From the desks of:
Dr. Donna Petherbridge, Amanda Robertson, & Dr. Traci Temple
There are many things to think about when planning and teaching an online course. A lot of what you already know about teaching in a conventional classroom can be transferred to an online environment. We want to share with you four tips we believe will help you begin a successful experience for you and the students in your online course. These tips are based on our own experiences teaching online courses, as well as validated in the literature.
- Begin with an orientation to the online course:
- Email the class a pre-welcome letter that could include information such as course start date, course URL, technology expectations, textbook info, etc.
- Instructions for how to get started and where to find course components (helping the students navigate around your site)
- Etiquette expectations—sometimes called “netiquette”
- A self-introduction about you
- Minimum student preparation and technical skills expected of the student
- Communicate with your students:
- Communicate early and often during the first two or three weeks of class
- Clearly communicate the course-level and module learning objectives
- Provide instructions to students on how to meet the learning objectives
- Encourage faculty-student and student-faculty social engagement (sharing personal connections such as common research interests, shared personal interests, etc.)
- Clearly state the course grading policy and criteria for how students’ work and participation will be evaluated
- Provide timely feedback to your students (assignments, quizzes and exams)
- Create a timeline and schedule for you and the students:
- Include deadlines and milestones for students
- Set aside specific time in your calendar to work on the course; conversely, create some space for yourself (e.g. “I don’t check email on Saturday, thus plan accordingly”)
- Offer different approaches to learning:
- Create a student-student collaborative learning environment that includes individual work and group work
- Groupwork tips:
- Select the students who will be working together in a group or allow group sign ups by topics
- Offer several options for students to facilitate group meetings (Elluminate, TokBox, Second Life, etc.)
- Be willing to rearrange groups if they aren’t working well
- Wait until around the third week of class to set up groups to allow for drop/adds
- Provide different ways for students to learn the materials such as using different forms of media (video, podcasting, pdf files, etc.)
Dahl, J. (2004). Strategies for 100 percent retention: feedback, interaction. Distance Education Report, 8 (16), 1, 6-7.
Hutchins, H. (2003). Instructional immediacy and the seven principles: strategies for facilitating online courses. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, VI (III), Fall 2003. Retrieved November 30, 2009, from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall63/hutchings63.html.
Morris, L.V. & Finnegan, C.L. (2008). Best practices in predicting and encouragaging student persistence and achievement online. Jorunal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice. 10(1), 55.64.
Resources for teaching online at NCSU:
• For more information about getting started with you online course contact LearnTech by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 919-513-7094.
• DELTA workshops, https://delta.ncsu.edu/learn/workshops/
• DELTA’s website, https://delta.ncsu.edu/