RUOnline Faculty Tips for Teaching Online
- Give frequent and consistent feedback. Without it, your students will be frustrated.
- Clearly indicate how and when you will be available, and respond promptly to all inquiries from students.
- Use threaded discussions to provide motivation, support, and feedback. Invite students to share challenges (assure them that their grade will not be affected).
- Be patient. Many students are taking online courses for the first time. If a student misses because of illness, help them. Give them opportunity to make up their work. It's much easier to do this with online courses than face to face.
- Encourage student-to-student interaction. Make students responsible for summarizing the week's discussion, taking the lead of a discussion, or teaching others a concept.
- Create activities where students integrate new ideas with existing knowledge. Provide them a frame of reference within the online environment and easy pathways to relevant resources.
- Make assignments as exciting and relevant as possible. Use scenarios, cases, web quests, group inquiry forums, blogs, journals, etc., to add excitement as well as facilitate authentic practice.
- Assign group projects and small group discussions. Have students role-play, create simulations, or engage in mock trials and debates.
- Use peer-review for projects or papers. Students can assist each other before grading, motivating them to display their work publicly and receive feedback from more than just one person.
- Involve students in their learning, remember the adage that students remember only 10% of what they read or see, but 80% of what they do and 90% of what they teach others.
- Make participation a weighty part of student grades. Use the threaded discussions as your "in-class" time and create rubrics for discussions and assignments so students will have clear guidelines.
- Ask questions that push the boundaries of student understanding and provide them with strategies to seek answers.
- Give positive feedback to help motivate students. Send them on virtual vacations or send virtual greetings or other rewards for outstanding work.
- Engage "silent" students. Reach out to them with private email/phone messages of concern.
- Emphasize "netiquette." Words can be interpreted very differently online. Make sure you explain your feelings with cues like, "I feel very strongly about this," or "I'm confused by your answer. Is this what you mean?"
Appropriate Use of Technology
- Achieve balance between presentation and content. Use technology appropriately. You want students to spend their time learning the course content, not tinkering with new technology.
- Establish your "voice" online. Personal touches make a huge difference in how a student views the learning environment.
- Solicit and consider student feedback in redesigning parts of your course.
- Learn the technology. Get your computer literacy and knowledge of Blackboard up to speed well in advance of the course start date.
- Rigorously follow all RU Online guidelines for course development. Establish clear policies, set clear deadlines, and implement a clear organization of your course.
- See your course "from a student's perspective" before class starts. Make sure expectations are clearly stated. Don't forget to include when and how to submit course work.
- Review your course. Online courses can become obsolete very quickly. Content changes, links go bad, books go out of print. It's important to maintain course currency. Check links and resources by making sure all links work.
Teaching with Courses Prepared by Other Instructors
- Check through all content making sure that contact information, syllabus and course information match your own. You are responsible for changing schedule dates for your course.
Training and Seeking Help from Seasoned Online Instructors
- Students have their best most notable online learning with experienced on line teachers. Seek help and mentoring from seasoned online teachers. Also attend the free Blackboard workshops to stay current on training and trends.
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