Friday, May 11, 2012

Three Tips for Building Community in Your Online Course

"The shift from traditional classroom education to computer-mediated distance learning poses enormous challenges to instructors and learners. The concept of the classroom where students meet to interact with other learners and the instructor no longer exists in the virtual model. The instructor can no longer “look” around the room to see if students are attending to the material, are bored or confused, or are even present.  Since learners are now engaged with the computer instead of other learners, they lack a natural social outlet which can lead to feelings of isolation." - Melanie Misanchuk and Tiffany Anderson, Building community in an online learning environment: communication, cooperation and collaboration

It's true: online classes and online classrooms are lonely, isolated places if we don't do something about it. Here are some tips from my favorite practitioners.

Use the Webcam to let students know there's something there at the other end of the line.

Allowing students to come to the virtual classroom early (or stay late) so that they can chat informally without interrupting your teaching gives them a sense of community.

Take advantage of the strengths of this technology: immediate feedback, the ability for students to interact with one another, and the opportunity to ask questions either vocally, with text, or using the "hand-raising" tool.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Do You Know the Way to San Jose? (OTC)

We're barely a month away from the Online Teaching Conference in San Jose.  I'm looking forward to great sessions and wonderful networking with the state's best online instructors and practitioners from around the world. Here's a small sample:

Yong Zhao: "When Distance is Dead: The Implications of Global and Open Education."  Yong Zhao will speak on issues related to globalization and education, creativity, global competitiveness, educational reforms, and educational technology. Topics include how education should focus on developing children’s strengths, not “fixing their deficiencies”, how education is much more than the addition of instruction of course content, especially in a number of limited subjects, and what makes a nation, a community strong is diversity of talents and creative citizens, among others.

"@ONE Certification Showcase" with Donna Eyestone and Anna Stirling. Here's your chance to see what some of the best @ONE Certification program graduates have created for their online courses. Get some new ideas about how you can take your online course up a notch -- and discover more about what the @ONE Certification program offers. 

"Best of all worlds: F2F, Hybrid and Online All Together! " with Alex Cheroske. College student learning needs are diverse and benefit from varied instruction and delivery to match. Advances in Web conferencing have made it possible. This session will demonstrate how a college biology class was developed to provide an engaging learning environment in a variety of formats for today's students.

"DE 101: Preparing Students for Online Learning" with Geoff Cain and Barry Tucker. Barry Tucker, an academic advisor, and Geoff Cain, director of distance education, will present their innovative online orientation to distance learning. DE 101 unfolds like a "real" online course over two weeks that reviews the tools and skills needed to be successful in an online setting. In their course, Barry and Geoff emphasize the three "C"s: community, communication and collaboration. They will present the course and their research on how it has improved student success and retention rates.

"Designing an Online Writing Center for Student Support and Success" with Alisa Klinger and Ingrid Kelly. Discover how to provide 24/7 online writing support to students and how to enhance your college's efforts in “Student Success,” “Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC),” and “Writing in the Disciplines (WID).” The College of Marin's Online Writing Center offers students free and easy access to writing resources, peer-to-peer support, and live help from instructional specialists. With access to the Internet and self-registration, writing support is just a click away for all registered students in any discipline.

"Digital Library in the Digital Learning Age" with W. Cherry Li-Bugg and Alicia Virtue. Librarians at Santa Rosa Junior College have been watching the digital learning trends, including the shift of e-learning to mlearning, i.e., human presence in digital learning and digital storytelling to create persistent connections with students. As a result, the SRJC librarians have adapted their practices to address the digital learning needs of students. By offering discovery services, telling digital stories, creating digital art galleries and injecting human presence in the digital library, the SRJC librarians have successfully transformed themselves and positioned the library at the forefront of the digital learning age.

"Distance Education Issues from the Chancellor's Office's Perspective" with LeBaron Woodyard. There are number of issues impacting the 112 colleges of the California Community College System. This workshop looks at those issues and the activities the Chancellor's Office have undertaken to address them. Including recent research on retention rate costs to the State of California, state authorization, student financial aid for distance education discussions, organizing distance education coordinators, communication and collaboration of distance education professional in the system, and any impending legislation being discussed at the State level.

"Enhancing Online Learning with Video Elements" with Glen Jenewein. It has become apparent in the last few years that online learners either avoid reading or cannot read specific and important information in an online class. However, with the advent of social networking and multimedia on the web and cell phones, online faculty have the opportunity to present important concepts to their online students. The ability to enhance online courses with simple video elements helps students to complete assignments, readings, and discussions, and it motivates them to check into their classes more often which in turn helps instructors retain their students. This presentation will demonstrate how to create a simple video, compress it, and access code to embed the file into a course management system or even upload it to a website, blog or YouTube. No expensive equipment or software is required, there is little to no cost, and the process is fairly quick and straightforward.

"Extreme Makeover: Online Instructor Edition" with Kara Kuvakas. How would your students describe your online classroom environment? Do they experience a sense of community or isolation? Whether you are new to online teaching or a seasoned pro, you can enhance your online personality and improve student engagement. In this session, you’ll learn fun, simple ways to breathe new life into your online classroom by integrating creative ideas and free, easy-to-use programs. We will also use existing tools built into your CMS to offer a more personalized and cooperative experience for your students (with little time invested!). Pull up a chair and get ready for your online makeover.

"Going Online for the First Time" with Linda Morrow. Going online for the very first time? Concerned about making your course interesting, collaborative and effective? Want to make certain your SLOs are adequately addressed in the online environment? This session will show how the @ONE Online Teaching Certificate courses as well as personal experience can be used to build your own course, and then share it with colleagues for feedback. 

"Harnessing the Power of Prezi to Teach Critical Thinking" with Lene Whitley-Putz. Prezi is an online tool that offers the ability to create dynamic presentations. However, this online tool has power that moves it well beyond simply creating interesting visual aids. First, groups can use Prezi for both synchronous and asynchronous remote group work -- a super valuable feature for encouraging interaction between students. In addition, Prezi has unique features that allow students to consciously organize and rank information. This workshop will focus on exploring ways you can use Prezi in your online classes to enhance critical thinking and group work.

"How to Design a Successful Hybrid Mathematics Course" with Rena Petrello.
In this session, components of a successful online developmental math course will be demonstrated. Tips will be included on how to quickly and easily create video lessons (without a camera) and a demonstration of highly valuable communication tools (Wimba/Elluminate) will be given for holding study sessions and office hours online. A highly detailed syllabus will be given for participants to draw from for their own classes.

"Optimizing Instructional Time in an Online Environment" with Amy Gross. Ever feel like you’ve worked yourself to the bone but still have not made “sufficient” progress on all of your work-related tasks? In an online environment, it is not uncommon to feel as if you have a million things to do and not nearly enough hours in the day to do them. This session is designed for those who are struggling to find a time management strategy that honors the unique needs of the online instructor. In this session, we will leave the traditional concept of “multitasking” behind and introduce session participants to a unique and effective approach to time management. At the end of this session, participants will have the knowledge and tools necessary to build a time management plan that supports balance and efficiency.

"Potential Use of Google+ in Education" with Grace Esteban.  A new, socially oriented group of services that promises to rival Facebook was successfully launched by Google the middle of last year. This new social networking craze has the potential for educational use. The instructor will demonstrate the potential uses of Google+ features in education, promoting some highly technical classes. This is a hands-on presentation/demonstration.

"The Power of Open Educational Resources (OER) to Improve Outcomes for Diverse Learners" with Una Daly and Jayme Johnson. Open Educational Resources (OER) can be freely used and modified to support learners with special needs. The ability to easily customize open instructional materials can make education not only more available by lowering cost but also more accessible by removing physical barriers to learning. The High Tech Center Training Unit (HTCTU) and the Community College Consortium for OER (CCOER) team up to share best practices on finding and creating high-quality OER while ensuring that it supports all learners regardless of disability. Learn tips for verifying accessibility of instructional materials and the resources available to you for making improvements.
"Student Generated Content: YouTube, Google Documents & Structure" with T.L. Brink. This course describes how T.L. Brink uses student-generated content in online classes, e.g., psychology, world religion and critical thinking. Brink gives guidelines and specific recommendations for getting students to make useful videos (that are then shared on YouTube) as well as traditional projects such as case studies, book reviews, surveys, experiments, service learning and policy analysis, which are written, corrected and rewritten on Google Documents. The benefits are not just better quality student work, but the building of community and the accumulation of future learning objects.

"Student Learning Outcomes: How Are Online Students Doing?" with Lisa Montagne. Online students should be performing equally to face-to-face students on student learning outcomes, but are they? How effective are online learning platforms and pedagogy in helping students to succeed? Come to this session to hear and discuss original research on this topic.

"They Want Me to Teach Online...Now What?" with Donna S. Eastham. You've made careful comments on student writing, but what will students do with those comments? Do they learn from them, or simply move on? This session shows a simple step-by-step process that helps nourish self-evaluation by putting those comments at the center of students' attention.

Get Twitter Fan Box Widget