Improve your online course

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Improve your online course

    Improve your online course! th12 Sloan-C International Conference on Asynchronous Learning Networks Orlando, Florida 2006

Fill out the SLN teaching online questionnaire:

You will get an email report from filling out this survey with suggestions for improving areas in your

    online course based on your self-assessment and answers you give in the questionnaire.

Use the following documentation to guide your course review, evaluation, and revisions.

Thank you!


    Assistant Director

    SUNY Learning Network

    State University Plaza

    Albany, NY 12246

    T: 1.518.443.5622


    SUNY Herkimer County Community College

    Herkimer, New York 13350-1598

    Herkimer Internet Academy

    T: 315 866-0300 ext.8211

All handouts for this presentation are ? Alexandra M. Pickett. Please contact me for any use or adaptation of these


    ? Alexandra M. Pickett . Improve your online course! . ALN 2006 . November 8-10, 2006 1

Review Your Course

    Best Practices: Teaching Presence and Class Community: Reflection, Evaluation, & Revision The purpose of this step in the process is to provide you as the instructor with the opportunity to reflect upon and evaluate your course and online teaching and learning experiences.

    Based on your experiences so far, you may have some indication of what you feel may need improvement in your online course. No matter what, there are always ways to improve your online

    teaching and learning environment. Keep in mind that evaluation and revision of your online course is an ongoing process. You may want to consult with an instructional designer if one is available to you for any revisions/changes to your course.

    Our best practices show that high levels of "Teaching Presence" (Anderson, 2001) - effective instructional design and organization, facilitation of productive discourse and direct instruction - positively and significantly influence the satisfaction and reported learning of online students.

    There is also evidence to suggest that a strong sense of community in the classroom helps reduce student feelings of isolation and ―burnout‖ associated with higher attrition levels in both classroom-based

    and distance learning. A positive sense of community also promotes the likelihood of student support and information flow, commitment to group goals, cooperation among members and satisfaction with group processes and efforts [e.g. Rovai (2002)].

    Teaching Presence is the facilitation and direction of cognitive and social processes for the realization of personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes. In a learner-centered teaching and learning environment teaching presence is demonstrated not only by the instructor, but also by the students.

Classroom Community is comprised of various elements of community including trust, spirit,

    connectedness, belonging, membership, various forms of support, and the rich, and productive milieu that communities of practice can engender for teaching and learning.

    Class community and teaching presence can be expressed in an online course in the following ways: 1. Class Community (by Instructor & Students)


    Building social/group spirit

    Establishing trust


    Engaging in supportive contact and interaction

    Sharing educational expectations

2. Instructional Design and Organization (by Instructor)

    Setting the curriculum

    Designing methods

    Establishing time parameters

    Utilizing the medium effectively

    Establishing Netiquette

3. Facilitating Discourse/Interaction (by Instructor & Students)

    Identifying areas of agreement/disagreement

    Seeking to reach consensus

    Reinforce student contributions

    Setting climate for learning

    Drawing in participants, prompting discussion/interaction

    ? Alexandra M. Pickett . Improve your online course! . ALN 2006 . November 8-10, 2006 2

    Assessing the efficacy of the process

4. Direct Instruction (by Instructor & Students)

    Present content/Questions

    Focus the discussion on specific issues

    Confirm understanding

    Diagnose misconceptions

    Inject knowledge from diverse sources

    There is a relationship between teaching presence and the development of community in online learning environments - that courses characterized by effective teaching presence are more likely to develop a stronger sense of community on the part of students.

    Review the Class Community and Teaching Presence indicators, strategies, and suggestions detailed below and consider how they might be applied to making improvements in the revisions to your online course.

    If you feel that the class community elements in your course need improvement, review the subcategories of the class community section below and the examples presented as suggestions, alternatives, and places in your course to revise.

? Alexandra M. Pickett . Improve your online course! . ALN 2006 . November 8-10, 2006 3

     Class Community




    Building social/group spirit: Personal information about yourself, Model expected student behaviors in the Meet Your

    including a photo, audio, video, etc. Classmates section with your own profile.

"Student Lounge", "Social Cafe",

    etc. Create a module exclusively for social

     contact/interaction/exchanges between students.

     Create a section in each module entitled "Students

     helping Students" or "Peer Assistance" and encourage

     students to help each other.

Phone, face-to-face, snail mail to Encourage students to use the Bulletin Board for

    students before the opening of a interaction unrelated to course content.


    Consider offline contact with students when appropriate.

    Ask students for help in improving the course,

    implement a midterm course review, What can be

    improved? And then make one of their suggested

    changes in the course for the remainder of the term.

    Establishing trust: Study Groups, Peer Evaluations. Provide opportunities and recognition for students to

     support each other.

    Student Journals, Private Folders,

    Talk with the Professor. Respond promptly to student concerns.

Student-Led discussions, Pairing

    students, small groups. Provide clear guidelines for activities in which students

     interact with each other that encourage them to Brainstorming activities, chain communicate openly, fairly, and empathetically.


    Create learning activities for which students must rely

    on each other.

    Use the first person narrative voice as much as possible.

    ? Alexandra M. Pickett . Improve your online course! . ALN 2006 . November 8-10, 2006 4


    Engaging in supportive contact and Problem-based activities, Case Establish cooperative learning activities that foster interaction: Studies, Debates. student/student interaction and group learning.

     Use the "Save for Class" option for written assignments.

     Encourage students to provide feedback for each other.

    Webquest, small group discussions

    or projects that open to the whole Create a learning activity for which students discover

    class after they are complete. something as a group. As examples - problem-based

    activities or case studies for small groups of students.

    Provide prompt feedback and evaluation for student


    Encourage students to use the Shared References section

    to combine their research efforts.

    Encourage students to respond to each other in the Ask a

    Question area.

Sharing educational expectations: Rubrics, Instructions for Discussion. Establish Netiquette.

    My Expectations, Course Clarify expectations in the Course Information

    Objectives, How You Will Be documents.


    Mid-semester Course Evaluations, Encourage students to evaluate their experience in your

    Culminating Activity, Suggestion course.


     Use the NewsFlash to communicate expectations.

    Student-led discussions, Peer

    Reviews, student presentations.

    Provide opportunities for students to learn from each


    ? Alexandra M. Pickett . Improve your online course! . ALN 2006 . November 8-10, 2006 5

If you feel that the design and organization of your course needs improvement, review the subcategories of the

    design and organization section below and the examples presented as suggestions, alternatives, and places in

    your course to revise.

Instructional Design and Organization



    Subdocuments, documents, sections; importing text, Building curriculum materials graphics; file attachments; tables; using HTML; links

    MERLOT, Check online resources available to you via Integrating external learning your textbook publisher. Many textbooks now have objects companion web sites with simulations, self tests,

    quizzes, related web links, etc.

    Designing methods: instructional I am going to divide you into Written Assignment Area; Discussion Area; Adding an strategies that help structure groups, and you will debate... Online Journal section or module; cooperative and learning activities collaborative activities; group papers; individual

    project; structured/virtual seminar; role plays &

    simulations; In Basket (Manager's Box); Committee

    Hearing; skits; management lab (corporate business);

    treasure hunt; web quest; Sam's Café (philosophical

    perspectives); case study; Preceptor's/Mentor's Module;

    internships; learning contract;

    Resources: MERLOT; course examples; excerpted

    examples; VID

    Establishing time parameters Please post a message by Friday... Schedule/calendar function; NewsFlash Archive; dates

    in subject field of documents; linking to Course


    Using different views; handling old courses & email Utilizing the medium effectively lists; Private Notebook;; clear directions & navigational


    Establishing Netiquette Keep your messages short Instructions for Discussion document; My


    ? Alexandra M. Pickett . Improve your online course! . ALN 2006 . November 8-10, 2006 6

    If you feel that facilitating discourse or interaction your course needs improvement, review the subcategories of the facilitating discourse/interaction section below and the examples presented as suggestions, alternatives and

    places in your course to revise.

Facilitating Discourse/Interaction



    Debating activities; interviews; Identifying areas of agreement and Joe, Mary has provided a

    disagreement compelling counter example to

    your hypothesis. Would you care to


    Group product; group/shared decision making; inter-Seeking to reach consensus/ I think Joe and Mary are saying community networking (Guest Speaker); understanding essentially the same thing. polling/survey/balloting; small group discussions; small

    working groups; team presentations;

    Students Helping Students/Peer Assistance; Student-led Encouraging, acknowledging, and Thank you for your insightful discussion; reinforcing student contributions comments

    Speaker's Bureau (guest lecturers); learning Setting climate for learning Don't feel self-conscious about partnerships; peer learning groups; learning circles; 'thinking out loud' in this forum. study groups/pairs; Online Classroom; This is a place to try out ideas after


    Free flow discussion; open-ended or thought-provoking Drawing in participants, prompting Any thoughts on this issue? anyone questions; brain storming/brainwriting; free association; discussion care to comment? In the Hot Seat; The Shot Gun; informal socializing: the

    online café, online games & simulations (management

    laboratory; U.N. session); Ice Breaker activities

    (learning styles quiz); Panel Discussion; Round Table

    Discussion; symposium; student moderators; Bulletin

    Board; Online Office Hours; participate wisely

    Suggestion Box; Culminating Activity; small groups; Assessing the efficacy of the I think we are getting a little off

    process track here

    ? Alexandra M. Pickett . Improve your online course! . ALN 2006 . November 8-10, 2006 7

    If you feel that direct instruction your course needs improvement, review the subcategories of the direct instruction section below and the examples presented as suggestions, alternatives and places in your course to revise.

Direct Instruction



    Virtual lectures; Peer Assistance; discussion & Presenting content and questions Bates says.... what do you think? assignment documents;

    Focusing the discussion or directing I think that's a dead end. I would Virtual seminar; student led discussion; group the activity ask you to consider... spokesperson or leader;

    Small group reporting; Summarizing the discussion or The original question was... Joe

    results of an activity said... Mary said... we concluded

    that... we still haven't addressed...

    Discussion rating ; using rubrics; stand-alone Confirm understanding through You're close, but you didn't account evaluations; feedback module; test & evaluation forms; assessment and explanatory for ... this is important because...


    Talk with Professor; Peer Assistance; Learning Journal; Diagnosing misconceptions Remember, Bates is speaking from Question Area; Bulletin Board and administrative perspective, so

    be careful when you say...

    Online Library Sources, Shared References; Virtual Injecting knowledge from diverse I was at a conference with Bates Library/Resources; collective database; Guest Speakers; sources once, and he said... You can find MERLOT the proceedings from the

    conference at http://www....

    Your Institutional Help Sources if any, e.g., HelpDesk, Responding to technical questions If you want to include a hyperlink online resources, etc. in your message you have to...

    ? Alexandra M. Pickett . Improve your online course! . ALN 2006 . November 8-10, 2006 8

Evolve: evaluate, review, and revise your online course

Evaluate your course

    Once you have taught your course, you will be expected to review, evaluate, and ultimately to revise your course as the last step in your Course Development Process.

For the purpose of assessing your course you should consider:

     What worked?

     What didn't? why?

     What could be improved? How?

    Once you conclude the delivery phase you can use this information to review, evaluate, and document the revisions you want to make to your course in anticipation of the next time you teach it.

Things to think about when ending an online course

     How will you end the course?

     Will you send a group ―good-by‖ email or post something in your course?

     Will you send students their final grades via email? Is there an online mechanism for this built in to

    your course? Will the students get their grades from your institution via some other mechanism? What is the end date for your course?

     How will you deal with students who do not complete the course on time?

     Do you want to survey your students for feedback?

     Does your institution require and implement a course evaluation?

     Have you made/kept an copy of your course for yourself?

Evaluate your course

    This is the last step in your online course development process. Once you conclude the teaching phase of your course, you should evaluate the course and your experience. Review any notes you made to yourself as you taught and review student feedback to assess the necessary improvements and revisions to the structure or activities in your course.

     You may want to think about:

     What worked?

     What didn't? Why?

     What could be improved? How?

     Were your discussions successful?

     Were your assignments and other activities successful?

     Did you get through all the modules in the course?

     Did most students complete the course?

     How was the workload for you and for your students? Were you able to keep up?

     Was there anything missing?

     Were there any points in the course where you noticed that students did not do an activity, or did

    not understand the activity?

    You may want to ask a colleague or instructional designer to do a review of your course after it has concluded. You can use the checklists found in Step 5 again to guide or focus summative evaluations of your course materials, interactions, and activities.

    If you conducted a culminating activity in your course as recommended, or a midterm feedback forum, review these student comments as part of the evaluation and revision planning process for your course. In addition, look at the types of questions your students had and where they had them. Activities, assignments, and areas in your course that did not go as expected or intended may indicate a need for ? Alexandra M. Pickett . Improve your online course! . ALN 2006 . November 8-10, 2006 9

revision. If there was any apparent confusion or a bunch of questions about the same thing, that most

likely indicates that more instructions, clearer instructions, or details are necessary.

? Alexandra M. Pickett . Improve your online course! . ALN 2006 . November 8-10, 2006 10

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