Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the faculty role in an online course?
A. More than a lecturer. You are the curator of online course resources and the students’ learning path. The course calendar and weekly to do list must clearly state tasks and due dates. Students will do what you ask if there are points assigned to the activity.
Q. What is the best way to organize an online course?
A. Students get confused since each faculty may organize their course differently. Try to follow the template your school provides to cut down on student missteps. Suggest making a To Do list for each week and posting it in the Announcements section of your LMS. Also, embed due dates for all assignments, quizzes, and tests into the course calendar. If possible, ask a fellow faculty member to view their online course to determine if it has a similar look/feel to yours. Be clear about which tasks are MUST DO (# points to earn) versus RECOMMENDED (no points to earn).
Q. How much detail should be in my online content?
A. Your online content should be agnostic with no references to assignment due dates or page numbers in the book. That way, the content you create can be used again in another term or course. Make it last! Your created content should be durable for more than one term.
Q. How can students be set up for success online when the term so far has been a face-to-face classroom experience?
A. As much as possible retain the course structure and grading rubric all are accustomed to. Modifications can be made using the tools of the LMS. For example, class discussions transform into asynchronous threaded discussions (metrics include number of posts and quality of posts) or synchronous breakout room discussions in ZOOM; pop quizzes transform into randomized question timed quizzes where every student views a different quiz; beginning of the class announcements and reminders transform into LMS Announcements that send each student an email reminder; textbook online resources/homework management systems enrich student learning opportunities; and synchronous in class learning games like Kahoot and Polleverywhere can still be used in an online course.
Q. How can student learning be documented? Is it really them?
A. Instead of allocating most of a course's points to midterms and final exams, consider offering many opportunities to earn points to demonstrate learning-algorithmic homework and quizzes, and asynchronous threaded discussions where they serve as discussion leaders. Revamp your courses to share the teaching/communication responsibilities with the students—have students prepare reading guides, potential quiz questions, and powerpoint presentations of textbook Learning Objectives. Have other student edit these learning artifacts using Google Docs so you can see the audit trail of who did what. With enough opportunities to earn points in the LMS, you document who the student is, how often they engage, and how much they learn.
Q. In my LMS should I use all the tools or just a few? How should I structure my course to make it student friendly?
A. To begin, only use a few tools to (1) store chapter/module content in folders in the LMS; (2) make announcements and communicate frequently; (3) manage assignments/quizzes; and (4) keep a gradebook. LMS courses should have flat structures, meaning the less clicks the better for students to find what they are assigned or looking for. It is less confusing to have everything needed for the week or lesson on one landing page than having it located under many tabs…too many clicks!
Q. How can an online course become a more active learning experience?
A. Active learning means students are engaged in a graded activity and are accountable/responsible to their classmates. Share your traditional teaching tasks with all in the course. For example, instead of: “Read the chapter” then take the quiz by X date, suggest using Chapter Experts where readings’ teaching/learning responsibilities are shared among all students. The professor assigns two or more students to each reading/chapter (Two or more students so the class can compare and contrast what each student expert posts online.) Each expert must (1) Prepare and post a study guide or guided Q&A on the reading for the class; (2) Develop five quiz questions and answers; (The professor can use them in a quiz or final review), and, (3) Be the first to respond to questions posed by other students. [By sharing the teaching/learning responsibilities with students, the professor can reinforce and affirm (grade) effort.]
Q. Videos: How long?
A. No more than 5 minutes. Keep it short! Students’ attention wanes if much longer. Also easier for faculty to record a short video with minimal errors. Suggest linking videos together in a YouTube playlist. Videos can be a recorded voice over a powerpoint presentation, a cell phone video, or ???.