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Teaching online

Teaching online is really (as in honestly) different from classroom teaching. The information transmission role is significantly reduced while the motivational, facilitating, coaching, scaffolding, mentoring, and tracking roles come to the fore. This module examines important teaching practices, policy and procedural issues, and using learning management system (LMS) tools throughout the course.

The online classroom[edit]

Undertanding the nature of teaching online and using best practices.


We compare online teaching with the classroom model, and discuss how it impacts instructor time and practices.

The first two weeks[edit]

A sensitive period in the life of an online course, the first two weeks demand a special sort of attention from instructors.

Scaffolding learning[edit]

Scaffolding refers to any sort of learning assistance provided after initial instruction. Is is temporary and removed when no longer necessary.

Best practices[edit]

Much has been written about teaching practices, including online practices. We highlight the practical actions online instructors take to promote student learning and satisfaction.

Facilitation & feedback[edit]

Perhaps the heart of masterful online teaching, facilitation and feedback constitute the two most critical skills for instructors. Asking for and acting on student feedback to improve the course and individual teaching practices ensure continuous improvement.

Facilitation: Discussions[edit]

Regardless of one's future occupation, communicating and working well with others are core competencies essential to success. Even the most well-designed courses do not adequately teach these skills without human intervention. Facilitating discussions not only help students learn these skills, but also provide excellent teaching opportunities.

Facilitation: Group learning[edit]

Although we can and do learn by ourselves, there is extensive evidence suggesting that learning with others is effective for most types of learning, and the most effective for certain types of learning.

Feedback: Activities, assignments, and assessments[edit]

Perhaps one of the most neglected teaching and learning tools, feedback lets learners know where they stand in relation to expectations and, more importantly, how to improve their work.

Student feedback[edit]

Standardized student course evaluations fail to provide sufficient information for designers to strengthen the course design or for instructors to improve their teaching practices. Alternative methods are necessary if we are to improve the course, hone our skills and grow professionally.

Policies and procedures[edit]

There are several compliance issues online instructors need to understand, comply with, and enforce. Then there is the issue of academic dishonesty.

Compliance issues[edit]

We take a brief look at privacy, disabilities, misrepresentation, and student misconduct.

Academic dishonesty[edit]

Using practices that discourage student cheating and plagiarism detection tools.

Using LMS tools[edit]

Learning management systems (LMS) are complex tools that are supposed to facilitate and support the teaching and learning process. Without a basic knowledge of how the LMS works, instructors and students are likely to become frustrated and grow to detest the experience. While we can't discuss the details of specific LMS, we can describe the most common processes so that you can understand how they work. We examine LMS basics plus creating announcements, groups, assignments, tests and quizzes, and grading. A neglected but especially useful tool we discuss is pre-scheduling – making sure various course components appear and disappear on schedule.

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