This project addresses elements of successful online teaching, the qualities of student learner, the online instructor, essentials of course content, and strategies enabling the following two-way relationships: student-student, student-team, and student-instructor, as the building blocks of a successful online course.
Key strategies for fostering communication between instructor and students and between students.
Instructors can adjust to students’ questions quickly and add contents, as needed, through examples, links to information, and step-by-step detailed responses. Examples of forum types:
Class News (class bulletin board) to communicate upcoming events, changes or additions to class or any other "news". Automatically emails to other students! Great feature!
Questions Forum for question about the class, assignment s, lecture material, etc. Students just click on "Add a New Discussion Topic" button below. Think of this as raising your hand in a traditional class. All the students can see your question and all can see the answers!
Water Cooler forum. Open line, using good netiquette, chatting about anything for offline conversations with classmates.
I ntroduction forum to get to know each other, gives a personal touch, helps reinforce a High-Tech, High-Touch learning environment!
Team Project Discussion Forum Used to coordinate group projects. Discussion Board set up in the separate groups mode- each group can only see their own group, other forums are invisible. Information is specific, relevant. Avoids TMI (too much information).
In summary then, there needs to be time allotted, such as the first week, for students and instructor to get to know each other and the web site. Getting to know each other can include an introduction posted on the discussion board. It also needs to include assignments that will help them get familiar with the site. It is also a time to get information such as email addresses. There needs to be a student discussion board and a roster with email addresses. This will enable students to communicate with each other and answer each others questions. By communicating through a discussion board students who may have had the same question will be able to see the answer. A class news page also allows an instructor to communicate with the entire class. Email needs to be reserved for personal matters only.
Assignments should be uploaded, and the grading criteria and grades should be posted. When testing, the instructor has to consider setting time limits, and the types of exams to be given; essays, problems, projects, or proctored exams. Which quiz engines to use will also have to be decided. Grades need to be posted in a way that protects student privacy rights. The students' ID can be posted, but not their names. Any technology challenges need to be addressed early on. An element of fun, and lots of positive encouragement help to keep students motivated. For the "fun stuff" there are graphics, sound, clip art, and links to web sites. The best way to retain students is by communicating, especially early in the course.
Beyond the basic required online training course covering software basics and the notions of online pedagogy and teaching strategies, a successful online faculty development program should offer a variety of other training, support, and networking opportunities for instructors. This multi-service approach to online faculty support and development will provide a rich mixture of elements that will satisfy the needs of a diverse teaching body. This, in turn will help ensure a richer and more successful online learning experience for students.