Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Designing classes for online delivery opens many options for both the faculty members and the students. We will look at the underpinnings of successful online class design, some specific technologies, and where learner needs and evolving technologies are leading us in the days ahead.
I am hopeful this blog will provide a continuing resource for you as together we explore designing for digital delivery!
- UIS - 2007 recipient of Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Teaching and Learning Programming Award from the Sloan Consortium
- Online Growth at UIS
- 16 online degree programs - 31% of credit hours online - 48.5% of students taking at least one online class this term
- National Public Radio In-Depth Report on UIS Online
The Introduction to Cultural Anthropology class at Kansas State University (taught by Prof. Michael Wesch) put together a very brief video as a final project in their class last spring. This video describes priorities and realities in lives of youth. While the average age of the online student tends to be somewhat older than the on campus student, there are many similarities in the very busy and internet-digital lives we find among our more than 1,000 online majors at UIS who reside in 49 states and nine foreign countries.
- Learning Effectiveness
- Student Satisfaction
- Faculty Satisfaction
- Cost Effectiveness and Institutional Commitment
As one begins to design a program or a course, it is important to consider these aspects and how you will assess each of these as you move forward.
- Knowledge involves active cognizing by the individual.
- Knowledge is adaptive, facilitating individual and social efficacy.
- Knowledge is subjective and self-organized, not objective.
- Knowledge acquisition involves both sociocultural and individual processes.
Key is to engage students in building knowledge that is relevant to them. This an active process that often is done best by creating a social network or community.
- encourages contact between students and faculty,
- develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
- encourages active learning,
- gives prompt feedback,
- emphasizes time on task,
- communicates high expectations,
- respects diverse talents and ways of learning.
As they point out, these practices promote:
These are especially important in designing for digital delivery.
- Engaging (active learning)
- Building (drawing upon the collective wisdom of the class and beyond)
- Interacting (enabling two-way communication)
- Sustaining (through RSS or other technologies, these exist beyond the end of the term)
Semester without end is possible using Web technologies. Students who have completed the class can engage students in the class and can learn from new materials and discussions.
Keep your design simple! Keep your design clean! Don't muddle what you are doing with extraneous technologies or content.
Never, ever use technology for technology's sake alone. Every time you begin to design a class or a module, start with content. Then, ask what technology will enable me to make this content as clear as possible - and deliver it as efficiently as possible - to the student.
- Small group projects - online anytime/anywhere facilitates students working together
- Case studies - engaging students in applying the knowledge they have constructed
- Collaborations - linking students from different classes (even universities) together
- Journals - facilitate reflected and deep learning
- Blogs - sharing creative work with larger groups (even the Web) for comments
- Wikis - collaboratively building reports
- Podcasts and SlideShare/SlideCast - adding audio and video to projects
- Virtual guest speakers - live or recorded and responding to discussion board comments
The applications are many, but the principles are few - engage the student, facilitate knowledge building, tap the collective wisdom of the Web, encourage diversity, and enable discovery.
Remarkably, when we asked a sampling of our online students what made their online classes special, most responded "everyone is heard" - it is not just the students in the front row, or the ones with the quick answer, or the teacher's pet. Every student posting in response to the common weekly discussion question is read and responded to by the instructor.
This link includes a rubric matrix for grading discussion posts.
- Use unique case studies each semester
- Require distant students to take exams using a proctor
- Phone students (or use VoIP) for an oral exam
- Try Turnitin or another anti-plagiarism software tool
- Create an honor code for the class
- Require annotated bibliographies for final papers
These and many other strategies can help you achieve a greater certainty of integrety than in on campus classes.
UIS has an online test proctoring policy: http://otel.uis.edu/Portal/teachers/proctoredexams/index.asp
There are several online anti-plagiarism tools, including:
A great tool is Fast, the free assessment tool.
One of the great features of this system is the long list of suggested questions:
You can use these or build your own question list.
- Learner Support and Resources
- Instructional Design and Delivery
- Innovative Teaching with Technology
- Online Organization and Design
- Assessment and Evaluation
- Faculty use of Student Feedback
- Course Introduction/Overview
- Learning Objectives
- Assessment and Measurement
- Resources and Materials
- Learner Interaction
- Course Technology
- Learner Support
One additional area I encourage users to consider is the less-quantitative aspects of the class. How does the class promote affective learning and changes? Are attitudes and opinions cultivated?
However, we find that faculty members often times will weave a number of synchronous sessions into the semester. Particularly popular are sessions held prior to midterm and final exams. Also popular are "virtual office hours" in which faculty members make themselves available for one-on-one or small group meetings via such technologies as the linked Elluminate V-room.
There is much anticipation over the release of "My World" - a Google venture to merge Google Earth with avatars to create a virtual environment based on the real world.