Assessing Your Online Class

Spring semester 2010 has just concluded and it’s way too early to begin planning for summer school! Or, maybe it’s not too early. In this blog post I want to share an interesting list of tips for doing an online class the right way. This list of tips or suggestions was developed at Humboldt State University and is titled
A Checklist for Facilitating Online Courses.”

The checklist identifies four important roles for an online instructor: managerial, pedagogical, social, and technical. For each of those roles the checklist lists specific tasks. In addition, the checklist groups the specific tasks by the time in the semester in which they should be done. For example, in the Before The Class Begins time period, a list of managerial, pedagogical, social, and technical tasks that should be considered before the class starts are presented. Other tasks in each category are associated with During The First Week, Throughout The Course, and During The Final Week.

A major value of this “best practices” guideline is that it helps us to think through the process of delivering a robust, well thought-out online class. If you take the time to go through the document you will undoubtedly get some good ideas about things to include in your online class. And even if you decide not to use many of the ideas in this guideline, just reading through them will almost certainly stimulate you to think of other things to do in your online class.

What are some of your “best practices” tips – one or two things you’ve found to be very successful in your online class?

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4 Responses to Assessing Your Online Class

  1. I think online teaching is the new wave of education. Soon, teachers will simply teach all their classes from their home while students can connect online to their classes and learn from their bedrooms.

    • haydndavis says:

      Well, I agree that online teaching and learning is a relatively new phenomenon but I really don’t think that all (or even most) teaching will be done online. We see a fairly high online class dropout rate at Palomar and that is typical of online classes in general. Many students (and some teachers) are not well suited to the online environment. I think as more people become comfortable with the online social dynamic this dropout rate will get better but I think it will always be the case that many people just prefer learning (and teaching) in a face-to-face classroom. We’ll see . . . .

  2. Ron says:

    Online classes are better than nothing on the 101 level but they will never replace a knowledgeable Professor in a classroom. My worry is that they will provide a cheap 2nd class education for those who cannot afford the real thing….

  3. haydndavis says:

    Ron, I agree that online education will never replace a knowledgeable professor in the classroom. And I know a lot of instructors agree with that worry of yours but I am now convinced after reading a number of outcome studies that the worry is unfounded. Students can learn from a well-organized online instructor who presents stimulating and education materials online and they can learn from a similar instructor who teaches on campus. The critical variable isn’t the location but the instructor and how well she/he presents materials and assesses learning. We don’t need to feel threatened by students taking classes online, I’m convinced the preferred choice by most students is to take on-campus classes when they can.

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