Our online of the M.A. in Training and certificates has grown tremendously over the past five years. Now nearly 80% of our enrollment is fully online. With so many students choosing this option, we have have to continuously improve our practices in online teaching. Our faculty have created an ongoing list of practices that they use to improve online learning. Students in TRDV 501 Online Teaching Theory & Application will be adding to this list. Please review the “best practices” listed below and add a comment to this post with an additional “best practice in online teaching” of your own.
- Ask Strong Questions:In the forums/discussion boards focus on asking strong questions that test a student’s understanding of the topic. I presented a “seek circle questions” tool in April to RU that I will share with this team as well if you would like (Ken).
- Stay current in the forums–don’t just check them, but participate as much as your schedule allows so students feel connected (Kathy).
- Keeping in Constant Touch:Checking discussion forums each day and participating in their discussions helps to keep up with what they’re experiencing and helps me guide them through any difficulties they have. (Meena).
- Change dates in the syllabus, gradebook, and anywhere else that they appear (Kathy).
- Clean up the gradebook—removed unnecessary assignment, check the weighting, change dates, etc. (Kathy)
- Check links prior to each module to make sure they still work.If they don’t work, locate a replacement when possible and change it in the page.If you need help with this don’t hesitate to ask (Kathy).
- Make written instructions for all assignments as specific as possible i.e. what should be included, how, when, etc. This will prevent misunderstandings and different expectations (Meena).
- Late Assignment Policy: Assignments submitted after the due date will be accepted up to 10 days after the due date, but will lose 2% points for each day late. No assignments will be accepted if they are more than 10 days late unless there are extenuating circumstances.Free Pass: You have one free pass that allows you to post an assignment of your choice-other than the final research paper-up to 10 days later than the due date with no loss of points. To use your free pass, just notify me by e-mail.
- Give students detailed feedback about their work–I’ve found that positive feedback needs to be just as detailed as feedback focused on improvement or students will not really know what they’ve done right (Kathy).
- Respond to student e mails within 48 hours most of the time.If you’re going to respond later that that, let students know (Kathy).
- I answer emails each day and am now taking my laptop everywhere when I travel so I can log on each day. Responding quickly to emails/postings reassures students we’re there to help them (Meena).
- My best practice is calling students on the phone if they are really struggling. I know we have audio learners that need to talk it out or hear a voice. They always appreciate the extra help and it is easier than back and forth when email isn’t working for them. Plus, it makes a connection, they realize there is a real person on the other end (Loren).
- Set up a “Case Study” or “New Tools” Toolkit in your class. I have a work in progress RU Class Toolkit for students to provide tools and resources so students can advance their new skills and broaden their understanding of theory in real world situations (Ken).
- Make assignments as exciting as possible.I think this is particularly important in online courses.Use scenarios, cases, webquests, group inquiry forums, blogs, journals, etc. to excitement to the course assignments as you facilitate authentic practice (Kathy)
Can you think of an additional best practice in online teaching that is not mentioned in the above list?