When our campus transitioned to more online learning following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I created the following videos to address common issues related to online teaching. I wrote the scripts for all of these and recorded them using the same setup I use for most of my videos: My iMac, Camtasia software, a Blue Yeti microphone, and a large piece of green foam board. These videos are not designed to take the place of full-fledged workshops or classes, but instead give faculty some answers to questions while helping guide them through some basic steps of learning to teach online.
Teaching Online: An Outcome-Oriented Approach
Rather than focusing on technologies, think instead about your goals for your course and then work backwards from there by planning assignments and assessments that help your students reach those goals.
Course Design: Expectations and course objectives
Successful online instructors must set expectations so their students are aware of things such as course objectives, course design, and how the class will make use of Canvas to deliver instruction and materials.
Course Design: Effective online course assessments
Assessments can be either formative or summative, and help instructors know the degree to which students are learning what instructors want them to learn. Effective assessments are not limited to just quizzes and tests, and all assessments should align with course outcomes.
Course Design: Effective online course assignments
Online course assignments must be specifically designed for the online environment, and they should also align with course goals and objectives. Stay away from busywork or assignments that are not clearly aligned with course objectives. Consider alternative assignments such as short videos, discussion boards, or multimedia projects as methods to help students engage with the material and apply what they have learned.
Using videos in an online class
Online classes rely on videos for delivering instruction, providing updates, offering feedback, sharing on discussion board, and more. These videos should be short, targeted, and show the instructor’s face as well.
Using Canvas for online courses
Canvas should be utilized to present course content in a manner that is logical, ordered, and easy to understand. Modules and Pages can contain PDFs, PowerPoints, and other documents along with course elements such as assignments, discussion boards, quizzes. Canvas also has tools for communicating such as Announcements and Inbox.
Effective communication in online classes
Effective online courses need to have communication between instructor and students. However, this does not happen the same way as face-to-face courses. Online instructors need to be proactive and disciplined when it comes to regular, meaningful communication. Methods include class updates, online office hours, discussion boards, and on-location videos.
The mechanics of effective course design
Use of Canvas should be guided by a solid understanding of course objectives. The organizational structure of Canvas should match the structure of the course itself. Additionally, the Navigation Bar can be trimmed to include just the essential components so as to streamline the student experience and eliminate confusion.
Discussion boards in an online class
When used effectively, discussion boards are a good way to facilitate various types of communication in an online class. However, lack of engagement and student attrition can lead to discussion boards that become burdensome and detract from learning. Engaging discussion boards should align with course outcomes, include open-ended prompts, and include instructor interaction alongside student posts. Also consider open-ended rubrics and student self-assessments as a way of maintaining engagement throughout the semester.