Growing Your Online Presence in the Classroom

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1 Growing Your Online Presence in the Classroom Fully Online, Hybrid, Flipped, and Web-Enhanced Courses Daniel W. Hoppe, Jr., Senior Advisory Consultant for Higher Education October, 2014 Desire2Learn Incorporated 151 Charles Street West, Suite 400, Kitchener, Ontario N2G 1H6 Canada Toll Free: (U.S. & Canada) Telephone: Fax:

2 1 Contents About this Document... 2 Growing Your Online Presence... 2 Recommendations and Considerations... 8 Additional Consulting... 8 About D2L... 9

3 2 About this Document This document provides recommendations and other considerations for institutions of higher education as they plan and prepare for change and growth among their online offerings. Areas of focus will include: 1) The modalities of online learning (fully online, hybrid, flipped, and web-enhanced courses) 2) The benefits of each modality and how they can contribute to growing online presence 3) The concept of Minimum Online Presence (MOP) and what that means to your institution 4) How to use the Brightspace platform to increase your institution s online presence Growing Your Online Presence in the Classroom Online education strives to accomplish many things. It offers a level of flexibility for the learner while also creating an environment that is academically proficient and drives interaction and collaboration on both a personal and global level. One aspect that contributes significantly to the learner experience is the concept of online presence. To many, online presence can mean different things especially depending on whether the individual is an instructor or a student. Online presence can be summed up in one word: presence. Students want an instructor that is engaged and has designed a course that meets their expectations from an academic and collegiate standpoint. They want to know that the instructor is right there with them instead of watching from the sidelines. Similarly, institutions and instructors expect a level of presence in their classes. Many institutions have a MOP they require their online faculty to adhere to. These MOPs are put in place to ensure that students are receiving a rich and robust educational experience through the use of the appropriate technology while offering engagement and interaction between them and their instructors. These minimum expectations are based on the type of online experiences in which the course is being conducted. Similarly, most faculty want to contribute to the learner experience, with opportunities to lecture, facilitate activities, and participate in discussions relevant to their areas of expertise. They want to foster and promote learning while also being engaged with their students something that can be accomplished by increasing their online presence. So, how does one promote and enhance their online presence?

4 3 Fully Online Courses One way to promote and grow your online presence is through fully online courses. Fully online courses refer to those which are facilitated completely through an online format. Students access their courses and complete their coursework remotely using online technologies such as Brightspace, an integrated learning platform (ILP), without the physical requirements of attending class in a traditional classroom. Benefits Some of the benefits of utilizing fully online courses include the ability to provide maximum flexibility in the learning experience for the student, the use of a wide range of technologies students are familiar with, and the concept of bringing education to the student versus the student coming to the learning experience. Let s break these benefits down further. Today s students have evolved greatly in their needs and expectations. Many require a high level of flexibility within the college experience in order to maintain career and personal obligations. The flexibility of fully online courses allows students to attend class while balancing their professional and personal lives. Along those same lines, students have also grown accustomed to the use of technology. From online banking to gaming and online shopping, students are very technologically savvy and therefore enjoy the technological aspects that fully online courses offer. Finally, fully online courses allow institutions to reach a larger number of students outside of their typical geographical area and offer the high-quality experience that their locallybased students have grown to appreciate. Engaging students regionally, nationally, and even globally is an essential part of truly bringing education to the learner. Minimum Online Presence Institutions that utilize a MOP specifically in their fully-online courses create a meaningful and consistent experience for their students. Students who take fully online courses may experience limited exposure to their instructors, especially if they are new to taking online classes. With MOPs in place, students will have certain points within the week and/or class where the faculty member s online presence is experienced consistently. Examples of MOPs in fully-online classes may include an expectation of the faculty member s participation within discussions with students, the creation of opening remarks to introduce each week s module, or the creation of opportunities for synchronous chat each week as an option for students to interact. These types of activities allow for interaction between instructors and students while also promoting online presence and student success.

5 4 Ways to Grow using Brightspace When it comes to growing your online presence in a fully online course, there are many activities that can be facilitated using the Brightspace platform. The discussion forums are a great way to build and maintain presence and community within the class environment. Aside from typical discussions related to course content, the discussion forums can be used at the beginning of the class to set up an introduction opportunity. Since the students never meet in a physical classroom, this is a great way for them to get to know each other and the instructor. Additionally, the use of a Virtual Office can be developed within a discussion forum, offering the students an easy way to address questions to the instructor. Finally, creating a video presence within the course, whether through opening remarks or weekly lectures, allows students who prefer a visual presence to see and interact with the instructor. Hybrid Courses Another way to promote and grow your online presence is through hybrid courses. Although hybrid is defined differently at every institution, the basic concept is consistent. In a hybrid course, a portion of the learning experience is facilitated in a traditional physical classroom while another portion is delivered online, typically with the assistance of software such as the Brightspace platform. The breakdown of the time spent between the two can be subjective (based on recommendations from accrediting organizations) and should be decided upon by the institution. Examples of hybrid formats may be 50% classroom/50% online to more of a 60%-40% either way. It is important for the institution to identify and define hybrid courses and then maintain consistency campus-wide. Benefits One benefit of choosing a hybrid format to increase your online presence is the ability to appropriately align technology with course-related activities. Aligning available technology with course-related activities serves two purposes. First, it allows students the opportunity to achieve course objectives remotely, decreasing the amount of in seat time. Secondly, some activities may be better achieved using appropriate technologies, including material review and exam preparation (for example quizzes, flash cards, or Choose your Path with release conditions). Another benefit of the hybrid format includes presenting the information in ways that appeal to learners needs. Some students learn most effectively with a physical aspect to the course where interaction is fairly tangible with the instructor and fellow classmates. Others need the flexibility that online courses have to offer.

6 5 The hybrid approach brings them together, allowing for some face-to-face interaction while also offering a level of flexibility by reducing the amount of time spent in the actual classroom. Minimum Online Presence When it comes to establishing a MOP with hybrid courses, there are many opportunities and benefits to consider. Students who take hybrid courses will get a portion of their learning experience in a traditional, seated classroom while a large part of their class is also facilitated online. As suggested above, instilling a MOP within your hybrid courses will help create a consistent experience for learners while also offering them access to important information when they need it. For example, many institutions who have MOPs in place for their hybrid offerings ask that all course documents (syllabus, calendar, etc.) be posted within the online environment. This promotes online presence by driving students to their online classrooms while giving them access to the information that they need, right when they need it. Similarly, creating an online presence where all course assignments are submitted online and grades are viewed by the student online also promotes an online presence within your hybrid offerings. Ways to Grow using Brightspace Increasing your online presence within hybrid courses can be accomplished in many ways using the Brightspace platform. One way is to establish groups, which work both in the locally-based and online portions of the course. A discussion forum can be created for each group, giving students a place to converse while offering the instructor a place to interact with small groups. Another way to grow your online presence includes the concept of shared delivery of content. Many instructors using the hybrid format will deliver part of a lecture in the seated class with the remaining portion available in the online format and/or begin a discussion in class with follow up/continued discussion online. This allows learners to interact and learn in their preferred format while also offering a level of seamless engagement with the instructor. Flipped Classes The concept of a flipped class while fairly new is being embraced by more and more schools every day. The basic premise is simple: deliver activities and content that would traditionally be delivered via a seated class in advance, using technology such as the Brightspace platform. The expectation is that students will review the information before coming to class, allowing for dialogue and activities based on new knowledge they have previously received. It can be looked at as putting the homework before class instead of after allowing for more time to ask questions and really digest the information, thereby flipping the format of the course.

7 6 Benefits When considering a flipped classroom approach there are several benefits to note. The flipped approach gives learners more time with the instructor whether physical or virtual to address individualized needs and concerns. Additionally, it offers a great method for assessing the ways in which students are successful in the learning process. Whether more self-paced or more hands-on, the instructor can engage the student in ways that most effectively meet their learning style. The flipped classroom also opens the door for more practice and less explanation. With this approach, the instructor is able to assign the reading and perhaps a video lecture regarding the content prior to a class meeting, which then allows for actual hands-on activities pertaining to the topic addressed. This gives the student more practical experience, increasing proficiency and confidence in the content area. Minimum Online Presence Similar to the hybrid approach, a MOP once defined by your institution can enhance the learning experience for students in flipped classrooms. The concept of flipping the classroom may seem confusing to students at first. Creating additional opportunities for engagement and interaction early in the course can assist in familiarizing students with this new format. In establishing MOPs for your flipped approach, once again, access to information and a consistent experience for the learner will contribute greatly to their overall success. For example, MOPs for flipped classes may include items such as a syllabus, documents, and grades. However, with the flipped approach, MOPs should also include lectures and/or other learning opportunities delivered online to support the flipped concept. Ways to Grow using Brightspace Utilizing the Brightspace platform within a flipped classroom can grow your online presence tremendously, from discussion opportunities to video lectures and opportunities for reflection. Similar to the hybrid approach, posing a discussion question first in the online environment within a Brightspace discussion with subsequent follow up in the physical class allows for a richer and more robust discussion that combines technology and human interaction. As stated in the example above, creating video lectures or learning objects that support the content is a great way to engage and increase an online presence within the flipped format. Using D2L Capture is a simple way to allow faculty to record and include video lectures in their courses. And finally, utilizing a private discussion or even an assignment, submitted to via the Dropbox tool as a reflection opportunity, allows the student to feel a level of personal presence with the instructor.

8 7 Web-Enhanced Courses Web-enhanced courses have been around for quite a while. Using a platform such as Brightspace, webenhanced courses assist the traditional learning process by providing access to resources in an online format. Types of activities or resources can include course information, assessments, and instructor contact information. This format serves as another example of creating an online presence with students in order to increase engagement and student success. Benefits As with the other formats discussed, web-enhanced courses offer benefits to both the student and the instructor with regard to flexibility while increasing interaction and presence within the course. Learners who take a traditional seated class still need and want a level of personal interaction that may, in many cases, exceed the allotted physical class time. Engaging students using a web-enhanced approach opens the door for additional dialogue and interaction outside the seated classroom. Learners also want to know how they are doing from an assessment/grading standpoint. Posting grades through an online grade book can be convenient for the instructor and accessible for the student. And finally, creating a repository of information and resources within the online environment for students to access including syllabi, lecture notes, instructor contact information, grade book, and assignment submissions creates a virtual presence students expect and need. Minimum Online Presence Institutions that create an MOP for their web-enhanced offerings can allow better access to information and improve engagement with their students both in the traditional classroom and within the online environment. Additionally, creating a consistent level of engagement with the student through MOPs will allow for increased interaction and ultimately a more positive and successful experience. An example of MOPs for web-enhanced courses may include having all courses utilizing a single online platform such as Brightspace to serve as an online Home Base a one-stop shop outside of the traditional seated classroom for documents, assignments, contact information, communication, and grades. This will contribute to the consistent experience students will have regardless of the courses taken at your institution.

9 8 Ways to Grow using Brightspace Many of the benefits and suggestions above for increasing your online presence within web-enhanced courses can be easily implemented with the Brightspace platform. Gradebook functionality is fully customizable, allowing the instructor to set up the Gradebook tool in a format that works with their course structure while offering ease with grading and making grades accessible to students. Similarly, the Dropbox tool offers the opportunity for students to easily submit assignments, which can be tied to the Gradebook, allowing for customized and individualized feedback. As suggested above, the concept of a Virtual Office discussion allows for continued dialogue between the class and instructor outside of physical class time with the discussion forums. Recommendations and Considerations As you can see, there are a multitude of ways instructors and institutions can increase and grow their online presence using the Brightspace platform. The first step is to identify the appropriate format in which to deliver the content, whether fully online, hybrid, flipped or web-enhanced. That must be followed by the creation of opportunities for personal and engaging interaction with students using the appropriate activities and technology within platform. This can be accomplished with the implementation of a MOP concept. MOPs, once defined and identified by your institution, can contribute greatly to the overall success and positive experiences students and faculty will have by utilizing your institution s online learning platform. The goal of consistent engagement and interaction between the students and instructors is meaningful and can be easily accomplished with the proper planning and support from your institution. Additional Consulting D2L employs a number of experts with extended experience leading academic programs. The D2L community of users includes experts in many fields related to the management and delivery of instructional programs and technologies. D2L stands ready to collaborate and coordinate with you on your advanced consulting needs, as well as research studies related to instruction.

10 9 About D2L A global leader in EdTech, D2L is the creator of Brightspace, the world s first integrated learning platform. The company partners with thought-leading organizations to improve learning through data-driven technology that helps deliver a personalized experience to every learner, regardless of geography or ability. D2L s open and extensible platform is used by more than 1,100 clients and almost 15 million individual learners in higher education, K 12, healthcare, government, and the enterprise sector including Fortune 1000 companies. The company has operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil, and Singapore. CONTA CT U S Phone: Toll Free: (Worldwide) (North America) (United Kingdom and Europe) (New Zealand) (Australia) (Brazil) Fax: Web: D2L Corporation. The D2L family of companies includes D2L Corporation, D2L Ltd, D2L Australia Pty Ltd, D2L Europe Ltd, D2L Asia Pte Ltd, and D2L Brasil Soluções de Tecnologia para Educação Ltda. Brightspace, D2L, and other marks ( D2L marks ) are trademarks of D2L Corporation, registered in the U.S. and other countries. Please visit D2L.com/trademarks for a list of other D2L marks.

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