This page provides an introduction to the online learning environment will - hopefully - answer some of the questions that you might have about preparing to teach online at RRU.
Two general articles you may find helpful as you begin thinking about teaching online:
- Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice to the Online Classroom - Oliver Dreon, PhD, in Faculty Focus
- 10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education - Report from Faculty Focus
Know the course - intimately!
A well-designed course is key and understanding that design is even more important. Perhaps you were involved in the original design and development of your course, in which case, you will be intimately familiar with how it is structured and how the course and learning will unfold. If you have been hired to teach an existing course, though, you’ll need to carefully review all parts of the Moodle site so that you are sure that you:
- Know and understand the material and the learning activities you will facilitate.
- Think about when assignments are due and how long it may take to mark them, especially the final assignment as students may need to have their final grade before beginning their next course.
- Plan for which discussions you need to be an integral part of and which ones may go on with little or no intervention by you.
- Consider how the learning activities relate to the readings in each week or unit.
The better you know your course before it even begins, the easier it will be for you to focus on teaching once it starts. Reaching out to other faculty and to CTET will help you navigate some of the challenges of online teaching. Learn from the experience of others!
How many hours a week will this take?
Hard to say - it depends on the design of the course and, to some extent, your own teaching style - but a minimum of 10-12 hours a week might be a good guess. If you have never taught an online course, if you are unfamiliar with Royal Roads, or if you are not comfortable with Moodle, you will likely spend more time in the course, at least in the first weeks. The week after an assignment is due will require extra time to mark and give feedback.
Prior to the start of each week:
- You should review the upcoming online activities - what the students should be doing and what you should be doing - and review readings and/or key content (approximately 2-3 hours).
- How will you start the week? Some instructors post a “Welcome to Week X “ announcement or video that comments on the previous week, sets the stage for the next week and points out key resources, concepts and/or due dates.
During the week, you may need to browse student forum posts, commenting at times; you may have student questions to answer, and you may have Skype or Collaborate Ultra sessions to facilitate. While it is not always necessary to spend time on the course site every day, you should plan to spend at least a few hours every other day - perhaps more during the first few weeks. Most instructors develop a rhythm that works for them. Hint: Establish a work schedule and try to keep to it - make it a time and place where you can truly focus on the course and not be distracted by other things. You'll work better and be more efficient.
- How much time does it take to teach online?, Terry Anderson, Virtual Canuck, Teaching and Learning in a Net-Centric World,
- Instructor Time Requirements to Develop and Teach Online Courses, by Lee A. Freeman, The University of Michigan-Dearborn (Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume XVIII, Number I, Spring 2015)
Here's an excerpt:
What can I do to reduce or manage the time I spend facilitating online? “Many faculty, distance learning coordinators, and administrators feel that there are two learning curves that a faculty goes through when first developing and teaching online courses – technological and pedagogical. These learning curves refer to the time it takes to “get used to” the course and/or the method of teaching. In other words, the amount of time before you are comfortable as an instructor. The technological learning curve concerns the skills and nuances associated with the technology used to deliver the course. The pedagogical learning curve concerns the methods and nuances of both designing and delivering a course to meet the learning objectives.” (Lee A. Freeman in Instructor Time Requirements to Develop and Teach Online Courses, Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume XVIII, Number I, Spring 2015)
- Participate in available workshops
- Managing your time when teaching online. An excellent five-minute clip from COFA’s Learning to Teach Online series, by College of Fine Arts (COFA), The University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia.
- Time Management Strategy for Online Instructors -
scroll down to just before mid-way on the page for 4 strategies
Establishing Instructor Presence
This is HUGE. Students need to know that their instructor is engaged and paying attention to the course and is there when needed. They need to feel that you are ‘present’... not just going through the motions. (Think facilitating and coaching rather than monitoring and marking.) Students also like to feel that they know you as an instructor. How will you be you in the course? Consider the use of images, audio, video, and thoughtfully crafted announcements that let some of your personality show through (contact CTET Studio to discuss specific tools that you can use). The way you respond to forum posts, the way you reach out to struggling students, the way you demonstrate your expertise and share your relevant experience all help you establish and maintain a welcoming and friendly presence. Hint: More is not necessarily better.
- Creating a Sense of Instructor Presence in the Online Classroom
- Instructor Presence in the Online Class – Key to Learner Success a blog post by Debbie Morrison on Online Learning Insights and a companion post: What is Cognitive Presence?
- Step eight: communicate, communicate, communicate, from Chapter 11 of Tony Bate’s
awesome online book, Teaching in a Digital Age
What can I add to or take away from the course?
After the course start date there should be no significant changes. If you find a perfect news article or brand new journal article that is an absolute ‘must’ to add, make sure you are following copyright best practices when you do so. Be careful, though; most courses have more than enough content in them - add very sparingly. Sharing a link to a blog post, a YouTube video or your own YouTube channel is acceptable and may help to keep your content current. In this situation, share the resource with your students as part of an announcement or in a forum discussion and frame it as a suggested reading, rather than a new requirement.
If you are thinking about adding a new technology, be sure to check the Cloud-based Learning Tools Notification information on the Knowledgebase.
Sometimes, it becomes obvious that a new discussion forum should be added - the students are interested in discussing
a topic you had not anticipated. Or maybe you want to ask students to quickly weigh in on an issue and a short poll seems just the thing. It’s okay to make small changes/additions in response to world events or student needs. Just be careful that
you are not adding to the student workload, upsetting the grading plan, or short-changing a learning outcome. Please, connect with your Program Head, CTET Instructional Designer, or CTET Studio for guidance.