Online Teaching Orientation & Refresher

Introduction Text

The Student Experience

Online courses offer many benefits that face-to-face courses do not, making the choice to study online very appealing to many groups of people. Those who would otherwise be unable to further their education are now pursing an education online. This module examines the online student perspective including their motivation and needed support. 

  • Overview (1:25 min)
  • The Student Experience (3:58 min) - Learn what motivates adult learners to choose e-Learning, their apprehensions, and strategies to motivate them once inside the electronic classroom. 
  • Supporting Learners at Key Stages Throughout the Online Course (5:29 min)- This presentation describes what online learners may be feeling and thinking as they progress through various stages of an online course. 
    • For students - General Walkthrough video (5:26 min) - Shows how a Blackboard course is laid out, how to navigate, and to showcase commonly-used tools. 
  • Encouraging Learners to be Proactive (4:51 min) - This presentation discusses strategies faculty might use to facilitate and engender more proactive learners in their online courses.
  • Addressing Accessibility in Online Learning (3:45 min) - This presentation provides an overview of three of the primary areas (visual, auditory, and cognitive) in which learners may need accommodations in the online classroom. Common methods used to. help ensure course content is accessible are also discussed. 
Additional Resources: The Student Experience
  • Download: The Student Experience (PDF)
  • Download: Welcome Letter Template (DOCX)

The Instructor Experience

Today, online courses are a vital part of many universities' offerings, and more faculty have the chance to develop and hone their online teaching skills. The instructor experience is an exciting opportunity to guide learners through a well-designed curriculum, build a vibrant learning community, and facilitate engaged learning. The video below provides an overview of the topics covered in this module. 

  • Overview (1:05 min)
  • How the Online Environment is Different (7:31 min) - The presentation provides an overview of the science of learning and its implications for designing instruction in the online environment.
  • Introducing the Kent State Online Framework and Resources (3:39 min) - This presentation will provide a brief introduction to a course template and support website. 
  • Generating Subject Excitement (5:06 min) - The presentation for this topic focuses on specific Bb Learn tools that may be used to get your learners' attention, and keep it throughout the duration of the course. It not only highlights some of these tools, but also discusses tips for using each most effectively. 
    • For more information about how to engage your students using Bb Learn tools, visit the KeepOnTeaching website
Additional Resources: The Instructor Experience
  • Download: The Instructor Experience (PDF)
  • Faculty Insight Video: Recommendations and Advice for Faculty New to Online Teaching (5:08 min)

Getting Set Up For Successful Instruction

Like face-to-face teaching, teaching online is not a strict 9-5 job, and instructors may find themselves participating from a variety of locations and on many platforms. For example, you might log in using your tablet at home, your office computer at work, via your phone from the train, or on your laptop while traveling. Therefore thorough preparation of all your technology devices helps prepare you for successful instruction. Another element to help you prepare is to find effective time management strategies. 

  • Overview (1:25 min)
  • Preparing Your Computer (5:17 min) - This presentation will introduce a variety of topics about getting your computer ready for online instruction. Topics include recommended hardware and software; Kent State's learning management system (Blackboard Learn or Bb Learn); available plug-ins for Bb Learn; the mobile application for Bb Learn; accessing the Kent State library through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection; and present technical support resources. 
  • Preparing for the Start of an Online Course (4:16 min)- Discuss important issues prior to the start of your course and strategies for building the online learning community during the crucial first week(s). 
  • Managing Time and Workload in the Online Classroom (4:57 min) - This presentation provides strategies to help manage time and workload in the online learning environment.
Additional Resources: Getting Set Up for Successful Instruction
  • Download: The Student Experience (PDF)
  • Download: Instructor Time Management (PDF)

Preparing for Challenges

Learners taking online courses usually have busy schedules. Some may work full-time and take online courses in their spare time. Others find procrastination unavoidable. As a result, many end up completing their work at the last minute and panic when the assignment information is not plainly stated or explained. Occasionally technology challenges occur, preventing them from successfully completing their tasks. Recognizing these challenges can help faculty prepare effective solutions prior to the onset of challenges. 

  • Overview (1:06 min)
  • Providing Clarity for Online Assignments & Assessments (7:15 min) - This presentation discusses the salient nature of the instructions in the online setting and discusses how clarity can promote learner success. 
  • Planning for Technology Challenges (5:13 min) - This presentation discusses the most common technology-related problems experienced by learners and ways to prevent and respond to them. 
    • Visit the Kent State's IT page for additional Blackboard Learn resources and tools. 
  • Managing the Classroom (5:41 min) - This presentation discusses issues related to academic dishonesty, as well as some other common behaviors that might surface in an online course, and provides strategies to help faculty manage these components of their online classrooms. 
  • Supporting Students with Library Resources (2:37 min)
Additional Resources: Preparing for Challenges
  • Download: Preparing for Challenges (PDF)
  • Download: Online Syllabus Template (DOCX)

Building the Peer Learning Community

In an online learning environment, it’s important to create a learning community where learners from many areas who share an interest can engage in meaningful conversations, build their learning experience, and deepen their network. One method for creating community is by building group work into the design, either through a series of assignments or one larger assignment that may include peer feedback to clarify assessment criteria, develop judgment skills, and learn from one another. Collaborative assignments can result in dynamic, synergistic, and engaging learning through the depth of conversation that can occur when discussing course concepts.

  • Overview (1:30 min)
  • Supporting Effective Small Group Work (6:27 min) - This presentation recommends strategies for optimizing group work through both asynchronous and synchronous technologies.
  • Managing Group Conflict (5:14 min) - This presentation discusses sources of conflict and strategies to support learners through their ongoing group development.
  • Facilitating Engaging Conversations (4:58 min) - This presentation discusses the role of the faculty member in the use of this asynchronous communication tool.
  • Using Peer Feedback to Support Online Learning (4:39 min) - This presentation explores several strategies that can help guide and support learners through this important assessment technique.
Additional Resources: Building the Peer Learning Community
  • Download: Building the Peer Learning Community (PDF)

Mastering Teaching Presence

Establishing policies and strategies for course communication ensures that learners will receive the information they need in a timely manner. Instructors can help their students stay on-track and do well in the course by communicating expectations and course information, as well as providing them with guidelines for response time on feedback and questions. In addition, using video and screencasts to establish your presence can help engage learners. The video below provides an overview of the topics covered in this module.

  • Overview (1:22 min)
  • Being Present in Your Online Class (4:15 min) - This presentation discusses communication policies and protocol as a way to establish best practices, and builds on this knowledge by reviewing various tools available to assist with the ongoing development of establishing presence in the online classroom.
  • Creating Presence Using Video (10:07 min) - This presentation provides an overview of technology considerations for best practices in creating and sharing videos in your online courses. 
  • Creating Presence Using Screencasts (3:45 min) - This presentation provides an overview of screencasts, their purposes and varied uses, as well as tips for recording.
  • Measuring Learner Engagement (3:39 min) - This presentation reviews the salient role data collection has in online learning and provides an overview of the tools within Bb Learn that can be used to collect and analyze pertinent student data.
Additional Resources: Mastering Teaching Presence
  • Download: Mastering Teaching Presence (PDF)

Providing Feedback & Grading 

In 1987, Chickering and Gamson identified seven principles for good practice in teaching. One of those principles is that a good practice is to provide prompt feedback. Chickering and Gamson summed up the importance of providing feedback to students by claiming that "Knowing what you know and don’t know focuses your learning." In addition, research has shown that positive assignment feedback has a positive effect on learners in terms of their attitude and achievement. Providing feedback to students in all class formats is important. In distance learning classes, it can be a bit more challenging than in the face-to-face classroom. You often end up exchanging multiple e-mails and playing phone tag with students. When it comes to providing feedback on assignments, it can be difficult to figure out the best way to provide individual comments to students and return their written work with meaningful feedback. Using effective feedback strategies will enable the instructor to identify and meet individual student needs, as well as, encourage students to participate and continue to do so at a high-quality level.

  • Overview (0:52 min)
  • Effective Assignment Feedback (3:31 min) - This presentation discusses the importance of providing quality feedback to learners. Topics covered include suggested response times for grading, as well as technology resources that can be used to create robust feedback.
  • Using the Grade Center (2:21 min) - This presentation provides an overview of the Grade Center and prepares you to use many of its features. 
    • Visit the Blackboard Help page for information on grading tasks.

  • Using Technology for Feedback (7:38 min) - This presentation discusses types of feedback and the use of technology as a means for providing feedback.
Additional Resources: Providing Feedback & Grading
  • Download: Providing Feedback & Grading (PDF)