Every summer I host a two-week workshop for faculty and graduate students who want to learn more about online instruction in in a group environment without the commitment of a six-week class. This immersive workshop was designed to meet that need and give people the chance to explore topics of interest to them while sharing ideas with, and getting feedback from, their peers.
While some of the concepts covered are similar to my Preparing Online Instructors course, the format is designed with a much greater degree of academic choice so participants can decide what they want to learn about and how they would like to spend their time. Halfway through the course all the participants meet together on a videoconference to discuss what they have learned and look at how to apply the material to their own teaching. The topics in the Online Teaching Workshop include the following:
- Best Practices and Common Pitfalls of Online Education
- Increasing Student Engagement Online
- Creating Effective Online Lectures
- Assignments and Assessment
- Quizzes and Tests
- Technology Tools
- Copyright and Intellectual Property
The two-week nature of this Online Teaching Workshop allows participants to fit the material around their schedule while also collaborating with others in the course to learn more about online education. Some of the assignments are individual while others are collaborative, and the activities involve firsthand investigations of online education through providers like Coursera, EdX, and Khan Academy as well as exploring technology such as Studio and other elements of our Canvas LMS platform that we use at Oklahoma State University.
This document is not a traditional syllabus. I created it to be easy to read, visually engaging, and clearly organized so students can get the information they need right where they expect it. This syllabus not only explains course policies and procedures, but includes a Wellness Statement on the first page which sends a message to my students that I care about them and their performance in class.
One of the activities in the Online Teaching Workshop is an investigation into practices that can lead to greater engagement in online courses. I have my students read some articles about student engagement and then experience an online course firsthand by choosing a course at either EdX or Coursera. By enrolling in an online course and auditing it with a critical focus on engagement practices used by the instructor, my students are able to see what works and what doesn’t work in a tangible, personal sense. This experience then leads to a reflection about how my own students will approach their own online teaching, and learn what to do as well as what not to do for keeping students engaged.