Best Practices in Online Teaching: Don’t Assume

Recently this article, in full, appeared in Faculty Focus: Focused on Today’s Higher Education Professional. Since it is so pertinent to the start of a semester, I am publishing a synopsis here for our blog readers:

Best Practices in Online Teaching: Don’t Assume By Lori Norin and Tim Wall
These are some practices that are easy to implement in your online course. Try to keep them in mind when you are starting your online courses:
• Don’t assume students understand the workings of an online course. Provide as much helpful information about taking online courses as you can. Give them links to sites, tips for online learners and encourage them to find a quiet environment to work in away from distractions like televisions, phones, music, and kids.
• Don’t assume students have the minimum equipment and/or skill requirements needed to be successful in an online course. Make sure that all students are aware of what the minimum equipment requirements are before class starts, and make a list of skills that will be required for the course such as how to save and turn in files correctly and who to call with technical problems. You should try to send all of this information in a personal email along with a warm welcome to make your students more comfortable with the course.
• Don’t assume students know how to behave in a Web course. Write up a contract that outlines the acceptable behavior and ethics for the course and have the students sign it. Mention what not to say in a message to another student. Because the students are not face to face sometimes things will be said that are inappropriate or even hurtful in response to other opinions and posts. Also mention that there is a time and place for personal chat topics like weekend plans and gossip that is unrelated to the class discussions.
• Don’t assume students know the more important rules and regulations in the syllabus. Several times students are given a detailed and adequate syllabus that they don’t read thoroughly. Give them a short quiz on the syllabus that they are required to pass before they can continue on in the course. Four or five questions is enough to make sure that the syllabus was read and understood, this can drastically cut down on the emails you get in the first few weeks of class asking questions about grading and expectations.

From: Faculty Focus: Focused on Today’s Higher Education Professional

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