Setting up Effective Online Learning Experiences

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I am going to begin teaching my first online class.  I have taken many online classes in the past some classes were great and others were not.  I hope I am not one of those instructors that have a boring class. 

Steps for Setting up An Effective Online Learning Experience

There are several resources available for setting up an effective online environment, which can be found on the internet and in books.  One book of interest that can help new online instructors is “The Online Teaching Survival Guide” by Boettcher and Conrad.  This survival guide list several steps to setup an online class.  Of the 13 steps, I found in the book, I believe these are the most essential.

            The first step is probably obvious but is very important.  Find out who is responsible for setting up the course site and how to access the site.  Without this step, you may found out the course is not setup or available.  The second step I believe is important is to review the syllabus and textbook for the course.  If the syllabus is not available, prepare one.  As an instructor, you have to know what you are teaching and are able to communicate course content to the class.  The fourth step plan a course schedule, having a schedule will keep the instructor and class on track.  The fifth step is to prepare discussion postings and post discussions to the course site.  The sixth step is prepare an icebreaker for week one of the course.  The icebreaker can help student get to know each other.  The last step is to ask for feedback from another instructor. Asking for feedback, the instructor will know they are ready to teach.

Communication

            Have you ever took a class and the instructor was not clear about the class or was vague?  I took a class once where the instructor posted discussion questions and assignments but never communicated to the class.  The instructor’s feedback was never given, the class was confused, and responses to discussion questions were all over the board.  Since online classes are not face-to-face it is very important to be clear about course content, how discussions will be posted, and what are the expectations of the instructor.  Instructor feedback to the student needs to take place.  By giving feedback, the student will feel reassured he or she is learning and understanding the class.  Without good communication, the student will feel alone and the class will not be effective.  

Other Considerations

            Adult learners often take online classes to improve opportunities for his or her career.  Adult learners have life experiences that can influence how they learn and how they view ideas.  It is important for instructors to remember these are adults and their experience can benefit the class.  According to Shank (2013),

We need to take advantage of adult students’ life experience and goals.  Not only does that help them feel accepted for who they are, it also helps them learn, keeps them engaged, and helps them relate what they are learning to what they already know.  In addition, if we do not consider adult students’ life experience, they often feel as if they are being treated “like children”, a situation that is not conducive to learning, retention, or the transition they are going through (para. 4).

 Reference 

Shank, P. (2013). Faculty Focus. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/more-on-designing-and-teaching-online-courses-with-adult-students-in-mind/

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One thought on “Setting up Effective Online Learning Experiences

  1. Darriel Williams

    Great blog David, I too agree that communication is probably the most essential part of an online learning experience. If the instructor and students are not in some type of dialog throughout the course it is sure to be headed for failure. Communication is key when working online, so therefore beginning and ending a course with effective communication opportunities is what will ensure a significant online adult learning experience.

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