching in higher education. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(2), Julius, P. (2004). A Design Checklist for Courses Incorporating Technology. Retrieved from Laureate Education Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Facilitating online learning [Video webcast]. Baltimore, MD: Piskurich

7 Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. TeacherStream LLC. (2010). Mastering online discussion board facilitation. Retrieved from

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