Teaching Online: A Practical Guide, Third Edition

Teaching Online: A Practical Guide, Third Edition
Teaching Online
Teaching Online: A Practical Guide is a practical, concise guide for educators teaching online. The newly updated third edition has been fully
revamped and reflects important changes that have occurred since the
second edition’s publication. A leader in the online field, this best-Â�
selling resource maintains its reader friendly tone and offers exceptional practical advice.
Second edition enthusiasts will find the updates to the third edition
will help readers choose and fully integrate the latest technology tools
and valuable online educational resources. Teaching Online builds on
the original strengths of the prior editions, and offers a plethora of new
teaching examples, faculty interviews, samples of course materials,
and an updated resource section.
New to this edition:
New chapter on how faculty and instructional designers can work
● Expanded chapter on Open Educational Resources, copyright, and
intellectual property
● More international relevance, with global examples and interviews
with faculty in a wide variety of regions
● New interactive companion website that invites readers to post
questions to the author, offers real-�life case studies submitted by
users, and includes an updated, online version of the resource
Focusing on the “how” and “why” of implementation rather than theory,
this text is a must-�have resource for anyone teaching online or for
instructors supplementing a traditional classroom with online elements.
It is also appropriate for students enrolled in Distance Learning and
Educational Technology masters programs and librarians working
within the context of online education.
Get updates and keep in touch with Susan Ko at:
Susan Ko, Executive Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning
at University of Maryland University College.
Steve Rossen, Instructional Technologist and Electronic Librarian,
formerly Manager of the Faculty New Media Center at the University of
California at Los Angeles.
Teaching Online
A Practical Guide
Third Edition
Susan Ko
University of Maryland University College
Steve Rossen
Retired, University of California at Los Angeles
First published 2004
by Houghton Mifflin Company
Second edition published 2008
by Houghton Mifflin Company
This edition published 2010
by Routledge
270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Simultaneously published in the UK
by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business
This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2010.
To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s
collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.
© 2004, 2008 Houghton Mifflin Company
© 2010 Taylor & Francis
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or
utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now
known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any
information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the
Trademark Notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or
registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation
without intent to infringe.
Library of Congress Cataloging-�in-Publication Data
Ko, Susan Schor.
Teaching online : a practical guide / Susan Ko, Steve Rossen. – 3rd ed.
p. cm.
Includes index.
1. Education, Higher–Computer-Â�assisted instruction. 2. World Wide Web–Study
and teaching (Higher) 3. Internet in education. 4. Distance education. 5. College
teaching–Aids and devices. I. Rossen, Steve. II. Title.
LB2395.7.K67 2010
ISBN 0-203-85520-5 Master e-book ISBN
ISBN 10: 0-415-99733-X (hbk)
ISBN 10: 0-415-99726-7 (pbk)
ISBN 10: 0-203-85520-5 (ebk)
ISBN 13: 978-0-415-99733-1 (hbk)
ISBN 13: 978-0-415-99726-3 (pbk)
ISBN 13: 978-0-203-85520-1 (ebk)
Dedicated to
Steve Rossen, June 14, 1939–April 17, 2007
My inspiration, my partner in all things,
and my constant companion.
Brief Contents╇╇╇╇ ● ● ● ● ●
Preface╇╇╇ xvii
part I╇
Getting Started╇╇╇ 1
╇ 1 Teaching Online: An Overview╇╇╇ 3
╇ 2 Scouting the Territory: Exploring Your
Institution’s Resources╇╇╇ 22
part II╇
╇ 3
╇ 4
╇ 5
╇ 6
╇ 7
╇ 8
Putting the Course Together╇╇╇ 43
Course Design and Development╇╇╇ 45
Working with Others to Develop a Course╇╇╇ 96
Creating an Effective Online Syllabus╇╇╇ 115
Building an Online Classroom╇╇╇ 143
Student Activities in the Online Environment╇╇╇ 173
Copyright, Intellectual Property, and Open
Educational Resources╇╇╇ 227
╇ 9 Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools╇╇╇ 247
part III╇
Teaching in the Online Classroom╇╇╇ 285
Preparing Students for Online Learning╇╇╇ 287
Classroom Management and Facilitation╇╇╇ 301
Classroom Management: Special Issues╇╇╇ 339
Teaching Web Enhanced and Blended Classes╇╇╇ 357
Taking Advantage of New Opportunities╇╇╇ 377
Glossary╇╇╇ 398
Guide to Resources╇╇╇ 405
Index╇╇╇ 433
Contents╇╇╇╇ ● ● ● ● ●
Preface╇╇╇ xvii
part I╇
Getting Started╇╇╇ 1
╇ 1 Teaching Online: An Overview╇╇╇ 3
The Range of Online Experiences: Two Hypothetical
Cases╇╇╇ 6
Western Philosophy, a Course Taught Entirely
Online╇╇╇ 6
Introduction to Physics, a “Blended” Course╇╇╇ 10
Teaching Online: The Basics╇╇╇ 12
Teaching a Course Entirely Online╇╇╇ 12
What about Support Personnel and Training?╇╇╇ 15
Do You Have to Be a Computer Expert?╇╇╇ 17
What Can Teaching Online Do for You?╇╇╇ 18
Heightened Awareness of Your Teaching╇╇╇ 19
New Connections with the Wider World╇╇╇ 20
╇ 2 Scouting the Territory: Exploring Your
Institution’s Resources╇╇╇ 22
Questions to Ask About Your Institution’s
Resources╇╇╇ 23
What’s Already in Place?╇╇╇ 24
What Kind of Software, Hardware, and Operating System Is
Available at Your Institution to Run Online Courses?╇╇╇ 25
What Kind of Network Has Your Institution Set Up and What
Is the Profile of Student Users?╇╇╇ 25
What Kind of Computer Support Does Your Institution
Provide?╇╇╇ 27
What Kind of Instructor Training and Support is
Available?╇╇╇ 28
Different Resource and Readiness Levels: Three
Typical Scenarios╇╇╇ 28
The Low Readiness Scenario╇╇╇ 29
The Mid-�Range Readiness Scenario╇╇╇ 29
The High Readiness Scenario╇╇╇ 31
Adapting to Your Institution’s Resource Level (and
Perhaps Finding What You Need Elsewhere)╇╇╇ 32
Low Institutional Readiness Solutions╇╇╇ 33
Using Free Online Resources╇╇╇ 36
Mid-�Range Solutions╇╇╇ 38
High Readiness Solutions╇╇╇ 41
II╇ Putting the Course Together╇╇╇ 43
╇ 3 Course Design and Development╇╇╇ 45
Two Examples of Course Design and
Development╇╇╇ 46
A Speech Course Taught Entirely Online╇╇╇ 46
A Blended Mechanical Engineering Course╇╇╇ 48
Initial Steps in Course Design and
Development╇╇╇ 51
Analysis╇╇╇ 53
Course Goals and Learning Objectives╇╇╇ 53
Design╇╇╇ 57
Rubrics and Guidelines for Online Course
Design╇╇╇ 61
Course Development╇╇╇ 63
Some Help in Getting Organized╇╇╇ 64
Instructor-�Generated Content and Presentation:
Lectures and Commentary╇╇╇ 67
Instructor Presentation: Simulations and Experiments╇╇╇ 71
Discussion/Interaction/Communications╇╇╇ 72
Group-�Oriented Work and Student
Presentation╇╇╇ 77
Research╇╇╇ 79
Assessment Considerations╇╇╇ 82
High-�Stakes, Low-�Stakes Testing╇╇╇ 82
Choosing Textbooks, Coursepacks, and Software for
Your Course╇╇╇ 86
Redesign╇╇╇ 88
Redesign from Longer to Shorter╇╇╇ 89
Redesign from Shorter to Longer╇╇╇ 92
Some Final Tips on Course Development╇╇╇ 94
╇ 4 Working with Others to Develop a Course╇╇╇ 96
A Model of Instructor–Designer Collaboration╇╇╇ 97
Advice for Instructional Designers on Working with
Instructors╇╇╇ 99
Advice for Instructors Working within a Team
Approach╇╇╇ 103
How to Best Approach a Course You Did Not
Develop but Are Asked to Teach?╇╇╇ 109
Suggestions for Approaching the Teaching of a
Highly Standardized Course╇╇╇ 113
╇ 5 Creating an Effective Online Syllabus╇╇╇ 115
The Contract╇╇╇ 117
Class Participation and Grading Criteria╇╇╇ 117
Managing Student Expectations╇╇╇ 118
The Map╇╇╇ 120
The Schedule╇╇╇ 122
Using Specific Dates╇╇╇ 124
Supplying Information More Than Once╇╇╇ 125
Sample Syllabi: Online and Blended Course
Versions╇╇╇ 126
╇ 6 Building an Online Classroom╇╇╇ 143
Dividing up and Organizing Your Material and
Activities╇╇╇ 145
Timing of Access╇╇╇ 146
Pacing Considerations╇╇╇ 147
Presentation Areas╇╇╇ 149
Announcement Areas╇╇╇ 151
Syllabus and Schedule Areas╇╇╇ 152
Discussion Forums╇╇╇ 152
Other Communication Tools╇╇╇ 156
Internal Email, External Email╇╇╇ 156
Instant Messaging and Texting╇╇╇ 156
Chat, Whiteboard, and Other Collaborative Tools╇╇╇ 157
Group Activity Areas╇╇╇ 160
Web Resource and Linking Pages╇╇╇ 161
Searching Capabilities╇╇╇ 161
Quizmakers╇╇╇ 162
Student Progress Reports and Tracking╇╇╇ 164
Online Gradebooks╇╇╇ 166
Other Course Areas and Features╇╇╇ 167
Connecting to Social Networking Sites╇╇╇ 168
Finding the Right Web 2.0 Tools and Keeping Informed╇╇╇ 168
Virtual Worlds╇╇╇ 169
╇ 7 Student Activities in the Online
Environment╇╇╇ 173
Group Activities╇╇╇ 174
Dividing Students into Groups╇╇╇ 176
Supervision and Assessment of Groups╇╇╇ 179
Role Playing and Simulations╇╇╇ 187
Computer-�Based Simulations and Animations╇╇╇ 191
Summaries, Consensus Groups╇╇╇ 194
The Experience-�Based Practicum or Lab
Assignment╇╇╇ 195
Reflective Activities╇╇╇ 196
Just Discussion╇╇╇ 201
Scenarios and Case Studies╇╇╇ 203
Peer Editing and Review╇╇╇ 205
Student Activities Involving Guest Speakers╇╇╇ 206
Cross-�Cultural Exchanges╇╇╇ 208
Cross-�Cultural Teams╇╇╇ 210
The Challenges and Rewards of Cross-�Cultural Courses╇╇╇ 212
Using the Web as a Resource╇╇╇ 214
Preparing the Way╇╇╇ 215
Evaluating Web Sites╇╇╇ 216
Varieties of Useful Web Sites╇╇╇ 216
Using the Web as a Resource: Two Examples╇╇╇ 221
A Grading Rubric for Every Activity?╇╇╇ 223
╇ 8 Copyright, Intellectual Property, and Open
Educational Resources╇╇╇ 227
Copyright and Fair Use in the United States╇╇╇ 228
Is Anyone Really Watching?╇╇╇ 231
Finding the Rightful Owner╇╇╇ 232
What to Do If You Aren’t Sure Whether You Need
Permission╇╇╇ 232
What about Links and Embedded Resources?╇╇╇ 234
Intellectual Property in the United States╇╇╇ 236
The Legal Status of Your Work╇╇╇ 236
Practical Steps for Protecting Your Work╇╇╇ 238
Using Adobe Acrobat╇╇╇ 240
Checking for Unauthorized Use╇╇╇ 241
Open Educational Resources (OER)╇╇╇ 241
Creative Commons License╇╇╇ 242
Special Issues Related to Free Web 2.0 Sites╇╇╇ 243
Assuring Academic Integrity among Your
Students╇╇╇ 244
╇ 9 Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0
Tools╇╇╇ 247
Creating Text for Course Pages╇╇╇ 249
Creating Web Pages in a Web Editor╇╇╇ 250
The How and Why of Images╇╇╇ 252
Finding Images╇╇╇ 252
The How and Why of Audio╇╇╇ 257
Podcasting Services╇╇╇ 262
Narrated Slide Shows╇╇╇ 263
The How and Why of Video╇╇╇ 266
Sites and Tools for Video╇╇╇ 268
Screen-�Capture/Screen-�Casting Video Software╇╇╇ 269
Student-�Generated Content╇╇╇ 270
Other Tools╇╇╇ 273
Polls and Surveys╇╇╇ 273
Quizzes╇╇╇ 275
Mind-�Mapping╇╇╇ 275
Avatars╇╇╇ 275
Animated Movies╇╇╇ 277
Using or Creating Multimedia: Why and When Is It
Worth It?╇╇╇ 278
When to Avoid Multimedia and Web 2.0 Tools╇╇╇ 280
Pulling It All Together╇╇╇ 283
III╇ Teaching in the Online Classroom╇╇╇ 285
10 Preparing Students for Online Learning╇╇╇ 287
Problems That Students Typically Encounter╇╇╇ 288
Technical Problems╇╇╇ 288
Problems Related to Learning Style and Online
Communication╇╇╇ 289
Preparing Your Students╇╇╇ 290
Readiness Programs╇╇╇ 290
Orientation Programs╇╇╇ 291
Preparing Your Own Orientation Program╇╇╇ 292
Elements of an Orientation╇╇╇ 293
A Final Note╇╇╇ 297
Providing FAQs╇╇╇ 298
Introductory Techniques╇╇╇ 298
11 Classroom Management and Facilitation╇╇╇ 301
Record Keeping and File Management╇╇╇ 301
Tips for Record Keeping╇╇╇ 302
Electronic Files versus Hard Copy╇╇╇ 304
Managing Communications╇╇╇ 305
Creating a Uniform Announcement Area╇╇╇ 306
Setting Rules and Establishing a Protocol for All
Communications╇╇╇ 308
Encouraging Participation and Managing Your
Workload╇╇╇ 309
The Effect of Class Size╇╇╇ 310
Group Strategies and Interactivity of Content╇╇╇ 312
Changing Class Sizes╇╇╇ 315
Finding a Balance between Student-�Centered and
Instructor-�Centered Activities╇╇╇ 318
Some General Guidelines for Student
Participation╇╇╇ 319
Asynchronous or Synchronous Discussion?╇╇╇ 320
Tips for Fostering Asynchronous Discussion╇╇╇ 321
Tips for Establishing Effective Instructor-�Facilitated
Synchronous Communication╇╇╇ 329
Team Teaching Online╇╇╇ 334
The Shared Responsibility Model╇╇╇ 334
The Division of Labor Model╇╇╇ 336
The Primary–Secondary Model╇╇╇ 337
12 Classroom Management: Special Issues╇╇╇ 339
Privacy Issues╇╇╇ 339
Identity Issues╇╇╇ 341
Managing Student Behavior Online╇╇╇ 342
Noisy Students╇╇╇ 343
Quiet Students╇╇╇ 345
Disruptive Students╇╇╇ 346
Other Behavior Problems╇╇╇ 354
A Final Word╇╇╇ 356
13 Teaching Web-Enhanced and Blended
Classes╇╇╇ 357
Tips for Teaching Web-�Enhanced Courses╇╇╇ 359
Posting Lectures Online╇╇╇ 359
A Revised Approach to Lecturing╇╇╇ 360
How to Post Your Lectures Online╇╇╇ 361
Using a Discussion Board╇╇╇ 361
Enlisting Technology in Your Favor╇╇╇ 363
Using Online Quizmaking Tools╇╇╇ 364
Providing Advice and Support╇╇╇ 365
Counseling Students Online╇╇╇ 366
Establishing Virtual Office Hours╇╇╇ 367
Assigning Group Projects╇╇╇ 368
Using the Web as a Student Presentation Medium╇╇╇ 369
Web-�Based Exercises╇╇╇ 369
Team Teaching╇╇╇ 370
A Final Thought on Web Enhancement╇╇╇ 371
Tips for Teaching Blended Courses╇╇╇ 371
Preparing for the Blended Course╇╇╇ 372
Design Issues for the Blended Course╇╇╇ 374
Teaching the Blended Course╇╇╇ 375
14 Taking Advantage of New Opportunities╇╇╇ 377
New Career Directions╇╇╇ 377
What to Do after You’ve Read This Book╇╇╇ 379
Further Training╇╇╇ 379
Focused Workshop Training╇╇╇ 387
Learning from Your Own Experience╇╇╇ 387
Where Do We Go from Here? ╇╇╇ 391
Networking with Others Involved in Online
Education╇╇╇ 394
Student Expectations╇╇╇ 395
The Educational Marketplace╇╇╇ 396
Glossary╇╇╇ 398
Guide to Resources╇╇╇ 405
Index╇╇╇ 433
Preface╇╇╇╇ ● ● ● ● ●
In 1993, there was no World Wide Web. Today, it is something
we take for granted to do our banking, search for information,
order and pay for nearly every type of merchandise, post our
vacation photos, chat with friends from around the world, seek
advice about what ails us, listen to music, watch video, and
share our thoughts, creations, and mutual interests. And we
access it now not only from our desktop and laptop computers
but also from a rapidly expanding array of mobile devices, from
smart phones to e-�readers. The World Wide Web has become a
worldwide phenomenon and it truly seems to be an inseparable
part of our lives.
In 1993, if you had written a book about teaching, you would
not have needed to describe the basic tools of the trade—the
classroom, the rows of seats, the blackboard, the chalk. These
were taken for granted; they never changed.
Today, you must describe how the virtual and real worlds
intertwine in a process known as teaching online. You must talk
about discussion boards, streaming media, asynchronous environments, real-�time chat, instant messaging, as well as social
networking, and the many collaborative and interactive tools
collectively known as Web 2.0.
When the first edition of this book emerged in 2000, teaching
online was still a new phenomenon that made many instructors
both anxious and apprehensive. They had basic questions such
as: What is the difference between teaching “on the ground”
and teaching online? What are the fundamental techniques?
Where can you learn them? What kind of equipment or software
do you use? How do you assess how effective you are?
While many instructors have long since taken the plunge,
some are still asking those basic questions, and we find that
many others worldwide continue to regard the prospect of
teaching online with trepidation and anxiety. Even those who
have acquired quite a bit of experience may still find themselves
challenged by the unique demands of teaching online. And
both neophytes and experienced online instructors are sometimes charmed and bewildered by the astonishing array of new
tools that have appeared in the years since our second edition.
This book is written for the rapidly rising population of
instructors who want to teach online, who have been told to
teach online (sometimes in conjunction with on-�the-ground
classes), who are currently teaching online (but want to improve),
or who are training or encouraging others to teach online. It is
also for the administrator or support staff who assist instructors
in their endeavor to teach online. In other words, it is intended
for lecturers, professors, tutors, teaching assistants, department
chairs, academic deans, program planners, instructional designers and technologists, and information technology support personnel at both the administrative and departmental levels.
The book is as much for the tenured professor as for the
adjunct, part-�time instructor or teaching assistant. Those in the
K–12 education field may also find that much of the advice
given here is relevant for their teaching circumstances. It is also
aimed at the growing number of students enrolled in programs
in educational technology, computers in education, or similarly
organized courses on technology in education. It is for the
college administrator who is trying to convince a skeptical and
unwilling faculty member to adopt this mode of instruction, as
well as for the part-�time instructor who drives seventy miles a
day to teach four courses at four different institutions. It is for
the trainer whose students range from those to whom life on
the Web is second nature to those who struggle to keep up with
the constantly evolving technologies.
The book is written from the unique perspective of two
authors who have taught online themselves and have trained
thousands of other faculty to teach online. It is more concerned
with the “whys” and “hows” of implementation than with
theory, not because we do not value pedagogical theory but
because it is discussed and critiqued more effectively elsewhere.
Unlike other books you may have read on the subject, this is not
a collection of essays, not a general overview, not a focused look
at one particular aspect of online teaching and learning, not a
treatment of the subject based primarily on one institutional
model, nor is it—strictly speaking—a technical handbook.
Rather, it is intended as a practical and concise guide both for
instructors teaching completely online and for those supplementing or fully integrating a traditional classroom with online
elements. It will help reinforce what you may learn at your institution if you are lucky enough to have such instructor-�
development resources, but it will also serve as a survival
manual for those who are operating largely on their own.
Our goal is to immerse instructors in this new environment
as quickly as we can, using plain language and illustrating our
points with case studies from colleagues or students that we
have worked with or known, representing a wide variety of different disciplines and institutions. We hope to get you up and
running as quickly as possible.
Organization of This Book
The book is divided into three parts.
In Part I, “Getting Started,” we define and describe the world
of online teaching and learning and introduce the skills, training, and support you will need to become part of it. These two
chapters are aimed especially at those new to online teaching,
but those with experience may find it helps provide a context of
online teaching as it exists today and lays out the parameters for
the book to follow.
Part II, “Putting the Course Together,” covers the process of
converting or developing course content for the online environment while discovering new possibilities for your course. We
help you take inventory of your existing course and suggest
areas for innovation, while guiding you through the development process and the creation of an online syllabus. We provide
advice on using different types of software environments and
offer a detailed look at opportunities for incorporating diverse
activities and web resources. We shed light on the often-�
confusing issue of making effective use of multimedia, explore
some of the new tools of the Web 2.0 world, and explore matters
of copyright and intellectual property as they relate to the
online classroom.
Although we strive to make the topics in Part II easy enough
for beginners to grasp, we believe there is much here to offer
even experienced online instructors. Carefully chosen examples
from real-�life instructors help illustrate the approaches and
solutions outlined.
In Part III, “Teaching in the Online Classroom,” we focus on
some of the techniques you will need to become an effective
instructor, whether you teach totally online or a true blended
course, or are enriching classroom instruction with exercises on
the Web. We discuss how to make sure your students are prepared for online classes, provide suggestions on the much-�
overlooked topic of online classroom management, and
describe ways to integrate online activities into the face-�to-face
classroom. Finally, we discuss how online teaching can revitalize your career and how to keep current with the pace of
As a handy reference, resources are collected together and
augmented in the Guide to Resources at the end of the book.
We have included a section concerning online education
research and theory for those who would like to pursue such
topics. Because web addresses change so frequently, we urge
you to consult the publisher’s web site for updates, corrections,
and new references.
Terminology is often a barrier for those unfamiliar with the
Internet or computer software. Thus, there are numerous short
definitions and boxed sidebars throughout the text to help you
understand the narrative. A Glossary at the back of the book
includes those terms and offers additional assistance. When a
term is introduced and appears in bold font, that indicates you
can find it in the Glossary even if there is no sidebar definition
What’s New in This Edition
While we have maintained the original approach, outlines, and
topics of this book, you will find that some chapter numbers and
many chapter dimensions have changed. New technologies and
the pedagogy needed to exploit it have resulted in many updates
and revisions to this edition. Additionally, in recognition of the
expanding field of online and blended education and its global
reach, we have included new examples and a consideration of
how the issues play out in different parts of the world.
Outdated illustrations of course management software and
processes have been eliminated due to the greater familiarity of
current readers with basic web technologies and the wide availability of such examples on the Web.
End-�of-chapter resource sections are now subsumed into a
more convenient and accessible location at the end of the book
in an expanded resource section. This resource section is also
available online at the book’s companion website.
This edition features a new interactive companion website
that invites you to keep in touch with Susan Ko. Located at
www.routledge.com/professional/teachingonline3ed, this useful
resource offers:
■ an interactive blog that allows users to post questions and
view author responses;
■ real-Â�life case studies submitted by readers, for examples of
how the book is being used in the field;
■ an online version of the resource section, where readers can
find updated sources and removal of dead links.
We would like to acknowledge the special assistance of our
editors for this edition, Heather Jarrow and Sarah Burrows of
Routledge. We would also like to thank Suzanne Thibodeau and
Peter Glassgold for encouraging us to find a new home for the
third edition. We are deeply grateful to all the reviewers who
gave feedback on how to improve the second edition. Thanks is
also due to my father, Louis Schor, who passed away on July 22,
2009 and whose support many years ago enabled me to complete my doctoral studies and embark on a career in education.
Finally, we would like to thank the many accomplished instructors—our colleagues in online education—who generously
shared their experiences and whose many contributions have
enriched this book.
Susan Ko
Getting Started
Teaching Online:
An Overview
ecause teaching online is relatively new, many people don’t
know what it is, or how it’s done, or even what some of the
terms used to describe it mean. Others may have a notion of
what’s involved, but they don’t know how to get started, or they
feel some trepidation about handling the issues they may
encounter. And there are now many who have taught online,
but feel that they are have barely scratched the surface in terms
of learning how best to adapt their teaching to the new environment. Perhaps this range of feelings is because the online environment is so different from what most instructors have
encountered before.
Teaching online means conducting a course partially or
entirely through the Internet. You may also see references to
online education as eLearning (electronic learning). It’s a form
of distance education, a process that traditionally included
courses taught through the mail, by DVD, or via telephone or
TV—any form of learning that doesn’t involve the traditional
classroom setting in which students and instructor must be in
the same place at the same time.
What makes teaching online unique is that it uses the Internet, especially the World Wide Web, as the primary means of
communication. Thus, when you teach online, you don’t have
to be someplace to teach. You don’t have to lug your briefcase
full of papers or your laptop to a classroom, stand at a lectern,
scribble on a chalkboard (or even use your high-Â�tech, interactive classroom “smart” whiteboard), or grade papers in a stuffy
room while your students take a test. You don’t even have to sit
Teaching Online
in your office waiting for students to show up for conferences.
You can hold “office hours” on weekends or at night after
dinner. You can do all this while living in a small town in
Wyoming or a big city like Bangkok, even if you’re working for a
college whose administrative offices are located in Florida or
Dubai. You can attend an important conference in Hawaii on
the same day that you teach your class in New Jersey, logging
on from your laptop via the local café’s wireless hot spot or your
hotel room’s high-Â�speed network. Or you may simply pull out
your smart phone to quickly check on the latest postings, email,
or text messages from students.
Online learning offers more freedom for students as well. They
can search for courses using the Web, scouring their institution
or even the world for
programs, classes, and
virtual classroom (also known as online
instructors that fit their classroom or virtual learning
needs. Having found an environment)â•… Any online environment in
appropriate course, they which instructors and students “meet” and
can enroll and register,
interact for course activities. This term
shop for their books,
applies to environments in which
communication may be either
read articles, listen to
lectures, submit their asynchronous (people do not have to be
homework assignments, online at the same time to communicate) or
confer with their instruc- synchronous (in real-�time) or a
combination of both.
tors, and receive their
final grades—all online.
They can assemble in virtual classrooms, joining other students from diverse geographical locales, forging bonds and
friendships not possible in conventional classrooms, which are
usually limited to students from a specific geographical area.
The convenience of learning online applies equally well to
adult learners, students from educationally underserved areas,
those pursuing specialized or advanced degrees, those who
want to advance in their degree work through credentialed
courses, and any students who simply want to augment the
curricular offerings from their local institutions. No longer
must they drive to school or remote classroom, find a parking
space, sit in a lecture hall at a specific time, wait outside their
instructors’ offices for conferences, and take their final exams
at the campus. They can hold a job, have a family, take care of
Chapter 1╇ •â•‡ Teaching Online: An Overview
parents or pets, and even travel. As long as they can get to a
computer or other device connected to the Internet, students
can, in most cases, keep up with their work even if they’re busy
during the day. School is always in session because school is
always there.
So dynamic is the Web that new technologies and techniques
are emerging all the time. What’s commonplace one year
becomes old hat the next. The only thing that seems to remain
constant is people’s desire to transmit and receive information
efficiently and to communicate with others, no matter what the
means. That’s what drives people to shop, invest, and converse
online, and it is this same force that is propelling them to learn
online as well.
Online education is no longer a novelty. In the United States
alone, nearly 20 percent of all higher education students in fall
of 2007 were taking at least one online course (see the 2008
Sloan Consortium survey, Staying the Course—Online
Education in the United States, 2008, http://sloan-�c.org/
publications/survey/staying_course). In places like South
Korea, where Internet usage is ubiquitous, according to a 2008
report, over 55 percent of South Korean Internet users reportedly used the Internet for the purpose of accessing education
and learning, both informally and as part of structured programs (see 2008 Informatization White Paper at www.ipc.go.kr/
Worldwide, online learning is taking place in a variety of
environments and combinations. There are students using
mobile devices to communicate and collaborate with instructors and classmates, others gathering in local computer labs to
connect with central university resources to bring previously
unavailable classes to far-�flung portions of a nation, and there
are degree programs offered fully online for which students
need never set foot on a physical campus.
But all this freedom and innovation can sometimes be perplexing. If the conventional tools of teaching are removed, how
do you teach? If school’s open twenty-Â�four hours a day, seven
days a week, when is school out? What is the role of the instructor if you don’t see your students face to face? Do you simply
deliver lectures and grade papers, or are you more like a facilitator, moderator, or colleague?
Teaching Online
And what if you’re among the many instructors who teach face
to face but maintain a web site as well? Does making your course
notes available online mean that coming to class will become
obsolete? How do you balance the real and virtual worlds so that
they work together? And if information can be presented readily
online, what should class time be devoted to: Discussions?
Student presentations? Structured debates? Even more challenging, if your course is conducted and class activities occur both
online and in face-�to-face sessions, how do you create a learning
experience for your students that is integrated and coherent?
There is no prototypical experience of teaching online. Some
instructors use the Web to complement what they teach in
class. Others teach entirely on the Web. Some institutions have
sophisticated hardware and software that they make available;
others offer little more than the bare bones to instructors.
You will get a sense of these differences in the chapters that
follow. For the time being, take a look at two hypothetical
instructors working online.
The Range of Online Experiences: Two
Hypothetical Cases
The first of our hypothetical instructors, Jim Hegelmarks,
teaches philosophy entirely online. The second, Miriam Sharpe,
teaches a first-�year physics course in a conventional classroom
but uses a web site to help her students review material and get
answers to their questions.
Western Philosophy, a Course Taught Entirely
Jim Hegelmarks’s course in Western philosophy is now in its
third week, and the assignment for his class is to read a short
commentary he has written on John Stuart Mill’s Principles of
Political Economy, portions of which the class has studied. He
has asked the students to read his commentary and then
respond in some detail to a question he has posted on the
online discussion board for his course.
Figure 1.1╇ Jim Hegelmarks creates a discussion topic using Moodle software. Reproduced by permission
from Moodle.
Chapter 1╇ •â•‡ Teaching Online: An Overview
Teaching Online
Connecting to the Web from his home, or sitting in a local
coffee shop with his laptop and wireless connection, Hegelmarks types the URL of his class web site into the location bar
of his Firefox browser and is promptly greeted with a log-�in
screen. He types in his user name (jhegelmarks) and his password (hmarks420); this process admits him to the class.
Hegelmarks’s course is conducted using a course management system (or virtual learning environment) which his university has adopted for all online courses.
course management system or software (CMS), also known as virtual
learning environment (VLE), learning management system (LMS), learning
platform, online delivery systemâ•… A software program that contains a number
of integrated instructional functions. Instructors can post lectures or graphics,
moderate discussions, invoke chat sessions, and give quizzes, all within the
confines of the same software system. Not only can instructors and students
“manage” the flow of information and communications, but the instructor can
both assess and keep track of the performance of the students, monitoring their
progress and assigning grades. Typical examples of a CMS are those produced
by Blackboard and eCollege, or adopted from “open source” products such as
Moodle or Sakai. Your institution may have yet another proprietary system of its
own, and there are many others in use or being developed all over the world. To
keep track of some of these systems and to compare their various features, you
might want to visit the EduTools site (www.edutools.info/course). These
systems, as well as many of the tools which are continually being added to these
systems, are discussed in more detail in Chapter 6.
The main page of Hegelmarks’s course contains a number of
navigational “buttons” he can use to manage the course. His
commentary is posted in a section that is set up to display text or
audio lectures, but the area he’s interested in today is the discussion board, so that’s where he goes first. With his mouse, he clicks
on the navigational button that leads to the discussion board and
reviews the messages that have been posted there. Several of the
students have posted their responses to the assignment. He reads
through the responses on-�screen thoughtfully, printing out the
longer ones so that he can consider them at his leisure. Each
posting is about fifty words in length.
After evaluating the responses, Hegelmarks gives each
student a grade for this assignment and enters the grade in the
Chapter 1╇ •â•‡ Teaching Online: An Overview
online gradebook, which can be reached by clicking another
navigational button on the course’s main page. Each type of
graded assignment, including participation, has a section
reserved for it in the online gradebook. He knows that when
students log on to the class web site to check their grades, each
student will be able to see only his or her own grades—no one
else’s grade will be visible. Hegelmarks also knows that those
who have failed to complete this assignment will be able to
monitor their progress, or lack of it, by looking at the gradebook
What concerns Hegelmarks now is that only five of his fifteen
students have responded so far. Because it’s already Friday, and
there’s a new assignment they must do for the next week, he
decides to take a look at some of the statistical information that
the course management system offers for tracking student
progress. What he finds is that of the ten students who haven’t
responded to the question, eight have at least clicked on (and
one hopes, actually read) the commentary for that lesson, some
spending more than sixty minutes at a time in that area. Two
haven’t looked at it at all.
Hegelmarks’s first concern is with the two students who
haven’t even looked at the assigned commentary. It isn’t the
first time they’ve failed to complete an assignment on time.
Hegelmarks sends both of them a low-�key but concerned email
asking whether they’re having any special problems he should
know about, gently reminding them that they’ve fallen behind.
The lengthy time the other students have been taking to read
his commentary concerns him as well. From experience, he
knows that students often struggle with some of the concepts in
Mill’s Political Economy. He had written the commentary and
created the homework assignment in an attempt to clarify the
subject, but taking a second look, he now realizes that the commentary was written far too densely. He makes a note to rewrite
it the next time he teaches the class.
While Hegelmarks is still online, a student instant messages
him, using that feature of this course management software,
and Hegelmarks takes a few minutes to answer a question about
the upcoming assignment. The question had been addressed in
the classroom Q&A area, and in fact, the student seems to know
the answer already, but he is grateful to receive Hegelmarks’s
Teaching Online
further affirmation. Hegelmarks has the ability to make himself
invisible to the students via instant messaging but he usually
maintains his presence because he feels that those few students
who like to contact him in this manner may need this individualized attention and reassurance.
The last task Hegelmarks completes before logging off is to
comment on the student responses that he has just read and
graded. He doesn’t comment on each one—that would take far
too long—but he composes a summary message touching on
the main points his students have made, and he posts this on
the discussion board for all to see.
Introduction to Physics, a “Blended” Course
Our second instructor, Miriam Sharpe, teaches an introductory
physics class at a large public university. Her course, a prerequisite for anyone majoring in physics, is what we call blended,
that is, combining both online and face-�to-face activities.
The class is large, with eighty students enrolled, and Sharpe
has two teaching assistants (TAs) to help her. Three times a
week, she lectures to her class, using PowerPoint slides projected onto a screen to elucidate her points. Because she relies
on so many slides, she has decided to post them on the course
web site for students to review.
Although some of her colleagues disapprove of this practice,
arguing that it will dissuade students from coming to class,
Sharpe contends that relieving students of the tedium of taking
copious notes during her lectures makes it easier for them to
comprehend and remember the material. More important, by
posting her slides online, she gives students the opportunity to
review the material before coming to class. As a result, she has
found that the questions raised in class, and the discussions
they provoke, are far more relevant and lively.
Sharpe also uses the course web site for discussion groups.
Each TA leads a discussion group of thirty students, with Sharpe
handling the remaining twenty herself. In these virtual discussion groups, students can post their queries and concerns and
receive a response from Sharpe, a TA, or other students. Sharpe
and her TAs make a point of checking the discussion boards at
least once a day.
Chapter 1╇ •â•‡ Teaching Online: An Overview
Sharpe has one
Blended course (also known as hybrid)â•… A
more major use for course which includes both face-�to-face
the web site: to post meetings and online components. Definitions of
sample exams. When
blended courses vary from one institution to
she first started using another. For example, a blended course may be
the site, she simply defined as one in which some “seat time” is
posted the exams as replaced by online activities, or this term may be
applied to those courses in which both the face-�
documents that her
to-face and online components are required, to
students could read.
differentiate the course from one in which online
But after her univerelements are merely supplementary. The Sloan
sity installed a new
Consortium has defined a blended or hybrid
course as one in which 30–79 percent of the
course management
content is delivered online.
system, she was able
to offer the sample
exams in such a way that students could take an exam online
and receive both feedback and a score. This trial assessment,
she has discovered, is quite popular with her students.
Since first beginning to supplement her class with online
materials two years ago, she has gone from a rudimentary web
site which was maintained by her TAs to software that easily
permits her to upload most materials on her own. The greater
ease of using today’s software has actually encouraged Sharpe to
more readily conceive of activities that can be implemented
online. Now that all her students are readily able to access the
Web, she has no qualms about requiring students to perform
certain activities online. This year for the first time she has begun
to require students to use the university’s wiki software to
compose their group project reports rather than have them use
valuable time on campus to accomplish that portion of their
work. By using the wiki software rather than simply having students post projects to
the discussion board, Wikiâ•… Software which allows for the
gains collaborative creation and editing of content in
web page format without knowledge of
another advantage—
she is able to track programming code. Various built-�in controls
allow for the setting of different authoring
each individual’s contribution to a group permissions and the tracking of each
contribution and different versions over time.
project through the
The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is a
wiki’s recording of
prominent example of the wiki format.
each edit.
Teaching Online
Teaching Online: The Basics
Now that you have some idea of what it’s like to teach online
and what some of the basic terms and concepts are, you may be
thinking about how to teach your own class online. Later chapters will go into detail on many specific aspects of the task. Here
we comment on some of the basic pedagogical considerations
involved in teaching courses like those of our two fictional
instructors, Jim Hegelmarks and Miriam Sharpe.
Teaching a Course Entirely Online
Perhaps the most daunting task is to plan a new course that will
be taught entirely online, particularly if you’ve never taught
online before. Composing the syllabus, assembling the exercises and quizzes, weighing the criteria for grades—all this
presents a set of unfamiliar challenges.
Yet closer inspection reveals that the approach to solving
such problems is similar to what you would use “on the
ground.” The same instructional strategy you’ve learned for a
live classroom—setting the goals of the course, describing specific objectives, defining the required tasks, creating relevant
assignments— applies online. Similarly, if you’re converting an
existing course into an online version, your basic approach
need not change.
Where the online course differs is in technique and in discovering the new teaching and learning opportunities afforded by
the new online environment. In a classroom, you have your physical presence—your voice, body language, intonation, expressions, gestures—to help you communicate with your students.
Online, at least for the majority of the time, you don’t. In a classroom, a smile can be a powerful signal of approval. Online, it’s
reduced to a ludicrous little emoticon :)—characters that look
like a person grinning. In a classroom, the instructor is often the
“sage on the stage.” Online, the instructor is more like the “sage
on the page.” It is the written word, at least for now, that conveys
the crux of what you want to say. Increasingly, there are opportunities to inject audio or video to relieve that burden of text.
Chapter 1╇ •â•‡ Teaching Online: An Overview
While these opportunities existed in previous years and were discussed in earlier editions of this book, the pace of change has
picked up so that the easy-�to-use tools for instructors to produce
audio and video are now more widespread and cheaper (if not
free) than ever before. Also, many more students are able to
access these audio and video communications than was previously the case. However, for most readers of this book, these non�text methods for communicating and presenting are likely still
secondary to the ubiquity of text-�based communications.
The fact that the majority of online teaching is still done
using the written
word puts an inordiEmoticon╅ A text-�based or graphic symbol
nate emphasis on used in online communications to express
style, attitude, and
emotions that might otherwise be
intonation as they are misunderstood when relying only on text. The
expressed in print. A
word comes from combining emotion with icon.
Text-�based emoticons are formed from
sarcastic aside, a
keyboard characters, like the smiley face :),
seemingly innocent
joke, shorn of an and are usually designed to be read from left to
right in Western cultures, but may be created to
apologetic smile or a
be read vertically (^_^) in Asian cultures.
can seem cold and
hostile to the student reading it on the screen. None of the conventional ways of modifying ambiguous or ironic statements—
the wink, the raised eyebrow, the shrug, and the smile—is
available with online text. Thus an instructor communicating
with the written word must pay particular attention to nuances.
In a physical classroom, moreover, you’re always there to
listen to your students or observe their interactions. Online,
you’re there only sporadically, at the times when you log on,
whereas your students may post their comments at any time of
day. These circumstances modify the instructional role you
play, making you more a facilitator or moderator than the
expert from whom all knowledge flows. Indeed, online courses
depend heavily on the participation of students. As an instructor, you need to step back a bit from the spotlight in order to
allow the students to take a more active part. Perhaps you will
intervene only when the flow of conversation strays too far off
the mark or when you need to summarize the conversation in
order to progress to another point.
Teaching Online
Conversely, online participation is just as important to the
student as it is to you. What makes the Web such an attractive
medium—the ability to communicate instantly with anyone in
the world—is what drives students to the Internet rather than to
a conventional classroom. If, when they log on to the course, all
they can do is read the voluminous course notes you have
posted there, they will soon become frustrated and drift away.
And given your students’ propensity to upload photos and
videos, while keeping up a continuous stream of communication via text messaging, instant messaging, or other online tools,
they are likely already acculturated to being active participants
in the online world.
It’s your responsibility to bear all this in mind when devising
your course. You will fashion tasks and exercises that emphasize
student collaboration and de-�emphasize the traditional role of
the instructor as the central figure in the pedagogical play.
This doesn’t mean that an online syllabus should include only
tasks that must be performed online: hunting for online material,
for example, or linking to a host of other web sites. In fact, such
tasks can often prove counterproductive, requiring that students
stay online an inordinate amount of time. Indeed, the sort of
tasks you have your students perform need not, and perhaps
should not, differ from what you would have them do on the
ground. They still need to go to libraries to perform the functions
of sound research (unless their institution provides database and
full-�text resources online), and they still need to investigate,
examine, and observe phenomena on their own. What’s different
is how they communicate what they have learned, how they talk
to each other, and how you talk to them. A successful online
course often includes challenging assignments that lead to publicly conducted discussions, moderated and guided by you. An
online course will also find a meaningful way to incorporate the
increasingly rich mix of resources available on the Web.
For instructors like Miriam Sharpe, who teach face to face but
use the Web to augment the work in class, there’s a somewhat
different set of criteria. For these instructors, the Web may be a
place to post information before class in order to inspire a meaningful in-�class discussion. Or the information on the Web may
help give students the proper context for a lecture, so that the
lecture falls on well-�informed ears rather than becoming a mere
Chapter 1╇ •â•‡ Teaching Online: An Overview
oration accompanied by the sound of pencils furiously scribbling
notes (or the clicking of laptop keyboards, as the case may be).
Conversely, the web site might be used to elucidate or elaborate a point that was brought up in class. Students may begin a
group project in a face-�to-face session, continue it online for a
number of weeks, then return to present it on campus, integrating the two modes in a series of tightly woven transitions. The
Web may become a place where students can comment, critique,
or analyze material in a leisurely and thoughtful way, instead of
having to contend with other students in impassioned face-�toface debates. Indeed, the Web provides a safe environment for
students who ordinarily might not chime in, too timid or shy to
take part in discussions with those who are louder, more aggressive, or domineering. In this sense, using the Web as a means of
communication can often provoke more thoughtful and reasoned discussions than might be possible in a classroom.
Later chapters will describe the options in more detail. Here,
our point is straightforward:
Important! There’s no need to start from scratch
to teach online. You can apply what you already know
and add to it by using new tools and techniques
adapted for the online environment.
What about Support Personnel and
It may have occurred to you that mastering new software and
techniques is a task that ought to be handled by someone
else—by computer support personnel, or instructional designers, for example, or by graduate student teaching assistants. On
many campuses, however, neither the expertise nor the funds
are available to provide the support each faculty member might
like to have.
Most of the time, computer support personnel have to deal
with problems concerning infrastructure, networks, and servers
that shut down. When they respond to an individual faculty
member, they’re typically concerned with hardware or software
Teaching Online
problems: “I can’t type the letter k on my keyboard”; “I can’t
download this video.” Teaching assistants, for their part, won’t
necessarily have more advanced skills than faculty members,
and are more appropriately concerned with pursuing their
degrees. Instructional designers and instructional technologists
are often specially hired to assist instructors, but they are seldom
numerous enough to replace all of faculty’s own efforts.
Many instructors who have painstakingly acquired computer
skills and familiarity with the Web may even feel intimidated by
the increasing ease and frequency with which their students
communicate via mobile phone text messaging, socialize on
social networking sites like Facebook, create and upload videos
to YouTube, and, in effect, live comfortably with technology
occupying a major portion of their daily life. Some instructors
struggle to keep up with the ever-�increasing number of technology tools available, while others worry about looking foolish to
their students through a too “faddish” and superficial adoption
of these tools. (Do your students even want you to “friend”
them on Facebook?)
Increasingly, online programs do offer ongoing support to
their instructors. But even in these comparatively proactive programs, there’s a limit to how much attention and help can be
offered to each faculty member, particularly as the number of
online courses continues to grow. Of course, instructors who
aren’t based on a campus have even fewer resources to help
them troubleshoot problems.
While more prevalent than in the early years of online education, still scarce is the availability of reliable and effective training for online instructors. A hodgepodge of different workshops,
brown-�bag lunches, and self-�paced online materials may be
cobbled together to ease an instructor’s progress, but there are
still a great number of instructors who must learn on the job.
Often this means that the first course you teach is beset with
errors, miscues, and miscalculations, much as may have happened when you taught your first class face to face.
Even for those who enroll in a formal training course, the
results can be disappointing. Some tend to betray the idiosyncrasies of the particular person who delivers the training while
others may be taught by technical staff with little teaching
experience of their own. Some tend to deal with the subject as if
Chapter 1╇ •â•‡ Teaching Online: An Overview
it were a phenomenon to be researched rather than a new set of
skills to be mastered and employed. To make matters worse,
training is often offered in a conventional classroom or lab
setting, depriving faculty members of the experience of learning
online or learning online in a real-�life teaching situation, i.e.,
alone, at their own computer.
The situation isn’t entirely bleak, however. Even if your institution doesn’t provide much in the way of preparation for
online teaching, there are some reliable training programs
offered to the public, several of which are mentioned in Chapter
14. We will also discuss with you how you might network with
other online instructors for mutual support and learning. In
addition, the amount of technical know-�how you need before
you begin is less than you may suppose. Newcomers to online
teaching are likely to exaggerate the computer and overall technical expertise required. Let’s address that question directly.
Do You Have to Be a Computer Expert?
Instructors often wonder what qualifications—especially what
level of technical computer skills—they need to consider teaching online. Do you have to be an expert or an advanced computer user?
In terms of technical computer skills, an instructor needs
little to start with. A very basic familiarity with computers and
the Internet will more than suffice. That means knowing how to
do the following:
1. Set up folders and directories on a hard drive.
2. Use word-�processing software properly (for instance, cut,
copy, and paste; minimize and maximize windows; save files).
3. Handle email communications, including attachments.
4. Use a browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox to access
the World Wide Web.
5. Download, that is, retrieve a file from your institution’s computer network or from the Web and save it on your own
Teaching Online
If you lack some of these skills, you can pick them up on
campus or in online workshops. Once you’re comfortable with
these basic skills, you should, with experience, be able to build
on them and become more skilled. With the advent of more
user-�friendly and menu-�driven software, it is actually getting
easier for instructors to learn to teach online. For example, it is
no longer necessary for most instructors to learn HTML in order
to format the text they post online because the advent of
WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) editors that operate
very much like word-�processing software are increasingly built
right into the software programs instructors use to teach.
Faculty of all ranks who are enthusiastic about the possibilities offered by online teaching—and who are willing to invest
some time in learning new technology and methods for the sake
of personal and professional growth—are good candidates for
teaching online.
This raises a question we are often asked—what kind of people
make the best online instructors? Surprisingly, it is “people-Â�
oriented” people who make the best online instructors. Though
these people-�oriented people may initially feel the most anxiety
about teaching online, their desire to reach out to their students,
their empathy and interest in others, and their urge to bridge
communication gaps mean that they have the aptitude and motivation to become the very best online teachers.
Important! “Techies” don’t necessarily make the
best online instructors. An interest in teaching should
come first, technology second.
What Can Teaching Online Do for You?
Beyond the case we have made for the greater flexibility and
accessibility of online teaching, the rich and diverse world of
resources that becomes available, and the fact that online learning is becoming more expected and even demanded by students, is there anything else that we might say to those of you
who come to this book with one arm twisted behind your back,
unconvinced of the desirability of teaching online? Although
Chapter 1╇ •â•‡ Teaching Online: An Overview
teaching online presents many challenges to the instructor,
there are many more benefits to be gained from the experience.
Let us highlight two major benefits you may not have
Heightened Awareness of Your Teaching
Among instructors who have taught online, the advantage of
the process that they most commonly express is that it makes
them better teachers—not only online, but also in their face-Â�toface classes.
Few of us in higher education have any training in teaching
methods or instructional design. We learn chiefly from osmosis
(being in a classroom), from mentoring by more experienced
colleagues (if we’re lucky), or through time spent as teaching
assistants in graduate school.
Teaching online heightens our awareness of what we’re actually doing in the classroom. The interactions between our students and ourselves—which often consist of fleeting occasions
in the on-Â�campus classroom—are recorded for us online, available for our review and reflection. We also have the opportunity
to observe and review how our students respond to our assignments and to track the growth of understanding or incomprehension as they respond to the lessons and activities we set in
motion for their learning.
This heightened awareness can be both illuminating and
humbling. We find that the instructional design process
becomes less implicit and more of a deliberate enterprise.
Sometimes this leads us to make changes in the way we do
things or to try out new approaches, not only in our online
courses but in our on-�campus classrooms as well.
As you reconsider your instructional methods, you may find
that the rapid and flexible communication afforded by the
Internet fosters some creative new approaches. Isabel Simões
de Carvalho, teaching mechanical engineering at the Instituto
Superior de Engenharia in Lisbon, Portugal, began to use the
online classroom to support her traditional face-�to-face classes
and soon found herself introducing entirely new types of learning activities, taking advantage of the way that face-�to-face
meetings and online activities could be paired to deepen
Teaching Online
immersion in a learning activity. She was surprised by the way
students seemed to rise to the occasion—“a really interesting
discovery was that by asking them to do quite a bit of challenging work, one can get students to more readily engage in learning and they even enjoy it!”
When you teach online, you, too, may experience that serendipitous moment when the possibilities of the medium and
your course objectives suddenly come together. Grasp that
moment and shape it to enliven and enrich your students’
New Connections with the Wider World
A great fear among many instructors is that all human interaction online is inevitably superficial and that such a learning
environment leads to more alienation between students and
instructors, and less meaningful communication among
Communication online isn’t the same as in person, but it can
be both effective and satisfying. It also brings us new opportunities to communicate with, and even to get to know, people we
would have no other chance to meet—either because they live
at a great distance from us or because their schedules wouldn’t
otherwise allow them to take our classes.
At the risk of sounding heretical, we will venture the proposition that meeting online is sometimes the ideal way to get to
know a student or colleague. The by-Â�now-old joke goes, “On the
Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” and by the same token,
nobody knows whether you’re under twenty-Â�one or over sixty-Â�
five years old. When one of this book’s authors, Susan Ko, met
Gerda Lederer online, she formed a picture in her head of a
woman of about thirty who had a fresh and open attitude
toward life and who was bursting with creative ideas and enthusiasm for the new medium. Susan deduced from their extensive
online communications that Gerda kept very current in her field
of expertise, as well as up to date in her knowledge of culture
and education in general. Susan and Gerda got to know each
other rather well online, and eventually, when Gerda traveled to
Los Angeles, they decided to meet in person. Susan was surprised to discover that Gerda was over seventy years old.
Chapter 1╇ •â•‡ Teaching Online: An Overview
Although Susan felt that she was without any bias toward older
adults, she had to admit that meeting Gerda’s ideas before she
met her in person had actually been the very best way to get to
know her.
Many instructors, including the authors of this book, arrange
to meet online students at conferences. Online students will
also network among themselves, carry on long correspondences, and sometimes meet in person. In fact, talking extensively with another online, observing that person’s interaction
with others, and perhaps collaborating on a project can often
form the basis of a solid friendship.
New connections with distant colleges also become possible.
An instructor residing in Missouri may teach for an institution
based in New York, and a professor on leave from a college in
California may teach a class from a temporary post in France. In
this way, instructors are often able to continue their institutional associations with their former colleges after they have
moved far away from the home campus site.
With online education, cross-�cultural and international collaborations become possible, without the expense and difficult
logistics of travel, allowing students from different lands to
exchange ideas and work in concert on projects and topics of
interest to both parties.
For those who teach hybrid courses, one benefit that will be
immediately obvious is the greater number of students heard
from in your class—in a face-Â�to-face class of fifty students, an
instructor is lucky to get the active participation of more than a
small handful of students. Many more lack the confidence to
speak up in the classroom, while others may nod off or distractedly text friends on their cell phones during the in-�class time.
Online, especially if you establish a participation requirement,
you are likely to “hear” from nearly all your students. That shy
student in the back row of your classroom might end up being
the most loquacious or even most eloquent contributor to your
online discussion forum.
In the next chapter, we will begin preparing you for online
teaching by showing you how to explore your institution’s
resources and make practical sense of what you find.
Scouting the Territory:
Exploring Your
Institution’s Resources
n Chapter 1, you learned a bit about how online learning
functions. Now you’re ready to begin planning the online
environment of your course.
But where should you start?
A good first step is to scout the territory in which you plan to
operate—that is, explore the technological and administrative
environment in your institution to ascertain what is possible
and desirable to do. The tools an institution uses, the policies
that might constrain or enable you, and the support it offers
very much influence the choices you’ll need to make. Before
you sit down to sketch out your course, you must be certain that
what you’re planning can actually take place.
Colleges and other institutions, after all, don’t exist in a
vacuum. They have administrators, department heads, and
computer support personnel, all of whom have budgets,
agendas, and rivalries. Investments have been made (or are on
the planning board) in computer hardware, operating
systems, software platforms, computer labs, maintenance,
support, and instructor training. All of these factors, in one
way or another, may affect the shape of the course you plan to
Of course, you can’t be expected to know everything there is
to know about these subjects. We aren’t suggesting that you get
on your hands and knees to follow the cabling from your building to the street outside or become an expert on computer
Chapter 2╇ •â•‡ Exploring Your Institution’s Resources
software. But we are suggesting that you arm yourself in
advance with a bit of practical knowledge.
This isn’t as formidable a task as it may seem. If you’ve been
working at your institution for some time, you already know
much of the information. What you don’t know you can usually
find out by visiting the institution’s web site or by scheduling a
few informal interviews with your department head, chief
administrator, or computer support person. Perhaps your institution has a special unit dedicated to helping faculty learn
about teaching online or at the very least, a unit that offers some
technical training on using whatever software tools your institution may have adopted. If you know what questions to ask
and what to look for in advance, you should be able to walk
away with most of the information you need.
Imagine you’re a new manager visiting a modern manufacturing plant for the first time. To familiarize yourself with its
operations, you do a walk-�through survey. You note which
equipment is in use, heeding such factors as age, reliability, and
maintenance records. You also notice which procedures are in
force, as well as which have been most successful. You judge
whether the foreperson and the floor workers seem friendly or
enthusiastic, or whether that scowl on their faces denotes some
deep-�seated hostility you would do well to avoid. How many of
the jobs are handled in-�house and how many are outsourced?
Do they have the latest technology, and if so, have the workers
and managers learned how to use those high-�tech machines
effectively? Finally, how good is the end product? Is feedback
from the product users incorporated into the improvement
The rest of this chapter will help you translate that metaphorical tour into specific questions to ask and ways to interpret the results.
Questions to Ask About Your Institution’s
The following sections describe some useful questions you can
ask in our equivalent of a walk-�through survey.
Teaching Online
What’s Already in Place?
This question is the most important of all. In practice, you’ll
break it down into a number of subordinate queries, such as
■ Does your institution already provide courses online, either
as completely online or blended format?
■ If so, which courses?
■ Who teaches them?
■ What software platform(s) or tools do they use?
■ Who put the courses together?
■ How long did it take to put them together?
■ Is there a policy in place for those who want to teach an
online or blended course?
■ Are there any restrictions on how much of a course can be
required to be accessed online, on whether synchronous
tools can be used as well as asynchronous?
■ Is there any training in place for those who want to teach
online? If so, who offers it—faculty development, academic
departments, academic technology, instructional design
■ Is there an orientation to prepare students for online learning and technical staff to support them?
Once you find out about online courses already being taught
at your institution, make an effort to contact the instructors and
talk to them at length. Tell them what you plan to do and solicit
their reactions. Find out what their experiences have been. Ask
about potential pitfalls you ought to avoid. Talk to your administrator and any other gatekeepers to the process to find out
about the applicable policies.
Information gained in this way is the most valuable you can
collect. Not only will you learn first-Â�hand what’s going on, but
you may, if you’re lucky, forge a few strategic alliances with
some of the pioneers at your institution or gain a mentor.
Chapter 2╇ •â•‡ Exploring Your Institution’s Resources
What Kind of Software, Hardware, and
Operating System Is Available at Your
Institution to Run Online Courses?
It is easiest to work with the software that your institution has
already made available—that way you have probable sources of
technical support, and are least likely to propose using software
that your students will have difficulty accessing. Some institutions
offer the choice of more than one course management system to
instructors while others are amenable to supporting additional
tools and programs that an instructor might wish to use.
Does your college or department support only PCs or are Macs
also supported for both instructors and students? What kind of
operating system—Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc.—is there?
This consideration is chiefly important for those enterprising
souls who may want to run software programs that that institution may not supply or support. Software is written expressly for
a particular operating system. Thus the web server you use to run
your course web site must be compatible with the operating
system. Or perhaps your institution is increasingly moving to
make available a variety of software completely through the
browser and Internet—this so-Â�called cloud computing trend
may mean that you have fewer concerns about hardware.
What Kind of Network Has Your Institution
Set Up and What Is the Profile of Student
It doesn’t matter what kind of software, hardware, or operating
system your college may have if the information that’s being
“served” has nowhere to go. The “network”—about as vague a
term as the “Syndicate”—consists of whatever hodgepodge of
telephone, Ethernet, coaxial, and fiber-�optic cables your institution has cobbled together, complete with the hubs and
routers that connect them to the campus “backbone,” culminating in the “gateway” that opens to the great outside world in
which you and your students live. This collection of stuff determines how quickly and effectively you and your students can
communicate with each other. Collectively, it’s often referred to
Teaching Online
as the “pipeline”—another vague term that conceals more than
it reveals.
In investigating this pipeline through which you’ll have to
operate, pay attention to specific capabilities and hindrances. The
kind of course you plan and the exercises you assign must take
these conditions into consideration. Imagine, for instance, that
your university has an adequate network on campus, with a high-�
speed connection to the Internet that allows you to surf the Web
and fetch useful software in a matter of seconds. But if a considerable number of your students live in rural areas where they are
limited to dial-Â�up access from off-Â�campus, you won’t want to
create the type of course exercise in which they’re required to go
on extended searches online for material or information. Staying
online can often be both costly and frustrating for a student connecting from home via a relatively slow modem. Nor will you want
to schedule a lot of synchronous chat sessions or include video
resources when you know that the connectivity is tenuous. Your
student body may also include military students or other workers
who are restricted by firewalls that make it difficult for them to
use any programs that require downloading to their own computers. The computer support units on campus generally have
information on how students are accessing the campus servers
and this information is valuable for your planning.
If, on the other hand, there are adequate on-�campus labs or
laptop computing programs that can be accessed by students
who will be on campus at regular periods to take a blended
course, you may be able to use a certain amount of more sophisticated resources and software by taking advantage of and
planning ahead for students to avail themselves of these
campus-�based computing resources.
You also need to consider where you yourself will be working
most of the time. If you’ll work mainly at home you will want to
obtain unlimited high-�speed Internet service with a local
private Internet service provider (ISP). Also, if you anticipate
spending part of the class time away from your normal environment, make sure that you find out about arrangements for
access when traveling. Check ahead with your hotel to find out
if there is wireless (also known as “wi-Â�fi” for “wireless fidelity”)
or other high-�speed connection service for your laptop, or if
there is a business center that offers reasonably priced Internet
Chapter 2╇ •â•‡ Exploring Your Institution’s Resources
access. Or consult an online travel guide to find out if there is an
Internet café or some other facility in the city you plan to visit.
Travelers increasingly discuss such accommodations on the
Web, offering helpful advice about connecting in a foreign
country or town. Finally, you may be able to use a smart phone,
that is, one that allows you to access the Internet, class email,
and your university web sites, to keep up with your class during
a trip of relatively short duration.
What Kind of Computer Support Does Your
Institution Provide?
Computer support comes in various sizes and shapes. Some
colleges have computer support personnel who are strictly
network maintenance types, with no time for wild-Â�eyed academics. Still other institutions have well-Â�meaning but somewhat inexperienced administrators in charge who aren’t
thoroughly familiar with what an educational web site can
provide. The best have personnel who know their trade and are
able to communicate what they know to faculty members.
So get to know your local computer support personnel or
instructional technologist and ask the appropriate questions.
Will the individual assist you in an instructional media lab or
come to your office to help you with such mundane details as
improving a scanned graphic in Photoshop? Will they videotape
your lecture and then post it online for you? Or perhaps there
are extensive online tutorials or workshops that you can avail
yourself of to learn specific skills?
Will your students receive support and advice during office
hours only or through a 24/7 tech help desk service? Or will you
and your students be essentially on your own?
The answers to such questions will help you determine just
how complex and demanding your online work can be, as well
as which methods and software programs might best accomplish the task. Above all, you will want to avoid making choices
that force you to be the main source of technical support for
your students. While this was quite common during the early
years of online teaching, it was never an ideal situation for an
instructor to be spending a good deal of time doing something
other than teaching.
Teaching Online
What Kind of Instructor Training and Support
is Available?
Learning how to teach online is an ongoing process that
includes not only mastering new skills, but also a cycle of
review, reflection, and continual revision of one’s online
course. By finding out what’s already available at your institution in terms of training and support in the technical aspects as
well as the pedagogical approaches to teaching online, you can
devise a plan for sustaining your efforts. As mentioned in
Chapter 1, sometimes there is a hodgepodge of different
resources on campus offered to instructors, while other institutions may have well-�organized paths for attaining the expertise
to teach online and the support personnel in place to guide you
along the way.
Support for online teaching may be found in faculty development units, or it may be lodged within a special academic
technology, online teaching and learning unit, or instructional
design group. It may be scattered about in several different
units on campus, or there may be centralized university
system-�wide resources available for training instructors on
multiple campuses. Finally, your institutions may make funds
available to support your learning from sources outside your
Different Resource and Readiness Levels:
Three Typical Scenarios
Now that you’ve made your walk-Â�through survey of your institution, you should have a fair idea of what it can offer you. Of
course, there are many shades of gray to consider, but in most
cases your institution will fall into one of three broadly defined
categories of readiness for online teaching and learning: low,
middle, or high. Our descriptions of these have necessarily
morphed over the years, but keep in mind that there are
instructors today in rural areas and in the developing world that
may find themselves in circumstances akin to those experienced a decade ago by today’s most richly provided.
Chapter 2╇ •â•‡ Exploring Your Institution’s Resources
The Low Readiness Scenario
A college or department in the low readiness category has little or
no experience offering courses online. Its web site contains
administrative information, but little else. Infrastructure is
minimal; while department offices may be connected to the Internet via a high-�speed line, students roll their eyes heavenward
when you inquire whether there are enough computers on
campus to meet their needs.
You may discover that a few intrepid faculty members have
found a way to offer some of their courses online, often using an
arrangement with a local ISP to host their web pages, but these
pathfinders have apparently accomplished this feat on their own.
No one on campus, you’re told, has sufficient skill, dedication, or
patience to offer solid technological support. Or if you are a little
higher on this readiness scale, the university may indeed offer to
host course web sites. The quality of these course web sites,
however, varies widely. Some contain little more than a converted
word-�processed outline of the course syllabus, whereas others are
replete with complex graphics and links to other sites. Speaking to
some of the instructors and computer support people, you learn
that the webmasters for the existing course sites are a mix of
student interns, teaching assistants, and instructor-�volunteers,
mostly self-�taught. Hence they have different approaches and
diverse sets of skills, accounting for the great variation you see in
their web sites. In many cases, the instructors have done all the
web site design themselves. What’s more, in order to produce
their courseware, these instructors had to purchase their own
computer equipment, scanners, and software. Technical support
for students and instructors is available only during regular office
hours. The library offers a course in Internet searching for students and computer skills tutorials are available for students.
Support on campus is informal but collegial, with those pioneering instructors eager to share ideas and tips with their fellow
instructors. The staffperson in charge of faculty development is
eager to help, but does not know a great deal about the pedagogy
of online teaching.
The Mid-�Range Readiness Scenario
At a college or department in the mid-�range category, the web
site probably does have pointers to individual courses offered
Teaching Online
online. Many of even the completely face-�to-face courses have
their own web sites while web-�enhanced and true blended
courses may also make use of course management software for
running their courses. It is often impossible to tell from the
course listings which courses are actual blended courses requiring online activities since the university has not yet distinguished
classes with supplementary web materials from those of true
blended status. Also, the university emphasizes face-�to-face
instruction and is somewhat conflicted about publicizing online
instruction. Although there are some fully online courses being
offered, most have been funneled through the continuing education arm of the institution.
The university makes available two different course management software systems because there is no consensus on
campus about the best solution. It may be that these are older
versions of the software, but there are computer personnel and
instructors who are familiar with these software systems and
that does mean there are both formal and informal support networks on campus. Or perhaps the institution has contracted
with an application service provider, a private business set up
to host the latest course management software on its own
servers and provide technical support as well.
There are self-�paced tutorials on the university web site and a
student orientation on the Web provides an introduction to using
the course management software. Technical support personnel
have joined with the faculty professional development staff and
instructors who volunteer to share their expertise, offering a few
workshops each semester on some aspect of using the Web, the
basics of course management software, creating a web site or
blog, and other related topics. There is also a small instructional
media lab where instructors can make an appointment to use
equipment or receive some one-�on-one support. Beyond the two
available course management systems, instructors are free to
adopt the use of single tools to complement their web sites rather
than use the course management system. Some tools are supported by the institution, while others on the public Web are
simply linked to from the web site as the instructor chooses.
Several instructors are experimenting with some of the new Web
2.0 software tools available for free on the Web, choosing tools
that allow their students to more easily collaborate on their work.
Chapter 2╇ •â•‡ Exploring Your Institution’s Resources
Overall, there is a blogâ•… Short for “web log,” it is a web site on
lot of creative experi- which a person (generally one person but could
mentation but little
be more than one) posts commentary, and can
consistency in the
allow others to respond. The blog is usually
institution’s offerings.
arranged in reverse chronological order and so
lends itself to a journal-�like series of frequent
There are several
entries. The blog does not require knowledge
well-�equipped comof HTML to create, and blogging software
puter labs on campus,
usually provides a variety of templates that can
and instructors can
be used without having to design a site.
easily connect to the
Visitors can choose to subscribe to the blog so
that they are notified via email when a new
entry or response has been made. While many
classrooms. There are
blogs are public sites, used as a way to give
also wireless hotspots
opinions or provide the latest news on a topic,
blogs can be open or permission access
connect via laptops restricted to students in a particular class.
from the student
lounge and library.
Web 2.0â•… Those tools and sites which allow
Communication with
for easy interaction and creation of content
the world beyond the (from text to multimedia) on the Web without
college gates has
special technical skills, and whose structure
become more reliable
and features foster collaboration and sharing
after a major instituamong users. Most of these tools are available
tional effort to put
for free use. Blogs, wikis, YouTube, and social
networking sites like Facebook are among the
registration, library
better-�known Web 2.0 tools and sites available.
databases, and other
services online; students attempting to connect from home to a course web site are
less likely to find that networks slow down at certain points in the
day when a lot of students are trying to access at once. Many students can also connect readily from their home to third-�party web
sites. Ultimately, all of your students have some Internet access
off-�campus, increasingly high speed and reliable, but still there
remain students who are on dial-�up and need to use public libraries or campus resources for better connection.
The High Readiness Scenario
The high readiness institution has installed a full-�scale course
management system for its departments or colleges. It has
Teaching Online
purchased site licenses for course management software, such
as Blackboard or open-�source Moodle, and has installed this
software on its own web servers. Most of the online courses
therefore have a uniform user interface.
Students and faculty are both provided with 24/7 tech
support, either by the university itself or in conjunction with an
outside provider. Library services (including full text resources
available online), tutoring, advising, and other student services
are all available online.
The administration, apparently eager to promote the use of
computer-�mediated courses, has secured grants and alumni
contributions to fund the construction of labs and wireless networks on campus. Online courses are designated as such in the
online catalog, while all face-�to-face courses are supported by
robust course web sites or use of the course management software. Beyond the main course management system used for
classes, instructors are encouraged to explore and experiment
with new technology tools. Periodically, workshops are offered
to both faculty and students to assist them in learning new
computer skills and to introduce new software programs and
tools. The faculty professional development unit has teamed up
with academic technology to offer a basic training course for
faculty who are interested in teaching online and a generous
stipend is offered instructors as an incentive for participating.
Or perhaps completion of some base-�line training is actually
mandated before instructors can teach online.
Instructional designers and technologists are available to
assist faculty with special projects. High-�enrollment courses
offered in multiple sections are often designed by a team of
instructional designers, technical support staff, and one or
more instructors working together.
Adapting to Your Institution’s Resource
Level (and Perhaps Finding What You
Need Elsewhere)
Even though it may appear that only the high readiness setting
offers you a good chance to succeed as an online instructor, you
Chapter 2╇ •â•‡ Exploring Your Institution’s Resources
can be successful in all three types of institutions if you’re
willing to tailor your demands to the available resources. In fact,
you may find that a high readiness setting, with its integrated
course management applications, amounts to a “one-Â�size-fits-Â�
all” approach that doesn’t suit your particular needs very well.
The following sections offer examples of solutions you might
develop in each of the three environments.
Low Institutional Readiness Solutions
As an example of a low readiness setting, imagine you’re teaching introductory biology at a small rural college with few
technological resources. Because this course is required for
biology majors and also fulfills the college’s general education
requirements, it’s usually quite full, with upwards of ninety students crammed into a large, poorly air-Â�conditioned classroom.
The college has no graduate program to speak of and barely
enough funds to provide TAs, so you rely on honors biology
undergraduates for assistance.
You lecture, you assign homework (readings in a large,
expensive, and somewhat daunting textbook), you give a
midterm and a final, and you hold discussion sessions three
times a week, dividing up the class into groups of about thirty.
On your office computer, you’ve created a series of overheads
that you use as you lecture (as long as the bulb in the room’s
overhead projector hasn’t burned out), and you make available
to the students a set of your private course notes, complete with
graphs and diagrams, for which they pay a nominal fee.
Although your discussion sessions help fill in the gaps, the
atmosphere is often chaotic, with the students firing questions
from all sides as if they were reporters at a presidential press
Clearly, you’re doing the best you can with the means availÂ�
able. What you’d like to do is improve student comprehension
of this difficult and challenging subject while, paradoxically,
lightening your own formidable teaching load. To do this, you
know you must find a way to communicate more efficiently with
your students. The obvious solution would be to increase your
office hours. But for a class of ninety-�odd students, that might
not be of much help. It also might prove overwhelming for you.
Teaching Online
Given the limited means of your institution, what can you
Even in this difficult situation, there are ways to use online
instruction effectively. Most of your students will have access to
the Internet and email, even though Internet service in this
rural area is somewhat spotty. The question is, how many students have access and what kind of access?
Using whatever survey tools are available to you (information
from the registrar’s office, in class polls, informal interviews),
find out how many students either have a computer of their
own or have access to a friend’s or roommate’s computer, or a
cell phone that is connected in some way to the Internet. To this
figure add a reasonable estimate of the number of students who
might gain access to the Internet via whatever on-�campus
resources are available to them. Then calculate how long students are likely to remain online given the computing resources
available to them and the prevalent fee structure for Internet
service for the home offered in your area.
Your goal is to set up an email mentoring system to supplement your regular office hours and some of your discussion sessions. You want to have your students contact you when they
need help.
These authors must be crazy, you may be thinking. Students
are capable of firing off fusillades of messages. Within a week I’d
have a thousand emails or text messages that I couldn’t possibly
answer, you’re thinking. True, we respond, email can be a dangerous thing; but if used judiciously, it can lighten your workload and deepen student comprehension of course material.
The keys to success are the procedures and protocols you create
and enforce.
Students are encouraged to send you questions via email or
SMS (short message service) text messaging through cell
phones and other mobile devices. But you make it absolutely
clear that you aren’t going to respond to each and every
message. Indeed, because your entire class doesn’t have equal
access to the Internet, you’re going to collect the inquiries,
group them according to subject, and provide a single answer
on each subject once a week. You can email the responses to
students and print out hard copies to bring to students in class
who do not have Internet access. After a time, your answers will
Chapter 2╇ •â•‡ Exploring Your Institution’s Resources
form, in effect, a page of frequently asked questions (FAQs).
For future classes, you might distribute this page of FAQs in
class the first day and post them on the Web for those who are
able to access them.
Still, even with a clear set of student expectations and procedures in place, the first time you begin the process, it may seem
like an onerous task. You’ll have to read each email carefully
and draft your replies. This may seem like even more work than
you did before. But by the second term, your workload should
decrease dramatically. You will have built an impressive database of written replies to standard queries, which you can supplement as new questions come in. Your FAQ page will become
a resource students can rely on. Gradually they’ll learn to look
at the page first before sending you a note.
But perhaps you are somewhat better off than the biology
instructor cited above. Perhaps all your students have some
stable access to the Internet. This will provide you more
options. Perhaps your institution would be willing to set up a
course mailing list (listserv). A listserv requires special software
that manages your email communications, capturing all inquiries automatically and rerouting them to the entire class, but this
type of software is increasingly common even at low readiness
institutions. A listserv makes it comparatively easier to communicate regularly with the entire class. Your weekly replies
may be sent via the mailing list to all students and you can completely eschew resorting to hard copy for disseminating your
replies and FAQs.
Or perhaps your institution would be willing to support a
web site for your class. However, if you discover that this is a
static web site only, in that materials can only be uploaded at
the beginning of the term, and no one is available to make the
sort of regular weekly updates you would like to post (and you
either aren’t allowed to or don’t know how to upload materials
yourself), you might want to look into one of the free web site-�
hosting services available. Years ago, these required a bit of
finesse to operate, but now they are increasingly easy to use,
with completely menu-�driven features and no coding required
at all. If you simply input the words “free web sites” into your
search engine, you will likely find several options available to
you. Having control over your web site, being able to update
Teaching Online
and edit on your own, is likely a better solution than having a
static web site or one that is too difficult for you to easily handle
on your own.
Using Free Online Resources
If you find that your students have fairly good access to the
Internet, you have other options beyond email to communicate
and interact with your students even though your institution
provides very little in the way of software. There are many free
services on the Web available now for those with limited institutional resources. (Don’t confuse these free software and services which host programs on their own web sites with open
source software like Moodle or Sakai which offer a free license
but require that one install and manage the software on your
own or the institution’s server.)
Beyond the free
open source softwareâ•… Software in which the
web sites mentioned
underlying source code is made known,
earlier, there are procollaboration in its development is encouraged,
grams for creating
and which is distributed with the ability for
and hosting blogs,
others to use and modify. Linux is an example
wikis, or other comof an open source operating system, while
munication and colMoodle and Sakai are examples of open
source course management software.
laborative programs
readily available for
free. Your decision to use these is of course contingent upon
your students having access to a computer or mobile device
with which they can access these programs online. Students
without the latest software on their computers may be able to
use free web-�based document programs accessed through a
browser like Google Docs (docs.google.com) for word processing, spreadsheets, presentation, and for collaborating online
together as well. These types of services are known as the previously mentioned cloud computing, and they allow users to
access software without that software needing to reside on their
own computers. But in evaluating these services for use with
your class, you will need to match up their capabilities with the
computing and Internet access levels available to your own
class as well as your desired teaching approaches. For example,
a blog hosted on a free web site will work well for you to post
Chapter 2╇ •â•‡ Exploring Your Institution’s Resources
materials and students to ask questions or post comments or
for students to post individual reflective assignments, whereas
a wiki might serve better as a means for collaboration by your
students, but perhaps may involve more time online than you
might want to require. We will discuss more on how to teach
with some of these programs and tools in subsequent chapters
of this book.
One issue you may need to consider is that many free online
sites feature advertising. While you may feel that advertising on
these sites does not provide the most appropriate atmosphere,
as long as your institution does not object, you will probably
find that many of your students seem unbothered by the ubiquitous commercial features of free online services. Nevertheless, if you do want to use only non-�commercial web sites, look
for resources designed specifically for educators, like Nicenet
(www.nicenet.org), Edublogs (www.edublogs.org), PBworks
(http://pbworks.com/academic.wiki), or Wetpaint (www.
wetpaint.com), which have either limited advertising or none.
All of these resources allow you to create materials without
having to know HTML or possess special technical skills. Using
these types of resources, you may feel as if you’ve made the leap
from the Stone Age to the Information Age in one effortless
bound. Note that beyond the free services offered there are
often premium subscription levels available at many of these
sites for a fee that allow users more features, more control, or
more storage space. Let’s look at just two examples of these
services and what you might be able to do with them.
Edublogs offers hosted blogging software for educators,
whether K–12 teachers or university instructors. The service
offers some simple how-�to videos, and they also feature discussion forums where educators can post inquiries, help one
another, and offer tips. Once you have set up a blog for your
class, you will find that you have these capabilities, among
others, depending on your service level:
■ You can control who accesses your blog and who doesn’t.
■ You can create course materials by uploading documents or
simply copying and pasting your content into the blog.
■ You can allow students to post their responses in discussions
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related to your content and receive emails letting you know
when students have posted in the discussion, thus cutting
down on the number of times you must log on to see if students are responding.
■ You can allow students also to be notified when someone has
posted a comment to the same piece to which they have
■ You can set up blogs for your students to create their own
With PBworks or Wetpaint, you can create a place for your
students to collaborate on a project or research and contribute
resources or simply post responses for a series of different class
topics. Such resources are continually adding features, but you
may find that you are able to:
■ post your course materials by copying and pasting;
■ use ready-Â�made templates designed for courses;
■ add discussion forums;
■ control permissions for students in regard to editing and
■ track the process of collaboration and see who made edits
and when;
■ create distinct folders for different topics;
■ set up email alerts to let users know when new postings have
been made.
Through using one of these free tools, you may discover that
you are able to use the online environment to enrich learning
for your students and, after an initial investment of time in
planning and creation of material, to relieve some of the
burdens of teaching as well.
Mid-�Range Solutions
If you teach in an institution like the one described in our mid-�
range scenario, you have many more options than those in a
low readiness setting.
Figure 2.1╇ Jim Hegelmarks experiments with creating a classroom in Wetpaint.com. This is the instructor’s view
with the editing tools above the announcement being created. Reproduced by permission. Source: Wetpaint, www.wetpaint.com.
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Figure 2.2╇ Hegelmarks tries out blog software on Edublogs.org.
Reproduced by permission from Edublogs.org.
For one thing, your students either have a computer at
home, with generally good access to the Internet, or can use
one of the many computers available in campus labs. Thus you
can feel somewhat at ease in using the Web to help teach your
class and you may have been asked to teach a blended or
online course.
While you have both course management software and/or
tools that you are free to use, not all are supported by your university. You are pretty much free to pick and choose what you
will do to support your blended course, but despite some
support from workshops and technical staff, you are largely on
your own in deciding what to do. You realize that it will take
quite a bit of time for you to compose your material and try out
the various course management and software tools and you
may find the plethora of choices daunting in itself.
Chapter 2╇ •â•‡ Exploring Your Institution’s Resources
Or maybe not. Beyond the help you may find at your institution through workshops and contacting those colleagues who
have pioneered such efforts, you may also find help in the
global village. Now is the time for you to discover one of the
great benefits of teaching on the Web—the incredible creativity
and generosity of a vast percentage of its citizen proprietors.
For the instructor like yourself, willing to take the technological
plunge but wary of sinking too deep, there are numerous
resources available to buoy you up. Some of these are fellow
educators who are happy to share their experience, and some of
these are web resources that are free, or that cost so little that
either you or your institution may decide they are affordable.
The free web resources mentioned above in connection with
low readiness institutions are available to you as well, and you
may find that you can greatly expand upon the use of some of
the tools and sites. For example, if your institution does not
have blogging software installed on its server, you can use one
of the free blogs as discussed above, but can also make use of
some of the more sophisticated multimedia integration features, given that your students have fewer problems with
High Readiness Solutions
In the high readiness scenario, the institution has seemingly
everything in place for you to teach online or hybrid courses.
The course management system and additional tools are
already adopted and ample training is available for you to fully
prepare yourself for the task. You can rest assured that your students will be adequately oriented and supported when they
encounter technical problems by the 24/7 help desk. You are
also secure in knowing that students can get the help they need
from library, tutoring, and advising services offered online.
You may think that in such a technological heaven, your
troubles are over. However, academic institutions can be notoriously rigid. Having installed a course management system,
they often begin to act like poker players nursing a good hand.
They tend to stand pat, not drawing any cards and not discarding any either. When new software becomes available or new
technologies come into being, they tend to dismiss these
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developments as too expensive, too difficult to implement, not
practicable, or not necessary “at the present time.” Often they
would like to be more flexible, but costs and staffing as well as
the need to prioritize on behalf of the greatest number of students make them slow to respond to developments. There is
also the fact that as the emergence of new technologies gathers
momentum, it is often hard to tell which tools have long-�term
promise and which are simply a passing wave. As an instructor,
you are most concerned with teaching and even if you are not
much of a “techie” you are paradoxically more likely to spot a
new tool that will have relevance for you than are many of your
technical staff or administrators.
Important! No one knows everything, not even
your computer support personnel. Even in a high-�tech
world, you have to do a little homework of your own
to stay on top of new developments and be sure that
those around you are on top of things as well.
One other word about living in a high-�tech, high readiness
institutional environment: No institution will ever be able to
provide the level of support to which you may think you’re entitled. The fact that your university has purchased fancy equipment and software doesn’t mean that you won’t have to learn
some skills. Sooner or later, you’ll have to learn how to use the
course management software, how to find and download
graphics, and how to record an audio file, just as instructors
once had to learn to use the overhead projector, tape recorder,
or yes, how to navigate the Web.
In the following chapters you’ll learn about these skills and
how to master them or how to find programs that will do a great
deal of the work for you. We will also tell you how to find the
training and resources you need to keep up with the dizzying
pace of new technology. For the time being, click open your
existing syllabus document (or pull it out of that desk drawer).
We’re about to redesign your course for online.
Putting the Course
Course Design and
ll right. You’ve taken the grand tour of the campus and are
now familiar with the lay of the land.
You’re ready to get down to work, to convert your on-Â�theground class to one online. You open your syllabus and stare at
it. It reads just like it always did: It has your name, a description
of the class goals and objectives, your grading policy, a schedule
of your office hours, and a week-�by-week listing of assignments
and quizzes.
Nothing very exciting—just the same old stuff. You take your
syllabus, which you wrote using a word-�processing program,
perhaps convert it into an HTML page (or ask instructional
support staff to do so), and upload it to be displayed online. Or
perhaps your institution has a handy web template (a pre-�made
form) or your course management system requires you to do
little more than fill in the text fields with the appropriate
information. You call several of your colleagues to tell them to
have a look at your page. They congratulate you on your good
work and tell you that it looks just fine. Your students, on the
other hand, never look at it twice. Why should they, once
they’ve printed it out?
Our point is this:
Important! Putting your class online doesn’t mean
copying your lectures and syllabus word for word.
Rather, converting your course to an online environment
means adapting it to use some of the tools available in the new
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environment. If you teach a blended class (one that’s both faceto-face and online), the conversion involves using the Web to
complement what you do in class. If you’re teaching exclusively
online, it involves recasting your entire class in an online shape.
And perhaps you are not converting your face-�to-face class at
all, but creating an entirely new course for delivery online. In
either case, if you want the resulting class to be a coherent and
effective learning experience, you need to think about purposeful design and development of your course.
Two Examples of Course Design and
Let’s have a look at some actual instructors who have gone
through this process. Here are two different situations: a speech
course delivered completely online and an engineering course
that’s a blend of face-Â�to-face and online components.
A Speech Course Taught Entirely Online
Mary Jane Clerkin developed a speech course for delivery as a
completely online course at Berkeley College where Mary Jane
not only teaches but also functions as coordinator of online
faculty support. Clerkin began teaching online in 1998 but had
taught Oral Communication in a face-�to-face delivery format
for many years before developing the online version to launch
in fall of 2004. The challenge as she saw it was to promote the
same type of interaction, “the same give and take” in the online
course as had always been present in the on-�site version.
Another concern she had was to establish a sense of community
in the online class. Finally, she needed to find a way to demonstrate to students that it was not necessary to have a live, face-�
to-face audience apart from their classmates in order to learn to
speak effectively.
While learning objectives and the core syllabus remain the
same as in the on-�site version, the use of technology was key to
transforming this course for online delivery. Beyond the Blackboard course management system used at Berkeley, there was a
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
need for tools that could provide the essential elements of
speech—voice and body language. While the course is almost
entirely asynchronous, Clerkin also makes limited use of Pronto
Instant Messenger to allow students to talk in real time. Wimba
Voice Boards allow for both the instructor and students to speak
to each other using their own voices in an asynchronous mode.
Students are required to buy a simple webcam along with their
textbook so that they can see themselves as they present and
practice until they are ready to post their speech for peer review
in the Blackboard discussion forum. Clerkin notes that “the
opportunity to practice and improve their delivery skills after
viewing their videos makes a difference—they practice until the
background, lighting, and delivery are to their satisfaction.” She
structured the course to provide three types of review. First,
there is the self-Â�review involved in the student’s perfecting the
speech video before submitting it to the discussion forum.
Second, there is the peer review in the discussion area, using a
rubric created by Clerkin for this purpose. Finally, after each
speech is presented, she emails the student to provide individualized instructor feedback as well.
Clerkin assigns a textbook that is accompanied by an excellent companion web site that offers many resources, including
links to famous speeches. Another resource for the course is a
library liaison who visits the online class to give pointers on the
research process and to explain how students can use the
library databases to find the materials they need for their speech
Clerkin gives detailed directions for each technology tool and
how it is to be used in the introductory section of her course.
Several of these introductions use video as well as text to deliver
instructions. Beyond these techniques used by Mary Jane
Clerkin to orient her students, Berkeley College provides a
network of services to prepare or offer on-�demand help to her
students. All students take a Road to Success in Online Learning
tutorial, developed by Clerkin, before taking their first online
course. A help desk is also ready to assist through phone or live
online help and an instructional designer is available to help
instructors prepare materials.
Although she begins her course with a video introduction
that serves to personalize the course, she says that she:
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prefers not to use this to model good public speaking. The
companion website has many good models of excellent
public speakers. However, I always use one or more of the
students from a previous class to model good speaking techniques. Not feeling that they have to measure up to professional speakers, or even to the professor, makes them more
comfortable. And students also explain the challenges they
faced and how they overcame challenges and developed
through practice.
Mary Jane Clerkin views the asynchronous elements of the
course as benefiting students in many ways.
The Voice Board allows students to reflect before responding
in a debate. More thoughtful and comprehensive dialog is
promoted and modeled by the professor. Online students can
practice diction exercises and listen to themselves and their
peers as they attempt exercises that promote good
She also feels that the lack of a “live audience” is more than outweighed by the communication and community that takes
place in her online class,
Every night our television newscasters inform us of the day’s
events. They are excellent public speakers, and their content
and delivery is no less effective because their audience of millions of viewers is not personally present. So too, our students
reach all of the members of the class no matter where they are
located. Overall, this asynchronous speech course permits a
heterogeneous group of students from different parts of the
world to come together in a learning environment that
encourages and facilitates active participation.
A Blended Mechanical Engineering Course
Isabel Simões de Carvalho teaches an Energy Production and
Management course at an engineering school, Instituto Superior
de Engenharia, in Lisbon, Portugal. Her students are in their first
year of a mechanical engineering Masters degree program.
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
Her institution is committed to face-�to-face instruction and
generally follows a traditional lecture format, but Isabel had
been gradually adding web-�enhanced approaches to the course,
working on her own initiative. Not only did she incorporate
appropriate topical resources available on the Web, but she also
augmented her course, first by adding class email, and then an
online discussion forum, and eventually adding elements that
were provided with true course management software. Not
originally having any course management software available
through her institution, Isabel arranged for course management
software and hosting through her family business connections.
Her class evolved into a true blended class only through trial
and error. Initially, in introducing email and discussion forums,
she found herself swamped by the extra work involved in
responding to students outside the face-�to-face class (F2F)
meetings. “I remember thinking ‘what did I get myself into?’
Time management was really an issue what with trying to read
all the messages and get back to the students. So I also started
to provide some feedback at F2F. This and other ‘small’ issues
led me to recognise the power of delivering a blended course.”
The students in the classes responded enthusiastically to the
addition of this online activity, but she began to realize that
merely adding online elements was not sufficient, and that what
was needed was a true redesign of her course to effectively
blend and integrate face-�to-face and online elements.
I began to try different structured activities. A more effective
integration of the F2F with the online became an objective. I
worked a lot of different assessment formulas and tried them
for a couple of semesters. This was a challenge!
I started to take some time at the beginning of the course
to explain to students the objectives of such a teaching and
learning methodology. This has proven to be important in
ensuring their engagement and success in the course.
Carvalho has a strong philosophical bent toward active learning approaches. Based on her past experimentation, she has
evolved a set of assignments that seem to work well within this
framework. Among these are an individual assignment that
requires students to perform a “home energy audit,” and a
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group assignment that requires students to collaborate online
and present their final projects in the face-�to-face classroom.
Carvalho uses the online discussion for a number of purposes. For example, case studies are presented in the online
forum as part of the sharing of current events related to class
topics. After field trips and guest speakers, students are asked to
reflect on what they learned by posting in the discussion forum.
For another assignment, each group is asked to post a peer
review of two other groups’ presentations.
She began to realize that she could encourage attendance in
the face-�to-face meetings and focus attention on lectures or
other content delivered in that format by introducing online
activities that could not easily be accomplished without experience of those face-�to-face activities.
Carvalho notes that many of her students simply are not used
to the types of methods she has implemented. Therefore, not
only does she need to explain how the class operates, she also
needs to invest quite a bit of time in the first weeks of each class,
carefully facilitating online discussions and heightening awareness of the connections between face-�to-face and online components of the course.
The first 4 to 5 weeks do require a lot of effort from my side
to explain (better even, exemplify) how it works. These first
weeks I use a lot of visual information and concentrate on
the most “appealing” subjects that usually promote a lot of
debate and student participation. Fora moderation is quite
time consuming during this period. There is a need to start
things moving and I need to be “present” quite often both to
give them examples and to promote motivation with
�positive and encouraging messages. After this period, the
process seems to feed itself and my work online does
In order to guide students and clarify what is expected of
them for each task, she has introduced a series of rubrics that
detail what students need to do in order to fulfill the terms of
each assignment. Her approach to assessment has gradually
become more complex, as she has sought to make students
more self-�directed in their education. By providing a variety of
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
different activities to accomplish the same learning objectives,
she has created a kind of assessment matrix that allows students
more choice in how they approach learning.
As new tools have become available to her, Isabel has
adopted new methods to communicate with her students. For
example, she now regularly sends text messages to student cell
phones to provide reminders about upcoming due dates and
class events.
Carvalho has found some solid formulas for success and now
has some well-�tested methods in her repertoire, permitting her
to simply apply these structured course elements each time she
teaches. However, Carvalho still views her course as a constantly evolving project as she challenges herself to find new
ways to promote deeper learning. As she faces each new group
of students who bring their own dynamic to the class, “I’m often
trying new activities and even the face-�to-face lecturing has
become one of my research topics. I try to improve and adapt to
the needs of each specific group of students.”
Initial Steps in Course Design and
Now that you’ve had a look at these examples that introduce
you to the process of converting or designing a new course,
you’re probably wondering where to begin.
Take a look at the resources you have available to you. In
addition to your syllabus, you probably have some goals and
objectives, a list of assignments, required readings, quizzes,
papers, and grading policies. Do you also have lecture notes
that you created using a word processor? PowerPoint slides,
overheads, or slide transparencies that you regularly show to
your class? Audio or video materials? Some web-�resource sites
that you consider essential for the course? All of those elements
comprise the raw material you’ll use to convert your course to
one that you can teach online.
It would seem at first glance that the essential task to be
accomplished is to convert these elements into digital files to be
posted on the Web. But the fact that someone has transformed
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all of his or her lectures into electronic files and transferred
graphics to web pages doesn’t mean that a course has been
converted. In fact, this isn’t even the first step! It’s only the
mechanical aspect of the job. We’ll discuss the mechanics
further in Chapter 9, but here we want to focus on more basic
As our two scenarios demonstrate, a strict translation of what
you normally do on the ground into the online environment
isn’t always desirable. Like the art of translation, course conversion should not merely strive for a word-Â�for-word equivalency,
but should allow the new language of communication to be
fully exploited. Just as there are some things one can say only in
Chinese or Spanish, there are new and different forms of
expression that can be attempted in the online medium.
Although the communication of content and the achievement
of course objectives will naturally be the aim of any course conversion process, there’s a great deal more to be gained than a
mere transfer from one medium into another.
Important! If you simply post your lectures and
syllabus on the Web, you haven’t necessarily created
a viable tool for your students. The missing element
here is instructional design.
Without necessarily becoming an expert in instructional design
principles, you need to become aware of what you normally do to
create a course for the face-�to-face classroom and then think
about applying these steps to the online course. The following
sections provide a simplified view of this process, along with some
additional elements that apply to the online environment.
Perhaps you will be working with an instructional designer to
create your course. In Chapter 4, we will provide some tips on
how instructors and designers can achieve a smooth and beneficial relationship but even if you are lucky enough to have
support from designers or other personnel, it makes sense for
you to familiarize yourself with the whole process and to think
deeply about what you are trying to achieve with the course. After
all, you probably know your existing course better than anyone
else, and even if it is a new course, you will still want to tap into
the teaching expertise you possess to help shape the course.
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
Here we will look at three elements of converting to or creating an online course: analysis, course goals and learning objectives, and design.
You’ll need to have some idea of whom your course is for, what
role it is to play in the curriculum, what the basic student learning outcomes are, and what resources will be available to you and
your students. Here are some questions you might want to ask:
1. What is your student audience? For example, is this course
for twenty or 120 students? Is the course for beginners or
advanced students? For majors or primarily nonmajors?
2. What types of materials should be made available to students
online? For example, will any on-�campus activities or labs be
available, or must all class activities be delivered online?
3. What kind of Internet access will your students have?
a. Will students access this online classroom from campus
networks or from their homes or even mobile devices?
b. Do most students have unlimited Internet access through
the university, or do they pay for their own access?
4. What support will you have available to assist you in creating
online course materials?
5. Is there an integrated suite of tools or course management
software available to house your course, or will you have to
create everything on your own web pages or free resource
If you’ve done the survey of your institutional resources recommended in Chapter 2, you will already have most or all the
answers to the more technical questions.
Course Goals and Learning Objectives
The difference between goals and objectives is basically the difference between things that can be known but not easily measured and those that can be demonstrated! So a goal in Ancient
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World History 101 may be for students to attain a good grasp of
the cultures, forces, and events that helped shape the ancient
world but a more precise objective would be for a student “to
identify the causes of the decline of the Roman Empire.” Goals,
like purposes, set the parameters of what we expect to gain from
the learning experience, but objectives tell us how we will be
able to know, not merely intuit, whether or not a student has
learned. Learning objectives are also referred to as learning outcomes and they are usually expressed as expected outcomes—
what we can expect students to be able to do as a result of
Perhaps you are asking “why do we need to write learning
objectives? No one even pays attention to those.”
From the point of view of the instructor engaged in the
process of designing and developing a course, we would say
that writing learning objectives keeps you focused on what is to
be taught, what is to be learned, and helps you in planning. (At
the very least, it prevents you from going off on a tangent.
However clever, amazing, and interesting that reading,
resource, or activity may be, if it doesn’t really serve a purpose
in the course, you may want to save it for another, more appropriate occasion.) From the point of view of the students, it lets
them know what is expected of them and why in the world they
are being asked to do X and Y.
You may have already been given the learning objectives or
expected outcomes for your course from your academic department or institution. But if you have not, we suggest that you
take the time to articulate how it is you will be able to recognize
that students have learned what you want them to learn.
For each unit and objective of the course, jot down some corresponding readings, activities, and assessments that you are
planning to use to accomplish that objective. For example, unit
2 may cover the decline of the Roman Empire. Perhaps your
objective is for students “to evaluate the different theories concerning the decline of the Roman Empire.” This might be
achieved by having students stage a debate; individual projects
based on research into each theory, then presented in the discussion forum and critiqued by students; or writing an essay on
the exam asking students to compare and contrast two theories.
Or you might assign a combination of these activities.
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
Many instructors have no difficulty expressing their goals for
the class but find it very frustrating to write learning objectives,
especially if asked to do so on the sub-�unit or activity level. We
would discourage instructors from tasking themselves to write
learning objectives for every activity, and instead concentrate
on the overall course objectives and how they can be applied
for one or more units of the class. A particular set of learning
objectives related to research skills might be satisfied by a major
project, while an objective involving critical thinking and
writing might apply to several assignments distributed over a
number of different units or modules of the course. And while
an objective should not be overly broad, it is not beneficial for it
to be too picayune either (“the student will be able to name all
the Roman emperors”). The words know, learn, and understand
belong in the realm of goals and if you can avoid using such
terms when writing objectives, you are well on your way to
accomplishing the task. Another tip is to keep overall course
objectives to no more than a dozen—this will keep you focused
on the essentials.
One approach for coming up with learning objectives we
have found that is easy to use and apply for most instructors is
that based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, a hierarchical system of classifying different levels of thinking. Bloom’s Taxonomy for the
cognitive domain is familiar to K–12 educators as well as
instructional designers as a hierarchical classification of learning objectives and the verbs that correspond to each task level.
There are many charts and graphic representations of Bloom’s
Taxonomy. (See the Guide to Resources for some of these.)
Table 3.1 is a simplified version of these correspondence
charts, showing sample verbs for writing learning objectives,
and some types of assignments that students might be expected
to produce.
A more recent version of Bloom’s Taxonomy relabels these
levels as Remembering, Understanding, Applying, and Analyzing, and swaps the two top levels so that Creating is at the top,
with Evaluating just underneath. (See the web site www.odu.
edu/educ/roverbau/Bloom/blooms_taxonomy.htm for a nice
graphic representation of the old and new versions.) Nevertheless, the verbs associated with these levels remain much the
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Table 3.1╇ Bloom’s Taxonomy
Sample Verbs for Writing
Learning Objectives
Sample Assignments
Knowledge or
Recall, tell, show, match, list,
label, define, cite, name,
Test, worksheet, quiz, labeling,
Compare, contrast,
demonstrate, identify, report,
outline, summarize, review,
explain, catalog
Outline, summary, test,
identifications, review,
compare-and-contrast exercise
Develop, organize, use,
select, model, choose,
construct, translate,
experiment, illustrate
Report, diagram, graph,
illustration, project, video, case
study, journal
Analyze, categorize, classify, Model, report, project, solution,
distinguish, dissect, examine, debates, case-study solution
differentiate, calculate, solve,
Combine, compose, solve,
formulate, adapt, develop,
create, validate, design
Article, report, essay,
experiment, composition,
essay, audio or video product,
drawing, graph, design
Assess, evaluate, determine,
measure, select, defend,
score, rank, discriminate,
judge, justify, conclude,
Peer and self-evaluations,
chart, critique
Sharon Guan, an experienced instructional designer at
DePaul University, advises that faculty should not become
overly concerned with writing ever more precise objectives. She
notes that:
sometimes objectives are very subtle in the faculty’s mind
and if a faculty member has no designer to work with, that
faculty member should just ask herself, “what do you want
students to be able to do as a result of this class and how
would you know that students have learned or know how to
do this?”
She also cautions that it is possible for someone to write very
precise learning objectives and yet have a poorly designed
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
course! It is necessary to provide follow-�through from articulating those learning objectives to devising the actual instructional
activities so that the latter align with the former, as we discuss
in the next section on design.
If you are interested in the topic of learning objectives, or
want to learn how to write better objectives, there are some
selected web sites under the Instructional Design and Learning
Strategies category in the Guide to Resources section of this
Important! Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to
write ever more precise learning objectives—the main
point is to express as clearly and plainly as possible
what it is you want students to learn and how they can
best demonstrate that they have learned it.
“Design” really means the shape and direction you want your
course to take. It means purposefully planning the course,
rather than simply letting it happen. In thinking about the
design of your course, you need to consider your course objectives, the preferred teaching strategies and approaches to the
material that you want to preserve, and any new approaches
you would like to try in the online environment. Always keep in
mind two design principles: make sure that your course objectives are defined in terms of the learning outcomes that you
want students to be able to demonstrate and that you align all
activities, assignments, and assessments with those expected
learning outcomes. Even if you have never consciously planned
all these aspects of a face-�to-face course, as an experienced
instructor, you likely have an internal guidance system that has
directed you in making instructional choices over these many
years. So feel confident that you can do the same thing now, but
in a more explicit fashion.
Here are some of the types of questions to ask yourself.
1. If you are designing a blended course, how can you best take
advantage of each format, online and face-�to-face? Are there
some activities that must take place face-�to-face, or do you
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have the option of re-�envisioning how each activity will be
carried out? How will you ensure that the face-�to-face and
online elements are complementary, reinforcing, and integrated? (See Chapter 13 for more in-�depth considerations for
blended courses.)
2. Is collaborative work among students and/or peer review
appropriate or desirable?
3. What are the best ways to assess your students in the context
of your course or discipline?
a. Portfolios?
b. Multiple-�choice quizzes? Self-�assessment exams or graded
c. Essays, journaling, or research papers?
d. Fieldwork reports?
e. Individual projects and presentations?
4. What will be the balance of student-�centered versus
instructor-�led activities? Will you main1y facilitate discussion
and research, or does the course have a strong component of
lecturing and instructor commentary as well?
5. How central is discussion or student presentation to achieving the objectives of the course? Do you want to take advantage of the many new tools that would allow students to
generate content in text, audio, or video?
6. What are your preferred methods of presenting content?
a. Do you have graphics or slides that you want to utilize in
some way?
b. Do you use lecture notes?
c. Do you use overheads?
d. Is it important for you to accommodate as many different
learning styles as possible?
7. How might your available resources affect the implementation of your design?
a. Do you have online testing capabilities? If so, would these
be mainly for self-�assessment or do they possess the
necessary security for graded tests?
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
b. What forms of communication are options—for example,
do you have a discussion board, a chat or other synchronous software, is there blog or wiki software available, or
will you have to rely on email and mailing lists?
c. Do you have easy access to a scanner or help to convert
existing slides?
d. Will you be able to use audio or video in your online
Language courses, like the speech course highlighted at the
beginning of this chapter, present a number of unique challenges when delivered solely online. Gretchen Jones, who heads
up the Foreign Languages Department at University of Maryland University College, was new to online teaching when she
first began to teach an elementary Japanese course that she had
previously been involved in developing with a team. While the
course development team had developed media-�rich modules
that allowed students to practice and drill orally to some extent
on their own, she found herself:
grappling with how to get students to practice a language
orally the way we do in a face-�to-face class, with the rapid
fire contact and repetition within a classroom to enable students to hear and speak basic patterns and use those patterns
in a specific context.
Jones found an effective approach using a few tools in the
Wimba suite that allowed her to enhance student interaction.
The Wimba Voice Board affords the opportunity for her students to respond to her and to classmates via asynchronous
audio discussion postings, and she has made use of Wimba
Voice Presenter to review basic grammar while providing
images that allow her to pose questions that are made lively
through these images and spark the imagination. Another form
of interaction resulted from assigning student pairs to work on
a skit using yet another Wimba tool, Voice Direct, which allows
for real-�time chat with voice. The fact that each of these tools
allows for archiving and playback affords additional opportunities for review and further application.
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Figure 3.1╇ Recording and composing an accompanying text
version of a message to post on Wimba’s Voice Board Asynchronous Audio Discussion. Reproduced by permission. Source: Wimba
Voice™, Wimba, Inc.
Beyond the transformations necessitated in approximating
face-Â�to-face activities, Jones also noted that the online environment harbors some advantages of its own. “I found that I can do
more with cultural aspects of the course—I can easily create a
discussion on a cultural topic and I can bring in video, audio, and
images from the Web to illustrate these topics.” She cautions that
design and development of online activities requires real forethought and investment of time on the part of instructors.
Perhaps this is the time to consider whether a direct “translation” is either possible or desirable. Say that you have PowerPoint slides with lots of text on them. These probably won’t
translate very well to an online setting, although simple figures
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
and images may be directly convertible. But look at the other
side of the question as well: Do you really want to replicate the
combination of lecture and slides that you’ve always used, or
would it be possible to consider some new combination of presentation methods?
Important! The move to an online format offers
you opportunities to try out new methods and
approaches. Preserving the quality of your course
need not mean finding an exact translation of what
you’ve always done in the past.
Rubrics and Guidelines for Online Course
There are a number of systems that have been developed to
guide and evaluate quality design in online courses. While some
of these are intended for use only within a particular network of
institutions, others have been aimed at general standards which
can be adopted by any institution and then supplemented with
other criteria specific to that institution. These systems can be
used both to guide the design of an online course and to evaluate
the quality, and if your institution does not have its own rubric or
guidelines for online course design, you might find it worthwhile
to consult one of the following considered here. Some rubrics
include criteria that apply to the course teaching and learning
stage, but all include elements related to the design phase.
The Illinois Quality Online Course Initiative rubric (www.ion.
uillinois.edu/initiatives/qoci/categories.asp) comprises six
main areas: instructional design; communication, interaction,
and collaboration; student evaluation and assessment; learner
support and resources; web design; and course evaluation. The
checklist under instructional design includes such aspects as
whether content is sequenced and structured, whether information is chunked, and whether course objectives are clearly presented and explicated. This rubric is available to the public at
the web site noted above.
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The North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL)
has adopted the Quality Online Course Standards developed by
the Southern Regional Education Board (www.inacol.org/
%20Online%20Courses%202007.pdf). Their rubric is organized
into six areas: Content; Instructional Design; Student Assessment; Technology; Course Evaluation and Management; and
21st Century Skills. Under Instructional Design, the criteria for
review include whether or not the course includes active learning strategies, whether multiple learning paths are provided to
master the content, and whether activities address a variety of
learning preferences.
California State University, Chico has its Rubric for Online
Instruction (www.csuchico.edu/celt/roi) which is designed to
be used as a guide for course design as well as a set of evaluation criteria. The rubric is organized into six categories:
Learner Support and Resources; Online Organization and
Design; Instructional Design and Delivery; Assessment and
Evaluation of Student Learning; Innovative Teaching with Technology; and Faculty Use of Student Feedback.
Quality Matters™ began as a project with MarylandOnline
and has grown into a widely adopted system for design and
evaluation of online courses as well as a sophisticated training
and peer-Â�review program. The Quality Matters™ rubric contains
forty elements categorized into eight major standards: Course
Overview and Introduction; Learning Objectives; Assessment and
Measurement; Resources and Materials; Learner Engagement;
Course Technology; Learner Support; and Accessibility
Many institutions use the Quality Matters™ standards to guide
their course design and others have made this rubric part of a
larger system, based on their institutional needs and resources.
For example, at the College of Arts and Sciences at Seton Hall University, Senior Instructional Designer Renee Cicchino explains
that they have developed an online course template built upon
the Quality Matters™ rubric to serve as the foundation for faculty
developing online courses. She describes how this has been
included in the course development process:
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
Before development occurs, faculty meet with the Quality
Matters™ certified reviewer and their instructional designer
to discuss the elements of the rubric and create a project plan
and timeline for deliverables to ensure that the course is
completed on time. Once development has been completed,
the course is reviewed, feedback and recommendations are
given to the faculty and instructional designer for review and
if need be, for revision. Our online course template includes
sample grading rubrics for discussion postings, sample participation requirements, as well as minimum technology
requirements and tutorials. The template is populated with
materials, documents and samples that are updated on a
regular basis. An exemplar course is available for new faculty
course developers to use as a reference. Faculty are enrolled
as students so they can experience the course from the
student perspective.
If your institution is neither a subscriber to Quality
Matters™, nor has a course design rubric or systematized
approach, you may be interested in any of several of the basic
courses they offer that are available to non-�subscribers through
the Quality Matters™ organization (www.qualitymatters.org/
Training.htm) or through the Sloan Consortium workshop
program (www.sloan-�c.org).
Whether you seek additional training or merely review some
of the existing course design and quality standards rubrics, you
may find that these resources serve to broaden your thinking
about the course design process.
Course Development
The development stage involves the actual creation of a syllabus, class schedule, content, and exams, as well as activities the
class will follow. Having assembled your materials and analyzed
the needs of your class, with your course objectives and basic
design considerations in mind, and an outline or table in hand,
it’s now time to make a few decisions about what you’re going
to do.
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Some Help in Getting Organized
Even before you begin to create your syllabus, you should draft
the course goals and objectives along with a general outline of
the major units of your course and their topics. In some cases,
you may want to follow the order of your main required textbook, while in others you may have more freedom to organize
the units.
Some institutions supply their instructors with course planning templates, but it is easy to create one on your own. A basic
table should include columns and rows to list your course
objectives, each weekly unit or module of the course, major
content (main readings, instructor presentations, web
resources), types of interaction and activities (discussions,
group work, blogging, weekly email or announcement, etc.),
and any major assignments and exams that you already know
about at this point. For those teaching a blended course, the
template should specify what is to be accomplished online and
what is to be done in the face-�to-face classroom. Such a simple
template as this can help supply the basic building blocks you
need to create your syllabus.
Table 3.2 is an example of this type of simple planning template for a unit of a course on Cultural History of Ancient Rome.
One can add a column for a timeline of development, and for
those developing a course with the assistance of others, the
roles played by each person and any due dates can be indicated
as well. If there are particular skill attainment objectives that
need to be embedded throughout the course, one might add a
column; see the Guide to Resources section of this book for
links to some course design and development planning charts
from a variety of institutions.
The instructional sequence of activities is something that you
need to consider when planning your units. Sequencing means
to arrange your assignments and activities into a logical order
that will allow students to attain the learning objectives. For
example, students will read the text and the instructor commentary prior to discussing all topics in an asynchronous forum
prior to writing a reflective essay—all steps but the last to take
place in week 2 of the course with the essay due at the end of
week 3. While this sequencing is something you naturally do
Discussion in weekly
forum based on readings
and resources
One weekly discussion
involving debate on social
or political issue of the
period, with students
assigned to argue a
particular position
Formation of study
groups and initial
organizational meeting;
group creates outline in
Unit 3: Age of
Augustus (Time span:
four weeks)
Course Objectives
that apply to this
1.╇Identify key
historical events
and persons of the
2.╇Analyze the social
and political
framework of the
works of literature
from this period
Targeted skills:
Critical thinking, essay
Audio lecturette and text
transcript providing commentary
on historical, social, and cultural
aspects of Augustan Rome—in
three fifteen-minute segments
Weekly announcements in the
online classroom; biweekly
reminder emails and text
messages; weekly office hours
via chat
Feedback in the form of
comments and follow-up
questions in the weekly
Automated feedback preloaded
by instructor for selfassessment quiz;
Individual feedback from
instructor on short essay
Class Interaction and
Course Objectives and Instructor-Generated Content,
Targeted Skills as
Communications, and
Applied to a Unit and
Time Period
Table 3.2╇ Example of Simple Course-Planning Template
Electronic full-text
articles on
Augustan society
Web resource on
literature of the
period focusing on
primary texts: Ovid,
Virgil, and Horace
Readings, Web
Participation credit for
weekly discussion
according to rubric
Short essay based on
questions related to
readings from either
Ovid, Virgil, or Horace
Short online selfassessment quiz on key
events, dates, and
persons—students get
credit for taking quiz
Assignments, Exams,
Projects, etc.
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when planning a face-�to-face course, it requires a bit more forethought in the case of an online or blended class.
Whether your units comprise one week or several, you will
need to work out the sequence in terms of weekly units, because
that is how students approach an asynchronous online class
and the week remains the basic building block of an online syllabus, as explained in Chapter 5. So, if your units are each of
multiple weeks, you will want to further break down your planning template by weeks, either by adding columns to the above
sort of template or simply transferring that task to your creation
of the syllabus schedule to nail this down.
The activities in most college classes can probably be divided
into a few large categories:
■ Instructor-Â�generated content and presentation: Typically this
includes lectures, simulations, charts, and graphs, as well as
computer-�assisted presentations using tools like PowerPoint,
the creation of audio or video files. Guest lecturers are also
included in this category.
■ Discussion/interaction/communications: Small-Â�group, guided
discussion sections run by teaching assistants are a common
format for discussion. So are question-�and-answer sessions
as adjuncts to lectures, labs, and exams. In seminars, instructor presentation and discussion are often combined.
Problem-�solving sessions, case studies, and other types of
interactive work can also be carried out in the discussion
area. Feedback loops, instructor announcements, and emails
as designed and scheduled elements help build in a strong
basis for effective communication and interaction during the
■ Group-Â�oriented work and student-Â�created content: Collaborative, cooperative, and other peer activities are included here.
These might include a group project, peer-�reviewed compositions, journals in the form of blogs, and an independent
project presented to the entire class.
■ Research: Research may be conducted either by individuals
or in groups. A separate category may be carved from
research to encompass practical applications, experiments,
fieldwork, interviews, and apprenticeships.
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
■ Assessment: Assessment activities typically involve exams,
essays, and projects; all graded assignments; peer-�based
strategies; portfolios that combine different types of work;
and evaluation and credit for participation. Rubrics can serve
to guide students as they undertake an assignment as well as
provide the basis for grading that assignment.
Let’s look at some of the factors you need to consider in converting these various types of course activities to an online
Instructor-�Generated Content and
Presentation: Lectures and Commentary
Lectures and commentary are probably the most common
method of presenting content in a traditional college classroom.
Often they’re accompanied by slides, blackboard writings, or
computer-�assisted PowerPoint presentations.
To translate this type of activity into an online environment,
you can use several different online formats alone or in combination. Here are some notes on these possibilities, along with
their advantages and disadvantages.
Textâ•… Text in the form of web pages is still a logical choice for
converting lecture materials. Compared to a conventional
lecture, text on a web page has the advantage that students can
copy the materials and make their own notes; in addition, they
have more time to reflect on what you’ve said.
The main pitfall here is trying to transcribe your speech
without taking into consideration that the lecture will be read,
not listened to. You don’t want to create documents that are
tediously formal or that appear as overly long blocks of text
when viewed on a web page.
Also take into consideration the readability level of your lectures and commentary—make sure your text is appropriate for
the student audience in regard to level of course offering, and
the expected proficiency that students will bring to the subject.
If you only have experience giving informal lectures to your
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students in the face-�to-face classroom, give your written lectures a bit more scrutiny. Without your voice and body language
and pauses for questions, the text must carry the full freight of
what you are trying to say. Some instructors have been introduced to the idea of submitting their text through a “readability
index” (these include the Gunning Fogg, SMOG, and Flesch-Â�
Kincaid systems), software for which is often available online
(see our Guide to Resources for some links to these). These indicate the relative ease of reading, in some cases providing an
indication of the number of years of education that a person
can be expected to need in order to easily comprehend your
text. Keep in mind that these provide only an estimate based on
a formula, but if you find that your text aimed at freshmen is
judged to be closer to graduate student level, you might want to
take another look at your text with an eye to making some revisions. Taking readability into account does not mean that you
must “dumb down” your content—only think about how you
can communicate it more clearly online.
Tips for Writing Online Text
■ Strive for a style midway between casual speech and formal
■ Chunk your writing into short paragraphs with space between
■ Use headings, italics, colors, and other indicators to allow the
eye to quickly take in the gist of the presentation but don’t overwhelm the viewer with multiple colors and a hodge-Â�podge of
■ Intersperse graphics or present them via links.
PowerPoint Slide Showsâ•… As we mentioned in earlier chapters, you can incorporate PowerPoint slide shows into a web
page or upload them to most course management system
classrooms. Remember, though, that in the face-�to-face classroom, the students have you to observe, but online the slides
themselves must carry the entire presentation. Therefore,
design, images, and graphics are essential to the success of such
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
Keep in mind, too, that slide presentations, when they
involve a large number of slides and click-�throughs, can be very
tedious to the viewers. If you wish to use slide-�show presentations, divide up your slides and test them so that each segment
takes no more than ten minutes. That will make it easier for students, not only to initially absorb, but also to find particular
segments for review. Don’t try to directly replicate long PowerPoint presentations that are mainly bulleted text. If your slides
are primarily of this type, consider converting them into short
text paragraphs with bulleted items. This web page format can
replace your slides.
Narrated Slides, Audio or Videotaping, and Screen-castingâ•…
Narrated slides can be an effective way to present materials
online. However, you should avoid simply narrating bulleted text.
Here are some tips for using narrated slides effectively online:
■ Make sure each narration extends over a series of slides
rather than stopping for five or more minutes on one slide.
■ Use a casual narration with lots of color in the voice.
■ Use graphics, arrows, video snippets, or other visual means
to enliven the presentation.
A narrated slide presentation is particularly good for taking
students through a series of steps—say, the steps for learning a
computer software program. Audio alone or in narrated slides
can also be a very effective instructional method in foreign languages, art, and music. Audio might be used to replace a short
lecture or a guest lecture. Audio can also serve as a personalized
introduction to the course or to the instructor. In the latter case,
a short audio welcoming message might be combined with a
still photo. How to create audio is discussed in more detail in
Chapter 9.
Some online programs feature videotaped lectures that have
been converted into streaming video files on the institution’s
web site. You can see many examples of these on YouTube university sites. Although this is indeed an option, it isn’t a particularly good choice if students in your part of the world don’t have
high-�speed connections or the latest computer or smart-�phone
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equipment, or if you have little institutional support for such
delivery. In addition, in some areas of the world, there’s the
familiar problem of “net congestion”: when the Internet gets
busy, the student will find that the video being streamed will
become garbled, or the picture will blur or drop out altogether.
For these reasons, even though many students do enjoy the videotaped presence of an instructor, a little video may go a long
For many instructors, video is increasingly attractive as
YouTube and other online sites provide the resources to stream
video and have eliminated the need for their institution’s
support for hosting these. But if you look at some of the
YouTube EDU (EDU signifying YouTube’s videos and channels
from higher education sources) videos, you will see that there is
a downside to just having staff record you in a classroom,
however tempting that may be from the standpoint of saving
time. What happens in the on-�site classroom does not always
translate very well to the computer screen, unless the institution has the appropriate equipment and knowledge about how
to do this and the instructor adapts his or her techniques. It’s a
little like watching a video of a theater production or pirated
movie filmed by someone in the audience. You might find that
while you enjoy listening to the lectures, the video portion
doesn’t add much to your comprehension. Best are those in
which the video production has sought to present the lesson
with the remote viewing audience in mind (close-�up shots,
reproduction of what’s written on the board, and questions
from the classroom student audience repeated by the instructor
for the benefit of the remote audience).
Effective uses of streaming video might include a demonstration of a science experiment or a presentation of vignettes for a
language course. For longer or numerous videos, or if your students do not have good Internet connectivity, consider distributing the material via DVD.
But it isn’t always necessary to create a streaming video. Many
demonstrations can be created on your computer using screencasting programs, like Jing or Camtasia, that capture the entire
sequence or an edited version of what you display on a computer
screen. (Check to see if your computer already comes preloaded
with a screen-casting software program that might serve your
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
needs.) Or, if you have access to a collaborative synchronous
program like Wimba Live Classroom, Adobe Connect, or Elluminate, you can record a presentation, and place the link in your
classroom so that the presentation can be accessed asynchronously. These types of demonstrations allow instructors to be
both focused and customized in their approach.
When offering audio and video, you should also take into consideration students’ disabilities as well as learning preferences.
Always prepare a text transcript or summary for the benefit of
those who have sight or hearing disabilities. This will also serve to
give all students other options for accessing the material, including those who have technical problems and those for whom the
text option is a learning preference. You can best prepare your
transcript or summary before making your video or slide narration. Preparing transcripts afterward is quite labor intensive. By
creating the text materials ahead of time, you also generate, in
effect, a script or storyboard from which you can more efficiently
produce your audio or video. See Chapter 9 for more information
on creating these types of multimedia presentations.
Instructor Presentation: Simulations and
Before you go to the trouble of creating these yourself, you may
want to see if there is an online subscription service or publisher web site that already has the kinds of simulations you
If you already have your own computer simulations and
experiments, or want to create them, it may be possible to have
students access them via a web page. But you should test any
simulations under the real conditions in which students will
access them. If they involve long download times they may
prove less effective than you wish. In that case, if your class is a
blended one, you may want to continue using a computer lab
for these activities.
But what if no actual lab is available, and you have a large
number of computerized simulations to demonstrate? In such
cases, you might consider distributing your simulations on a
DVD. This will require extra preparation on your part and
perhaps the enlistment of instructional media services as well
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but it is not a costly or overly complicated endeavor. See
Chapter 7 for more discussion of simulations.
Earlier, we mentioned the following types of discussions that
are normally held on an on-�the-ground campus: those facilitated by teaching assistant as small-�group guided discussions;
question-�and-answer sessions as adjuncts to lectures, labs, and
exams; and seminar models in which instructor presentation
and discussion are often combined. All of these may be successfully transported to the online environment.
In planning these activities, however, you’ll need to decide
which can best be carried out in an asynchronous (not-�in-real
time) forum and which in a real-�time, synchronous mode. Here
your audience and course analysis comes into play. If you’re
conducting a primarily face-�to-face class, for example, you may
want to have all real-�time discussion carried out in the live
classroom and utilize an asynchronous forum for follow-�up discussions that allow for more reflection. Or you may want to
utilize an asynchronous forum for preparatory exploration of
topics before the face-�to-face discussion takes place.
If your course is entirely online, a synchronous mode of discussion might seem to offer the best parallel to face-�to-face
interaction. Yet if students are logging in from multiple time
zones or are primarily working adults, the synchronous mode
will allow too little flexibility in scheduling.
Later chapters will discuss specific strategies and techniques
for getting the most out of both asynchronous and synchronous
discussions. The following sections look at factors you need to
consider when planning your course discussions.
Asynchronous Discussionâ•… To prepare for your use of asynchronous discussion opportunities, you should first decide on
how you want to use discussion in relation to your presentation
and assignment elements in the course. In other words, decide
whether discussion topics will closely follow the questions you
raise in your lectures and other presentations, or whether the
topics will provide opportunities to introduce additional materials and further applications of ideas you’ve presented.
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
For example, one instructor we know ends each short online
lecture segment with two or three questions. The discussion
scheduled in coordination with this lecture starts out by repeating these questions and having students respond to them. After
the discussion based on the questions, the teaching assistant
may then open up the forum to additional questions.
What about a seminar type of discussion? Even though a
face-�to-face seminar is synchronous, you will find it possible to
organize the same type of activity in an asynchronous mode. To
do so, you need to create a segmented lecture or dialogue. First,
you create some initial or topic questions to pose, or short minilectures followed by a series of questions. After allowing an
interval of time (say, two or three days) to permit students to
respond to the initial minilecture or question, you proceed to
ask some open-Â�ended questions, such as, “What other ramifications might there be to this set of circumstances?” or simply,
“Are there any other aspects of the lecture that you want to
comment on?” Questions may be prepared in advance and used
or not used as you deem appropriate.
Asynchronous Discussion in Math and the Sciences
Some instructors we know in various sciences—including some of
the social sciences, computer science, and math—have told us
that discussion isn’t an appropriate activity for their students. Their
idea of discussion is that it’s connected to the realm of the soft,
fuzzy, inexact, and ambiguous fields of the humanities. We believe,
however, that all instructors can utilize discussion forums in online
A good example of a “hard” use of online discussion is a
question-Â�and-answer forum. From such a forum a “frequently
asked questions” (FAQs) page can be created to serve as review
material. In fact, posting a FAQs page can eliminate some of the
chit-�chat and elementary questions that, however essential, are
time-�consuming for the instructor to answer; thus, it can permit the
instructor to broach new or more in-�depth topics.
Another use of the discussion forum is to ask students to offer
possible solutions to problems. Discussion then consists of ana�
lysis of these solutions, with the instructor contributing comments
as well. Some instructors have a slightly different approach to this
process: First, they receive and evaluate the solutions; then they
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choose the best ones to post and discuss with students online.
John Beyers, who teaches Developmental Math for the University
of Maryland University College, uses the discussion area to have
students choose a “problem of the week.” Each week all students
are responsible for posting their solutions to math problems and
Beyers gives feedback concerning process and answer, all right in
the discussion forum so that all students get the benefit of seeing
these sample problems resolved.
The discussion area may also be used to post student homework or to allow students to present projects. Questions may then
be posed by other students, and the instructor may offer his or her
input for the benefit of the entire class. Students in the sciences
can benefit from seeing how others approach the material.
Discussions that are coordinated with assignments must be
scheduled to allow enough time for reflection and response. If
assignments are presented in the online classroom and students are asked to comment on them, guidelines and procedures must be set up in advance to make sure that the
discussion is structured and focused. Even though this activity
may be asynchronous, you will probably not want to allow
unlimited time for participation, especially if one of your goals
is giving students feedback that they can apply to their subsequent assignments.
You’ll also have to decide who will lead discussions—you, the
instructor; the teaching assistant; or a student or group of students appointed for this purpose each week? What guidelines
will you use for teaching assistant or student facilitated
Synchronous Discussionâ•… Most synchronous discussion is still
text-�based chat, although audio and video chat have become
much more popular.
In chat, everyone participating must log on to a particular
site at the same time. The entire conversation then takes place
in real time, although some chat software does permit saving
the chat transcript so that it can be read (or listened to) after the
actual event. Instant messaging (IM) is a form of chat that is
most often between two people, although it is increasingly possible to IM multiple users. The distinctions between chat and
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
IM are gradually blurring, but for the purposes of this book, you
can think of chat as taking place in an online classroom site to
which one or multiple users are invited or able to enter, while
IM involves summoning another who is online to chat
Your course management software package may already
include a real-�time chat tool, or you may be familiar with chat
from the great number of online services like Yahoo. Whatever
the special features of a specific chat tool, the basic process of
participating in a text-�based chat generally remains the same:
As each participant types in a phrase, his or her words appear
on the screen, automatically prefaced by the name of that participant. For example, if Susan and Steve have a chat, the beginning of the transcript might look like this:
Susan:╇ Hi, Steve, glad you could make the chat.
Steve:╇ Glad to be here. Let’s talk about this week’s assignment.
Depending on the features of the chat software, Susan and
Steve’s conversation might be accompanied by photos, or even
avatars, which are graphic representations of each person. Or
Susan and Steve might have their webcams activated so they
can view each other as they converse.
While chat is more spontaneous than asynchronous communication, adequate preparation and forethought are still essential to its success. The timing of chats, for example, is an
important factor in planning.
If your students reside in different time zones, you’ll need to
make multiple times available for the same discussion topic:
Say, topic A will be discussed on Tuesday at noon US Pacific
time and the same subject repeated on Thursday at 7:00â•›p.m. US
Pacific time. (A web site like the World Clock www.timeanddate.
com/worldclock can be a helpful resource for students to
ensure schedules are synchronized.)
You might indicate to students that you’ll be surveying them
to find the most convenient times for all. Or you may set up two
or more chat times and require that each student sign up for a
particular time slot so that you can control the number participating in each session. You need to decide all of this ahead of
Teaching Online
Chat is fast-�paced and has the potential to be a confusing
format for instruction with multiple students. A specific topic
and the response to it often may be separated by other questions and comments, making it difficult for an instructor and
students to follow a train of thought.
Important! To get the most out of chat, we recom mend that students be given adequate preparation by
announcing the topic to them ahead of time and publicizing the rules for the conduct of the chat.
For example, you may have a series of questions that you
want students to think about before the chat. Or you may have
students view a web resource or read a particular passage
before the chat. See Chapter 11 for tips on how to facilitate chat
in an effective manner.
Some synchronous chat tools are accompanied by a whiteboard or other types of shared display spaces. The whiteboard
is an online version of the traditional blackboard that allows an
instructor or student to draw or write on the whiteboard in real
time (and in some cases to use math and science symbols as
well) while students can type in their questions using the chat
function. The questions appear, chat style, in the space below
the whiteboard. Other types of shared display spaces permit
instructors to guide students to view an external web site or an
uploaded document. The instructor can then write on the displayed web page, initiate chat discussion, and encourage
student questions about the site being viewed by all.
Collaborative real-�time programs such as Wimba LiveClassroom, Elluminate, and Adobe Connect provide chat space for
students who may wish to ask questions during a presentation
or who do not want to use audio tools. They may also allow for
application sharing, that is the software may allow the instructor or student to give access to the computer desktop of the
other party and provide assistance in real time. For example,
the student may be asked to share his desktop to show the
instructor how he has worked out a problem on his spreadsheet, allowing the instructor to enter corrections while discussing the errors the student has made. Or the instructor may
display a document on which she has highlighted certain
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
features and examples in order to better discuss these with the
If you plan to use such a tool, you must plan ahead carefully
to coordinate this activity with your topics and assignments.
Students will need to know the protocol to follow for such an
activity. For example, you might want students to first visit on
their own the URL of a site to be discussed, or you might ask
students to work on some preliminary problems before using
the whiteboard or application sharing to show them the correct
Group-�Oriented Work and Student
All types of group activities, from peer review to true cooperative learning exercises, are possible in the online environment.
To be effective, however, group activities must be well organized and properly paced. In Chapter 7, we’ll discuss how to
conduct specific types of group activities and presentations.
Here we’ll outline the considerations related to planning and
In terms of your planning, consider how many group activities will be included in your course. Also, if you decide to
reconstitute groups during the course (that is, not have students
remain with the same group throughout), make sure that you
allow enough time for students to get to know each other and
develop working relationships.
Important! Group organization and working proce dures take longer to develop in the online environment.
Always consider in your planning how, where, and when
groups will be able to meet and work together online. Also consider how you will monitor and evaluate individual contributions if this is an element you’re concerned about.
Groups will need guidelines for working together. It’s a poor
idea to allow groups to evolve naturally. This isn’t likely to
happen online in a way that will be satisfying to the entire group
Teaching Online
of students. (When we see the words “Group yourselves” on a
syllabus, we tend to shudder.) If it is appropriate for the particular activity, you may allow for some choice by asking students
to let you know of a preference for joining certain classmates.
You may want to specify a method of group organization or particular roles to be filled; for instance, a rotating chair plus a
recorder and a spokesperson.
If you are teaching a blended class, take advantage of that
combined delivery format by scheduling time for students to
hold their first group meeting during a face-�to-face class
session. While not a necessity, many have found that it can
provide a boost to and lay a solid foundation for the future
online group communications.
Allow student groups as many avenues for communication
as possible, with an emphasis on asynchronous discussion
forums, synchronous chat, whiteboards, and document-�
sharing areas in a course management system. If an asynchronous discussion board is available to you, that’s preferable to
relying only on email and listservs. Email and listservs aren’t
the most efficient forums for group work, because documents
and comments can’t be viewed in sequential order without
creating unwieldy email messages. For those who do not have
a full set of tools for organized group activities, it may be
advantageous to use a commercial service like Ning or VoiceThread or a wiki provider. Each of these three Web 2.0-type
options offers different features, advantages, and disadvantages. We will have more to say about these tools later in this
For each group, try to plan an ice-�breaking, getting-�to-know-�
you activity as early as possible. This can include an initial
casual get-Â�together opportunity—in a face-Â�to-face class, for
example, or in a totally online setting. Online ice-�breaking activities may involve paired chats, exchanges of private email, or
participation in an online student “lounge” area (a discussion
area specifically set aside for casual talk among students).
Decide how you’ll determine the composition of groups. For
example, will groups be chosen by you via random assignment?
Will they mix male and female students? Special practical considerations may apply. For instance, if students will rely heavily
on real-�time communication, it would be wise to factor in time
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
zone residence when constituting the groups. Another consideration is the task itself—there are types of projects for which
you may want as great a mix of diverse backgrounds as possible,
while other group assignments may call for students of the
same discipline or related background to work together.
How will students be graded on group work? Some instructors give a grade for the entire group, and others for each individual. This is easier to arrange online because you may specify
that all group work be done in an asynchronous area visible to
you or that the transcript of all chat sessions be saved and sent
to you. You may want to prepare a grading rubric for students
to see, in order to clarify your criteria for grading.
What role will student presentations by groups or individual
students play in your course? To which assignments, activities,
or topics will the presentations be connected? What will be the
structure of each presentation? Will it involve a simple presentation of text, such as posting a paper or a group summary of
the week’s lessons? Or will the presentation involve the display
of multimedia projects, an increasingly more feasible option
with the advent of Web 2.0 technologies?
There are more examples of these types of activities in
Chapter 7, but here we want to emphasize that such activities
must be carefully planned, and areas for their implementation
must be chosen or organized.
Research activities, including fieldwork, may be carried out in a
number of ways in an online class.
Web Researchâ•… Web research is an obvious option. There are
open-�ended activities, and there are guided activities. In the
former, instructors typically propose web searches in which students are told to go find information on a particular topic. But in
these open-Â�ended research opportunities, it’s vitally important
that you give students some guidelines for both evaluating and
searching out web resources. Because of the enormous growth
of the Internet, open-�ended research is becoming increasingly
frustrating and difficult. Web search engines typically discover
only a small percentage of the sites actually available.
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We suggest that you not only give students some training in
Web search and evaluation, but also consider providing them
with initial home-�base sites from which they can fan out to find
others. You could offer this guidance in the form of edited or
reviewed collections of hyperlinks. For example, there may be
an economics department at a university that maintains a site
of the best links related to economics. Or a reputable and well-�
established association or journal might provide a selective list
of relevant sites in its field. These provide reliable starting
points for students to begin their searches.
Another way to approach this problem is to give students
your own list of pre-�evaluated sites to use for their research.
This is similar to distributing a bibliography for research papers
in an on-�the-ground class. You might want to enlist the help of
your campus librarian in assembling a list of web sites for your
students. Or you might encourage students to consult with their
local librarians. Librarians are increasingly engaged in the
review and evaluation of web sites and electronic reference
materials, and they can be a great resource for students who are
doing research on the Web.
Social Bookmarkingâ•… Tools like Delicious (www.delicious.
com), Furl (www.furl.com), and Diigo (www.diigo.com) can be
part of your design for research activities on the Web, providing
ways for students to work singly or in groups to tag (give a
searchable term or topic label to a bit of information), sort,
annotate, and store their web links. While social bookmarking
thrives on open sharing, depending on the particular social
bookmarking tool, it is possible to keep links private or confine
sharing to a particular group. Social bookmarking tools vary in
features, but most permit users to view how others in their
selected group or the vast number of users in that bookmarking
system have bookmarked the same links, how those users have
annotated and categorized links, and to see what other related
links those users may have discovered. Such social bookmarking tools permit students to keep their collection of links housed
on the Web so that they may access them from any web browser
without being tied to a particular home or work computer, and
to easily widen their circle of references and pointers to
research topics. The authors of this book used Delicious as a
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
tool to help investigate, categorize, and annotate the great
number of web sites that they researched and found that it was
a more efficient method than simply bookmarking in the
browser or copying long lists of sites into a document. Social
bookmarking sites are considered part of the Web 2.0 technology tools, in that they are easy to use and involve collaboration
and sharing. To keep up with the latest social bookmarking
services, we suggest that you consult one of the Web 2.0
resource sites for educators noted in the Guide to Resources.
Library Research╅ Library research will depend on the facilities that your library or those in your consortium make available online. If your school subscribes to an electronic full-�text
service, that will make library research much easier for your students. There are a few databases available online free of charge,
as well as many others that charge for their services.
If full-Â�text documents aren’t available to your students, you
may still be able to direct students to databases that will help
them expedite their in-�person research at nearby libraries.
Here’s another case in which it’s vitally important to consult
with your librarian and survey the resources that will be avail�
able to your students, as well as the costs of accessing them.
Fieldwork or Internshipâ•… Fieldwork isn’t as obvious an option
for an online class, because it implies experimentation or
apprenticeship in a live, on-�the-ground environment. However,
although the fieldwork itself may be accomplished outside the
online classroom, its results may be presented online, and a discussion and evaluation may also be accomplished online.
If you’re using field studies or internship periods as part of
your class work, it’s essential that you carefully schedule the
before-�and-after activities that will take place online. Any prerequisites, such as a secured internship position or a prearranged fieldwork site, should be stated in your course
description at registration time and in any catalogs that list your
If a proctor or supervisor’s report is required for fieldwork,
this should also be clearly indicated. You will need to create the
necessary forms and make any arrangements required to allow
this aspect of the course to be implemented.
Teaching Online
Assessment Considerations
As part of your planning, you will need to make some choices
about the types of assessment you’ll use. Any type of assignment is a potential assessment, either “formative” (part of the
instructional sequence, for the purpose of measuring progress
and giving appropriate feedback, not graded) or “summative”
(a graded assignment or test that takes place at the end of an
instructional sequence or as a final assessment of the course).
Chapter 7 of this book will provide some ideas about the multitude of different ways in which you might assess your students.
What matters most is that the assessment:
■ is relevant to the objectives and goals of the course;
■ is appropriate for the level and scope of the course content;
■ is easily enough accomplished online;
■ is clearly outlined to students via logically organized instructions that include the how, when, and where of online
Next, make sure that you vary your mix of assessments so that:
■ there are a variety of different types of assessments, allowing
students to be assessed from a number of different perspectives, using a diverse set of skills;
■ the number and pacing of the assessments are appropriate
for the course length and format;
■ there are some options for student choice and different levels
of challenges.
High-�Stakes, Low-�Stakes Testing
If online testing is available to you, you’ll have to decide which
types of questions to create and whether a specific test will be
used for self-�assessment and review (that is, low-�stakes testing),
or for a grade (high-�stakes). If you are using low-�stakes self-�
assessment, determine whether it will be possible for you to see
the results of the self-�assessment or just to record that the
student has accessed the self-�assessment.
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
Some online testing programs allow for relative security.
They may be set so that students can access them only at a specific time, after obtaining a password, and they may be timed or
made to record any pause in execution. Even so, if students
aren’t taking such tests in a proctored environment, there’s naturally some possibility of fraud and cheating. However, this is
also true for many testing situations on the ground. (How many
large lecture classes check student IDs before exams?) To cut
down on fraud and cheating in graded online high-�stakes
testing, in cases in which a campus-�based or proctored test is
not an option, you should consider the following techniques in
your planning:
1. The test should be lengthy or difficult enough that it isn’t
easy for students to look up information and still complete
the test on time.
2. A good proportion of questions should relate directly to in-�
class discussions or other in-�class activities, including
instructor lectures or case studies. Even if students can
access the transcripts of such discussions, these aren’t easy
to locate in time to respond to timed tests. In addition, this
type of question isn’t easily answered by “stand-Â�ins” who
haven’t actually participated in the class.
3. Don’t rely only on online testing for grading individuals.
Make sure you have at least two other methods of evaluation,
such as essays and discussion participation. You can even
include one real-Â�time online “debriefing” that can serve as a
basis of comparison with the student’s other work.
4. Find out if other security measures are available through
your CMS or specialized software and learn how to use
them. You may have options such as issuing a password to
access a test, automatic randomization of questions, setting
time limits for tests, or you may be able to arrange that
a€ student contact you before gaining access to the test
or€ answer personal challenge questions to authenticate
In transforming a traditional engineering course, Circuit
Theory, to a blended approach, Jerzy Rutkowski of the Silesian
Teaching Online
University of Technology in Poland was working with his
colleagues to restructure a course to accommodate large
numbers of students each year with only a small team of
instructors. As part of their blended solution, they sought to
redevelop the summative final exam. They soon realized that
simply converting the previously open-�ended questions would
not be a reasonable approach. After periods of experimentation and feedback, they developed exams that emphasize conceptual understanding over problem solving and the resulting
tests are close-�ended, multiple-�choice questions that are randomized for online access through Moodle. A great deal of planning and design went into making the test questions
sufficiently challenging. They also calculated how many
minutes a student who understands the concepts involved
should take on the exam, in order to set a reasonable time limit
for the test. Questions involving reverse reasoning skills present
additional challenges to students who have only a superficial
understanding of a concept. Rutkowski’s redesign experience
is recounted in an article in the Journal of Education, Informatics, and Cybernetics, available at www.journaleic.com/article/
A more sophisticated approach to security is found in the
recent introduction of a number of technology solutions to
online testing that have emerged involving biometric (verification of physical characteristics of an individual) authentication
of a student (such as login via eye scan or fingerprint) and/or
monitored webcams. These are implemented on an institutionor system-�wide basis, and involve considerable costs and
coordination planning. If you happen to belong to such an
institution, you will need to attain a clear understanding of how
it works and how it will impact the way you develop your
For the vast majority of instructors, such biometric or other
high-�security testing arrangements will not be available. Therefore, instructors need to be purposeful in devising assessments
so that it is not easy for students to simply plagiarize essays and
papers. The more open-�ended the paper topic assigned, the
easier it is for students to plagiarize and the harder it is for
instructors to detect cheating. For example, asking a student to
“Write a ten-Â�page paper on Augustan Rome” simply leaves too
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
much room to forage among web sites and fulfill the assignment. A more plagiarism-�proof assignment would be:
Write a ten-�page paper characterizing the major trends in
the literature or art of the Augustan era, using at least three
primary source documents or images presented in our class,
as well as five additional library resources. In presenting your
characterizations, incorporate at least one topic from our
class discussions.
Some institutions subscribe to services like TurnitIn.com
which provide feedback to the faculty member on possible
student plagiarism. Or, an instructor can use a simple method
like choosing an odd or unusually eloquent turn of phrase and
inserting it in Google, which will often turn up the source for a
plagiarized assignment. But in some cases, it is just not possible
to find the evidence of plagiarism, or to detect self-�plagiarism,
like students reusing their papers from another class. Beyond
that, it is a terrible waste of an instructor’s time to continually
play policeman.
A good alternative is to make sure that in setting up your
grading criteria, responsiveness to the assignment requirements is made a major determinant of the grade. “Responsiveness” means that you can often avoid having to make a difficult
determination about plagiarism. For example, no matter how
erudite that suspect paper is, the fact that it discusses Ovid
without any of the class reference points as stipulated by the
assignment directions means that the student has simply not
met the full set of criteria for a good score.
Portfolio methods of assessment are yet another way in
which to measure student learning, ensuring that the student is
assessed over time, by a progressive series of work products. It
isn’t difficult to assemble a portfolio of work in the online environment. The key is planning an adequate variety of activities
from which students can assemble portfolios of their work. You
can create a special online area, equivalent to a folder, where
student work and evaluations of student work can be stored.
Find out if your institution provides some sort of electronic
portfolio software.
Teaching Online
Choosing Textbooks, Coursepacks, and
Software for Your Course
Even though your course may be totally online, there’s no reason
to discount the idea of ordering a textbook for your students. A
textbook may provide the most effective and most easily procured source material for your course. (It can usually be ordered
and purchased online.) Increasingly, textbooks are available
both in hard copy as well as in the form of ebooks (electronic
books). Hard-Â�copy textbooks may be useful for those who don’t
want to read book-�length materials completely online, and it
allows them to avoid the expense and time of printing out
copious amounts of text. But it is unwise to order a textbook
from which you will only require students to read a few chapters.
Students increasingly refuse to buy expensive textbooks that
they know they will be used only sparingly in the course. Rather
than assign such a textbook, choosing a less expensive ebook
option or assembling an electronic “coursepack” or anthology of
different writings provide better solutions. Ebooks increasingly
come in a variety of delivery modes, from access on a web site or
downloadable versions for ebook readers and other mobile
devices. Ebooks often provide features that allow the student
user to annotate and highlight the text electronically, adding to
the attractiveness of this option.
A coursepack anthology of writings from different sources
can also be ordered and is essential when you wish to make use
of copyrighted materials to which the library does not have full-�
text electronic versions. Perhaps your library provides a service
by which these can then be placed directly in your online classroom. Some will still want to reproduce a coursepack in print
but others will find it sufficient to secure electronic rights. A
hard-Â�copy coursepack may make sense when the instructor’s
own authored materials aren’t easily scanned into an online
format or when students are best served by having a hard-�copy
Depending on your subject matter, you may find that you are
increasingly able to assemble the equivalent of a “coursepack”
from open educational resources available on the Web that
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
allow for free educational use. These open educational
resources (referred to as OERs) range from courseware made
available by such universities as MIT to freely shared podcasts
from an individual biology instructor at a community college.
We will discuss more about how to find open educational
resources in Chapter 8.
Some publishers provide companion web sites to support
their textbooks, and the best of these can furnish your students
with valuable resources. In some cases, there is a companion
DVD or CD. Again, it makes little sense to require students to
purchase an expensive CD/DVD textbook bundle if you are not
really going to require use of that CD/DVD. Remember that you
can also create your own online resources that will help students get the most out of the text, for instance, self-�assessment
quizzes, guideline questions for use in discussion, and web site
reference lists for further exploration of the textbook topics.
In ordering software applications for use in a particular class,
the pricing and compatibility of programs are important issues,
as well as the analysis of your student audience. If price and
lack of consistency among students are issues for your students,
using open-�source documents like Google Docs or another software program freely available on the Web may be the answer.
The key to finding these is a web resource or blog site in your
field. For example, math software can be very expensive, but
there are a number of freeware programs available that have
been reviewed by those involved in math education. John
Beyers, the math instructor from University of Maryland University College, mentions Geogebra, a free software used in his
developmental math class:
it’s quite good and can be used to draw two-Â�dimensional
figures. Like all freeware, it has its limitations, but it allows
my students to sketch a graph of a function when given an
equation. The graph can then be captured, copied and
pasted into our discussion forum or attached as an image
Look to a specialized blog or a social bookmarking site like
Delicious to see what sites educators are recommending, then
try out and evaluate them for your needs.
Teaching Online
As institutions become more involved with online education
and try out new delivery formats, course lengths, or class sizes,
faculty increasingly find themselves being asked to redesign
an online course to meet the new specifications. While we
discuss the issues involved with different class sizes in Chapter
11, we will take a moment to address the overall issues
involved in redesign of term length here.
Whether a course is shortened from fifteen weeks to ten or
is lengthened from six weeks to twelve, redesign is what is
required, rather than simply truncating, chopping, or stretching to try to fit the new dimensions of the course. As part of
this redesign, you must revisit the course objectives because it
is those intended learning outcomes that should be the main
determinant of the design changes you will make.
Start with some practical steps. If you have previously
taught the course, plot out the new term length on a weekly
calendar alongside the schedule of your previous class (or
another’s syllabus) as a reference. Where do exams, term
breaks, and holidays fall in the new schedule? How much time
was previously devoted to introductory activities, wrap-�up,
review, small-�group formation, visiting speakers, or library-�
related activities?
Try to understand your institution or department’s rationale and purpose for the new course length—is it to provide
more time to cover complex material? A function of student
demand for shorter courses and more variety in courses?
Understanding the purpose behind the change may help you
as you approach redesign.
If the length of the course is shortened, be certain to find
out whether the new version of the course will be considered
an “intensive” or “accelerated” course—that is, is the course
now expected to cover more credit hours, the same number of
credits, and what is the expected time on task required of students per week?
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
Redesign from Longer to Shorter
Course Content
Calculate the prior weekly reading load for students, including
textbooks, online lectures, etc., and now examine how many
hours per week that translates to under the new schedule.
Assuming the course is not now considered an accelerated
version, if you expected students to read sixty pages of a textbook each week and the readings now work out to ninety pages
a week, is it possible for you to trim some of the reading without
negatively affecting the attainment of learning objectives?
Consider being more selective. Perhaps there are entire topics
or subtopics that have proved non-�essential and could be eliminated, along with their corresponding readings? If you cannot in
good conscience cut any of the topics or textbook reading, consider reducing other content such as your online lectures and
commentary and additional Web resource readings. You may
also choose selected chapters that you can assign to students—
singly or in pairs—to read, analyze, and then present in
summary to fellow students in the conference area, using a
special template for this activity. Sometimes a change in pacing
will do, with longer reading assignments reserved for times
when students are not busy with major projects and papers.
When altering reading assignments, consider all text elements of
the class, including any library reserved readings, or external
web site materials. Make sure any cuts you make in one element
or another of the reading do not undermine support for the
learning objectives, assignments, or exam questions.
While “coverage” of a subject remains an important consideration, a rushed and superficial learning experience is
sometimes the result when one attempts to pack too much into
a shorter period. Again, the core learning objectives should be
the main factor of your redesign choices.
Discussion activities
If you have created one or more discussion fora for each week
of the course, start by reducing the number of separate fora to
the new reduced number of weeks. Review past discussions; are
there particular topics and questions that seemed to stimulate
Teaching Online
the most productive discussion in your students? If so, those are
the ones you want to make sure to preserve. Are there some
topics and discussion questions that might be consolidated
within another forum? Finally, are there any discussion questions or topics that are not really essential and could be eliminated in their entirety?
You may want to slightly reduce the number of responses students are required to make each week while retaining the peer–
peer responses built into your design. For example, if you require
students to respond each week to three or four faculty-�posted
discussion questions as well as to two responses from other classmates, you might reduce that requirement to two responses to
faculty-�posted discussion questions and one response to a classmate. If you use a rubric or other clearly stated criteria to judge
the quality as well as quantity of postings, you can probably preserve the desired level of interactivity in discussion.
What are the major graded assignments and how much time on
task is required for students to accomplish each?
The three main choices you have in redesigning assignments
involve reworking, consolidation, or elimination.
Reworking: It may be possible to narrow down research
topics or reduce the number of words/pages required for
papers. Get started early on group projects, asking students to
meet for the first time earlier in the course, and make all group
projects more explicit and directed so that students can quickly
engage in the project without spending a lot of time organizing
themselves or coming to a decision about the path to take.
Consolidation: You may be able to combine two assignments
that address different learning objectives or skills so that both
are fulfilled in a single assignment. For example, you may have
had one assignment in which you asked students to come up
with their own imaginary marketing plan and another in which
you asked students to analyze a company’s approach to marketing. It may be possible to combine these two assignments into
one in which students are asked to devise a plan to improve the
company’s approach to marketing. Both analytic and planning
skills will come into play in the newly consolidated assignment.
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
Elimination: Eliminate what is no longer current for your
field or does not have a good time/benefit ratio for students.
That is, if an assignment has really not proved effective in the
past, consider why it was ineffective. Calculate whether it can
be revised, eliminated, or even replaced by something better yet
less time-�consuming. Perhaps in the past you asked students to
write three papers on three or more related topics. This task
might be replaced with an activity in which students write one
longer paper that incorporates those three topics.
In redesigning assignments, be careful to ascertain any limitations to your choices. For example, if a particular assignment
has been designated a key part of a program’s outcomes assessment plan, or is related to prerequisites for future courses, the
consequences of making changes to that assignment may have
an effect beyond your own course.
Feedback and interaction
With a shorter course, you may be concerned that you will not
have sufficient turnaround time to give high-�quality feedback
on assignments or to engage with students in discussion. Maintaining high levels of interaction and quality feedback should
remain a high priority—this is not likely to be the case if you try
to maintain exactly the same assignments and numbers of discussion fora that you had in your previous longer course. The
best approach is to prioritize and rank your assignments and
discussion topics. By consolidating assignments whenever possible, you will have fewer but more focused opportunities to
give feedback. Use detailed rubrics to speak for you and conserve your time to make those individualized comments that
are necessary to help your students improve their performance.
For example, it may be that you can address such elements as
grammar, structure of an assignment, required parts of an
assignment, etc. through a rubric, freeing up your time to write
comments that address the student’s specific problem, shortcoming or strengths.
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Redesign from Shorter to Longer
Course Content
Avoid the temptation presented by a longer course that seems
to invite the addition of more and more content and activities
to a course. Determine whether adding readings and activities
will enhance the course or whether they simply add up to
“filler.” Look for those readings and activities that will add a
vital new dimension to the course.
Assignments and feedback
A longer course provides a great opportunity to diversify
approaches to learning. You may find that you now have time
for a major project or research paper, or to structure a group
project over a number of weeks.
Depth and relevance rather than simply “more” should be
the goal. For example, if you previously assigned a final project,
you might now find there is sufficient time for students to not
only complete the final project but for you to ask them to
provide an outline, first draft, or bibliography at an early stage
of the project, so that you gain an opportunity to provide feedback to students before the final version is due. Or, you might
allow students to share their final projects with their classmates
and participate in a spirited give-�and-take discussion concerning their projects.
Being able to assess students in an early stage of an assignment, to take the temperature of the class via short surveys and
to use that student feedback to inform the remainder of the
course, or to simply have the leisure to guide students through
a more comprehensive preparation and review for a final exam
are all possible advantages that come with a longer course.
A redesign template
Table 3.3 is a simple template that might prove useful for planning the redesign of a course. The example shown is for redesign of a course that is moving from fifteen weeks to a shorter
ten-�week course.
200 pages of textbook readings
over a period of four weeks/An
instructor lecture and three focused
articles of 20–30 pages each in a
period of two weeks
Describe the major
cultural, political, and
social elements of
China from 220 bc–ad
Three two-page essays on three
different dynastic periods/One 5–6
page paper that compares and
contrasts the major elements of
three different periods
Previous Course Content Coverage
to Meet Objectives/New Content
Learning Objectives for Previous Assignments to Meet
Objectives/New Assignments
Table 3.3╇ Example of a Redesign Template
Discussion questions
distributed over four weeks/
Focused discussion questions
included in two weekly
discussion fora
Previous Discussion Topics
and Questions/New Topics
and Questions
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Some Final Tips on Course Development
Before you begin to convert or create a new online or blended
course, here are some final tips:
1. Devise some sort of simple chart for yourself to plot out the
major units, their objectives, content, and assignments if
your institution does not supply one. There are a lot of
moving parts in an online course, and a table, chart, or other
planning document can help you bring these all together in
the initial planning stages, make it easier to discern what is
missing, and facilitate the creation of your syllabus.
2. Even though you may ultimately create web pages written in
HTML or post materials within a course management system,
make sure you save all content that you create, whether it be
lecture notes, quizzes, or announcements, in some electronic, word-Â�processed format, so that you’ll be able to reuse
or revise it for a future course. In other words, don’t simply
post your materials online without saving them in clearly
marked files on your own hard drive, DVD, or flash drive.
Include the date of the latest revision of your documents.
This warning is particularly relevant for those who may use
an external hosting service for their main classroom content
and services.
3. When you do create your course materials, you may place
them in one of the integrated course management systems
or in some combination of web pages, discussion forum
software, or other online software tools. Be aware that each
system and tool is different. Therefore, be sure to give yourself enough time to experiment with different ways of
organizing the material. Try out all major features of the
system; knowing the limitations of your software will save
you time in the long run. Also be sure to try out a sample
unit in your course from the students’ perspective, or ask
your teaching assistants or colleagues to play this role and
give you feedback. Then go back and make changes in your
Chapter 3╇ •â•‡ Course Design and Development
4. Be sure to develop a schedule for preparation and delivery of
any materials that need processing by teaching assistants,
technical support staff, instructional designers, or librarians.
Make sure you ascertain the turnaround time necessary for
anything you’ll be doing that requires some mediation by
others. Draw up a time line and then work backward from
your due dates to plan your own work.
5. Find out if there are any institutional or departmental policy
restrictions that might affect your choices for course activities, materials, online communication tools (especially the
use of external hosting services and Web 2.0 tools). Another
issue is the preservation of course data and student records.
Perhaps your university wants you to preserve a record of
communications or work posted on third-�party sites. It is
essential to know these restrictions up front.
Working with Others to
Develop a Course
╛╛hile many instructors worldwide operate largely on their
own when it comes to development of online courses, a
growing number of institutions committed to online education
have increasingly turned to a team approach for course development. The “team” may be as small as an instructor paired
with an instructional designer, instructional technologist, or
other technically oriented person providing assistance, or it
may be a larger group of individuals—technologists, designers,
graphic artists, and programmers, along with a project manager—joined in their efforts by an instructor who most likely
serves as the content expert and perhaps plays other roles as
well. There may be peer reviewers from the ranks of fellow
instructors, or external subject-�matter experts.
In some cases the resulting course is meant to be reproduced
without many alterations as it devolves to each new instructor
to teach. In other situations, the team is devoted to creating
only some core materials or a skeletal syllabus that are incorporated within the larger course, taught by successive instructors
who each add their own materials and craft all or some of their
own assignments.
From the point of view of an institution, standardization of
portions (or the entirety) of online courses may be seen as a way
to ensure consistent quality and scalable coverage of required
content over multiple sections of a course. From the point of
view of an instructor who was not involved in the development
of that course, it may be difficult to force one’s own shape into
the existing structure modeled by others.
Chapter 4╇ •â•‡ Working with Others to Develop a Course
If you are the instructor charged with developing and teaching a course, what are the secrets of developing a course within
a team approach? If you are an instructional designer or other
team member, how can you most successfully approach your
work with the originating instructor? And how can an instructor
most effectively develop and teach a course which is completely
or largely authored by others and still experience professional
A Model of Instructor–Designer
Sharon Guan is an instructional designer, currently Director of
Instructional Technology Development at DePaul University in
Chicago but previously at Indiana University, where she worked
with Pete Mikolaj to develop a course for the School of Business
at Indiana, Commercial Liability Risk Management and Insurance. Previously offered only face to face, the course was converted to the online format and along with changing the delivery
format, it was decided to take advantage of the opportunity to
alter the teaching approach. In working with Mikolaj, Guan proceeded by first choosing an appropriate learning theory and
then allowing the course development flow from that
Prior to working with Guan, Mikolaj had been using group
projects in most of his courses, but was not always satisfied with
the quality of team participation. He had tried a number of different techniques, including peer evaluation, but was still not
satisfied and was looking for “a better way for building cohesion
within the team and a way to build motivation.” He was also
concerned about how to evaluate the teams so as to assign individual student grades.
While Mikolaj had considerable industry and teaching
experience, he said that he tended to be a lecturer and considered himself a rather boring lecturer at that! He credits Guan
with helping him to change to a more learner-�centered
approach, and showing him the value of including examples,
graphics, as well as guest experts in the class. He commented,
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“I€ was relieved to find that there were other ways to convey
information so that students can actually enjoy learning!”
As Guan described it, she:
played the role of a typical designer with Pete being the content
expert. He brought to me his syllabus, lecture notes, assignments and other course materials. After going through these, I
suggested major surgery of course structure from chapter-�bychapter coverage to one that centered around one group
project. Pete welcomed the suggestion and we worked together
to fit the content into the new structure.
Sharon Guan also helped Pete Mikolaj with his questions about
motivating and evaluating team members by designing a
project rubric and measures for assessing individual contributions to the team.
Guan and Mikolaj shared the work along with some student
workers who were available to digitize materials and create
graphics. While Guan generally utilizes a formal work-�flow
development chart in working with instructors to ensure that all
stay on schedule, she and Mikolaj met weekly and his commitment to close cooperation meant that such aids were not
needed to the same degree.
In regard to working with Guan to redesign the course,
Mikolaj noted that his greatest difficulty had probably been in:
accepting the need for a more formalized evaluation than I
was accustomed to using. I was not familiar with much in
the way of assessment and Sharon jumped in and helped me
organize an evaluation plan that fit the particular objectives
we had set out for the course.
Mikolaj even found that his collaboration with Guan produced
another unexpected benefit—the experiences he had with this
first course resulted in ongoing discussions and analysis as he
introduced additional components of learner-�centered design
into his subsequent courses and sought to learn from those
experiments. Guan also encouraged Mikolaj to incorporate new
technologies in subsequent courses, patiently coaching him
through his hesitation to try out appropriate tools.
Chapter 4╇ •â•‡ Working with Others to Develop a Course
Thus what began as a collaboration to develop a new online
course turned into a professional quest for Mikolaj in becoming
a more effective online instructor:
I am learning more about how to be an effective teacher,
which I feel is the ultimate reward. In close second place is
the education I am getting—it’s quite exciting to be learning
new concepts and feel that one is at the forefront of the educational process.
Advice for Instructional Designers on
Working with Instructors
Sometimes instructional design seems theoretical and abstract
to instructors and they may feel that the realities of teaching
don’t match up with the systematized and idealized instructional design principles. This can be particularly true when
what’s involved is designing a student activity as opposed to
instructor presentation materials. Some designers may have
more experience designing for self-�paced instructional activities rather than instructor-�led online classes. And designers
who lack experience teaching may not understand the dynamic
nature of teaching and classroom interaction. As Pete Mikolaj
Advice to Instructional Designers on Working with
Instructors on the Writing of Learning Objectives
■ Discuss the objectives with instructors in terms of what instructors want students to learn and the ways that students could
demonstrate that learning in the context of class assignments,
readings, etc.
■ Expose instructors to some simple examples of ways to express
learning objectives but do so without pressing them to comprehend complex systems—avoid jargon!
■ Help instructors in a collaborative way to refine the learning
objectives so that they would be reasonably clear to both the
instructor and his or her students (there’s really no value in the
objectives being understood only by design professionals).
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said, “I discovered that not all designers were like Sharon Guan!
They don’t know how to motivate students, don’t have that
first-Â�hand and direct teaching experience.” Sharon valued the
experience she had as a teaching assistant during her graduate
school days as well as her engagement as a tutor, working with
students one-�on-one. She commented,
I often hear complaints about designers from instructors.
That designers are too demanding and can’t put up with the
fact that instructors like to be creative, that they have different working styles. It’s important that designers have the
experience of teaching so that they understand that
Renee Cicchino, the instructional designer at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, echoes that sentiment:
I believe that the online course design process is easier for
those designers with some online teaching experience. In
addition to being able to draw from our own online teaching experiences, I find that instructors are often able to
relate better to a fellow instructor. During the course development process I share techniques that worked for me as an
instructor as well as the things I look for as a past online
The writing of learning objectives is an aspect of design that
can cause conflicts between designers and instructors. The fact
is that instructors are rarely trained as part of their preparation
for teaching to write precise learning objectives. Typically, they
end up writing more general learning goals. And they may find
it hard to match up those learning objectives, whether written
by themselves or designers, with the actual course activities that
they want to occur.
Sharon Guan emphasized that rather than pressing the
instructor to write ever more precise objectives, and, in the
process, sometimes humiliating the instructor, the designer
needs to simply discuss with the instructor what it is that students should be able to demonstrate so that the instructor
knows that the student has learned. She added, “and having
Chapter 4╇ •â•‡ Working with Others to Develop a Course
someone else write the objectives for you is not really that
good,” as much of value can get lost as the expert tries to hone
the language. For example, Guan also teaches Chinese language
and said, “one of my goals is that students fall in love with the
language.” That sort of goal is a valid one, but not easily conveyed in a precise learning objective! Each instructor has his or
her goals and the designer needs to strike a balance so that the
objectives emerge with clarity without being overly pedantic
about the process or producing learning objectives that really
do not reflect the realities of the classroom dynamic.
There are resources that can assist instructors in improving
their writing of learning objectives (see the Guide to Resources
section) but bear in mind that for most faculty, a little goes a
long way. As Sharon Guan has characterized it, “it’s an important subject, but tends to be boring for faculty.” One simple way
to get the concept of different levels of learning and their
expression in objectives is to help the instructor locate the level
of learning taking place and appropriate verbs to express that
level. Instructors can readily understand the difference between
rote memorization and analytic thinking. So that if the level of
learning is at the basic level of demonstrating reading comprehension and memorizing facts, the learning objective might be
expressed with the verbs “to identify or name” while at a higher
level of thinking, the learning objective might be expressed as
“to reflect on or to analyze.”
Renee Cicchino finds that instructors often write learning
objectives from a conceptual perspective rather than a measurable perspective, but she hastens to add, “99% of the time the
objectives are actually there—they just need to be reworded in
a measurable way.” At Seton Hall, instructors are often given a
list of action verbs based on Bloom’s Taxonomy as an aid to
developing measurable learning objectives. (For some online
resources that use this same approach, see the Guide to
Resources in this book.)
Many instructors are particularly put off by the use of jargon
and designers would be wise to avoid the use of jargon in
working with instructors. Guan noted, rather than use such
terms as “goal driven, assessment driven and outcomes based,”
sit down with instructors and ask “What do you want students
to be able to do as a result of this class?” and “How would you
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know that your students had learned this?” Even the term “deliverable,” which is handy in its application to so many different
types of assignments, can seem off-Â�putting to instructors—Â�
better, says Guan, to express this by asking “What do you want
the students to present to you—something concrete—to show
they understand?”
Another factor which may give rise to misunderstanding is
the inherent difference that exists between interactive online
classes and self-�paced computer-�based training (often known
as CBT). Some designers have in the past focused on self-�paced
learning modules in which the instructional content and activities must carry the entire weight of learning, because there is
no teacher mediating the experience. The content is sequenced
and the directions specifically oriented toward the student’s
completion of a series of tasks on his or her own, with perhaps
interaction occurring through built-�in automatic feedback and
response. An instructor-�led online course is different in that the
instructor is expected to facilitate learning and the interaction
with classmates also contributes to the learning experience—
therefore there are multiple layers of interaction—with content,
with the instructor and with classmates. While sequence is still
important, there must be room to breathe for the instructor to
play a role and to respond to the needs of students. Sharon
Guan advises, “Designers need to take on the student perspective and I would recommend that they take an interactive online
class to be exposed to both synchronous and asynchronous
Good teaching is dynamic and designers can benefit from
having had teaching experience of their own, whether in a face-�
to-face or online context. Short of attaining that teaching
experience on their own, the designer can perhaps best make
up for that lack by carefully interviewing the instructor as to
what he or she would normally do in the classroom to accomplish a particular end, then helping the instructor translate that
into an appropriate online mode or introducing a new approach
to accomplishing the same goals. This means that the designer
must accept that good instructors are more than content
experts—they are also teaching experts. The designer should
seek to draw out that often latent knowledge so that it is clearly
manifested in the online course as it is developed. Renee
Chapter 4╇ •â•‡ Working with Others to Develop a Course
Cicchino mentions that as the designer begins to work on
online course design with an instructor, if possible, one way to
better grasp the teaching methods of an instructor is to visit the
instructor’s face-Â�to-face class to observe and analyze the
instructor’s teaching style first-Â�hand.
Three Suggestions for Designers from Sharon Guan
■ Act more as a support than a consultant.
■ Always do more show than tell! Earn instructors’ trust by showcasing a piece of work you have accomplished such as a
course, learning object, or a simple reader-�friendly digital
■ Be flexible in your way of serving the diverse clientele of university instructors—get to know their personalities, working habits,
and view of instructional design.
Advice for Instructors Working within a
Team Approach
When teaching in the face-�to-face class, instructors are accustomed to responding to body language, questions from students
and other cues that students are in need of further clarification,
explanations, or assistance about what they should be doing in
the course. For an online class, a good deal of this needs to be
anticipated, so that students are clear about what they need to
do and when and where, and the instructor can provide additional emphasis, reminders, and referrals to other resources as
needed. Therefore, if you are working with an instructional
designer, or within an even larger team framework, it’s best to
approach the experience as a way to become more aware of
your teaching while at the same time taking advantage of the
opportunity to try out new approaches to teaching arising from
the multiple perspectives afforded to you by the team.
Juanita Pardo González teaches two blended courses in
English as a Foreign Language to undergraduates at Universidad de Los Andes in Bogatá, Colombia. Each course involves
students meeting 4.5 hours per week face-�to-face, with the
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expectation of an additional three hours per week spent online.
During the first year, having had no more than a technical training course in WebCT, González began to apply information and
communication technologies to one of her courses, but:
I would just assign students to go to the course webpage to do
an activity that I formerly did in the face-�to-face class. The
activity was a basic drill, consisting of listening and repeating phrases or words. These online drills were not required
for students but just provided an additional opportunity to
practice listening and speaking the language.
Not being satisfied with that first effort, she sought help in an
attempt to determine the needs for a blended course. González
was fortunate to belong to an institution like Los Andes which
provides extensive support for the use of technology in teaching
and learning. She was soon assisted by an instructional designer
in creating some observational criteria and guidelines to
examine what had gone on in that first class, looking at the
student behavior and underlying approaches to teaching inherent in her instruction, along with the degree of consistency
between the course content and her pedagogical practice. As
González put it, “the goal of the process I went through was to
design a blended course where I would not have to change my
essential teaching style, but to find ways to apply my style of
teaching to the new environment.”
With these investigatory resources, she came to realize that
she needed to apply a different strategy the next time the course
First, I integrated the course content to the work online,
instead of simply using the webpage—I devised a cycle in my
teaching that allowed me to insert the online portion into
one of the steps of the teaching cycle. In this way the online
component did not seem added to the course, but a part of
the course.
At the same time, she also received help from another part of
the Los Andes team. Their technology services provided some
additional software programs to meet the particular needs of
Chapter 4╇ •â•‡ Working with Others to Develop a Course
each of the courses. For example, early on, she discovered that
most of the practice exercises could be done at home by students via an online lab program and that they did not need the
instructor for immediate supervision of this activity. With the
help of technology, she realized that with online drill and practice exercises “the students could get a faster response from the
machine than from me.” This freed up her time to give better
and more detailed feedback to students in other activities.
Then she realized that some of her presentation could be
delivered online as well, and that through the use of video, she
could “allow other voices into the classroom” than just her
own, and include students as sources of information as well.
González even noticed that she had no need to continue
lugging audio tapes around the university and to be constantly
rewinding tapes to find the right place in the recording to
conduct quizzes on campus, but could move these online as
well, with built-�in feedback. Finally, she began to add self and
peer evaluation to her course, establishing clear criteria, and
after demonstrating in the face-�to-face class meeting how to
perform these assessments, she found that students could
perform these assessments quite well given clear limits and
Later on, the instructional designer and graphics designer
suggested a further remodeling of the course to bring a fresh
look to the courses. Today there are numerous sections of the
original course teaching the same content. González now trains
new instructors in the use of technology for the course. She has
also created videos to prepare students on the proper use of the
online components of the course. González has moved from
trying to operate entirely on her own to becoming part of the
team effort to support blended classes in her discipline.
One of the most important things she learned about designing and teaching a blended course is that:
you must dare to let your students teach you! You have to feel
comfortable with the tools and with the structure of the class
in order to be able to teach it. You need to be willing to
monitor and accompany your students in paths you had
never planned. You need to be willing to give your students
more freedom and responsibility than you have in
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traditional face-�to-face classes and you need to accept the
different forms in which students will take that freedom and
John Beyers, an instructor and academic director for math at
University of Maryland University College describes how he
worked with a development team to transform a pre-�existing
course in development math into an online course that may be
offered to as many as 25 sections of students in one semester.
Starting out, Beyers had the syllabus, schedule of class meetings
and activities, and some model assignments. It took multiple
weeks and feedback from a half-�dozen veteran instructors to
create the new syllabus for an online course. Beyers also chose
the three main textbooks before work began on creating course
modules with a larger team. This larger team consisted of
instructional designers, a graphic designer, a programmer, a
peer reviewer, and a project manager. John Beyers played the
role of both content expert and curriculum expert. Beyers
describes the collaboration,
At the initial meeting, we set up goals and a timeline. The
project manager was really key to the whole endeavor. Instructional designers, graphic designers and programming created
learning objects to add interactivity to the math content. I was
comfortable working with the team. When there was an issue
of pedagogy, the others tended to listen to me as content and
curriculum expert. They suggested learning objects and I
would work with them on the design. Some of the advantages
of working in a team are that you tend to stay on task, there’s
accountability in a team, more staff resources, and multiple
eyes on the project.
In the role of content expert, you must recognize how a lack of
content expertise can affect the ability of other team members to
provide their own expertise. For example, John Beyers found that
he needed to do as much rendering as possible of graphs and
equations before turning these over to the graphic artists. In
math, accuracy is a major issue, and graphic artists are not
usually mathematicians, so the task of helping the artists more
easily adapt the design and also reviewing their work for errors
Chapter 4╇ •â•‡ Working with Others to Develop a Course
fell to Beyers. In the same way, Beyers had to be attentive to
changes in wording suggested by the instructional designers—in
math, words like “and” and “or,” “equal” and “congruent” are
not interchangeable! Similarly, Gretchen Jones, playing the role
of curriculum specialist as part of a team developing a course in
Japanese language for University of Maryland University College
found that she needed to be vigilant concerning cultural subtleties. For example, the graphics designer originally presented a
lovely picture of a kimono with the right lapel folded on top of
the left—a way that one dresses the dead in Japan!
John Beyers noted that instructors also need to appreciate the
limitations of the development enterprise when it comes to programming difficulty and expense. “I had great ideas,” he noted,
“but such limitations could drive what the team could and could
not do. Dynamic graphs, simulations, animations—that sort of
work was really the potentially most expensive and complex part
of course development.”
The rewards of a team approach to create course elements
that can be scaled to multiple sections can be great. Beyers noted
that when the course went online, the university suddenly had
4,000 new students who wouldn’t have otherwise taken the
course—previously they would have had to take it at a community college and transfer the credits in. Beyond that, attrition was
actually cut in half,
in part due to the consistency in the syllabus and course
modules. Previously the attrition rate was very high, students would take different versions of the course and then as
they advanced to the next course in the series, they sometimes discovered that they had missed important elements
and were not well prepared. So both student retention and
student success (as measured by passing and enrolling in the
next course in the series) have gone up as a result of this
While you may be playing the role of content expert, do not
hesitate to assert your teaching expertise when you sense that
something devised by the team is unlikely to be workable in the
classroom situation. We advise all instructors to, at the
minimum, take an online class or online teaching training
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before attempting to act as a content expert for the design of an
online course. You are unlikely to contribute much to the
course if you have neither taught online nor have experience as
a student in an online class.
Renee Cicchino suggests that instructors avoid becoming
fixated on an exact one-�to-one transformation of face-�to-face into
online activities. One can avoid this problem, she says, by focusing on what you want students to achieve by the activity. Cicchino
states that “when we run into a problem trying to replicate exactly
what the instructor wants created, we show them an alternative
that creates the same outcome.” For example, in developing a
science course, the instructor, never having taught online, could
not see how anything could replace a face-�to-face classroom
activity in which she had students label and color different geologic samples. The designer presented a variety of different alternatives, until reaching a resolution by which a matching exercise
was created using images of the geologic samples and the course
management system quizzing software.
Lori Walters teaches history at the University of Central Florida
and faced a challenge in transforming a course designed for face-�
to-face delivery into a completely online class. Her class teaches
American history through media, and students previously viewed
films, television programs, commercials, and other popular
media with an eye to analyzing how the time periods were
reflected in these media products. When faced with moving this
course online, Walters worked with an instructional designer,
Debbie Kirkley, to find a cost-�effective way to deliver the class
while meeting the same objectives. Walters and Kirkley created a
series of modules to present the essential background information on each period represented by the various forms of media.
When it came to film, they made the decision not to have all students watch the same film, but rather to provide a list of
approved films and allow students to rent or purchase films. A
wide range of films, both current and classic, are readily available
now to rent via inexpensive DVD or from a variety of online
streaming video services, most of them free. This decision by
Walters and Kirkley, while initially in reaction to the need to
avoid incurring expensive copyright and licensing costs, unexpectedly provided an opportunity to add some personalization of
student interest to the assignments. For television programs, they
Chapter 4╇ •â•‡ Working with Others to Develop a Course
discovered a burgeoning supply of sources on the Web that have
made vintage television shows available in a legal and freely
available streaming format. Walters notes, “it is important to
consider the media that students are comfortable with and constantly work with your instructional designer to find ways to
incorporate those into the classes.”
The instructor should not hesitate to ask the designer to share
examples of what other instructors may be doing in their online
classrooms to accomplish similar objectives. Seeing how concrete
examples work in the context of a real class or talking with other
instructors who have implemented such elements can do much
to facilitate understanding between instructor and designer.
Instructors should beware of harboring unrealistic expectations of the designer. Sometimes instructors expect designers and
other team members to perform all remotely technical and even
routine cut-�and-paste work for them, handing over a rudimentary
syllabus and even handwritten notes from past lectures and
exams and expecting the team members to simply “upload” and
format everything for them. Some instructors even demand
designers edit their content and correct their spelling! While it’s
unreasonable to expect all instructors to perform all technical
tasks without assistance, if an instructor at the very least does not
learn how to use the class software fairly well, does not review or
format their materials or try to grasp the concepts of online teaching, the resulting classroom performance of that instructor is
often disastrous. Students readily apprehend when an instructor
seems lost in the online classroom. Renee Cicchino emphasizes,
“it’s so important for instructors to understand that it’s not the
designer’s course, it’s the instructor’s course. Designers are there
for support and guidance but instructors must take responsibility
for their course, content and knowing the technology.”
How to Best Approach a Course You Did
Not Develop but Are Asked to Teach?
When you are asked to teach a course you did not develop but
are asked to retain any major elements of that course, you are,
in effect, still working with “others.” That is, what you do in the
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way of design and development to modify that course must be
done in the context of and with respect for what those before
you have created.
In traditional face-�to-face teaching, it is not at all unusual to
be handed a syllabus created by another instructor and be
asked to teach the same class. In some cases, one is expected to
follow the syllabus very closely while in other cases, much
leeway is afforded the new instructor. And in the traditional
classroom there are courses, especially those of lower division,
multiple section offerings, that go beyond a common syllabus
to those in which particular class activities are mandated
(ranging from specific lab and language exercises to writing and
library assignments) or a common midterm and/or final are
expected as well.
Online, because everything in a classroom may be preserved and observed, standardized elements of a course are
even more easily replicated. This has led to the possibility of
standardizing instructor lectures, activities, and discussion
topics, as well as other class resources. Some have decried and
fear what they derisively refer to as a “canned course,” but
most institutions have avoided such extremes of repurposing
content ad nauseum and keep the courses “fresh” through
constant revision and updating, as well as depending on
instructor input and feedback, interpretation, and facilitation
in the classroom.
Many institutions have rules governing what can and cannot
be repurposed in subsequent sections of a course. In some
cases, the originating instructor has created materials for the
course as work for hire with the express idea that the subsequent instructors are required or permitted to reuse any portions they wish. In other cases, only certain basic course content
modules and assignments are to be reproduced, and instructors
must ask permission to reuse any other materials.
Therefore, upon being asked to teach an online course that
you did not develop, it would be wise to quickly determine what
must be retained, what you have the option to reuse, and what
you can freely develop on your own to add to or replace elements of the course. For example, can you add your own lectures? Change all or some of the assignments? Is the textbook
predetermined or can you substitute another or supplement it
Chapter 4╇ •â•‡ Working with Others to Develop a Course
with other readings? And what about coverage of the content? Is
it possible to eliminate, consolidate, or add other topics or
shorten the chronological reach of a survey course?
Before making any changes, do consider the reasons behind
existing course requirements and the expectations of students
taking the course, as well as whether the course is part of a
series or constitutes a prerequisite. For example, if the registration description causes students to expect the course to cover
eighteenth-�century European history or the course is intended
to prepare students for advanced physics it would be doing a
disservice to students to arbitrarily truncate the course.
Most instructors like to add something of their own to a
course they have been handed. There is always a point of view
and an approach behind every course developed, whether that
development was in the hands of one instructor or a team of
course developers. Being handed a course in which little or
nothing can be changed may feel like being asked to wear a suit
of clothes measured on another. There is seldom an exact fit
and in any case, the instructor may find the style itself difficult
to carry off.
When instructors are able to develop some part of the
courses they are asked to teach, it is highly motivating—increasing their engagement in the class. Therefore, even if you are
new to teaching a course, once you have determined the departmental or institutional requirements for altering the course,
strive to enhance the course, whether through the artful shaping
of discussion questions, the addition of new Web resources or
ways to communicate, or subtle twists on the structure of
John Beyers spoke to his approach to motivating instructors
who teach one of the many sections offered each semester of
Developmental Math:
It can be difficult for some who don’t like any standardization. I created a model classroom for them to review and
they can see my approach. I explain the benefits of standardization of certain elements—those that must be the
same for all sections are the textbook, course module
content, and learning objectives. The weight and content of
the final proctored exam (worth 30%) must remain the
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same, but how quizzes and the main project are approached
can be handled differently by instructors and the way in
which the discussion area is used can vary as well although
participation weight remains at 10%. A few instructors will
try to do everything based on my model, but if the fit isn’t
quite right, they can include additional software or develop
a resource web site where students can get additional practice. I also encourage instructors to find their own creative
ways to connect math to everyday life. For example, at the
time of the 2008 Olympics, I posted a photo of the runner,
Bolt, as part of explaining how to calculate the relationship
between distance, rate, and time. That sparked my students’
At Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), Open University
of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain, Christine Appel is English
Coordinator, instructor of a Modern English 1 (intermediate
English) course among other courses, and also served as the
lead course developer for Modern English 1. UOC is a public
institution whose mission involves using online delivery to
serve their more than 37,000 students in 2008. Modern English
1 is offered in multiple class sections and each section typically
has a ratio of 50 students to one instructor. UOC uses a standardized approach to course development and delivery, with
multiple sections for courses that have been developed by an
in-�house coordinator/designer along with a content expert, and
further supported by a department of multimedia experts.
Group strategies and multimedia-�rich resources permit a high
quality of instruction and with about 95 percent of course
materials standardized, instructors are free to concentrate on
facilitating class activity, providing feedback at key points, and
evaluating student work. They moderate discussions, clarify
instructions, and intervene when needed in student group
work. Although discussion topics are also standardized, instructors may add something from their own experience if the learning situation seems to demand it. They may also suggest other
resources as student needs arise, either from the Web or
selected by the instructor from among the collection of
resources the university has made available for instructional
Chapter 4╇ •â•‡ Working with Others to Develop a Course
Suggestions for Approaching the
Teaching of a Highly Standardized Course
If you are an instructor whose institution has determined that
you cannot change anything in a standardized course, don’t be
First, make a point of carefully studying the course well ahead
of the time you will teach and explore the points of view and
approaches you find in the course so that you can intelligently
help students do their best in the class. If you are uncertain about
why a certain approach is taken, talk to other instructors, the
course developers (if available), or your administrator. If, after
sincere efforts, you cannot believe in the basic premises of the
course, it will be hard to convince students of the same and you
are better off not teaching such a course. If you find errors in the
course, report these to the course developers or departmental
administrator. Distinguish between a valid point of view and a
mistaken one. While your own approach may differ from the
former, only the latter is one that you cannot teach.
Once you have thoroughly absorbed the reasoning, approach,
and principles of the course you will teach, you can look to providing feedback to the students as your main route to contributing to the course. Through feedback, you can contribute
instructor commentary, encourage higher-�level thinking, and
point the way to additional resources. These should enhance,
perhaps widen the scope, or provide clearer focus, but not
undermine the course principles. For example, in responding to
a student’s posting in the discussion on some themes of the
textbook, you may skillfully weave in commentary that you
might otherwise have included in a lecture:
John, your response is a thoughtful exploration of the more
subtle aspects of X. And you have noted some of the shortcomings of this theory. Some contemporary scientists have
tried to explain some of these shortcomings. I have noted
these with an asterisk next to their listing in the selection of
recommended further readings for this week. This is also a
topic that is possible for some of you to explore as part of
your second assigned paper.
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Or, “Jack, Lorena—in regard to the difficulty you noted in arriving at the answer through this process—you may find that this
Web resource which provides a visual simulation of the process
is helpful to you.”
While your feedback will necessarily be situational, dependent on the kinds of questions and comments arising during the
class, you can also do some preplanned development. When
familiarizing yourself with the course content, assignment
directions, and other features of the course, jot down notes
about any topical areas, issues, or assignment directions that
you think are likely to require some further explanation or additional resources. If you are permitted to create additional discussion questions, draft these for each week of the course so
that they enhance those discussion questions that already exist.
Note any types of issues you anticipate might arise as a result of
the existing discussion questions.
Another way you can make a contribution is through weekly
announcements and emails which are usually left to the discretion of the instructor. Weekly announcements can be used to
summarize the week’s activities and point out areas that students successfully navigated or continued to have difficulty in
comprehending. You can also preview the week ahead and
draw attention to focal areas of upcoming course materials. If
you feel that students may need more than the required texts
are supplying, you may be able to suggest additional resources
for background or further exploration.
Finally, if you feel that you have some ideas about how to
improve the course, you might contact your administrator and
signal your interest in joining the course development team
assigned to the next update to the course. By articulating what
you have found to be shortcomings in the course and suggesting how it might be improved, you may well persuade your
institution of your approach.
Creating an Effective
Online Syllabus
╛╛hether working alone or as part of a team to develop a
course, the syllabus is an important part of course development, regardless of delivery format—online, in blended
format, or face-�to-face. Defining syllabus broadly here, we
assume the traditional syllabus should include not only a schedule of topics, readings, activities, and assignments, but also
such elements as goals, objectives, or expected outcomes for
the course, grading policies, procedures, and any other information necessary for students to succeed.
Some instructors separate these various elements and call
them “Course Information,” “Course Requirements,” “Grading,”
“Schedule,” and so on. For the purposes of this chapter,
however, we’ll cover all these essentials with the term syllabus.
Although the details of course requirements, expected outcomes, schedule, grading, and procedures are staple elements
of any course syllabus, they are perhaps even more important
for an online class. Students tend to feel somewhat disoriented
without the familiar first-�day speeches from the instructor, and
they may wonder if any of the same old rules will apply in this
new online territory.
It’s typical for first-Â�time online instructors to include too little
detail in their syllabi. One instructor we know changed nothing
in his regular on-�the-ground course syllabus except to add the
words, “This course is delivered completely online.” Unfortunately, students had a hard time even finding his syllabus, as he
posted no welcome at the “entrance” to his online course, and
then they were puzzled by his schedule, which still listed “class
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sessions” as once a week. Some students reasonably thought
this phrase referred to online, real-�time chat. Others wondered
if the phrase meant that their asynchronous communications
should be posted only once a week, on the particular day named
in the schedule. As a result of this lack of clarity, the first week’s
discussion forum was dominated entirely by questions about
where, when, and how to do the assignments, and the main
topics for that week were nearly forgotten in the confusion.
Even after the instructor’s hurried explanations, students
continued to experience confusion about dates and times, procedures and grading. They could refer back to the first week’s
forum and search through the various discussion threads in
which these questions had been raised, but they had no clear
reference document to which they could turn. One student even
had a grade dispute with the instructor that arose from an ambiguity in the syllabus. In the syllabus, the instructor had declared
that all late assignments would be penalized at the rate of one-�
quarter grade point each day, but hadn’t clearly specified that
the due dates for assignments were based on the instructor’s
time zone, not the student’s. Thus, the student claimed that,
when he posted an assignment at 11:00â•›p.m. Pacific time, on the
due date, he was unfairly penalized because the server on which
the course was housed, located (like the instructor) on the East
Coast of the United States, had recorded the time as 2:00â•›a.m. the
following day. These examples, both serious and trivial, illustrate
some of the problems that can ensue if online syllabi (and, naturally, subsequent directions) aren’t thorough and detailed.
In blended courses clear directions are equally vital. It’s
important, for instance, to explain to students how the mixture
of different venues will be integrated. Which course activities
will take place in the on-�campus classroom, which in the online
classroom, and what’s the sequence of procedures students
should follow each week? Imagine that, before the face-�to-face
class meeting on Wednesday, you want students to read the
online lecture and post a preliminary report, but you want them
to wait until after the class meeting to take part in that week’s
online discussion. In many cases, they won’t understand that
sequence unless it’s carefully explained to them.
There are three aspects of an online syllabus we want to
emphasize in particular: the contract, the map, and the schedule.
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
The Contract
Increasingly, the syllabus has come to be the contract between
students and instructor, laying out the terms of the class interaction—the expected responsibilities and duties, the grading criteria, the musts and don’ts of behavior. Let’s took at some features
of the contract that are especially important for an online course.
Class Participation and Grading Criteria
What’s meant by “participation” in the online setting won’t be
obvious to students. Participation should be defined. For
example, is it posting, that is, sending messages to the classroom discussion board? Or is it just logging on and reading (an
activity revealed to an instructor only when course management software has the capacity to track students’ movements
online)? Perhaps participation includes taking part in an online
group presentation or showing up for a real-�time chat.
Important! Whatever kind of participation you
expect in your course, you should make that explicit
in the syllabus.
If you’re going to count participation toward the final grade,
you should define how that will be calculated. We recommend,
in fact, that you always give a grade for active participation in
the class, that is, for contributing to discussions and asking or
answering questions. The plain fact is that if students aren’t
graded, the great majority won’t actively participate. For a
blended class, you will want to decide whether students are
given participation grades for both face-�to-face meetings as
well as online participation, and how the grade for one, the
other, or both should be divided up. Besides judging the quality
of students’ contributions in the class, you may want to set a
minimum level for quantity of participation or require that a
portion of postings be responses to classmates.
Another consideration in asynchronous courses is the degree
of self-�pacing allowed. Must students follow a chronological
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order of topics in their participation, or can they go back and
respond to previous weeks’ topics?
Can they complete assignments at different times during the
course? The answers to these questions really depend on the
nature of your course. For example, if your course has a set
number of tasks, which can be completed at any time or in any
order within the twelve weeks of the course, then you may not
be concerned about students’ skipping about or restarting conversations about previous weeks’ topics.
Managing Student Expectations
The task of managing student expectations is very important in
the online classroom. Some students enroll in an online course
expecting it to be much easier than a regular course. Others
imagine that the course will be something like independent
study. Still others think the instructor should be available for
twenty-�four real-�time hours a day. Your syllabus as well as your
introductory comments can help manage such expectations,
correct false impressions, and set the stage for the smooth
unfolding of your course.
It’s also helpful if your institution has a general student orientation (or at least a student handbook or web tutorial) that
explains how the online course will work, how much student–
instructor interaction can be expected, and so forth. If your
institution doesn’t have such an orientation, or your class has a
unique approach that goes beyond the typical online offerings
at your institution, you may need to supply some of this
information in your own syllabus. Michele Pacansky-�Brock,
now Director of Online and Hybrid Support with California
State University East Bay, previously taught an online Art
Appreciation class for Sierra College that was unusually rich in
its use of technology and multimedia. In her syllabus she cautioned students about that fact, “Important!!! This online class
is image intensive. Due to the visual nature of the content of
this class, you will regularly download large files containing
high resolution images and movies.â•›.â•›.”
A continuing-�education instructor we know, who has a busy
professional practice, complained after a few weeks of her
online class that students had “unrealistic expectations.” When
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
pressed to explain this remark, she commented that if she
didn’t reply to each and every student comment in the discussion forum or if she appeared not to be in the online classroom
every day, she would receive plaintive email queries or even
classroom postings inquiring about whether she had read a particular message. She further explained that she had expected
students to work on their own during the first part of each week
and only then to post their thoughts in the discussion forum.
Unfortunately, neither her syllabus nor her introductory comments ever mentioned these teacher expectations.
This case shows that managing student expectations can also
require an instructor to communicate his expectations for
himself to the students. This type of problem can be handled by
a simple statement in the syllabus to the effect that the instructor will look in frequently during the week but may not be in the
classroom every day, or that students should work on the week’s
assignments during the first part of the week (say, Monday
through Wednesday) and then post their responses later in the
week (Thursday through Sunday).
For her blended class, Isabel Simões de Carvalho of Lisbon’s
Instituto Superior de Engenharia expressed her availability
online in the following manner,
Your teacher will be online with all of you at least every two
days and will provide feedback within 48 hours maximum.
However, if you have an urgent subject that you need to
discuss with your teacher .â•›.â•›. then you should send an email
to the instructor and in this case, do not forget to fill in the
course name within the subject line.
Other information of a “contractual” nature that you might
want to incorporate in your syllabus includes the following:
■ your policy on late assignments;
■ whether due dates are calculated by your time zone or the
student’s (or the server’s, as that might actually be in a third
time zone);
■ your availability for real-Â�time chat appointments (which
some call “virtual office hours”);
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■ overall specifications for writing assignments (Formal essay?
Informal journal? Of how many total words? MLA or APA
■ your institution’s policy on plagiarism and cheating.
The Map
In this new territory of the online classroom, students will seize
upon your syllabus as if it were a map. Students will want to
know how to proceed and where everything is located. So, one
of the first things you must do, whether through the syllabus or
in an introductory message, is to explain the “geography” of the
In fact, if the syllabus isn’t visible on the first level of the
course, but instead can be arrived at only by one or two clicks of
the mouse, then this introductory set of directions must be
given in an announcement area or even delivered prior to the
course, by email. For example, an announcement with explicit
directions to the syllabus might say,
Welcome, please click on the Class Information tab at the
upper left hand corner of this webpage to find the links
labeled syllabus, and weekly schedule. These will guide your
work in this course, so I recommend that you print these sections out for handy reference. If you have any questions
about these documents, please post a question in the Q&A
forum portion of the discussion area.
What else does “explaining the geography” mean? If your
course consists of various web pages plus a discussion forum,
you’ll need to let the students know where to find the component parts of the course and under what headings: “Lectures will
be on the page whose link says ‘Lectures,’ and these are
arranged by weeks.” If the discussion forum, a blog, or other
software is hosted on an outside site, students need to be told
that this link will take them off the university server, or that they
must use a password given to them, and so on. If you’ve created
a discussion forum dedicated to casual communications and
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
socializing for students, let them know that the area you have
imaginatively labeled “Café Truckstop” is intended to be the
online equivalent of a student lounge.
This is particularly important when using course management software that has its own unique and not easily customizable category headings or when your institution or department
does not have a common classroom template. Students will
need to know what you have stored behind each of the online
classroom headings or where a particular link might lead.
While not essential, a narrated guide to the syllabus can be
created by an instructor to reinforce the importance of the syllabus and to draw attention to it from the very first day of the
course. You can use a simple series of screen shots within a
PowerPoint narration or use video capture software as you click
about the syllabus to point out the various sections of the
In a blended course that combines face-�to-face and online
components, it’s essential that you specify where to do each
activity. For example, in Isabel Carvalho’s blended Energy Production and Management syllabus she clearly stated, “Besides
the weekly face-�to-face sessions, this course has an online
learning environment. The face-�to-face and online components
are not independent but instead are considered to be complementary.” She added,
We will be together face-�to-face 4.5 hours per week and I
will expect you all to spend at least 2 hours a week online
using the discussion forum, viewing and downloading
course resources and materials, and interacting with your
Such general statements are then further detailed in the class
Other procedural and “geographical” issues you might want
to cover in the syllabus include these:
■ the URL for your home page, the companion web site for a
text, or other resources;
■ where to access and how additional technology tools will be
used in the class;
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■ how emailed assignments are to be labeled in the subject
■ which file types you’ll accept for attached documents (for
instance, Microsoft Word, Rich Text Format, PowerPoint,
■ any contact information for technical and administrative
■ the proper sequence for accomplishing weekly activities and
assignments (for example, do the exercises before taking the
quiz, post a message in discussion before emailing the
The Schedule
The course should be laid out by weeks for students, because
this is commonly the unit by which students gauge their own
participation and work. If your class starts on a Wednesday,
then Tuesday will become the last day of your week unless you
state otherwise.
We recommend that you think in terms of subdivisions of
two- or three-�day spreads. For example, if you post your lecture
on Monday, allow students through Wednesday to read and
comment on it rather than asking them to do so by Tuesday.
Students can be told to log on every single day, but it is perhaps
wiser to take advantage of the asynchronous flexibility of the
online environment. Assume that some students will log on and
read on Monday night, some on Tuesday morning, and others
at midnight. The Monday reader may return on Tuesday night
to reread and post. The Tuesday reader may respond with comments at once. This scheduling flexibility is even more important for those who have students in different time zones or in
foreign countries.
It’s also good to gauge your students’ access to computers
and their probable work schedules. This goes back to what we
discussed in earlier chapters. If your students are accessing the
course web site from a campus lab, the dorms, or branch
campus libraries, then they’ll follow a different pattern than will
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
typical working adults or continuing-�education students, who
may want to use the weekends to do most of the time-�intensive
assignments. A Monday or Tuesday due date for assignments
will allow working adults to make the most of their study time
out of the office.
A Checklist for Your Online Syllabus
Here, in summary form, is a checklist for creating your online syllabus. You needn’t include all of these items (some may be more
appropriate for your class than others), nor do you have to include
them all in one document called a “syllabus.” You can distribute
this information among several documents if desired.
■ course title, authors’ and instructor’s names, registration
number, and term information; syllabus web pages should bear
creation or “last revised” dates if the term date isn’t included at
the top;
■ course instructor’s contact information, indication of instructor
availability in classroom, for “office hours” and private communications. Contact information for technical support;
■ course description, perhaps the same as the description used
for a course catalog listing, but probably more detailed; should
list any prerequisites or special technical requirements for the
■ course objectives or expected outcomes; what students can
expect to learn by completion of the course;
■ required texts or materials: any books or other materials, such
as software, not made available in the course but required for
the course;
■ explanation of grading criteria and components of total grade: a
list of all quizzes, exams, graded assignments, and forms of
class participation, with grade percentages or points; criteria for
a passing grade; policies on late assignments. More detailed
instructions for assignments should be included elsewhere but
at the very least, the outlines and due dates of each major
assignment should be listed first in the syllabus;
■ participation standard: minimum number of postings per week
in discussion and any standards for quality of participation. If a
rubric will be used to evaluate participation, reference to the
rubric and where it may be found can be provided rather than
including the whole rubric in the syllabus;
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■ explanation of course geography and procedures: how the
online classroom is organized; how students should proceed
each week for class activities; how to label assignments sent by
email; where to post materials in the classroom; any special
■ week-Â�by-week schedule: topics, assignments, readings,
quizzes, activities, and web resources for each week, with specific dates;
■ any relevant institutional or program policies, procedures, or
resources not mentioned above. These may be available as
links to institutional web pages.
Sometimes it’s difficult to anticipate every issue that may arise
during the class and to include that in your syllabus. There’s obviously a balance between readable brevity and a syllabus so voluminous as to be intimidating. Whatever you do not include in your
initial documents can be referenced for further examination—for
example, “Discussion Participation is worth 20% of the grade. See
the rubric for participation posted in the Major Assignments section
of the online classroom”—or may still be introduced by means of
announcements, weekly emails sent to all students, or postings in
an appropriate forum. You will also want to use these means to
reinforce important elements of your syllabus as the course
Using Specific Dates
Instead of simply listing the course schedule for “Week One”
and “Week Two,” your schedule should include the specific
dates for each unit, week, or topic area covered. This is particularly important for asynchronous courses in which students
may be logging on at diverse times and days during the week.
It’s quite common for students to lose track of the weeks in the
term when following an asynchronous online schedule. (And
it’s not unheard of for instructors to forget the dates, either!)
If you don’t want to include dates on the main syllabus web
pages because you want to reuse it for subsequent terms, and
worry about making mistakes in updating it, then send students
an email version of the syllabus or post a downloadable
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
document version with the relevant dates inserted. Some course
management software includes a calendar feature that you may
use to reinforce the dates for each segment of the course.
Supplying Information More Than Once
It’s easy to lose track of where and when something was said in
threaded discussions or by email. When you give directions, it
may not be possible for students to simply link back to them at
a later date. For that reason, you should provide important
instructions in more than one location. However, to maintain
consistency and accuracy, you will either need to repeat that
information in full or refer students back to the complete directions in the syllabus or other central document. Be very careful
not to truncate your instructions for an assignment—in posting
reminders, always refer students back to the most detailed
version. For example, an announcement can note an upcoming
due date for an assignment mentioned elsewhere, “Remember,
papers are due this week and must be a minimum of 1000
words and based on at least three scholarly resources. Please
review the assignment details for this paper found in the syllabus and under Major Projects.” Or you may respond to a question in the discussion area, “John, your paper must be on one of
the topics listed and Wikipedia may not be one of the three
scholarly resources. Please refer to the Major Projects area for
full details on topics and resources for this assignment.”
Important! In an online environment, redundancy
is often better than elegant succinctness.
Although students in some course management platforms
may be able to use a search function to find your instructions,
in most cases students will have to waste energy and time to sift
through materials before they can locate that one crucial sentence of direction. Therefore, even if you intend to explain
assignments and procedures later in the course, it’s best to state
them up front in the syllabus as well. Then, if your course is laid
out entirely in web pages, make sure that each page permits
students to link back easily to essential information in the
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Sample Syllabi: Online and Blended
Course Versions
The following is a composite syllabus based on courses in
Modern China taught by Susan Ko at a variety of institutions.
The first is a syllabus for the fully online version, followed by
one representing a blended version of the same course. Both
are designed as ten-�week courses, but only the first five weeks
of the course appear in the schedule.
Modern China: History and Culture
Delivered online, SomeUniversity Spring term, **** year
Course Description
This online course provides a survey approach to the history and
culture of China in the modern period, from the mid-19th century
through the year 2000.
Contacts and Communications
Instructor: Dr. Susan Ko, [email protected]
See my instructor’s bio in the classroom link under my name.
Please contact me via the email address above or feel free to
use the classroom instant message (IM) tool when you see me
among the names of those currently logged in.
I will log on to the classroom nearly every day and the discussion forum is generally the best place to ask most questions. But
if you need to contact me on an individual basis, please use
email and I will try to reply within 24 hours. Your communication
is important to me! To ensure that I see your message among
my email, please use the class name and number HIST 415 in
your subject line. For those of you halfway across the world from
the instructor’s eastern US location, given the time differences
you may have to allow up to 36 hours for a “prompt reply.”
Technical support is available 24/7 by contacting
[email protected] or calling 1-800-TECHELP.
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
Your Online Classroom and Procedures
Each class week begins on Monday and ends on Sunday.
Although all students will have taken the software orientation, at
any point you may review the course management software features by clicking on the Guide link.
The Announcements area of the classroom that you see
each time you log in will be used on at least a weekly basis to
post updates and comments on class matters. The instructor will
also email the class to remind students of important due dates.
(If you prefer to receive text message versions of these emails,
please let the instructor know by following the instructions posted
in the classroom.)
The Course Materials area, arranged in folders by week,
houses the content for the course. All materials for the course
are posted and can be reviewed from the start of the class. There
is also a folder within Course Materials labeled Detailed Assignment Instructions that provides full information, criteria, rubrics,
and samples for completing each assignment.
The Discussion area contains at least one discussion forum
for each week of the course. Each discussion forum will be
opened for posting on the Saturday before each new week
begins. There is a forum labeled “Student Lounge” for casual
conversations as well as a general “Q&A” forum where questions
about class requirements or other questions that do not fit into a
weekly discussion may be asked.
The Assignment Dropbox is the place to submit individual
assignments unless otherwise indicated in assignment instructions.
Remember that our classroom server is set to US Eastern
time. Therefore all due dates are noted as of US Eastern time.
Use the World Time Clock link available in the classroom to
convert all times and dates.
This ten-�week course provides a general survey of Chinese history
and culture in the modern period, from the Qing dynastic period
through the founding of the People’s Republic and post-Â�Mao China
through 2000. We will try to trace the continuing themes as well as
changing conditions that mark China’s tumultuous modern history.
Teaching Online
This course is conducted completely online. To do your best in this
course, it is recommended that you print out this syllabus to keep
as a reference, log on frequently (at least 3–4 times a week) to the
online classroom and keep up with all assigned readings and web
Course Objectives
■ Describe the major cultural, political, and social elements of
traditional China.
■ Trace recurring themes and concepts in Chinese history.
■ Identify the major historical figures and events that have
shaped modern Chinese history.
■ Analyze the underlying themes and issues in the modernization process, including those in the economic, political, and
social spheres.
■ Differentiate the characteristics of the Chinese state in the
Mao and post-�Mao era.
■ Demonstrate an appreciation for Chinese arts or literature as
a reflection of Chinese society and values in different historical
Course Textbook and Materials
Main textbook: J. Spence, The Search for Modern China, 2nd
edition only. See the link to Buy Textbooks in the classroom if
you have not already obtained your book or check on Amazon.
com for used copies.
If you are not already familiar with Chinese names and their
pronunciation, you may find that in the beginning, you may have
a little trouble remembering and identifying the names of people,
places, and events.
I recommend that you take notes while you read and refer
often to the Glossary contained at the end of the textbook. When
referring to Chinese names, places, and events, I will try to
include short identifications whenever possible. If you are ever in
doubt about what I am referring to in my commentary or in the
conference discussions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
We will be using many web resource readings as well as periodical articles available through our electronic reserves of the
library. The latter are labeled Library Electronic Reserve Readings and are also found under Course Materials for the week
indicated. The instructor will also introduce numerous multimedia
resources from the Web, especially during the last half of the
course. (There will be alternative assignments for those who are
unable to access the multimedia resources.)
Finally, the instructor will provide short commentary on a
weekly basis to help elucidate the issues from our readings and
provide additional perspectives. These commentaries are posted
in the Course Materials area of our classroom.
Grading Information
Grades are based on a scale of 100 points and are distributed
among major assignments as follows:
■ Participation on a weekly basis: 30 points
■ Group summary and question based on reading: 10 points for
group work, 5 for individual contribution
■ Short essay paper: 10 points
■ Proctored exam: 25 points
■ Final analytic paper or project: 20 points
■ Grading scale:
■ A: 90–100
■ B: 80–89
■ C: 70–79
■ D: 60–69
■ F: 59 points or below
Participation in discussions must be completed within the week
Other assignments are due according to the posted dates and
as described in instructions, either submitted via the assignment
Dropbox or posted in a designated discussion forum.
Teaching Online
Unless otherwise noted, grades will be posted in the Gradebook no later than the end of the week following the due date of
the assignment.
This university maintains a strict academic integrity policy.
Please follow this link to read the policy related to plagiarism.
Assignment Descriptions
1.╇ Participation
Students are expected to participate by responding to the instructor’s questions as well as to ask questions or comment on the
responses of their classmates. A good question is as valuable as
a comment. See the Participation Rubric posted under Course
Materials to understand grading criteria and expectations. There
are ten graded weeks of participation.
2.╇ Group summary and question based on reading
Each student will be assigned to a group by the beginning of the
third week of class and group postings will begin in Week 5. You
will work within groups of four or five to prepare a weekly
summary ending in one or more discussion questions based on
one of the weekly chapter reading assignments from the Spence
text. The group will post the summary as pasted-�in text and discussion question(s) in the weekly conference, creating a thread
with the subject line, Reading Summary, Chapter ___. The group
members will then be in charge of conducting the discussion.
Up to ten points will be awarded based on the criteria posted
under “Group Summary” in the Course Materials, Detailed
Assignments Instructions folder. This also includes some tips for
organizing your group.
The summary and question must be posted in the online
classroom no later than each Wednesday of the week assigned
to your group. This will allow for sufficient discussion time. You
will receive a grade of up to five points for your individual contribution. This grade will be based on the instructor’s observation
as well as a peer evaluation. See under Course Materials for the
Peer Evaluation Rubric. You will be asked to evaluate yourself as
well as your peers.
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
3.╇ Short essay paper
This is a short essay, 2–4 pages in length, due at the end of week
4, February 20 of this course. Submit your assignment through the
Dropbox and label the file Firstinitial+Lastname+ShortE.
The choice of topic questions and some guidelines are posted
under the Course Materials area, Detailed Assignments Instructions folder. The style of this paper will be very much like the type
of essay questions you will encounter in the proctored final exam.
4.╇ Proctored exam
There is a mandatory proctored exam that must be completed no
later than April 23. To schedule your proctored exam with an
approved proctor near you, see the classroom link for “Exam
Our exam will be short-�essay and identification questions.
Short-�essay questions will ask you to reflect on what we have
learned and draw connections between different events, themes,
and facts. Identification questions require a short paragraph to
explain the who, what, when, or importance of something we
have studied. My own philosophy is that students shouldn’t be
surprised or “tricked” by what they encounter on the exam—if
you have paid attention and kept up with your reading, discussion, and assignments, the questions should not be unexpected.
5.╇ Final analytic paper or project
This assignment is an analysis of a continuing issue or theme
that you have followed since the beginning of the course. For
example, you may want to concentrate on economic development in China, the status of women, local officials versus central
party control, China’s relationships with its neighbors in East
Asia, role of intellectuals and artists, etc. A full list of possible
topics and issues as well as format and other requirements is
contained under the detailed instructions for this assignment in
Course Materials. This paper is due the end of the 9th week of
this class but you must submit your topic for approval at the end
of Week 5. There is a multimedia option for those students who
may prefer to work in audio or video. See detailed instructions
under Course Materials, Detailed Assignments Instructions folder
Teaching Online
for more information. Once you have submitted your project or
paper, you are invited to share it online with your classmates
during Week 10.
Other Resources
Need Some Review of Skills or Assistance?
For help in navigating the various types of writing assignments, follow the link to the Writing tutorial center in the resource
list at the top right of the online classroom.
See the links in the classroom to Library and Student Advising for additional support if needed.
Week 1, January 24–January 30
Traditional China under the Qing
■ Spence, Chapter 3, bottom page 53–top page 69, Chapters 5
and 6, pp.€96–137
■ Instructor commentary under Course Materials for Week 1
■ Visit web resources indicated under Course Materials for
Week 1
Discussion forum:
Introduce yourself in the Introductions forum, then participate in
Week 1 discussion forum.
Week 2, January 31–February 6
China’s Dual Crises, External and Internal
■ Spence, Chapters 7 and 8, pp.€141–191, and pp.€202–214
■ Instructor commentary for week 2
See list of topic questions for Short Essay assignment under
Course Materials, Detailed Assignment Instructions folder.
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
Participate in Week 2 discussion forum.
Week 3, February 7–February 13
The End of Dynastic China
■ Spence, Chapters 10 and 11, 215–263
■ Instructor commentary for Week 3
■ Library electronic reserve reading #1
Participate in Week 3 discussion forum.
Locate and check in with your group in the designated Group
Week 4, February 14–February 20
The New Chinese Republic
■ Spence, Chapters 12 and 13, pp.€267–313
■ Instructor commentary for Week 4
■ Visit web resources for this week
Participate in Week 4 discussion forum.
Short essay due end of this week, via Dropbox. Label the file
Week 5, February 21–27
Union and Disunion
Topics under Course Content
■ Spence, Chapters 14, pp.€ 314–341 and Chapter 15,
■ Instructor commentary for Week 5
■ Library electronic reserve reading #2
Teaching Online
Participate in Week 5 conference discussion. Group
presentations begin.
Submit your final paper/project topic choice to
instructor via email for approval by the end of this
Put HIST 415 and Final Topic in the subject line of
your email.
Modern China: History and Culture
Delivered in blended format, SomeUniversity Spring term, ****
Instructor: Dr. Susan Ko, [email protected]
Office hours on campus: Tuesdays, 3–5â•›p.m., Room 210 of
Miller Building. Phone: 321-568-3987
Please contact the instructor via the email address above, or
by phone, or feel free to use the online classroom instant
message feature when you see the instructor among the names
of those currently logged in to our online classroom.
The instructor will log on to the online classroom nearly every
day, whether or not the class is meeting face-to-face in a particular week. The discussion forum is generally the best place to ask
most questions. But if you need to contact me on an individual
basis, please use email and I will try to reply within 24 hours.
Your communication is important to me! To ensure that I see
your message among my email, please use the class name and
number HIST 415 in your subject line.
Technical support is available 24/7 by contacting
[email protected] or calling 1-800-TECHELP.
Course Description
A survey approach to the history and culture of China in the modern
period, from the mid nineteenth century through the year 2000.
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
This is a blended course. That means we will meet face-to-face
every other week and for the last class meeting in Week 10, but
that we will only meet online during the other weeks. Attendance
at the face-to-face meetings and participation in all online activities is required. You will find that the online and face-to-face elements of this course are interdependent and integrated. Online
participation is required every week – you will be expected to go
online, preferably within 72 hours of a face-to-face meeting, to
continue discussion or complete other activities.
The dates during which we meet face to face are clearly
indicated in bold font on the syllabus schedule.
This course provides a general survey of Chinese history and
culture in the modern period, from the Qing dynastic period
through the founding of the People’s Republic and post-Mao
China through 2000. We will try to trace the continuing themes
as well as changing conditions that mark China’s tumultuous
modern history.
Course Objectives
■ Describe the major cultural, political, and social elements of
traditional China.
■ Trace recurring themes and concepts in Chinese history.
■ Identify the major historical figures and events that have
shaped modern Chinese history.
■ Analyze the underlying themes and issues in the modernization process, including those in the economic, political, and
social spheres.
■ Differentiate the characteristics of the Chinese state in the
Mao and post-Mao eras.
■ Demonstrate an appreciation for Chinese arts or literature as
a reflection of Chinese society and values in different historical
Information and Procedures
Each class week begins online on Monday and ends on
Sunday. Our face-to-face on-campus meetings all take place on
Tuesday evenings, 6:30–9:30â•›p.m. in the Seely Center, room
Teaching Online
2009. The Center is equipped with wifi and you are welcome
to bring your laptop to class.
Face-to-face meetings will be a combination of instructor
lecture, discussion, and student presentations. If you miss a
face-to-face meeting you will be required to do additional makeup
work online.
Online Classroom
A brief overview of the online classroom will be given at the first
class meeting. At any point you may review the course management software features by clicking on the Guide link. Here is a
quick guide:
The Announcements area of the classroom that you see
each time you log in will be used on at least a weekly basis to
post updates and comments on class matters. The instructor will
also email the class to remind students of important due dates.
(If you prefer to receive text message versions of these emails,
please let the instructor know by following the instructions posted
in the classroom.)
The Course Materials area, arranged in folders by week,
houses the content for the course. All materials for the course
are posted and can be reviewed from the start of the class. There
is also a folder labeled Detailed Assignment Instructions that
provides full information, criteria, rubrics, and samples for completing each assignment. As noted below, read the instructor
commentary before attending the face-to-face class.
The Discussion area contains at least one discussion forum
for each week of the course, whether or not we are meeting faceto-face in a particular week. Each discussion forum will be
opened on the Saturday before each new week begins. There is
a forum labeled “Student Lounge” for casual conversations as
well as a general “Q&A” forum where questions about class
requirements or other questions that do not fit into a weekly discussion may be asked.
Important: Do not wait till the class meets face-to-face to ask a
question! Post it online!
The Assignment Dropbox is the place to submit individual
assignments unless otherwise indicated in assignment instructions. Please do not bring assignments to the face-to-face class
meetings to hand in to the instructor.
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
Course Textbook and Materials
Main text: J. Spence, The Search for Modern China, 2nd edition
only. See the link to Buy Textbooks in the classroom if you have
not already obtained your book, or check on Amazon.com for
used copies.
If you are not already familiar with Chinese names and their
pronunciation, you may find that in the beginning, you may have
a little trouble remembering and identifying the names of people,
places, and events.
I recommend that you take notes while you read and refer
often to the Glossary contained at the end of the textbook. When
referring to Chinese names, places, and events, I will try to
include short identifications whenever possible. If you are ever in
doubt about what I am referring to in my commentary or in the
conference discussions, please don’t hesitate to ask!
We will be using many web resource readings as well as periodical articles available through our electronic reserves of the
library. The instructor will also introduce numerous multimedia
resources from the Web, especially during the last half of the
course. If you are unable to access the multimedia resources
from home, you are expected to use the campus labs to complete this work.
Finally, the instructor will provide short commentary on a
weekly basis to help elucidate the issues from our readings and
provide additional perspectives. These commentaries are posted
in the Course Materials area of our classroom. During weeks that
the class meets face to face, it is recommended that you read
the instructor commentary before coming to class.
Grading Information
Grades are based on a scale of 100 points and are distributed
among major assignments as follows:
■ Participation on a weekly basis: 30 points
■ Group summary and question based on reading: 10 points for
group work, 5 for individual contribution
■ Short essay paper: 10 points
■ Proctored exam: 25 points
Teaching Online
■ Final analytic paper: 20 points
■ Grading scale:
■ A: 90–100
■ B: 80–89
■ C: 70–79
■ D: 60–69
■ F: 59 points or below
Participation in online discussions must be completed within the
week assigned.
Other assignments are due according to the posted dates and
as described in instructions, either submitted via the assignment
dropbox or posted in a designated discussion forum.
Unless otherwise noted, grades will be posted in the online
gradebook no later than the end of the week following the due
date of the assignment. This university maintains a strict academic integrity policy. Please follow this link to read the policy
related to plagiarism.
Assignment Descriptions
1.╇ Participation
Students are expected to participate by responding to the instructor’s questions as well as to ask questions or comment on the
responses of their classmates in the online classroom. A good
question is as valued as a comment. See the Participation Rubric
posted under Course Materials to understand grading criteria and
Additionally, during weeks in which we meet face to face, you
may receive credit for participation in either the face-to-face class
and/or the online classroom. This is detailed in the Participation
2.╇ Group presentation and facilitated discussion
Each student will be assigned to a group during the face-to-face
class meeting of the third week of class and will be able to hold
their first organizational meeting face to face. Students will work
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
online in the Groups area to prepare a five-minute presentation
and at least three discussion questions based on an assigned
topic from one of the weekly chapter readings from the Spence
text, a Library reserved reading, or a web resource site. The
group will present and facilitate a discussion (with help from the
instructor) during a 15-minute period at each face-to-face
meeting, starting with Week five.
Up to 10 points will be awarded to each group for their live
presentation, facilitation of discussion, and online preparation
based on the criteria posted under “Group Summary” in Course
Materials which also includes some tips for organizing your
group. You will also receive a grade of up to 5 points for your
individual contribution. This grade will be based on the instructor’s observation of your preparatory work online, the presentation and discussion on-campus, as well as a peer evaluation.
See under Course Materials for the peer-evaluation rubric. You
will be asked to evaluate yourself as well as your group peers.
3.╇ Short essay paper
This is a short essay, 2–4 pages in length, due at the end of
Week 4, February 20, of this course. Submit your assignment via
the Dropbox and label the file Firstinitial+Lastname+ShortE.
The choice of topic questions and some guidelines are posted
under the Course Materials, Detailed Assignment Instructions
folder. The style of this paper will be very much like the type of
essay questions you will encounter in the proctored final exam.
4.╇ Proctored exam
In Week 11 there is a mandatory proctored exam on campus in
our regular meeting room. See the university website in February
for the examination schedule for this course.
Our exam will be short essay and identification questions.
Short essay questions will ask you to reflect on what we have
learned and draw connections between different events, themes,
and facts. Identification questions require a short paragraph to
explain the who, what, when, or importance of something we
have studied. My own philosophy is that students shouldn’t be
surprised or “tricked” by what they encounter on the exam—if
you have paid attention and kept up with your reading, discussion, and assignments, the questions should not be unexpected.
Teaching Online
5.╇ Final analytic paper/project
This paper is an analysis of a continuing issue or theme that you
have followed since the beginning of the course. For example,
you may want to concentrate on economic development in China,
the status of women, local officials versus central party control,
China’s relationships with its neighbors in East Asia, role of intellectuals and artists, etc. A full list of possible topics and issues as
well as format and other requirements is contained under the
detailed instructions for this assignment in Course Materials. This
paper is due at the end of the ninth week, April 10, of this class
but you must submit your topic for approval by the end of Week
4. Final projects will be shared with the class at the last face-toface meeting. There is a multimedia option for those students
who prefer to work in audio or video. See detailed instructions for
more information.
Other Resources
Need some review of skills or assistance?
For help in navigating the various types of writing assignments, follow the link to the Writing Tutorial Center in the
resource list at the top right of the online classroom.
See the links in the online classroom to Library and Student
Advising for additional support if needed.
Week 1, January 24–January 30
Face-to-face class meeting, January 25
Traditional China under the Qing
■ Spence, Chapter 3, bottom page 53–top page 69, Chapters 5
and 6, pp.€96–137
■ Instructor commentary under Course Materials for Week 1
■ Visit web resources indicated under Course Materials for
Week 1
In-class overview of online classroom.
Chapter 5╇ •â•‡ Creating an Effective Online Syllabus
Online Discussion forum:
Introduce yourself in the Introductions forum, then participate in
Week 1 discussions after the January 25 meeting, with your first
posting by January 28.
Week 2, January 31–February 6
China’s Dual Crises, External and Internal
■ Spence, Chapters 7 and 8, pp.€141–191 and€202–214
■ Instructor’s commentary for Week 2
Participate in Week 2 discussion online.
See list of topic questions for Short Essay assignment under
Course Materials.
Week 3, February 7–February 13
Face-to-face class meeting, February 8
The End of Dynastic China
■ Spence, Chapters 10 and 11, pp. 215–263
■ Instructor’s commentary for Week 3
Participate in Week 3 discussion online after February 8 with
your first posting by February 11.
Group work: On February 8th, assemble with your group, receive
your topic and date for presenting.
Week 4, February 14–February 20
The New Chinese Republic
■ Spence, Chapters 12 and 13, pp.€267–313
■ Instructor’s commentary for Week 4
■ Visit web resources for this week
Participate in Week 4 discussion online.
Teaching Online
Short essay due end of this week, via Dropbox. Label the file
Week 5, February 21–27
Face-to-face class meeting, February 22
Union and Disunion
■ Spence, Chapters 14, pp.€ 314–341
■ Instructor commentary for Week 5
Groups 1 and 2 present and help lead discussion on February
Participate in Week 5 discussion online after February 22, with
your first posting by February 25.
Submit your final topic choice to instructor via email for
approval by the end of this week. Put HIST 415 and Final
Topic in the subject line.
Building an Online
ow that you’ve done the necessary design, planning, and
development work on your course and fleshed out your syllabus, it’s time to actually build your course.
This means that it’s time to put your work online—compose
web pages, set up discussions, post assignments, create quizzes—in short, start learning about and working with the software you will be using to run the class.
As you move from the planning to the implementation stage,
you may find that some of the features you planned to incorporate don’t work as well as you thought they would. You may also
find a few functions in your software that you didn’t know
existed. The fact is that this stage of preparation involves a bit of
trial and error. As you experiment with sample units to create a
prototype for your course, you will soon learn how to get the
most out of whatever course management system or other software structure you are working in—whether it be a fully
developed and integrated set of tools or some combination of
web pages, discussion forum, and online testing. In fact, as you
become more familiar with the particular software environment
you will be using, you may find that you will want to go back
and revise your course plan to reflect the opportunities or limitations that you have discovered.
In this chapter we will be discussing the various types of
functions and features available in today’s software and how
best to exploit them. In doing this, we will use examples from a
variety of different existing software platforms, both course
management or learning management systems (CMS or LMS)
Teaching Online
as well as some of the standalone types of Web 2.0 tools. The
good news is that those instructors whose institutions do not
have a course management system will have little problem
finding free tools and remote servers on which to set up their
online and blended classrooms. And even those who have a
course management system available may choose to supplement what they do with the use of some of these free tools. As
you examine the features of course management systems or
tools, be aware that this is a rapidly changing field. When we
wrote the first two editions of our book, there was intense competition among many different course management systems.
Since that time, there have been many acquisitions, consolidations, as well as new CMS programs, but there have also
emerged more open-�source systems like Moodle and Sakai and
a wildly proliferating set of Web 2.0 tools that can be used for
online education. Our descriptions of particular features for
software correspond to the versions existing at the time of this
writing. Our purpose is not to tout one software platform or tool
over another, but to show (1) the opportunities presented by
certain types of features and (2) how you can adapt and implement your favored teaching strategies.
This is not to say that a particular software or course management system may not be better suited to your pedagogical
needs than another. But the trend in recent years is for an institution to be able to swap out one tool for another while still
using the basic features of a course management system. For
example, an institution might be able to substitute a different
chat or discussion board for the one that comes with the
system—either by having its own technical staff write a program
or adopting a tool from a software vendor whose products are
designed to be compatible with a particular system. This new
flexibility may make it easier for your institution to find the right
mix it needs for its online classrooms. However, we do recognize that many instructors will not have the final say (or may
not have any say at all) about which system or tools are chosen
for the institution, so our intention is to help you make the most
of whatever you have. If you would like to compare and track
the changes and innovations in software platforms, we suggest
you visit the web site EduTools (www.edutools.info/course),
now operated by the organization WCET (Western Cooperative
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
for Educational Telecommunications) which builds on a
resource originally created by Bruce Landon of Douglas College,
New Westminster, British Columbia. This site is continually
being updated as new versions of software debut; in addition to
comparison and review charts, it provides links to the web sites
of the different software platforms.
So, by all means take advantage of any special features
afforded by your software system, but don’t feel that your
system must dictate your choice of teaching methods and
approaches. Generally, if you have the desire to include a particular kind of activity, you can find a way to implement it in
almost any system.
If you were fortunate enough to receive special training on
the software system you are going to use, you probably learned
some tips and techniques for exploiting that system. If you
haven’t received this type of training, we recommend that you
join a user’s group or mailing list, or find another online
resource devoted to users of that software. You can also share
information and strategies informally with colleagues at your
institution who may already have had some experience with the
system. You may discover that a colleague at your own institution—or at one half a world away—has found a new approach
to solving the same problems that you face.
Dividing up and Organizing Your Material
and Activities
In building your course, no matter which system you use, you
will have to make decisions about organizing and dividing your
For example, in terms of your overall organization, do you
want to divide the course into units according to week or topic
or some combination of both? As mentioned above, your ability
to receive tracking reports might be one consideration. Other,
more obvious factors include how many topics you will cover
each week, how large your documents or media files are, and
whether the portions you create will be easy to digest (and, if
necessary, download) for your students.
Teaching Online
Another basic question must be whether you want all presentation materials to be housed in areas apart from discussion
and conferencing areas and, if so, what coordination you wish
to have between these areas. For example, if you present a
“lecture” in Unit 1, do you want to create a discussion forum
that will match it and provide direct reference to it? Or do you
want to post minilectures directly in the discussion forum
thread, culminating in questions to which students must
Similarly, do you want web resource links to be woven in
among your assignments, discussions, and lecture materials, or
do you want to house these in a separate area (when available)?
How many assignments are to be delivered to you alone, and
how many are to be shared with the class as a whole? Do you
want students to work in groups? If so, you need to give them a
space to work as a team and a place to present their work to the
entire class as well if desired.
Important! The overall guideline here is to create
or make use of a space for every activity you devise.
Timing of Access
Before you actually begin to build your course, find out exactly
when students will first be able to access your classroom and
whether they will have access to the entire course at that time.
For example, will they be able to enter the course management
software environment two days or even two weeks before the
class officially starts? At that point, will they have access to an
outer web page but not to the discussion area, or to the
announcements and syllabus only?
Also, find out if your software allows you to work on a section
of the course without making it available for students to see.
Some systems allow you to set specific dates for the release of a
section or document or simply to toggle an on/off switch to
determine the availability of a specific area. If you have no way
to control the timing of your students’ access, you should consider laying out and arranging your course on paper or in a
practice course shell, and making all changes in your word-�
processed and HTML documents prior to posting the final form.
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
This will prevent students from becoming confused if you need
to revise your materials at the last minute. However, do post at
least an announcement or syllabus for students to access on the
first possible day, and remember to give detailed guidance
about how and where to proceed. There’s nothing more discouraging to students than entering an empty, unattended
online classroom!
How much of your course materials should you actually
make available to students at one time? This is a tough question
to answer, because there is no one response that will suit all
teaching situations and approaches. If you post all the presentation materials for all the weeks of your course so that students
can review all content, this does offer two advantages:
1. Students can gain a more detailed understanding of what the
course involves.
2. If they choose, students can work ahead.
The disadvantages are that, in an asynchronous class, even
one with defined start and stop dates, you may be detracting
from the sense that the class as a whole moves and learns
together. If you also allow students to post in discussion forums
as many as two or three weeks ahead, you further lose the sense
of class cohesiveness. You may also prevent yourself from
adapting to the class’s needs by revising materials. You may
find, too, that simultaneously keeping an eye on two, three, or
four discussion forums adds significantly to your workload.
Often, a good compromise is to restrict the advance posting
of materials and the opening of new discussion forums to no
more than one or two weeks ahead of the time when you expect
the class as a whole to be ready for them. Or allow students to
see all materials and discussion questions, but if your system
permits you to do so, set the discussions to read-�only status.
Pacing Considerations
A final important consideration is the method of pacing your
students in your course. Everything takes longer online. Even if
your students all enjoy high-�speed Internet access, you will still
find that you must factor in the “click time”—the time it takes
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to open and close documents, to download and access documents and web pages, and to perform special tasks such as
accessing large graphics, or streaming media and animations.
If the class is a very active one, or one in which there are twenty�five students or more, it will take time for your students to pick
through the postings that accrue each week.
Even though you want your course to be as rigorous as its on-�
the-ground equivalent, you don’t want to overload students
with materials and tasks for which the payoff isn’t worth the
time expended. Leave students enough time to delve deeply
into the material. Presumably, you will already have factored in
these considerations when composing your online syllabus.
However, these matters often become more apparent once you
begin to lay out the course within your course management
software or web pages. In that case, don’t be afraid to go back
and make adjustments to your syllabus.
Presumably, if you have already done a particular activity in
a previous face-�to-face class, you will have some idea of the
minimum amount of time needed to perform it. Then you need
to factor in the additional time that might be needed to do the
activity online. For example, students in a face-�to-face class
working in a group may be able to make the first group determinations in a few hours. Online, you will want to consider the
asynchronous access and may allow two days for the back and
forth it may take for all to register their opinions.
If you are unsure how long it will take for students to complete an assignment that involves online work, we suggest that
you try out a discrete portion of it and time yourself. For
example, if you want to ask students to visit a particular Web
resource with a view to answering certain questions and then
to write a report based on the visit, you can surely time yourself as you undertake each step of the visit and jot down
responses to the questions. Given that you probably have
more expertise or are more familiar with the resource than
your students, you can factor in the additional time you think
students will need to achieve the same results. In the end,
beyond finding out whether you have calculated a correct
estimate of the time needed for students to do this, you may
also discover that your instructions should be revised for
greater clarity!
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
If you have little experience with online discussion, you might
ask to visit a colleague’s class and time yourself on how long it
takes you to read through and compose a meaningful response
based on that class’s weekly participation requirements.
Again, while you may have already factored in some of these
considerations when composing your online syllabus, matters
often become more apparent once you begin to actually lay out
the course within your course management software or web
pages. If you discover that your estimates were wrong, don’t be
afraid to go back and make adjustments to your syllabus.
Now let’s look at some of the structures, features, and builtÂ�in functions that are available in course management systems
and Web 2.0 tools.
Presentation Areas
Presentation areas are where you deliver your basic course
content, lectures, and so forth. Web pages are the most obvious
presentation format.
If you are using course management software, you will find
that in some systems, presentation is clearly defined and set
apart from other functions, while in other systems, multiple
areas can be made to serve the presentation function. The presentation areas allow one to type or paste in text and to upload
text and HTML files, PowerPoint slide shows, and so on, into
what is, in effect, a document storage area. This storage area,
which can be filled by instructors only, is entirely separate from
the discussion forum and other areas where students can post
or upload documents.
Course management software systems are increasingly sophisticated and most now offer the option of built-�in editors or
plug-�ins that permit elaborate formatting and conversion to
HTML without your having to know code. New versions of
course management software also allow for the creation
of€course templates for uploading content. These make it easy
to create sequenced learning content, and both templates and
sequences are often able to be reused and replicated in subsequent classes. Free web site services like Google sites offer a
good substitute for a CMS to present content, with the ability to
upload many different types of files. For the many readers of
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this book who are not native English speakers, Google sites also
support more than eighty different languages.
If, however, you are using software which has a limited
number of areas in which you can present content, you may
need to designate certain portions by name to serve as your
presentation spaces. You might set these off by using special
titles, bold text, or some other distinguishing marks, depending
on what your software system permits. For example, if you wish
to post materials in a discussion area, you might designate one
forum for “Syllabus,” another for “Lectures,” and so on.
If you do not have course management software, the free
web sites, as well as the wiki and blogging software highlighted
in Chapter 1, can provide an adequate solution for your needs.
All allow for copy-�and-paste methods and include built-�in formatting and templates designed to set your content off to best
advantage. Some will allow you to set up discussions related to
your content presentation.
Perhaps you want to present content via audio and/or video.
Many course management systems will allow you to upload
such content for presentation. In some cases, you may need to
ask your technology staff to upload it for you. Perhaps your
institution will allow you to upload a video lecture or demonstration to a site like YouTube and then you can simply provide
a link to the video. Some free web sites, blogs, or wikis will also
allow for the uploading of multimedia content.
If video is crucial to communicating your presentations, your
first step is probably to contact your instructional technology or
multimedia staff resources. It may be that video is easily
inserted into your course management system or is hosted on a
special institutional server. There may also be staff who can
help you create your video. Many institutions now maintain a
channel on YouTube to broadcast their video content.
However, instructors who have no support at all for creating
or hosting video materials are increasingly able to find ways to
do this on their own. Chapter 9 discusses some of the available
methods for accomplishing this.
Podcasting has become a very popular option in recent years
as everyone from politicians to radio broadcasters to self-�styled
experts on every subject have offered audio commentary and
made it available to an audience who can subscribe to receive
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
automatic downloads of these commentaries. Many educators
have taken this approach to offering weekly lectures and commentary to their students who can download such materials to
their mobile players for listening off-�campus. Some course
management software has built in podcasting tools, enabling
instructors (and/or students) to easily create and publish such
presentations. A growing number of institutions use iTunes U
as a repository for their instructors’ podcasts. For those who do
not have such tools at their institutions, there are a variety of
free or inexpensive services like Gcast (www.gcast.com) that
also make the production and hosting of podcasts very user
friendly, some services even allow allowing for production via
phone (not always free) as well as uploading of files already
created through a free recording program like Audacity.
Announcement Areas
Some systems have a marked-�off announcement area, that is, a
special form of presentation area that students see as they enter
the online classroom. The announcement may appear on the
main entrance page or it may simply be a link to a document
storage area that can be named by the instructor and accessed
by students.
For the instructor, the announcement area offers a quick
method of typing in announcements and updates for the
course. Even if it is set up as a separate document storage area,
students will know to consult it each time they enter the classroom. If you don’t have a course management system, a free
web site, like Google sites, allows one to quickly make an
announcement area set off from the rest of the web page, with
formatting menus and other rich features already built in.
You can think of the announcement area as being like standing at the front of the room in a face-�to-face classroom. Online,
this is the stage upon which you call the class to attention,
remind, cajole, encourage, and update students. Email, text
messaging, and other communications may reinforce but
cannot really replace classroom announcements. Therefore,
plan to make full and regular use of this area if it is built into
your software or to rig up an equivalent area in an online classroom to serve this function.
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Syllabus and Schedule Areas
Depending on your software, you can post a syllabus and
schedule in a document storage area, or you can create separate
web pages for this purpose.
Important! Make your syllabus available in a
downloadable or easily printable document, because
this is the “map” students will follow in your course.
This means that, if you use graphics in your syllabus or if the
syllabus is divided up into a group of hyperlinked web pages,
you should also make it available in a text-�only, scrollable document. This will permit students to print it out readily.
In some course management software, the syllabus area also
serves as the chief organizing tool, the “home page” or outline
for the course content. For example, each item on the syllabus
may become a clickable link to respective sections of course
material. If you have this sort of arrangement, make sure your
headings accurately indicate the topics or content to which they
provide links.
Discussion Forums
We will cover the management and facilitation of asynchronous
and synchronous discussions in Chapter 11. Here, we will note
that the asynchronous discussion areas in various software programs are structured in different ways, have different options
for student use, and allow messages to be viewed or sorted in
different ways.
Structure of Discussion Areas
Many systems have a hierarchical architecture. Forums, conference folders, or message groups form the highest level, with
each containing a number of subordinate threads that together
make up the discussion. In this case, it is important to decide
how you want to divide up your forums—by week, by topic, by
unit, or by some combination of categories. For example, you
may decide not only to have weekly forums but also to create a
forum that can serve as an open discussion or socializing area, a
sort of “student lounge.”
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
Take note of the arrangement of threads and responses
within the system you are using. Within the limitations of a particular discussion software, the way you structure your discussion forums will probably affect your decisions about the
number of topics you wish to introduce each week, whether to
break down larger topics, and the instructions you need to give
students about procedures.
User Options
In some discussion software, both students and instructors may
initiate new topics; in other systems, only instructors may start
new topic threads. Still other platforms may allow the instructor
to set the options, using a switch that enables or prevents students from starting new topics.
Other user options in some systems include being able to
add HTML files, use attachments, and change the subject line
without having to create a new thread. Another user option you
will need to investigate is whether or not students can edit or
delete the messages they have posted and whether the instructor can intervene to do the same for student postings or their
own. In some cases, a message may only be edited if a reply has
not been posted to the message. In other cases, edits may be
made but the system will indicate that an edit has been made
on a certain date.
A feature that allows students to anonymously “rate” (for
example, awarding a number of stars to a posting) and/or
comment on discussion items of their peers has increasingly
become available in many course management systems.
Therefore be sure to familiarize yourself with user options in
discussion software. As indicated above, these may influence
the design of course activities, facilitation of discussion, as well
as record-�keeping and even strategies for handling student netiquette problems!
Viewing and Sorting of Messages
How are conversations viewed in your software? Do the messages have to be opened and shut one at a time in order to be
read? Is it possible to open and read all messages in a linear
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fashion, one following the other in a scrollable page? Many
systems have moved to a dual capability, allowing conversations to be viewed as both individual messages in threads and
continuous conversations.
Many systems also allow multiple ways for users to sort messages for their own viewing. For example, messages may be
sorted by date, by topic, or according to the people who posted
them. (This has some utility for classroom management, as
explained in Chapter 11.) Some systems such as Moodle allow
one to subscribe to receive email copies of new postings. While
this can be useful for low-�traffic discussion areas, it could obviously become overwhelming if one subscribes to email for a
highly interactive forum.
VoiceThread (http://voicethread.com) is a free software tool
that allows discussion to be centered on a visual element such
as an image, video, or slides. (VoiceThread can also be thought
of as a presentation tool.) Michelle Pacansky-�Brock found this
tool invaluable for facilitating discussion in her Art Appreciation course for Sierra College in California. Pacansky-�Brock
notes that before she began to use tools like VoiceThread, she
had been “frustrated with my inability to truly engage my students with images. Their ideas and interpretations were distanced from the works of art. Using VoiceThread as a tool for
discussions has changed all of this.” Using VoiceThread, students are able to draw (called “doodle”) on top of an image as
they leave an audio comment, and the resulting “doodle” is
sync-�ed to the recorded comment in playback. Pacansky-�Brock
asks her students to “doodle” to circle examples of techniques
or point out examples of key terms as she displays images of
artworks. Comments can also be made as text or webcam, and
Attachment (Max size: 500KB)
Figure 6.1╇ Discussion forum feature from Moodle, allowing one to
subscribe to receive email copies of new postings to make it easier
to monitor the classroom. Reproduced by permission from Moodle.
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
photos of students may be uploaded to display alongside their
comments. Pacansky-�Brock mentions that students often
remark that their discussions using this tool “are more like f2f
classroom discussions because they are able to see the pictures
of students who have commented and hear the voices of those
who choose to comment in voice form.” She emphasizes that in
teaching a visually oriented discipline such as hers, she previously felt as though she were “doing my students a disservice
when I’d have them discuss an image in a discussion board
without being able to simultaneously view the image. Such
teaching lacks fluidity and doesn’t allow students to fully
engage with the images.” (See a sample discussion with student
comments from Pacansky-Â�Brock’s Women in Art class at http://
The explosion of Web 2.0 tools has meant that instructors like
Michelle Pacansky-�Brock who previously had access to little or
no instructional technology support can easily find and apply
tools that fit a specific pedagogical need. She comments about
Figure 6.2╇ Discussion of an image using text and audio in VoiceThread. Reproduced by permission from VoiceThread.
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her approach to using such tools in an effective manner without
overwhelming students, “I find that, first, it’s critical to be
knowledgeable about using the technologies before I introduce
them to my students. More importantly, it’s critical to explain
to my students why they will be using the technologies.”
Other Communication Tools
Internal Email, External Email
Some systems allow for their own internal course email which
is basically a private asynchronous messaging system which
does not need to go to an outside email address. Students and
instructors can use this mailbox exclusively for all correspondence within the course, sometimes by just typing in or selecting
the name of the student or instructor. Another benefit of these
systems is that instructors can maintain a full record of course
communications. However, bear in mind that in many cases,
students need to log in to the classroom in order to access this
sort of message system. Unless there is an option for students to
subscribe and receive these messages in their external email
addresses as well, this sort of email can’t be used to send
reminders to students to log in to the class. Still other course
management systems provide a convenient email roster, which
allows students to send mail to all or part of the class from a
central area that lists the addresses of all class members. These
rosters also allow the sender to receive a carbon copy of sent
mail at the sender’s home email address.
Instant Messaging and Texting
Instant messaging (IM) and SMS texting are two ways of communicating that are particularly popular with younger students.
IM may be a feature already bundled into your course management system but if not, you can incorporate instant messaging
by asking all students to sign up for a free IM service like Yahoo
or Google.
Be aware that you will need to set rules for interacting with
students in this way—generally you can log in or out as you
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
prefer, or you can leave it open on your computer but post messages indicating your availability status.
There are a growing number of tools that allow instructors
to send an SMS text message to all their students’ phones or
email addresses. One of the best known is Twitter (www.
twitter.com), a free “microblogging” service perhaps best
known for its use as a way to send short 140-character updates
for social networking purposes, which can also be used to send
reminders and updates to students. Students can opt to
receive your messages via cell phone text messages, email, or
the Twitter web site. Many universities have been experimenting with software programs that allow them to send text messages in a crisis situation, while others have also enabled
instructors to use such software for instructional purposes.
Because SMS messages are generally limited to 140 characters,
they are not useful for imparting instructional content, but
can readily be used for reminder notices and last-�minute
changes or corrections to class assignments and schedules.
Most such software allows students an option to subscribe via
email or to log in to a web page if they choose not to use text
messaging or do not have a cell phone or a suitably inexpensive text messaging package plan for their cell phone or other
mobile device.
Chat, Whiteboard, and Other Collaborative
Chat is a synchronous communication tool. There may be one
or more chat rooms available for a particular class, depending
on the software. As mentioned in Chapter 3, chat is sometimes
combined with a whiteboard. There are also whiteboards that
permit students to assume the role of presenter in order to
share their work with classmates or that grant all students in a
defined group the ability to collaborate on a project. If you have
not included chat sessions in your course plan and syllabus, you
still have the option to inform students that they are free to use
chat for their social or group-�project needs.
Synchronous tools like chat rooms and whiteboards are
particularly appropriate for your class if your students live in
the same time zone or are logging on from campus locations. If
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your students live in disparate time zones, careful schedule
accommodation is required to make this a worthwhile and
attainable learning experience.
If your software allows you to save and archive whiteboard
and chat sessions, and make them available to view later, this
can be a major asset. This feature enables students to refer to
and reflect on chat and whiteboard activities, thus considerably
increasing their value to your class.
Check, too, to see what options your software affords for
student direction of whiteboard activities. If you can hand over
the reins to students, this will allow you to arrange for individual student or group presentations in real time.
Depending on the nature of your course, you may find that
past successful sessions that have been archived can be reused
for future classes. For example, you may have used such software to demonstrate how to create a spreadsheet. Once you
have archived it, you can share it with a new classroom as part
of course content.
If you teach a blended class, you may have access to an in-�
class smartboard that allows you to save and upload content to
the Web. Tools like those in collaborative software such as
Adobe Connect and Wimba LiveClassroom allow instructors or
students in online classes to meet in real time, using chat and/
or audio and slides, share and interact with documents on
another’s desktop, etc. These are sophisticated tool sets and it is
essential that you get some practice and familiarize yourself
with their workings before you decide to include them in your
course plan. We recommend that you avail yourself of training
provided by your institution or the software vendor if such
instruction is available, and also consult with colleagues or even
instructors from other institutions who may already have used
the software.
For those whose institutions do not provide collaborative
software tools of this nature, we recommend that you try out
one of the free or inexpensive Web 2.0 tools that fall into this
category such as DimDim (www.dimdim.com). The free version
of DimDim allows one to hold an online real-�time meeting with
up to twenty students, and includes whiteboard, audio and
video, application sharing, etc.
Figure 6.3╇ Professor Hegelmarks creates a presentation on DimDim (www.dimdim.com) free
web meeting software. Hegelmarks has prepared the whiteboard for a synchronous presentation to
his Philosophy 101 students. He plans to use chat but also has the option to use audio or a web cam
to hold his talk. He has set the entire meeting to be recorded for the benefit of students who won’t be
able to attend in real time. Reproduced by permission from DimDim.
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Group Activity Areas
Groups may be formed online when an instructor wishes to
divide up the class for the purpose of certain tasks. Group activities may range from discussion to peer review to collaborative
projects and cooperative learning activities, as explained in
Chapter 7.
If you are using course management system software, you
will probably be able to take advantage of its built-�in group
areas, each of which may contain its own asynchronous discussion, real-�time chat, or document-�sharing capabilities. This
means that the members assigned to a particular group can
engage in discussion and document sharing within their own
small, private group environment, apart from other members of
the class. Some course management software includes built-�in
blog and wiki options.
If you are using a software system that does not have built-�in
group functions, you can still find ways to carve out group
areas. For example, you can simply designate and label particular discussion fora as group areas for asynchronous communication. To accomplish the document-�sharing function,
group members will attach or paste in documents in the appropriate discussion area. If you are using a system that consists
mainly of web pages plus a discussion messaging system, you
can assign topic threads within the system for use by particular
groups. For example, you might name one threaded topic (or
perhaps a whole forum) “Group A Discussion” and indicate to
the class that this is only for a particular group of students
to€use. Students in that group can then post, read, and respond
in that area.
Some software has additional special features, like randomization, that may be of value to you in setting up groups—such a
feature has obvious advantages for trying to divide up students
in large classes into small groups.
Again, if you do not have access to a course management
system with group functions, many of the free software
resources outlined in Chapter 1 can provide the ability to create
such set-�aside areas for small-�group activity. A social networking site like Ning offers opportunities to create group sites that
can include individual blogs, the ability to easily upload images
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
and videos, and create a group discussion forum. Any of the free
wiki software sites mentioned in Chapter 1 will allow you to
create an area in which students can collaborate as a group.
One advantage of using wiki software for group projects is that
it provides the instructor with a clear “page history” of all edits
made, in order of most recent to oldest, noting who made each
edit and when the edit was made. This means that you will be
able to track the contributions of each student to the overall
group project and it also gives you a sense of the direction and
decisions that the group took in their collaboration. Being able
to review this history might enable you to give better guidance
to students about errors, missed opportunities, or even suggestions for more effective collaboration. To get a clearer picture of
how this works, call up any page in Wikipedia and click on the
History tab. Wikipedia nicely demonstrates how to decipher
history pages in its Help section at http://en.wikipedia.org/
Web Resource and Linking Pages
Some software provides places where you can organize a reference list of relevant web sites, making it easier for students to
find and retrieve them as the course progresses.
Depending on the software’s options, you may want to
organize your links according to each week of the class or in a
topical fashion. Some systems allow both instructors and students to add Internet links in the resource area, while others
limit this capability to instructors.
Or, you may prefer to use a social bookmarking service like
Delicious or Diigo, previously discussed in Chapter 3, which
allow for tagging and sharing with “friends” or the formation of
groups within which web resources may be shared.
Searching Capabilities
Some software platforms provide search capabilities. These can
be very selective—for example, allowing users to search only in
the discussion section. Or they can be comprehensive, allowing
you to choose whether to search all sections of the course or to
limit your search to a single area.
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Search functions can be useful not only for your students but
for you as well. They permit you to find that one passage or
comment you only dimly recall.
Some systems make available multiple-�choice, short-�answer,
and true/false exams. Even if you don’t normally use this type
of test, you may want to consider creating some assessment
instruments that make use of the feature. For example, you
might create self-�assessment quizzes to help students review
the material at the end of each unit, or you might ask students
to take a diagnostic quiz at the start of your course.
Important! It is recommended that you rely on
more than one form of graded assignment.
From a security standpoint, it is better to be able to compare
several different types of samples of a student’s work than to
base all the grades on a single type of assignment. Also, from
the standpoint of multiple learning strategies, it is best to give
students the opportunity to display their achievement and comprehension in a number of ways.
To increase security, find out the capabilities of your quizmaking system. As noted in Chapter 3, various features can help
increase the security of an exam—for instance, timed, one-Â�time
access; password-�protected access; and the ability to create
pools of questions that permit individual randomization. There
are many different approaches to quiz security issues. Some
systems can limit access to a quiz to a certain IP address, thus
allowing the instructor to control the student’s point of access.
Others may offer a posttest analysis that looks for similarity
among student answers.
Another option available in some systems is the ability to give
students automatic feedback. For example, in many quizmaking programs, students who answer a question incorrectly can
receive automatic instructions for remediation: they can be told
to review pages 10–15 in the textbook or to reread the instructor’s Unit 1 lecture. Another handy feature of some software is
the ability to postpone access to a quiz (for example, by with-
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
holding a password or blocking access) until the student has
finished a particular section of the course.
Finally, there are options that permit an instructor to insert
images or sounds into an exam. With these features, the instructor can pose questions based on graphs, charts, or bits of music
and language. Depending on your subject field and teaching
methods, these may be important features for you.
If you do not have access to a quizmaking tool, you may want
to explore some of the free or low-�cost (depending on the features you want, you may have to pay a small fee) online testing
software sites. These sites allow you to create and will host the
test-�taking as well. As of this writing, some of the services
include ZohoChallenge.com, SurveyMonkey.com (for surveys
only), ProProfs Quiz School www.proprofs.com/quiz-�school,
ClassMarker www.classmarker.com and EasyTestMaker.com.
Each service varies in features offered, and the free versions will
usually include advertisements on their sites. Some services
may allow one to circumvent this by embedding the quizzes on
your own web site. In evaluating these quizmakers, you should
consider the following:
■ ease of use and reuse, templates available;
■ types of quizzes one can make—multiple choice, fill in, essay,
■ what kind of automatic feedback is it possible to add for test-Â�
■ what types of media—images, video, audio—can be used in
conjunction with test-�taking;
■ scalability—how many users can accommodate?
■ can you create groups for each class of test takers?
■ how scores are reported, what data is available;
■ ability to embed the quizzes into one’s web page or CMS;
■ how readily quizzes can be saved;
■ time limits or security measures that are possible;
■ are the quiz products you create automatically made availÂ�
able to others to use?
■ does the site include advertisements or non-Â�educational
materials that might be objectionable?
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Figure 6.4╇ After creating a multimedia quiz in MyStudiyo presented
with choices and the code with which to embed the quiz. Reproduced by permission from MyStudiyo.
There are also delightfully creative approaches to self-�
assessment, low-�stakes testing with programs like MyStudiyo
(www.mystudiyo.com) that provide templates to create multimedia quizzes, allow instructors to create automatic feedback,
and also feature scoreboards so that you can see how students
have done. The quizzes can also be easily embedded into your
course web pages.
Student Progress Reports and Tracking
Progress reports that can be accessed by the students themselves allow them to keep track of their own accomplishments.
This is particularly helpful in courses in which the assignments
may be accomplished in any order. If this feature exists, you
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
won’t have to be as vigilant in reminding students of their
progress in the course.
Student tracking by instructors—that is, obtaining statistics
about when students log on, how long they remain in a specific
area of the course, which specific documents or messages they
have read, and so on—is increasingly recognized as an important feature for any course management software suite. Some
systems allow tracking by the number of browser “hits” in a
specific area of the course. Some give the duration of time spent
in each area or reveal whether an area or item has been opened.
These tracking abilities can be valuable data in helping you
assess participation.
Bear in mind that these indicators are not always accurate,
because they can be manipulated by students. For instance, a
student can open an area of the course and simply let the clock
run. This will give the appearance of the student having spent a
great deal of time studying that section of the course.
However, if statistics reveal that the student hasn’t even
entered a certain area of the course, that will tell you that he or
she hasn’t read the material contained within it. Or, if the
student has spent only five minutes in an area of relative complexity, this is a sure sign that he or she hasn’t dealt adequately
with that portion of the course.
Finally, data may be relatively meaningless without analysis
and evaluation of quality. Thus the best way to use tracking
functions is as a contribution to a more comprehensive evaluation, including student assignments, student postings in discussion, student presentations, and objective quizzes and
essays. Online courses do permit you to know a great deal more
about a student’s attendance and participation than is possible
in an on-Â�the-ground course but a true picture can only be compiled in the context of the student’s entire record and with
regard to the actual content of the activity being tracked.
Adapting to Your Software’s Tracking Functions
If tracking is available in your software system, it’s important to find
out exactly how it functions, For example, if you can track the
responses a student makes in discussion but can’t tell whether the
student is reading the topic messages you post, you might want to
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require a specific number of postings in specific threads each
week. As another example, assume you can track students’ access
to your presentations, but only on a unit basis; that is, you can’t tell
whether students have read individual documents within a unit. In
this case, you might want to place the most important documents
in their own individual units.
If you have little or no tracking capability, then student work
submitted to you directly by email or posted in the classroom will
assume greater importance, as will quiz questions that test comprehension and familiarity with material.
Online Gradebooks
An online gradebook is a tool that allows you to record and
compute grades for students and permits students to access
their own grades. Just a few of the course management systems
that offer such gradebooks are Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn and eCollege. If you have an online gradebook available
to you, we highly recommend that you consider using it. Online
students really appreciate being able to track their own
progress. Make sure that you take the time to access a gradebook in your CMS from the student perspective so that you will
be aware of how much students can perceive of the record.
There are often different options available to the instructor,
such as setting a due date that will not permit late submissions
without notification of the instructor, or areas in which feedback may be offered to the student. If the software permits, it is
a good idea to build out your entire gradebook at the beginning
of the course so that students are able to get a picture of the
whole that complements what they will learn from the
Whether or not you have an online gradebook as part of
course management software, you can create your own electronic gradebook in spreadsheet form for your own benefit.
Even though you may feel that you can always refer back to the
online classroom for a record of activity, it is easy to lose track
of individual students in a busy class. Thus it is no less important to keep detailed records of student activity in an online
setting than it is for the traditional on-�the-ground class. See
Chapter 11 for more information on record-�keeping strategies.
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
Other Course Areas and Features
If your course is conducted completely online, think about creating an asynchronous “student lounge” discussion area—a
place where students can socialize. Another useful discussion
area is one in which students can address questions to you
throughout the course, questions that either are “off topic” or
concern ongoing procedural matters. These two types of messages can be combined into one area or separated, depending
on your wishes. Having such areas available benefits the students, many of whom need the added interaction and feeling of
camaraderie with classmates, as well as one central place where
they know they can address urgent questions about the course.
Other helpful devices for personalizing a class include a discussion forum where students introduce themselves during the
first week of class and student web pages where students
provide some brief biographical information about themselves.
Besides helping to break the ice, these areas provide an important service by allowing students to refer back to identifying
details about their classmates as the course progresses. When
using blogs or web pages for this purpose, always inform students whether web pages are open only to the class or can
potentially be accessed by the public on the Web.
Most course management systems, blogs, and social networking spaces make it easy for students (or you) to upload a
photo to the classroom. This should always be voluntary. There
are many reasons not to push this option. Although it does help
give each student an identifiable face in the classroom, it undercuts the egalitarian advantages inherent in an online classroom.
Not knowing the race, ethnicity, attractiveness, or even gender
of a student—except by that individual’s own choice in self-Â�
identifying—often allows students (and you) to pay more attention to the ideas and words of class members without all the
assumptions and subtle biases that we all harbor.
Another desirable area to carve out is a technical support
area or help link. For instance, you may set up an area of the
classroom or web pages that contain downloadable programs
and plug-�ins (or hyperlinks by which one can access software),
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plus either a simple FAQ for the course management software
or a full instruction manual. If support staff are available, they
may monitor this area. In the absence of a full student orientation, the area plays a vital function in providing self-�help to
students or a connection to support materials or staff. As a
backup to these technical support areas, provide, via an initial
email or letter, some instructions for getting started and any
other relevant information, such as phone numbers for
support in the event that students have trouble logging on to
the class.
Connecting to Social Networking Sites
While many students might prefer to keep their MySpace or
Facebook pages as a private realm apart from their classmates
and schoolwork, many institutions have been taking advantage of the popularity of these social networking sites to give
students an option to link up with what is happening in a
course. Surmising that many of their students spend more
time at these sites than they might be consulting their email,
some institutions have arranged so that students who desire to
use applications like CourseFeed (www.coursefeed.com) or
Blackboard Sync to receive updates and reminders or links to
course content from the class may do so from within
Some instructors have also encouraged students to use
MySpace and Facebook as a way of presenting their self-�
introduction at the beginning of a class (or have presented their
own self-�introductions in this way) or to encourage social interaction among the entire class or small groups engaged in
Finding the Right Web 2.0 Tools and Keeping
An assortment of Web 2.0 tools has been mentioned in this
chapter in conjunction with various course areas that one can
utilize or improvise.
Because these tools are constantly in development, appear
and disappear, it is necessary to find a way to keep up with the
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
appearance and availability of these tools, as well as to take
advantage of critical commentary on such tools from an
educator’s perspective so that you can quickly evaluate their
suitability for your needs. A selection of blogs and other
resource sites by educators devoted to evaluating new tools are
included in the Guide to Resources.
Once you find some sources that you value, you may find it
convenient to add some of the tools you use to the bookmarks
toolbar of your Internet browser for easier access. Most recent
versions of browsers also have built-�in RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed readers, also known as aggregators. These
permit you to subscribe to a blog, podcast, or other resource
site so that you can receive the latest news or installment from
that site without having to actually visit it each time. You can
also use a browser start page like Pageflakes.com or Netvibes.
com that allow you to create a home page that includes all your
feeds—that way, each time you open your browser, your feeds
will automatically be updated and you will have them all in one
Virtual Worlds
Educators have been experimenting for many years with various
types of virtual worlds, that is, online 3-D immersive environments that simulate reality and in which participants interact
by using avatars, that is, representations of themselves (these
can take the form of animals, cartoon-�like characters, or images
more closely based on their own appearance). Nearly ten years
ago, at the time of the first edition of this book, the authors
researched educators who were using Active Worlds, while in
recent years, Second Life has become perhaps the most widely
known program for virtual-�world educational use.
Despite great strides in the development of such software,
virtual-�world software still presents a fairly steep learning curve
for the majority of instructors to perform even simple tasks and
for many students as well. (Those instructors and students who
have grown up playing multi-�user games will be generally more
comfortable in this environment.)
Reasons for using the virtual world for educational activities
range from simple curiosity, the coolness factor, and the desire
Figure 6.5╇ Susan Ko’s Netvibes.com start page within Firefox browser, illustrating her collection of RSS feeds
to blogs and other resource sites on technology in education and Web 2.0 tools. Reproduced by permission.
Source: Netvibes.com.
Chapter 6╇ •â•‡ Building an Online Classroom
to inject some fun into education to exploiting the virtual environment for role playing, interaction with objects, or complex
simulations which involve danger or would incur prohibitive
expense in the real world.
Many institutions have now staked a claim on “property” in
Second Life, and have small cadres of staff and instructors who
have become quite skilled in moving within the virtual world.
Universities have found ways to sequester their educational
activities from the greater commercial environment by creating
private spaces and some virtual worlds have been dedicated
solely to educational uses.
There is an active community of educators involved in virtual
worlds, and there are many resources and papers available on
the Web to advise instructors how to use virtual worlds in an
effective manner as well as voluminous materials in different
media, offering tips and tricks. (See the Guide to Resources for
some of these.) If your university is involved in using a virtual
world, and your subject matter seems to lend itself to this type
of environment, we recommend the following steps as part of
the planning, design, and development cycle:
■ Assess your students’ likely ability to access the virtual-Â�world
environment. Students who do not have access to the latest
computer equipment are unlikely to be able to access these
■ Allow sufficient time to practice your own skills in the virtualÂ�reality environment before you even decide to use the environment for instructional purposes. Clearly the time needed
will vary according to the individual instructor but the estimates we use here are based on our average reader of this
book. Even if you are not creating anything within the virtual
world, allow up to five hours practice time to feel comfortable in mastering the basic skills that enable you to move and
communicate, and up to another twenty hours to be able to
facilitate activities for your students. If your own institution
does not offer the training you need, consider taking a workshop from the Sloan Consortium (www.sloan-�c.org), which
provides excellent training in this area in the company of
other educators.
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■ Find out what materials are available from your university to
assist students and run a required orientation for students to
practice before you initiate any instructional activities in the
virtual world.
■ If you decide to use the virtual-Â�world environment, draw up
a detailed explanation of what students are expected to do
there. Be prepared for the eventuality that some students
may have difficulty participating, and offer an alternative
activity that might accomplish the same goals.
Student Activities in the
Online Environment
╛╛hat kinds of instructional activities are most effective for
an online or blended course?
In this chapter we suggest some rules and guidelines to help
you find the most suitable student activities for your course. We
also present some concrete examples of activities that instructors have found to be effective, and we suggest how these might
be organized and assessed.
You may well be familiar with theories of “learning styles,”
and perhaps you have applied these ideas in your on-�theground classroom. An example of the learning style concept
would be the idea that a visual/verbal learner prefers to read
information, while a visual/nonverbal learner might learn best
when there are graphics and pictures to supplement the text.
There’s nothing to prevent you from designing your online
course with the concept of learning styles in mind. We know of
at least one online instructor who gave students a learning style
assessment within the first week of class and then followed
through with this approach in devising weekly assignments.
Students were allowed to choose one question from an array of
exercise assignments, each question choice having been
designed according to a different learning style.
In this book, however, we won’t attempt to define online
activities in terms of any of the complex learning style matrixes
that have been developed. (See the Guide to Resources section
at the end of this book for some guidance on this subject.)
Rather, we think it may be better to approach the subject from
the standpoint of the desirability of incorporating different
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types of learning opportunities and recognizing that there is
more than one way to approach learning. Variety is as important online as on the ground, and using multiple approaches will
both reinforce student learning and allow students to address
the subject matter from different perspectives.
Group Activities
Group activities constitute an obvious strategy for large online
classes, but they can be equally effective in classes of fifteen to
twenty students. A mixture of individual and group-�oriented
activities can help provide a variety of contexts within which
students may learn skills and concepts and demonstrate their
Group activities can range from the most informal small-�
group discussion to a highly structured and scripted arrangement. A group may include three or four students, or it may be
just a pair of students who work out their own consensus about
how to approach a mutual assignment. Some of this range of
possibilities is illustrated in the discussion here that follows.
To organize group activities, you need to provide guidelines
for each group’s collaboration, set reasonable goals and objectives, and provide both a place for the group to work and a place
or method to present its work. These matters often depend to
some extent on the course management system or other collaborative software you’re using, a subject we discussed in earlier
chapters. Here, rather than going into the mechanical details of
setting up a communal online working space, we’ll focus on
general principles and on examples from actual courses.
You may have already learned a hard fact about collaborative
activities in your on-Â�the-ground classes: collaboration doesn’t
just happen. Many students have no idea how to collaborate on
a task in a course. Thus it is vital to provide detailed guidelines
on the responsibilities of each member of a group, as well as
explanations of how groups are to proceed with their task. As
mentioned earlier, you may want to define such roles as group
recorder of the activities, group manager or leader, and group
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
It’s also necessary to define clearly what the end product of
each group’s project should be, what it should include, and
where in the online environment it should be presented. Timing
may be critical here, if you want the entire class to have the
chance to read and critique what a group has produced. Make
sure you clarify the deadlines for each stage of the process.
Icebreaking Activities
As we mentioned in earlier chapters, online students need opportunities to get to know each other. By an icebreaking activity, we
mean any activity that allows student to begin to form some sense
of community online.
We recommend that every online class—and every online component to a web-Â�enhanced or blended course that includes a discussion forum—begin with an exercise in which each student
introduces himself or herself to the class. This can be accomplished by a discussion thread or through the creation of student
blogs or web pages. If you carve out a separate area for this activity or create a page of links to students’ own blogs or web pages,
your students will be able to refer back to the biographical information throughout the course.
It’s best to keep the requirements for introductions simple: “Please
say a few words about yourself and your reason for taking this class,”
or “Let us know from what part of the world you are logging on, and
tell us a little bit about your background in this subject.” Begin the
process by introducing yourself to the class. Generally, you should
include both the formal details of your career and academic interests
and some informal information. How much of the latter you offer is up
to you. You can also include information about how you prefer to be
addressed, either explicitly (“call me Dr. Ko”) or implicitly (for
instance, signing off your introduction with just your first name).
In addition to these initial icebreaking activities, many instructors find it helpful to have the members of small groups engage in
some sort of icebreaking team-�building activity. This may involve
asking each person for initial comments about how he or she visualizes the common project. It may include questions about
people’s typical online schedules and times when they might be
available for a real-�time chat. The more concrete and specific the
icebreaking questions, the better, because specificity allows students to respond without worrying about whether they have stayed
within the expected boundaries of the activity.
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Some instructors encourage students to add photos, either by
uploading them or by attaching an image file to a discussion
thread or email sent to the entire class. This is also an option for
the instructor. Photos personalize the biographical information and
help classmates form a clearer image of their fellow students.
However, photos also have disadvantages as people naturally
form impressions based on the images posted. Members of minority groups, older or disabled students as well as others may feel
that preconceptions or even biases may result. Our only recommendation is that, if you encourage the use of photos, you always
make it a voluntary matter. Students may end up using avatars or
other alternative representations (images, icons, symbols), and in
some cultures, it is not uncommon for students to post photos of
themselves accompanied by family members, boyfriends or girlfriends. Again, instructors and students should feel able to post
whatever representation (or no representation) of themselves they
Dividing Students into Groups
Generally speaking, it’s best for the instructor to play a role in
dividing students into groups. It can prove difficult, confusing,
and irritating for students when they are simply left to their own
devices to form groups. Many online instructors don’t realize
how clumsy it can be for all but the most outgoing and determined students to join or form groups on their own. In addition, if the task will involve synchronous activities, the time
zone in which each student resides becomes a major factor, and
the instructor is often in the best position to take this into
account. Also, depending on the nature of the group task, you
may want a mix of students of differing characteristics or skills
in each group. For example, you may want a mixture of male
and female students in each group or those from diverse disciplines, or to combine students with relatively weak communication skills together with those who demonstrate a more fluid
writing ability.
Nonetheless, you may want to include some measure of
student volition in the process of setting up groups. Student
choice may be desirable under three circumstances in
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
1. The group activity involves a diversity of choices, and you
would like as many students as possible to choose the area
that truly interests them.
2. There are already “natural” groupings of students in the
course that you would like to incorporate in your assignments in order to promote group camaraderie.
3. In the case of students in blended courses, it is more likely
that they already know each other, especially if you have first
given them the opportunity to get to know each other in one
or more previous face-�to-face class meetings.
An example of the second situation would be a course in
which three students enroll from the same corporation, and all
of them have an interest in working together. Other examples
might include mothers and adult children in the same course,
or a husband and wife studying together. However, in some
cases, you might want to break up these groupings to make it
easier to distinguish the individual contributions or because
you want students to work within groups of the greatest diversity possible.
When you would like to give students some measure of
choice in forming their groups, one method is to ask students
to email you their preferences. Tell them simply, “I’ll try to take
into consideration your preferences in forming the groups, but
please be aware that it isn’t always possible to satisfy
Stephen Rowe teaches an advanced accounting course at
Southern Cross University in Australia in which students
address a case study and carry out their work in a group wiki.
Each group represents the issues of a different character in the
case study and must address a different question. In order to
form groups, Stephen instructs students that after they have
read the case material they should “nominate which of the case
characters you want to play.” He then tries to match up students as much as possible with their preferred role, but lets students know that it’s “first in, first served—a maximum of five
per group.”
If you have strong beliefs about students forming their own
groups, there are a few ways to facilitate this. One method is to
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create a discussion area where this formation can occur, and
ask students to share some additional information that might
assist them in making an appropriate selection. For example,
Christine Appel of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya notes
that time availability is often a factor for her students who will
use both real-�time chat as well as asynchronous discussion to
communicate. With a large percentage of working students,
those who work days versus evenings are able to sort themselves out fairly quickly in selecting a group.
In the case of blended classes, we recommend that you take
advantage of the opportunity to meet face-�to-face to enable
groups to conduct their first meeting in the on-�site setting.
Size and Duration of Groupsâ•… Don’t make the groups too
large. The ideal number will vary based on the task. A group
formed only for the purposes of discussion can easily accommodate ten or more, but when the group members must collaborate on an assignment, a group of four or five is probably
the optimum size. For online collaboration, any number larger
than that risks creating problems of organization and communication that will consume valuable time.
Try to maintain the composition of the group for the duration of the course. It takes time for groups to develop a working
dynamic. Changing the groups just as members are getting
familiar with one another leads to needless waste of time as students adjust to their new circle of collaborators.
Group Rolesâ•… Assigning and rotating roles within each group is
an effective method of ensuring true sharing and cooperation in
the work. For example, assign one member of the group to summarize, another to record the group’s conclusions, and another
to lead the discussion or allocate portions of the work. Then
request that these roles be rotated during the duration of the
course. Make the rotation frequent enough to give each
member a chance at several roles, but not so frequent as to
interfere with group continuity.
To some extent, the frequency of the rotation will depend on
the length of the course. In a course of eight weeks or less, more
than three rotations would be an unnecessary bother.
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
Supervision and Assessment of Groups
Although some instructors like to give groups complete privacy—from the instructor as well as from other class members—we don’t advocate excluding yourself from the groups
unless they are completely informal in nature or their work
product is not intended to be assessed.
Important! You need not participate in group
activities but your supervision will encourage participation by all group members and ensure that an individual’s contributions to the group are recognized.
The question of whether groups should observe the activities
of other groups when all are working on a common problem
raises a different issue. We tend to feel that groups need the
assurance that the instructor knows they are coming up with
solutions as a result of their own efforts and will be given credit
accordingly. If you provide a forum for presentation of group
work to the entire class, there is no need for the class as a whole
to examine earlier, preliminary stages of a group’s efforts.
However, if your course management software or other software program you are using for group work does not allow for
private areas, you may have no choice but to permit everyone
to view the work of other groups. In this case, the instructor’s
review of group work throughout the process is doubly
Students are often concerned either that they will expend
effort not matched by others in the group or that they will be
unduly hurt by uncooperative or inactive group members. An
instructor who directly supervises groups can assign grades
based on both the whole group’s output and the work of the
individual members. Combined assessment of this sort is reassuring and encouraging to well-�intentioned students.
If you perceive that a student isn’t holding up his or her end
of the group assignments, you may want to email that student
privately. Some instructors also ask group members to privately
evaluate each member of the group, using a well-�defined set of
criteria. This provides additional input that can aid the instructor in discerning what each student has contributed to the
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group effort. A very simple, stripped-�down rubric for final peer
evaluation of group work used by one of the authors, Susan Ko,
for a variety of types of classes and training courses consists of
the following:
1â•›=â•›member participated at minimal levels
2â•›=â•›member’s individual work, participation in discussion,
organizing, editing, or presenting role was significant
3â•›=â•›member’s individual work, participation in discussion, or
organizational/editing/presenting role greatly influenced
for the better the quality of group interaction and
Jonathan Mathews has a different approach to factoring in
individual contribution and group efforts. He teaches an Energy
and the Environment course online for Pennsylvania State University through their World Campus program. He has a very
large class of 500 students formed by combining as many as
fifteen sections of students enrolled in the World Campus, main
campus, and other campus locations, and has support from at
least two teaching assistants. Given those numbers of students,
trying to discern individual contributions throughout a group
project is too time consuming. Instead, he precedes the group
project with an individual short research paper on one of two
topics. This is then worth 3 percent of the grade. Students are
then assigned to a group of four or five students based on the
topic selection they chose and the quality of their two-�page
paper. The group project is on the same topic as the individual
paper, but is a greatly enhanced study worth 13 percent. Both
individual and group projects use the same interactive evaluation rubric, available online, which permits students to calculate their own scores and get feedback as they check to see that
their papers are in the best order possible before submitting
them to their instructor. Table 7.1 is a sample portion of the
rubric and its corresponding feedback. The highlighted right-�
hand column represents how a sample student might have performed when judged by two of those criteria:
The corresponding additional automatic feedback returned
by the interactive online rubric on these two categories would
Paper presented welldeveloped arguments to
support the conclusion,
and showed an
exceptional analysis and
evaluation of material
Paper presented
arguments that were
supported by research
and evaluation of
material, and that
supported the conclusion
Paper had an introduction Paper had an introduction
that addresses the title of
that was both applicable
the paper, and the
and well-written
introduction also raises
readers’ interest in reading
the rest of the paper
Table 7.1╇ Interactive Evaluation Rubric, Sample Portion
Arguments support the
conclusion partially. Paper
showed some incoherent
or incomplete arguments
Paper had an introduction,
but the introduction did not
enthuse the reader or
provide a clear indication
of the papers direction
Paper demonstrated no
flow of argument.
Argument is weak,
unsupported and cannot
directly support the
Paper did NOT have an
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be as follows. Note that the feedback addresses the particular
performance while it also reiterates the general principles to
follow for those criteria:
Introduction: Papers require an introduction! An introduction is
essential in terms of introducing the topic and background and,
in general, sets the scene for the rest of your writing. The simple
way to write an introduction is to introduce the importance or
background of the topic, and then how you organized your
Well-�Developed Argument: The arguments used are weak and
cannot directly support the conclusion. Outline the main findings
in your paper, and then reorganize the ideas. Probably one direct
way to develop strong arguments is to organize the ideas in a
logical and cohesive way. Then use different transitions to
strengthen the flow of ideas. Data and statistics can when used
appropriately strengthen the paper. The foundation, however, is
quality research; without that you have a “house of cards.”
A Problem-�Based Learning Approach: Pete Mikolaj uses a
problem-�based learning approach for a group project in his
Commercial Property Risk Management and Insurance course
at Indiana State University. He explains to his students that
problem-�based learning is an instructional strategy in which
“problems form the organizing focus and stimulus for learning
and are the vehicle for development of problem solving skills,”
with he, the instructor, functioning as a facilitator or guide. The
group project is intended “to provide an opportunity for application of problem solving principles to an actual commercial
property situation,” as Pete explains to students, and to “make
it as real world a situation as possible,” with the resulting report
“intended as a recommended action plan to top management,”
while “management looks to the report as a source of critical
thinking and problem solving to support difficult corporate
With the help of instructional designer, Sharon Guan, Mikolaj
devised a Project Reporting Log to provide documentation by
each team of their weekly activities, both as a group and of individual contributions. A sample of the Project Reporting Log
looks like Table 7.2, with each member of Team A recording
none, one, or multiple entries for work accomplished in the
group project for that week.
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
Mikolaj treats the Project Log as part of the real-�life model that
he is trying to convey through this assignment, telling students “it
is important to keep management informed on the status and on
any problems or issues that are being encountered,” and that one
purpose of the Project Log is to “assure management that progress
is being made and to document this progress.” Mikolaj also hopes
through this activity to impart to students a hands-�on experience
with project management. The final project as well as the team
itself is evaluated using the rubric in Tables 7.3 and 7.4 which
reviews both the process and work product of the group:
Mikolaj provides for individual accountability through an
individual contribution grade that is computed from peer evaluations from each group and a self-�evaluation, with the peer
evaluation counting two-�thirds and the self-�evaluation comprising one-�third of the individual contribution grade.
A Team Marketing Communications Planâ•… Penny Ittner
teaches an undergraduate course in marketing principles at
University of Maryland University College, providing an introduction to the field of marketing. Students in the class are
usually business or marketing majors, but are generally neophytes on the subject of marketing. Ittner’s course features a
“new product development” group assignment in which students work in a simulated “marketing team” to develop an
effective marketing communications plan for the introduction
of a product. Each group picks a product to work on from those
developed in an earlier activity in which each person in the
class was asked to come up with a product idea.
Ittner assigns students to groups of four or five who work in
the private “Study Groups” area of the university’s course management software. She makes the assignments to groups based
on a combination of factors:
I try to put a core of the early active students together (and
group the late-�to-the-�task students together in the same
way)—this is designed to reduce frustration. But then I salt
the groups as evenly as I can, sprinkling those who make the
highest quality discussion postings among the groups and
making sure the relatively lower performers are also evenly
4 hrs
0.5 hr
Student 3 6/23–6/27
2.5 hrs
Student 2 6/26
Read and replied to posts. Rec’d XYZ company logo and incorporated that into
the rough draft of the presentation and formatted more slides
Called Student5 to talk about her part over food spoilage and tried to get some
assistance with the Cost/Benefit Analysis
Searched the web for possible solutions to reduce food spoilage loss and fire
6/16 – 6/22 Multi Hrs. Problems/Next Period Plans:
Group Discussions have continued to go well by communicating through posts.
Members have checked board frequently and responded in a timely manner.
Parts of the report are beginning to be posted so other members can review
and add their suggestions
– With the multitude of threads, a small glitch in communication on a change in
second hazard has been cleared up. We changed from employee theft to
food contamination/spoilage
– For the next period, team members will continue to work on their assigned
project roles, finalizing their contribution, and communicating with members
through the discussion board and collaboration chats. All material is at this
time being collected by Student5 to compile the final report into one
document. Student5 will then submit on July 2, the report and the PowerPoint
slides after Janet has emailed the oral report to her
Activity/Notes Attachments Can Be Added
Table 7.2╇ Example of a Project Reporting Log
File Name
2 hrs
3 hrs
Student 4 6/29
Student 5 6/29–7/2
2 hrs
Student 1 6/24
– Continues to work with Student4 on relative information from XYZ
– Volunteered to compile the project parts into one document for the team to
review before submission
– Plans on submitting assignment for the team on the due date, July 2
– Working with Student5 specifically for the two hazard risks of fire and food
– Has posted file to file exchange for Fire Analysis Final Copy
– Will be doing the Weekly Team Project Logs
– Continued communicating with team on group discussion board for final
changes made to project and other final compiling of oral report (power point
XYZ Fire
Analysis Final
– Did some editing and revisions to rough draft
Business Risk
– Replaced the previous file (rough) draft with progress so far as Business Risk Updated 6/24
Updated 6/24
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Table 7.3╇ Rubric to Evaluate Process
Process (Team Activity)
Satisfactory Excellent Score—50
Pts. Possible
1.╇Team has clear vision of
the problem(s)
1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6, 7
8, 9, 10
2.╇Team is properly organized 1, 2, 3
to complete task and
cooperates well
4, 5, 6, 7
8, 9, 10
3.╇ Managed time wisely
1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6, 7
8, 9, 10
4.╇Acquired needed
knowledge base
1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6, 7
8, 9, 10
5.╇Efforts communicated well
within group
1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6, 7
8, 9, 10
Table 7.4╇ Rubric to Evaluate Product
Product (Project Report)
Satisfactory Excellent
╇ 6.╇Meets minimum project 1, 2, 3
requirements per
4, 5, 6, 7
8, 9, 10
╇ 7.╇Well-organized, logical
1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6
7, 8, 9
╇ 8.╇Shows creativity,
solves the problem(s)
1, 2, 3, 4 5, 6, 7, 8
9, 10, 11, 12
╇ 9.╇Demonstrates
conclusion(s) reached
1, 2, 3
4, 5, 6
7, 8, 9, 10
10.╇Distinguishes between 1, 2, 3
fact, opinion, and value
4, 5, 6
7, 8, 9
Pts. Possible
Ittner explains to students that she “will be observing your
group discussions, but I will not be participating in them unless
you need my help.” In addition to presenting the students with
detailed instructions for the group project, she also draws attention to documents that are intended to assist students with their
group assignment, “One is entitled Team Development and its
purpose is to help you and your team work productively and
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
with satisfaction together.” The Team Development document
discusses the stages of development in terms of the “forming,
storming, norming and performing model.” She also asks them
to review the Group Project Rubric that shows the grading criteria for their assignment. The Group Project Rubric evaluates
the resulting project on the basis of demonstrated knowledge of
subject matter (40 percent), critical thinking and problem-�
solving skills (30 percent), fulfillment of assignment requirements (20 percent), and writing skills (10 percent). Finally,
Ittner also has students file a peer- and self-�evaluation form at
the end of the project, scoring each team member and themselves on the criteria of participation in group discussions and
meetings, the degree to which each contributed to helping to
keep the group focused on the tasks, contribution of useful
ideas, amount of work done, and quality of work accomplished.
Group members are all given the same grade for their actual
project, but these peer and self evaluations, she tells students,
are “to assist me in assessing individual participation levels”
since participation in the group project counts for 25 percent of
the overall participation grade for the class.
Role Playing and Simulations
Role-�playing activities have been used to great advantage in
such subject areas as human resources, business, counseling,
international relations, and economics, as well as in history and
foreign languages. The same kinds of role playing can take place
in an online instructional environment. The examples from
Penny Ittner and Pete Mikolaj are themselves a type of role-�
playing exercise whereby their students take on the role of a
team in marketing or insurance to practice real-�world skills.
Online role-�playing exercises can be carried out in small
groups, with each member taking a different role. For example,
in a human resources class that is studying hiring interviews,
one person becomes the interviewer and the other the interviewee. Alternatively, an exercise can be designed for teams: for
example, one team playing the role of Germany in World War I
and others representing Britain, the United States, and France.
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A third alternative might involve an individual student making
a presentation in which he or she assumes a particular role.
Pam Taylor teaches nursing informatics at Middle Tennessee
State University. She uses the discussion area of her online class
to provide for a role-�playing exercise related to an assignment
in which students design a data-�collection tool for a particular
group of hypothetical employees. Taylor poses as the Chief
Information Officer and students then ask budget-�related and
technical questions of this CIO. In yet another role play, Taylor
plays the part of an employee who will be using the data-�
collection tool and students again address questions to her as a
potential user. Taylor notes that in these types of role-�playing
students can see each other’s questions and tag off these questions to create additional knowledge about the problems
posed. This type of activity is very effective in connecting the
classroom with actual application in the real world. It also
improves students’ ability to ask meaningful questions
related to a problem.
Online Debates
In an online debate, students may be asked to defend their views
in a public venue or to argue a point of view different from their
own. Online debates can involve some of the same activities as
role playing, such as preparatory research of the position the
student is assigned and post-�activity reflection and discussion. Yet
debates can also be more pointed and more focused on a specific
issue: For example, students might be asked to debate the question of whether the states should be able to tax Internet commerce
or whether intervention in Darfur is justified.
You can arrange students in pairs, with each student taking one
side of an issue. Or you can divide students into groups, with each
group doing the research and consultation necessary to represent
a particular point of view. Each group would then appoint a
spokesperson to debate another group’s spokesperson on the
issue. To encourage objectivity on sensitive issues, you might
require students to sign up to represent the point of view with
which they actually disagree.
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
If conducting the debates in asynchronous discussion forums,
provide students with a carefully paced schedule for each stage of
the debate. You can also create a rubric for evaluating each stage
of the arguments.
As each stage of the argument is presented, you as moderator
will want to stop and address some questions to the presenters or
to point out fallacies in logic. For example, “Team A, your point
about X seems to be in contradiction to your earlier statement
saying Z,” or “Team B, is there any data to support your claims?”
There are quite a few web sites that feature rules for debating,
sample debates, and actual debates held completely online or represented by transcripts. You can review these sites to find possible
models for students to follow or to find debates on the same subject
as those your students are debating—in this case, you might wait
till your own debates have concluded before asking students to
compare their arguments with those available on the web sites, all
as part of their reflection, debriefing, or summing-�up activity. See
the Guide to Resources for these debate web sites.
In order to make the role-�playing process work online, students need to be given the information or scripts necessary to
play their roles, or they need to be directed to research the relevant material. In the first case, you need to make sure the preparatory materials are posted online or sent in course packets
to students. In the second case, you need to provide adequate
time and proper guidelines for students to research their parts.
To provide an exciting learning activity online, role playing
can be combined with a simulation of a changing situation.
Such simulations usually start with a scenario and evolve with
planned or unplanned actions, news bulletins or other interventions supplied by the instructor. These role-�playing simulations, while carried out online, are not to be compared with
computerized simulations which most faculty cannot create on
their own. The latter are described later in this section.
Two well-�known and influential online scenario simulations
illustrate some of the possibilities.
Mark Freeman from the University of Technology in Sydney,
Australia, devised an award-�winning role-�playing online activity
for his graduate school course in business finance, “Securities
Markets Regulation.” Students were anonymously assigned the
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roles of real Australian figures who were involved in the deregulation of Australian securities markets (such as the prime minister, the finance minister, and tycoon Rupert Murdoch).
Students then had to respond to “events” announced to them
online in a “public forum” over a period of ten days. The
responses could be posted in the public forum (read by the
whole class), or the students could approach each other privately via the course management system’s internal email.
The anonymous role players were unmasked only at the end
of the simulation, when students were asked to reflect on their
experience. The anonymity and asynchronicity provided by
using the Web, rather than face-�to-face meetings, meant that
attributes such as ethnicity and gender (and even language proficiency) were less likely to interfere with the role playing.
At the Center for Middle East and North African Studies at
Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, a Middle East politics
simulation experience on the Web devised by the late Andrew
Vincent with software created by John Shepherd has been used
for more than a decade for several courses and in collaboration
with universities outside Australia. Each class taking part is
divided into small teams, and each team is assigned the role of a
prominent Middle Eastern figure. Each team must prepare a
comprehensive role profile that is based on research into the
background, the figure’s long-Â�term and short-Â�term objectives,
and other characteristics of the assigned role. These role profiles
are shared with all other participants. A scenario is proposed to
the students to begin the simulation, and students communicate by email, chat, and the Web, as well as by telephone or face-�
to-face (if participants are in the same location). Although
students are expected to operate under the simulation guidelines, they must submit any major actions (such as a military
attack) to “controllers,” who are appointed to monitor activity,
resolve disputes, and grade the teams. The simulation ends with
a teleconference of all participants that may be enhanced by
videoconferencing. Each team must also produce a final report.
A detailed explanation of the simulation with links to pages
that offer additional information about structuring such simulations can be found at www.mq.edu.au/mec/sim.
One key to the success of these types of role-�playing simulations is adequate preparation by students. Students need to
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
understand the concepts and issues of the subject matter, the
roles they are playing, and the instructions and guidelines for
carrying out the exercise. The instructor must not only create
these guidelines, but also give a great deal of forethought to the
simulated events so that they will evoke relevant and worthwhile student responses.
Equally important is the time spent afterward in reflecting on
the role-�playing experience and integrating what one has
learned into an assignment. Reflection can be prompted by
individual papers or by whole-�class discussion. Integration can
be accomplished by having students contribute their newfound
understanding to a work in progress or a final project.
Computer-�Based Simulations and Animations
Computer-�based simulations attempt to recreate an actual
process or activity or, on a broader scale, model complex real-�
life circumstances. There are simulations that might be avail�
able through your institution’s subscription to an external
supplier or perhaps there is programming support at your university to create simulations for use in some of your courses.
But beyond those in-�house solutions, there are many free web
sites providing computer simulations that can be used in a
class. A quick search on the Web will lead to numerous free sites
that offer simulations in your subject area, for example, NASA’s
Jet Propulsion Laboratory at http://space.jpl.nasa.gov allows a
student to look at Jupiter as seen from Earth and compare that
view with Jupiter as seen from Uranus.
Animations use simple representations such as cartoons or
drawings to illustrate processes, how things work, motion over
time, or to offer a 3-D perspective. The Multimedia Teaching
Objects site http://tlt.its.psu.edu/mto at Pennsylvania State
University is a repository of royalty-�free animations in many
disciplines that illustrate such varied items as the time value of
money, the measurement of blood pressure or the electron flow
in lightbulbs.
The SERC portal, http://serc.carleton.edu/index.html, based
at Carleton College, is an excellent collection of resources for
the sciences, including computerized simulations and simple
animations. A visitor to this site can not only find links to
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simulations and animations but also guidelines, lesson plans, or
assessments from instructors that can help provide context for
the use of such multimedia objects. Similarly, the MERLOT
(www.merlot.org) collection offers a number of links to simulations and animations, with commentary about how they might
be used in teaching. Many Merlot materials are accompanied
by peer reviews of the resource, pointing out the special features of an item or suggesting ways in which it can be incorporated into a course activity. They will also report concerns about
a site such as a high percentage of broken links. To find the gold
among these resources, you will need to set aside some time to
try them out on your own. However, the advantage of sites like
SERC and MERLOT is that they bear the traces of other educators who have searched before you and can often give you a
head start in evaluating whether they are appropriate for your
own class. Keeping this in mind, we suggest that if you discover
a resource and devise a way to integrate it into your course, you
take advantage of the opportunity provided by MERLOT to
leave your own comment for others to find.
There are also CDs and DVDs offered by publishers and web
sites that provide simulations on a low-�cost subscription basis.
You may want to consider these resources in the same way that
you would a traditional text that you might order for your students. By integrating computer-�based simulations into your
readings and structuring an assignment around a simulation,
you can provide a resource so that online students can participate in a hands-�on activity.
Finally, if you are lucky enough to have your university create
computer-�based simulations or animations that you can use in
your course, be mindful that it still rests with you to devise a
meaningful activity to take advantage of that multimedia object.
Whether it is as uncomplicated as an animation demonstrating
a single chemistry process or as complex as a criminal justice
crime scene involving multiple decisions, you will still want to
introduce and have students reflect or apply their experience in
regard to one or more specific learning objectives. It may also
be possible for you to gather data or observe how students use
the simulation to pinpoint difficulties in grasping the material,
diagnose problems, and provide additional instructional activities to meet those observed student needs.
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
Virtual-�world simulations, like those conducted in Second
Life or Active Worlds, previously described in Chapter 6, are
often called immersive environments in that they contain features like 3-D, realistic graphics, or interactive elements which
can help sustain the illusion and deepen involvement in a simulation. Again, in these environments, the instructor can begin
with a scenario, but arrange for the role playing to take place in
the virtual-�world environment. This form of simulation does
require considerably more planning, training, and preparation
on the part of both instructor and students even if the instructor is not building a new area in the virtual world. For example,
if you want your students to visit a virtual Istanbul, is it for the
purpose of speaking Turkish while referring to objects in the
environment of that virtual city? If you are running a public
health emergency simulation in a virtual world, what are the
roles, objectives, rules, and other details students need to know
before entering the virtual world? Once having entered a virtual
world, it can be very awkward and disruptive if participants are
not properly oriented to the purpose of the activity.
But the sophistication of a virtual world or specially created
software is not a necessary prerequisite for instructors to create
simple but effective simulations through the use of text alone or
text and graphics, with the addition of documents, audio
or€video, and other resources available on the Web. For example,
a simulation involving American history could easily draw on the
wealth of materials made available through the Smithsonian’s
American Memory site at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.
html while contemporary classes in political science, economics,
and the sciences might use archived news stories and videos to
provide the scenarios and bulletins needed to set the stage or
provide dramatic turning points within a simulation.
For all these sorts of simulations, whether low-�tech or high-�
tech in nature, it is advisable to provide the following:
■ an introduction to the simulation, setting the stage for the
simulation through background information, identification
of the issues or problems, readings, research, discussion as
appropriate. Provide technical preparation or practice if
needed when software is used in a simulation;
■ an initiating scenario that “kicks off” the simulation;
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■ clearly defined roles for those taking part in the simulation,
with opportunities for those participants to research and
prepare for their roles;
■ “time out” periods if needed to discuss the activity or, at the
very least, a clear indication of how to ask questions or obtain
information during the simulation;
■ a debriefing exercise at the end in which the results and
experience of the simulation can be discussed and, if desired,
a follow-�up assignment.
Summaries, Consensus Groups
A very uncomplicated but effective online activity is to ask students, either individually or as a group, to summarize some
aspect of a course’s activities, discussions, or readings. This
process reinforces the material and provides additional perspectives from the students themselves about the course’s
themes and foci. It also serves to help students synthesize the
discussion and topics of study in a busy online classroom. This
can be particularly important in a classroom that is highly interactive, one that has many students, or one in which students
are divided up into smaller groups for a portion of their work.
When you have an online class with fifty or more students,
it’s usually necessary to divide it up for discussion. But students
need to know what transpires in the rest of the class, as well as
what they can learn from their own group activities. Having
small groups of students present their summaries to the entire
class forum allows students to analyze and then synthesize a
wide variety of material. It permits students to feel involved in
the larger class while maintaining the interaction and focus of
the smaller groups.
A variation on this procedure is to ask each small group to
appoint a spokesperson who not only will present a summary of
findings to the entire class but also will lead a discussion. Or
one person from the group can present the summary while
another from the group responds to questions and comments
from the rest of the class.
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
Yet another version of this activity is to ask small groups of
students to meet and discuss an assigned topic with the goal of
coming to a consensus on that issue. Each team can then be
asked to present their group’s findings to the whole class. Consensus groups may work particularly well when you find that
students do not feel comfortable openly disagreeing with other
individuals in the classroom or in conjunction with problem-�
based learning or the use of case studies. Consensus groups can
collaborate within group areas of CMS software, in a discussion
forum dedicated to a small group, by using wikis to compose
their thoughts, or by means of a group blog. A consensus group
might also create an audio or video to present their ideas.
The Experience-�Based Practicum or Lab
The online class that includes a practicum or similar activity
can not only provide all the advantages of traditional field-�
based exercises but offer some additional benefits as well.
A practicum by its nature involves the organizing and accomplishment of an individualized plan of action. Even though the
practicum may rely mainly on the student’s performing some
activity in the real world, the online environment allows opportunities for peer review and exchanges with classmates, to help
the individual reflect on his or her experience. The feedback
might occur in response to obligatory weekly or monthly
reports. Or students involved in a practicum could make occasional postings whenever they needed feedback from the
instructor or from classmates.
In an education course, for example, a practicum or field-�
based exercise might involve the student’s observation of a
classroom situation, the creation of a lesson plan, an internship
situation, or the conducting of an interview with an educator or
administrator. Reports of that experience might then be shared
with others in the online classroom, and classmates might be
asked to critique or pose questions to the presenter.
Lab work presents unique challenges to instructors who are
teaching online classes although institutions with the means to
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do so are increasingly using lab simulations to provide these
resources to their online students. In regard to computer
science studies, it is becoming increasingly easy to find reasonably priced online computer learning arrangements through
subscriptions. But for those instructors who do not have access
to these online lab simulations, some instructors devise lab kits
that students can use to do simple science experiments at home
in introductory courses. Others arrange for students to work in
labs at nearby campuses or to use videoconferencing to observe
lab experiments. Still others rely on a combination of these
methods along with DVDs and the types of computer-�based
simulations discussed earlier in this chapter. For some institutions whose online students reside within a well defined geographic area or who may even be residing on campus, the
blended course may be the ideal solution. Whatever the
methods used to integrate lab work into the online classroom,
the lab component needs to be carefully thought out and
arranged well before the course begins.
Reflective Activities
Reflective activities such as journaling encourage thoughtful,
focused consideration and critiques of a topic, and are generally
carried out on an individual basis. The great thing about these
activities is that they allow a student to measure his or her
progress in learning over time. Sometimes, it might be helpful
for the larger class to also offer feedback to the journaler,
depending on the nature of the reflective exercise. Journaling
already has a long history of use in online classes, especially
those in teacher education. In the past, this was usually carried
out through the submission of word-�processed documents or
written in the spaces of online workbook-�like CMS areas. Sometimes this was accomplished by asking students to create personal web pages, combining text, images, and links to web
resources to create a reflective piece. Often students had to
learn a bit of HMTL unless a WYSIWYG-�type interface was available to them, and because it was not always convenient for students to make updates, this sort of web page journal was often
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
limited to a single concerted effort, in the form of one assignment or project.
The arrival of blogging software has made the blog one of
the easiest methods to accomplish this sort of reflective
journal, allowing quick and easy updates and the addition of
multimedia. Many educators worldwide, from K–12 teachers to
university instructors, have found the blog a good fit for students to reflect on their development throughout a course.
Writing instructors in particular have found the blog to be an
effective format for the showcasing and sharing of writing
assignments. Students can maintain individual blogs or a class
blog can be created by which all students contribute their
Les Pang teaches an undergraduate course in Information
Technology Foundations at University of Maryland University
College, and uses blogging for the purpose of what he terms
“reflective learning journals.” He has students use free blogging
software which is external to their course management system
to create their own reflective journals. Students have three
major categories of assignments related to these journals. First,
students post an introduction on their blog at the beginning of
the class. Next, they are assigned a weekly blog response,
addressing three questions:
■ What did you learn in the preceding week—not a list of facts,
but what can you take away from the lesson, what has value
to you?
■ How do you connect what you learned this week with your
personal experience or with what you already knew?
■ How could/would you apply your new knowledge?
Finally, students are assigned a reflection at the end of the
course, an overall summation.
Les Pang connects all the student blogs by an index page so
that students have potential access to all the journals of classmates. He is quick to point out that if your journaling activities
involve more personal issues, it may be desirable to have blogs
kept private, open only to the instructor’s gaze. Students are
free to post comments in response to their classmates’ blogs,
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but are not required to do so. Pang adds a unique element to
this reflective exercise by maintaining an instructor blog. The
instructor’s blog affords a way to reinforce points, reassure, and
sum up issues. The instructor’s blog functions in some ways as
an announcement section of a CMS might be utilized, but
allows for more elaboration and detailed explanations than
does the relatively abbreviated announcement area.
Pang notes that some of the benefits of reflective blogs to the
instructor include the enhanced ability to monitor student
progress, to garner continuous student feedback rather than
waiting until the end of the semester, and to quickly identify
challenges related to weekly class activities before serious
problems set in. He concedes that it does involve increased
workload for instructors to find the time to read and respond
to the student blogs, but Pang has found it relatively painless to
keep up by using an aggregator, Google Reader, and subscribing to each blog. This means that he can simply open up
Google Reader each week and follow all his student blogs
without having to separately log in and check each one.
To make the reflective blogs a more meaningful activity, Les
Pang emphasizes developing a rubric for grading the blog contributions, encouraging students to find creative ways to reflect on
their class lessons—whether by text, audio, video, or other
means—and establishing minimum requirements as to
minimum length and structure, as well as what to include or
avoid (for example, avoiding blog posts or photos of a too personal nature, making impolite comments about another’s blog,
linking to resources that are not pertinent to the class subject
Michelle Pacansky-Â�Brock made the creation of “artblogs” by
students a significant form of assessment in her Art Appreciation class at Sierra College, comprising 20 percent of the final
grade. But rather than simply leaving students to jot down their
impressions, she assigned blog entry topics each week as
homework, providing detailed instructions for each assignment. Some were open-Â�ended “reflections” while others were
more directed—for example, requiring that students visit a
local museum or gallery opening. She asked that students demonstrate an understanding of course concepts and a deep
reflection on what they saw. Students were also encouraged to
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
make extra blog entries about what they observed in daily life
that related to class. As Pacansky-�Brock explained it to her
share your perspective about a current art controversy occurring in your community, comment about a painting you saw
in a doctor’s office that resembles the work of an artist you
read about in your book, reflect on the form and content of a
movie you saw. The ArtBlog will reflect how deeply you’ve
internalized the concepts from our class and have begun to
apply them to your own daily activities.
Pacansky-�Brock encouraged students to be creative, using
color, images, and other decorative elements that reflect their
aesthetic preferences and to show their own artwork as well.
She further encouraged students to post comments on their
classmates’ blogs and even had a competition whereby she
asked students to nominate an ArtBlog of a classmate that they
think is worthy of being called a “masterpiece.” Students who
received at least three nominations could be awarded ten extra
credit points.
There is a large global community of educators who use blogs
to communicate their ideas about teaching and learning and
many of these offer tips on the use of student blogs that may
have a special relevance to your own teaching. See the Guide to
Resources for a few of these.
While blogs are an obvious format to set the stage for journaling activities, Rich Cerkovnik, who teaches Introduction to
Physical Science to undergraduates at University of Maryland
University College, uses the discussion forum structure within
his course management system as a means to the same end. In
weekly “concept conferences” students are asked to choose
from a selection of topics on which to focus their writing and
reflection. As Cerkovnik expresses it in the course syllabus, “the
purpose for the concept conference is for you to personally
process the information from your reading, activities, and discussions to make your current understandings visible and
helpful to your classmates and me.” Cerkovnik clearly lays out
the requirements for the concept conference postings, with
each entry comprising 50–300 words and each addressing either
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an occasional instructor-�set topic of the week or one of the
■ Makes Sense—discuss one thing related to this week’s readings, activities, or discussions that makes sense to you. Use
enough detail to convince me that you understand.
■ Does Not Make Sense—discuss one thing .â•›.â•›. that does not
make sense to you. Discuss which aspects of the concept
confuse you.
■ My Life—discuss how a concept related to this week’s readings, activities, or discussions relates to an experience from
your own life.
■ Change in Thinking—discuss how a concept you now understand related to this week’s readings, activities, or discussions is different from what you had previously thought.
■ Resource—identify a concept (i.e., gravity, inertia, balancing
chemical equations, etc.) that you feel it would be of benefit
to you to understand better. Identify a resource that accomplished the goal of deepening your understanding of the
concept in question .â•›.â•›. perform a search using a Web search
engine and at least one University of Maryland University
College database .â•›.â•›. for resources on your selected concept
.â•›.â•›. describe your personal understanding of the concept prior
to finding and using the resource and then afterwards. Report
on how the resource accomplished the goal of deepening
your understanding of the concept in question.
With students posting questions to another forum each week,
Cerkovnik notes that these concept conference postings will
necessarily contain incorrect concepts that need to be modified
but that students are not assessed for correctness in these postings but for relevance and engagement. The instructor and the
class, he says, “can then work to modify and expand the understanding of these concepts.” Students are credited up to one
point for each of their weekly concept conference postings,
while they can earn twice that amount for responses that
provide “useful assistance to other students.” Students are
asked to assess their participation three times during the semester in the form of a report in which they review their postings
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
and assign a score. The instructor then either agrees or disagrees with the self-�assessed score and provides feedback. The
student therefore must provide evidence and the rationale for a
particular score.
In a basic science class designed for non-�majors, Cerkovnik
points out that this type of participation activity not only helps
create a non-�threatening environment to facilitate student
reflection, but also minimizes frivolous postings. Students feel
they have been fairly assessed and, beyond that, there is an
increased level of incentive to produce responses that assist the
learning of classmates, resulting in a “shared responsibility for
learning” and a strong sense of community within the
Finally, ordinary word-�processed essays still provide an
effective means for quick reflective pieces. Jonathan Mathews
teaches Energy and the Environment online at Pennsylvania
State University both through its World Campus and to resident
students. For each of the course’s lessons, he asks his students
to write an informal reflective essay in response to a specific
question. Mathews characterizes these as “brain-Â�dumps,”
casual pieces that compel students to think of each topic in personal terms. For example, students studying a lesson on pollution will be asked to rate their individual impact on pollution
caused by their own travel. Mathews guides students with a set
of simple criteria, provides some examples, and emphasizes
that they should spend no more than five minutes on “unrehearsed,” casual responses.
Just Discussion
People often refer to online discussion as a given, but as suggested in Chapters 3 and 6 there are many activities beyond
“just discussion” that can take place in a discussion forum—it is
a logical area to base the ongoing question-�and-answer
sequence of a course, for demonstrations of problem solving, to
provide a place for students to present their work, and many of
the activities previously described such as debates, scenarios,
and role-�playing can be carried out there as well.
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But in regard to the category of “just discussion,” there is still
a lot of variation in what the objective might be for such an
activity. As indicated in Chapter 3, this is something that should
be planned during the design of your course but one should
also remain open to spontaneously occurring opportunities for
a discussion. In Chapter 11, we discuss how to set up and
manage an asynchronous discussion. Here we want to set out a
few rules for “just discussion.”
1. Coverage: All major content areas need a corresponding
forum for discussion or, at the very least, an opportunity for
questions. If you are asking students to read or research a
topic area, you should provide some way for them to address
issues that arise with that topic.
2. Objective: Determine the level of thinking or instructional
objective you are aiming for in establishing the discussion.
(Bloom’s Taxonomy might come in handy here.) Is it associated with both recall and identification, to make sure that
students are actually reading the material? (“After reading X,
what two or three major trends did you discern concerning
labor in the early industrial period?”) Or are you asking students to analyze the material, and perhaps question the
assumptions as well? (“What were the author’s underlying
assumptions about X, what evidence does he cite, and are
there any flaws in his logic?”) Or are you asking them to share
and query each other about ideas synthesized from more
than one of the readings? (“Author X identifies the following
as the main abuses of our globalized economy. Please share
with us any results from your research that would tend to
affirm or refute author X’s assertions and post at least one
response, comment, or questions to a classmate whose reply
differs from your own.”)
3. Spur of the moment: While you will have likely established a
regular pattern for discussions, don’t be afraid to create a
new topic thread when indications seem to call for it. It is
impossible to anticipate every teaching situation, and the
particular student mix and ensuing dynamic in our classes
may change from term to term. For example, if you find on
the basis of the results from the first writing assignment that
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
many students fail to comprehend the finer points of providing evidence for their arguments, you may want to go beyond
simply referring them to an external resource, and hold a discussion on the topic before they start work on the next paper.
You might post a negative example of an argument and ask
students to identify the missing elements in the evidence or
to find the point in the reasoning when logic went awry.
Or perhaps an event in the news might spur you to create
a topic thread to discuss the ramifications that event might
have for one of the issues in your course. Since such news
items are timely and may spur the interest of students, you
might well want to take advantage of such an event that provides a teaching opportunity.
Scenarios and Case Studies
Scenarios present concrete situations that can be used to stimulate analysis, requiring students to imagine how they might
respond to a particular set of circumstances. In an on-�theground classroom, scenarios typically involve hands-�on activities. Online, scenarios can be used to provoke responses
related to matters such as procedures and planning. They can
constitute a type of problem-�based learning in which a specific
challenge is presented and students are asked to find
approaches to resolving the issues. Scenario questions can
transform an abstract or theoretical discussion into one in
which students demonstrate concrete problem-�solving skills in
a particular context. Scenarios may also stimulate debate on a
variety of approaches, thus acting as a valuable tool for bringing
multiple perspectives to a problem. In either individual assignments or group activities, scenarios are a particularly good
vehicle for stimulating students’ thoughts about step-Â�by-step
planning or the process of reaching a solution.
Scenarios have proved to be popular approaches in health
and medical education, in ethics training, in teacher education,
business, and criminal justice. Handling these online within an
asynchronous communication environment can actually
provide conditions more conducive to the success of such
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approaches as students are afforded more time for reflection
and collaboration with others on a problem.
Case studies, similar to scenarios but typically less open-�
ended, are easy to transfer to the online environment. They are
basically stories that present a specific situation or a set of facts,
either real or hypothetical, and there is little difficulty in posting
them online. Case studies call for analysis or for the application
of principles learned in the class. For example, a case study in
an accounting class for CPAs might describe the financial
profile and statistics of a business and ask questions about its
tax status. Problem-�based case studies may either present a
clear-�cut problem or set up a situation in which students must
identify both problem and solution.
Case studies can easily form the basis of a written assignment, questions for a quiz, or a series of questions that you pose
for a discussion forum. Like scenarios, case studies may be used
for both individual assignments and group assignments. Online,
case studies provide enriched opportunities over their use in
face-�to-face courses, with the rich variety of online resources
readily accessible for research. Students can be assigned case
studies as individual work, but online, the small group structure
can provide increased opportunities for interaction and
expanded learning through the sharing of ideas by a team.
Al Turgeon teaches an online course in Turf Management,
“Case Studies in Turfgrass Management,” for Pennylvania
State’s World Campus that uses this case study approach as its
main organizing principle. Turgeon explains his approach: “We
begin with an orientation case in which I attempt to teach them
how to analyze the case using concept mapping, and how to
come up with appropriate solutions or amelioration strategies
using decision trees.”
Students work together in teams of five or six members
each. Each team member is responsible for contributing
responses to a total of three cases, and for posting their
reports, concept map, and decision tree to the team’s discussion forum. Members then pose questions and respond to
questions posed to them by others on the team. Finally, they
revise their individual reports in preparation for grading and
feedback from Turgeon. Turgeon applies a grading rubric
developed for each case. After the completion of these three
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
cases, students are asked to develop a case from their own
real-�world experience.
There are many resources now available that provide examples of case studies that you might use or adapt for your own
classes. For example, in the sciences there is the National
Center for Case Study Teaching in Science collection by the
State University of New York at Buffalo. The Center not only
provides cases but also includes instructor guideline notes at
For those involved in management studies, through the MIT
Sloan Teaching Innovation Resources site at https://mitsloan.
mit.edu/MSTIR/Pages/default.aspx, instructors can download
and freely use case studies in such areas as industry evolution,
sustainability, and global entrepreneurship. Public Health
Games (www.publichealthgames.com) provides links to simulations and games in which scenarios such as a bioterrorism
attack or a natural disaster striking a community are presented,
with the participant choosing a role to play and decisions to
make in response. The ChemCollective (www.chemcollective.
org) hosts a variety of simulations, virtual labs, and scenario-�
based activities for chemistry courses.
Beyond those available on the Web, you can create scenarios
and case studies on your own using simple video and slide show
tools. Situations can be demonstrated through photographs,
video already available online, your own staged dialogue, or
narration over text and images. While purely text-�based case
studies and scenarios work well online, it’s increasingly easy to
enliven cases for your students with the use of multimedia even
if you cannot create more sophisticated online applications on
your own.
Peer Editing and Review
Peer editing, review, and evaluation are marvelous activities
from the standpoint of workload management, enabling an
instructor to provide students in a large class with additional
opportunities for feedback. Several examples have already been
provided of peer-�review evaluation rubrics. These activities are
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also intrinsically beneficial to students, for at least two reasons.
First, they require students to view the criteria for an assignment with fresh eyes. This helps them critically review their
own work. Second, students get the benefit of a perspective
other than the instructor’s, and sometimes that can provide
added insight.
Whether on the ground or online, peer-�review activities are
most effective when instructors provide specific questions or
defined criteria to use in evaluation and editing. For example,
an evaluation rubric sets the criteria for each grade designation,
explaining what “100%” or “5 points” or “B+” indicates. If a
student is evaluating an essay, the rubric may state that five
points are to be awarded only if the essay contains certain specific elements; if two of these elements are lacking, the essay
rates only three points. Similarly, a series of guideline questions,
coordinated with the original guidelines for the assignment, can
focus the peer reviewer’s attention: “Did the paper summarize
the main thesis of the article? According to the author of the
paper, what evidence was given in the article that supports the
conclusions of Dr. X?”
For peer-review to be most effective, students should be
graded as much on their work as reviewers as on their classmates’ reviews of their work. Students often worry about being
unfairly appraised by the inexpert eyes of their fellow students.
But if they are graded on how well they review others, students
will exercise more prudence and care in their reviews, and they
will be assured that at least one portion of this peer assignment
is receiving the attention of the instructor.
Student Activities Involving Guest
You can bring in a guest “speaker” for a period of several days
or a week, during which time he or she will post some material
and be available for questions. Or you can simply post the
material from the speaker in the asynchronous class forum. The
material may be plain text, or it may take the form of a PowerPoint lecture or audio presentation.
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
In some cases, a guest speaker may be available only for a
live, real-�time chat experience. Because chat is at best a fast-�
paced activity that demands quick thinking, you should make
sure that students are familiar enough with the speaker’s material that they can make informed comments and frame relevant
questions. We recommend that you ask the guest to submit
some materials in advance for you to post before the chat date.
Students can then read the materials and prepare themselves
for the chat. On the basis of this asynchronous posting, you may
also wish to ask students to submit questions to convey to the
guest prior to the chat date.
During the chat, in addition to introducing the guest speaker
and setting some ground rules, you may want to act as moderator. We recommend, too, that you save and post the transcript
of the chat for the benefit of students who cannot attend. Then,
if it’s possible for the guest to make him- or herself available
later for a set period of time, students can pose their questions
in the asynchronous discussion forum and have the guest reply
to them there.
Generally, then, the keys to making guest appearances serve
as valuable learning experiences are:
1. providing an asynchronous channel for questions and
answers, as well as for the presentation of the guest’s main
2. budgeting adequate time for students to prepare themselves
for any real-�time activities.
One advantage of a guest speaker is that it provides students
with another expert voice apart from their instructor. This brings
fresh perspectives, and a series of speakers can add to the diversity
of such views. If you teach a blended class, you can use the online
environment to help students prepare for the guest speaker at the
on-�site meeting, or to continue the conversation online after the
speaker has presented. Some guests will be available to take part
online, through a guest account in your CMS that permits the
guests to post materials and engage with students in the discussion area. If your guest has very limited time, at the very least you
can take questions from the students and relay these to the guest.
And perhaps the guest can prepare a PowerPoint or audio presen-
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tation that you can provide to students. Another option is to record
an audio interview with a guest speaker via online chat software. If
you cannot record and save it within the program, there are free
third-�party software applications available that can allow you to
do this (you can search for the latest of these on the Web as they
change from week to week). Or you can use an inexpensive piece
of hardware to connect a phone to a recording device, or make you
call using an Internet telephony service such as Skype along with
recording software. See more about recording audio in Chapter 9.
If you do not have a guest speaker readily available to meet
with your students online, with the ubiquity of YouTube videos
or iTunesU podcasts of distinguished speakers in a variety of
subject matter, you may be able to find a virtual guest speaker
through the medium of video and audio resources existing on
the Web. While you may not produce a live performance or customized presentation in this way, you are still providing your
students with another voice and dimension to a subject. In his
course Introduction to Philosophy and Critical Approaches to
Literature at University of Maryland University College, Richard
Schumaker found that by referring his students to podcasts on
iTunesU by an eminent philosophy professor, he was introducing them to an approach in philosophy that was quite different
from his own, and that this contrast in approach stimulated students to explore the reasons for that difference. While Schumaker might have achieved the same result through a series of
diverse reading assignments, listening to the podcasts likely
provided students with a much more immediate and lively illustration of contrasting approaches, which more closely approximates a presentation by a guest speaker.
Cross-�Cultural Exchanges
When a course involves students from two or more countries, it
can be an exciting learning opportunity. Naturally there are also
many barriers to overcome.
First, assuming the countries have different languages, which
language will be used to communicate? If one is chosen as the
common language, will the students for whom it is not a native
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
language be able to receive some assistance when communication is not clear? At each principal site, it is helpful to have an
instructor or assistant who is bilingual and who can intervene
or redirect conversation when communications become
garbled or strained.
A related issue is whether the main texts will be available in
one or both languages. Even when one group of students is
fairly proficient in speaking the other’s language, it may be a
strain for them to keep up with the pace of reading challenging
texts in that language.
One barrier that needs to be dissolved before the exchange
begins is that of conflicting schedules. Students in one country
may be just about to embark upon vacation when students in
the other country are midway through a semester. Overall terms
may vary greatly in length and prolonged holiday periods may
not be observed in both countries. So the cooperation may need
to be confined to a particular period during which both classes
are in session or it may be arranged so that certain stages of a
project are carried out at some periods within one country’s
own group, with other stages of the project planned for times
when the two countries’ schedules coincide.
Another potential challenge relates to cultural patterns of
learning. If students are used to an instructor-�centered classroom where there is little student-�initiated participation, they
may need specific guidelines about when and how to volunteer
their comments and questions. In some cases, students’ habits
of learning may not be readily apparent until the course begins.
You may need to rely on your co-�teacher to play the role of
informant for his or her culture.
It may be best for organizers or leaders at each site to develop
a set of guidelines for both instructors and students, covering
communications in the classroom as well as expectations for
written assignments. The latter would involve guidelines
for€writing as well as rules about plagiarism and originality. For
example, in many Asian countries, modeling one’s work on that
of an authority or expert has long been a traditional study
method, whereas in Western countries this might be interpreted
to some degree as plagiarism. To avoid misunderstandings, you
can develop mutually agreed-�upon policies that are posted for
students to read.
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Make sure, too, that the forums for discussion are clearly
established and that file-�exchange methods and file formats are
all made explicit. Place, time, method, and the rules of engagement should be clearly delineated in every online class or online
component of a class, but these are even more crucial for
classes involving two different countries.
Cross-�Cultural Teams
In cross-�cultural courses, one question that often arises is
whether to form teams composed of a mixture of students from
both countries or to have each country’s students form their
own team. The latter setup is easier to organize, but the former
may lead to better cross-�cultural exchanges and greater opportunities for new perspectives. Again, the ability to form cross-�
cultural teams will depend a great deal on whether or not the
two countries have concurrent time periods during which collaboration will be possible.
If you choose to create teams that mix students of different
countries, do prepare specific guidelines about times and frequency of communications. Remind students about the time
differences. Ask your counterparts about details such as ease
and frequency of Internet access. Students in many countries
have only limited Internet access at the campus site, and Internet service providers and phone connections in many countries
are not stable. Find out how often students are likely to suffer
broken Internet connections midway through their work. If
Internet connections are unreliable, you would want to avoid
scheduling many real-�time activities, and you should probably
build in more time for asynchronous activities to be
Another potential difficulty arises when students in another
country observe different religious and secular holidays than
those at your site. Keep in mind that students who do not have
reliable Internet connections (or even computers) in their
homes will be unable to communicate online during those
Jon Rubin is head of the Center for Online Collaborative
Learning (known as COIL) of the State University of New York
(SUNY) system at Purchase College. The center promotes
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
online, international learning collaborations. Rubin himself has
been teaching a Cross-�Cultural Video Production course for
several years, partnering with institutions and team teaching
with instructors in a variety of different countries, beginning in
2002–2003 with Belarus, and thereafter with Mexico and Turkey.
A detailed description of the development of this course exists
on the COIL site at http://coilcenter.purchase.edu/index.
Rubin emphasizes the importance of getting to know the
partnering instructor in some depth before beginning the
teaching and learning collaboration. He suggests that partners:
Meet face-�to-face first if at all possible, at least three months
before the course is to begin. Otherwise, spend some time on
the phone or even better in video conference so you can establish real rapport. Your relationship will be the basis of what
happens in the course.
Other recommendations from Rubin are:
■ Go over carefully all possible scheduling conflicts: academic
calendars, time zone differences, university holidays, etc.
■ Discuss each teacher’s experience with the CMS/LMS or
other software that you plan to use for collaboration. Make
sure that some form of tech support is in place and that adequate technology and access is in place.
■ Consider carefully the goals of the shared course. Make sure
that key terms are mutually understood.
■ Make each participating instructor’s responsibilities clear
from the outset. Teaching for some instructors may consist
mainly of lecturing and such instructors may not be familiar
with assuming a more facilitative role. Also, an instructor
might assume that he or she will take a back-�seat role, as if
the course mainly belongs to the other, with himself as a participant in the grand scheme. The instructors on both sides
need to commit to doing certain things such as alternating in
their leading of discussion.
■ When developing your syllabus, dedicate time to exploring
cultural aspects of the exchange and provide time for trust to
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develop so that collaboration is possible. Cross-�cultural
courses can range from those that are more discipline-�centric
to those with more focus on the cross-�cultural aspects.
Rubin says that collaborative exercises work well “if they are
about sharing ideas rather than doing something correctly.” He
explains, “I think that what you learn is that what seems so evidently correct from one perspective can seem wrong or just
curious from another perspective.” He suggests that the tenor
of questions should be oriented toward “what is your perspective on such and such?”
Rubin uses an icebreaking activity involving creative writing
wherein two to four students pass a story back and forth, each
side adding a paragraph to the story. This serves as a warm-�up
for his main video production activity in which duos of two students from each country collaborate on a theme to create a
video. There are four scenes to be produced based on a chosen
theme, with one side taking the first two weeks to make the first
scene, then passing it to the second group to respond with the
second scene and so on.
The Challenges and Rewards of Cross-�
Cultural Courses
In regard to the potential for misunderstandings, Rubin has a
unique perspective on this issue. “Misunderstandings,” he says,
were the central thread of the experience. Because students
were asked to continue or respond to a video scene made in
the other culture, and because their own egos were invested
in their own productions, they almost always found their
expectations confounded by the work of their partners.
Finding a common path through this conceptual thicket was
the real key to a satisfying collaborative experience.
For example, he notes that American students often tend to
be ironic or flippant in attitude and assume that others from the
partnering culture will get the joke, but often that is not the
case. At one point during the back and forth of creating a video
on the theme of “A Day in the Life,” an American student,
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
noting the rather melancholy mood of the other side’s scene,
gave a teasing title, “My Life is Better than Your Life” to his
video response. None of the American students took the title
seriously but the partnering students were offended by this
seeming deprecatory comment on their work and Rubin notes
that “it then took weeks to work through the source of this misunderstanding, but this was an important learning experience
for both groups.” Students ended up discussing the concept of
irony and what it means to be “serious.”
Even seemingly trivial assignments can reveal surprising cultural differences. For example, Rubin notes that when students
in a class composed of students from the United States and
Mexico were asked to post “a photo that represents yourself”
the American students posted frontal facial shots or somewhat
humorous, very individual shots, but almost always of themselves alone. However, at least one-�third of the Mexican students portrayed themselves by posting photos of them
accompanied by family or girlfriends/boyfriends.
Rubin also reminds us that cross-�cultural courses constitute
a nexus of both cultural and personal perspectives. For example,
he says that when a group views an image and tries to address
the question of what is of importance in the picture, the
responses will “vary by individual as well as by culture.”
In Rubin’s case, while the cross-Â�cultural experience is conducted online, the context is that of a blended class, with each
country’s class also meeting face-Â�to-face on their own. He
points out that the question of how to share what happens in
the face-�to-face meetings with the other side is one that needs
to be carefully considered, or there is a risk that the face-�to-face
sessions can become “a place for withdrawal from the interaction,” with each side “talking about the other side.” Rubin
suggests that one way to handle this challenge is to designate a
student to take notes on each face-�to-face discussion to share
with the other side when they again interact online. He emphasizes that this approach raises the question of whether the note-�
taking consists merely of minutes of the meetings, with sensitive
issues omitted, or whether the purpose would be to convey the
essence of what was discussed, including a framing of the possibly controversial points? In any case, Rubin recommends that
a template and some rules be established to ensure that the
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reporting follows along the lines of agreed-�upon conventions.
Instructors may also want to agree on an overall approach for
integrating the online activity into their own face-�to-face
Even though cross-�cultural international courses present
complex issues, the rewards can be enormous. There is an
opportunity, not unlike studying in a foreign country, to
encounter another culture on its own terms. There is the possibility of creating knowledge through collaborative activities that
draw on the strengths of individuals as well as the diverse perspectives of different cultures. Cross-�cultural collaborative
assignments, notes Rubin, mean that “students have to build on
others’ work and also anticipate what will be workable and of
interest for the other side.”
Rubin notes that only a small percentage of students anywhere will ever study abroad, but “A structured interaction
with a group of students in another country can really open
students up to the world,” while for faculty, “encountering the
learning styles and new perspectives of international students
is always a challenge, but one that can also be transformative,
especially in a class that is focused on the value of cultural
Using the Web as a Resource
One often-�overlooked aspect of planning course activities is the
use of the Web itself as a basis for assigned work. The frequent
neglect of this option arises, in part, from the sheer vastness of
the Web. To most of us, it is like an immense sea of information.
There are so many documents, databases, archives, and collections to be examined that looking out at it is somewhat like
standing at the edge of the ocean. It seems safer to stay within
the confines of our own web sites, with their more familiar
course materials and tools.
But when you do limit student activities to your own course
site, you and your students are totally dependent on information that you provide, and this inevitably restricts the course’s
breadth and scope. We hope, therefore, that you will make use
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
of the Web’s rich potential for student activities. In this section
we will suggest how you can do so without allowing yourself or
your students to become inundated in a sea of minutiae.
Preparing the Way
Whenever you use the Web as part of an assignment or activity,
you should take care to examine the material yourself before
assigning it to your class.
This point may seem obvious, but it is all too often ignored.
Instructors often prefer to employ something that might be
called the “treasure hunt” approach. They tell their students
that somewhere out there on the Web sits a valuable nugget of
information yearning to be found. They arm the students with
either a list of possible sites where this precious nugget might
be found or instructions for using a search engine to hunt it
down. The students then spend more time than they can afford
clicking through links that lead nowhere or scrolling through
pages of irrelevant text until the desired information is found,
copied, and bookmarked, and the requisite posting is made on
the course discussion board.
It’s fun to explore and rewarding to make discoveries, but the
treasure-�hunt approach is often both impractical and unsound.
Spending an inordinate amount of time hunting and tracking
through link after link can become a frustrating experience for
students—one that is even more bothersome if it seems irrelevant. If the task is to examine a given piece of information, why
not simply direct the students to it rather than require them to
ferret it out?
There is a place for such web exploration, of course. If a
student is trying to refute a given piece of information—or to
affirm it—he or she may very well want to search out applicable
material to make the case. Similarly, when researching an essay
or a project, students often will scour the Web on their own,
because they feel it is effective to do so and because they feel
confident they can assess the material they find. Or if the
assignment is basically one to help the student attain some level
of information literacy, it may be that learning how to do a
search is itself the goal.
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For most situations, however—such as a homework assignment or a question on a quiz—you should probably do the
hunting yourself and let the students spend their time learning
instead of searching.
Evaluating Web Sites
What criteria should you use in choosing web sites for your
course? You should evaluate each site for quality, just as you
would any other resource.
First, you can apply the same guidelines you would use in
choosing a book or article for a reference list supplied to your
students. For example,
■ check the site’s sponsorship;
■ check the authorship of any articles or sections on the site;
■ assess the relevance of the material to your topics. Does it
bear only a tangential relevance to what you intend to
examine or discuss, or is it closely connected?
Second, you can apply some additional scrutiny to the web
material that you probably would not need to apply to books
and articles. You can ask questions like these:
■ How well is the site designed?
■ How difficult is the site to navigate? Will students be able to
find the most relevant material without wading through
extraneous details or unnecessary links?
Varieties of Useful Web Sites
Once you begin exploring web resources, you’ll find that articles
are not the only web materials that will prove useful for your
course. Equally valuable choices are sites that provide graphic
examples, documentation, or illustrations of your main topics
and principles. Works of German Expressionist art from the
1920s might provide a good starting point for a discussion of the
impact of World War I on Germany. Photographs found online
might provide the basis for an essay. You may also base a
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
research project on students’ exploration of a web site. In that
case, you would want to provide some questions or pose specific problems for the students to tackle during their visits to the
site. Some sites specifically categorize themselves as open educational resources (often called OER) and these can often be
used within your own course. These usually carry a permissions
statement that declares that the material on the web site may
be repurposed or copied for educational use as long as proper
attribution is made. Other sites have more restricted terms of
use posted that allow for educational reuse but not for distribution outside the class or repurposing or combining with other
content. We discuss OERs in more depth in future chapters, but
at this point, we want to make you aware of the different types
of public sites that exist.
Here are some of the different types of potentially useful sites
you can expect to find on the Web:
Collections and Portalsâ•… Some sites on the Web offer collections of photos, speeches, essays, art, documents, articles, and
recordings. These provide raw materials with which you can
fashion a focused and relevant assignment or discussion. Others
are portals to suggest pathways of links to find resources.
Finding all of these is no more difficult than conducting a
simple Google search. Some examples that demonstrate the
range of these are:
■ The National Geographic Map Machine: http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/map-Â�machine allows one to search for
maps worldwide, with street, birds-�eye, satellite, and 3-D
maps available. Google Maps and Google Earth can similarly
allow one to interactively explore the globe and the oceans.
■ The Atlas image database of the Louvre in Paris at www.
views of 35,000 works in the museum. Many of the major
world museums offer databases of art works or at least
samples of art from their collections.
■ The World Radio Network, which carries “on demand” audio
programs and podcasts from radio stations all over the world:
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■ World Wide Internet TV, http://wwiTv.com, a portal featuring direct links to live online streaming from television stations worldwide, in the languages of diverse countries but
also sometimes in English. Both this and the World Radio
Network provide access to material that can be used in
courses on language, culture, and contemporary affairs.
■ The Internet Archive, www.archive.org/index.php, is a free
library resource of web sites and other digital content.
■ Free Music Archive, http://freemusicarchive.org, a curated
collection of music as well as a social networking site.
■ Europeana, www.europeana.eu/portal, is a portal that provides access to digital materials from different sources in
Europe, including text, images, video and sound.
■ UNESCO’s World Digital Library, www.wdl.org, launched in
2009 and available in seven languages, offers primary-�
source cultural materials from all over the world—manuscripts, recordings, photographs, drawings, etc. It has a
handy quick-�browsing feature wherein one can browse
based on a time period—so you can choose the period from
8000 bc to ad 499 and you will see a variety of artifacts
ranging from an oracle bone from ancient China to rock art
paintings from South Africa to various antiquities from
ancient Egypt.
Online Magazines and Newsâ•… Online magazines and news
sources include the major news sources published online in
nearly every language. There are also specialized sites for
those interested in finance, literature, art, photography, and
science. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) of the United
States offers a wide array of multimedia resources on contemporary society, going back a decade. These can provide the
basis of a single assignment or research project, or a continuing series of such assignments. However, not all of these offer
open access to all sections of the site, and some charge if you
want to access anything but the most recent issue. Others
require registration even though they may be accessed free of
charge. So, always research the access policies of online magazines and news sources if you intend to ask students to use
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
Commerical Sitesâ•… Maintained by major corporations for the
purpose of promoting their products and services, such sites
often contain valuable information but should be carefully
identified and used in conjunction with targeted objectives. The
same is true for sites maintained by nonprofit organizations.
Personal Sitesâ•… Maintained by individuals with a particular
passion for Mozart, bamboo, or World War II weapons, for
example, are often quirky (and sometimes verge on the crackpot), but they can provide valuable collection points for hyperlinks, photos, and documents. Some of these sites are in the
form of blogs. These sites do not always provide the necessary
citations and references to evaluate their material, so their
inclusion in a course should probably be supplemented with
warnings or commentary from the instructor to put the material into proper perspective.
Online Classroom Materialsâ•… Posted on the Web by educational institutions, materials associated with a specific course
may prove worthwhile for your own class, especially if they
cover topics similar to the ones you teach. But beware! These
materials are notoriously ephemeral and may not last beyond
next semester. If you want to use such materials, take note of
the dates they were posted and contact the instructor listed to
determine how long the site will remain available. More stable
are the collections of opencourseware made available by institutions like MIT, Yale, and the Open University in the UK.
Annotated Collections of Linksâ•… Some sites provide annotated
collections of links to other sites in a particular field. These are
often hosted by universities. For example, EcEdWeb, the Economic Education web site hosted by the University of Nebraska,
offers links to resources and lesson plans incorporating web
resources on economics and related topics that are geared to
K–12 as well as university-Â�level instruction (http://ecedweb.
unomaha.edu/home.htm). But these may also be hosted by
individual educators—Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day at
http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org is a valuable blog that is aimed
at educators like himself teaching English as a second language,
but his recommendations are often equally applicable for those
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teaching in other fields, from K–12 through university level. If
you find a blog that provides worthwhile resources for your
subject area, you will profit by subscribing to that blog through
your RSS reader, start page, or email so that you can regularly
review items of interest without having to schedule visits to
multiple sites.
Image Collectionsâ•… Beyond the many museums offering digitized views of artworks or photography, there are other sites
that allow for inclusion of images in your own instructor-�
generated content or that can be used in conjunction with
student projects. These range from amateur but often very good
collections on sharing sites like Flickr (www.flickr.com) to the
New York Public Library (www.npl.org). In Chapter 9 we will
discuss how to find images that you or your students can use for
Sites Specializing in Sharing Videoâ•… The ubiquitous YouTube
and YouTube EDU (http://youtube.com/edu) as well as the
educator site, Teacher Tube (www.teachertube.com), permit
users to upload and share video. Such sites can be valuable
resources for course-�related topics. YouTube presentations can
be embedded (the code copied and pasted into your own classroom) so that students need not leave your course management
system to access the video. Instructions for embedding content
can be found on the YouTube site handbook and if you need
more directions, a simple search at YouTube for “how to embed
video” will produce a large selection of instructional videos
made by users on the subject of how to embed YouTube videos
into blogs, PowerPoint, web sites, etc.
Podcast and Vodcast Collectionsâ•… Educational podcasts and
vodcasts (video podcasting) on iTunesU have already been
mentioned in this book but nearly every news source features
podcasts on contemporary news and culture, including music.
These have application for a wide variety of different courses
whether as a single recording or a series of recordings.
Wikis on a Variety of Subject Areasâ•… These are often most
easily discovered through a simple search with Google or other
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
search engine. Simply use the search terms for the subject
matter (e.g., biology) plus “wiki.”
There are some other excellent methods for finding resources
in your field. You might consider joining a mailing list (listserv)
or discussion forum in your discipline that shares information
about web resources or subscribe to a blog that specializes in
your field. This is a great way to quickly accumulate some solid
leads. Second, you might look for professional association or
academic web sites in your area of study that provide annotated
links to web resources. Finally, there’s no substitute for visiting
and evaluating sites on your own. Try to budget short periods of
time a few times a year that you can use just to search the Web
for resources in your field.
However you decide to use the Web, whether as a resource or
as part of a group activity or exercise, think twice before making
a specific site optional rather than required. Often instructors
post a list of links (or resources) and encourage students to use
these for valuable supplementary information. But when students learn that they aren’t required to visit a site, they usually
won’t. This doesn’t indicate a lack of intellectual curiosity on
their part. Rather, it indicates that students have other priorities: jobs, families, lovers, friends, finding an apartment, fixing
the plumbing, walking pets, not to mention handling a full load
of coursework from other classes. So, when they see the word
optional attached to a given item on their syllabus, their natural
instinct is to pass it by.
Using the Web as a Resource: Two Examples
Let’s look at two examples of how web resources can be used as
the focus of an assignment.
For a course on modern China, one of the authors, Susan Ko,
made use of a number of publicly available web sites to give
students added insights apart from the somewhat dry textbook
readings and her own commentary.
For one assignment, she sent students to review original documents from the US National Security archive (www.gwu.
edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB66/#docs) on the “Shanghai
Communique” of 1972 that led to the reopening of US relations
with mainland China.
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Students were asked to respond to questions in the discussion area,
Based on the NSA documents, what was most surprising to
you about the way that relations between the US and China
were reopened? What did you discover that you did not
already know from your textbook readings and how would
you characterize the discussions that took place between the
two parties? Please give an example from one of the documents to illustrate your points.
Another site used was a series of video interviews on a PBS
video site, focusing on the years 1998–2001 in China, highlighting the great changes in the economy at this time (www.pbs.
The interview segments were conducted with real people and
their struggles to adjust to change. This site proved very popular
because the students really liked being exposed to this more
personalized view of change as revealed through the video
The corresponding discussion requested that students
respond to one or more of the following questions:
1. What was the situation for state-�owned, state-�run industries
in the late 1990s? Why were workers afraid for their futures?
What happened to such workers? Use examples from the
video to represent the different fates workers experienced.
2. Judging from these videos, what characteristics and circumstances do you think made a person more likely to thrive or
fail in the new Chinese economy and society?
Another example is provided by Pam Taylor during her time
as a nursing instructor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She built a series of seven online exercises that
employed guided web search for specific information related to
disease processes. Explaining the design of these exercises, she
says they “provided for the increasing sophistication of the student’s understanding of the pathophysiologic processes and
web search skills.”
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
In several cases, Taylor combined a case study method with
the guided web research, asking students to apply the information learned to answer questions about a hypothetical patient.
For example, she directed students to a series of web resource
sites on hematology and cardiovascular topics. She then posted a
case study of “John Smith” and asked students to answer a series
of questions about Mr. Smith’s health, based on the knowledge
gleaned from the web sites. This was an individual assignment, in
which students input their responses into an online form. The
case study included graphic elements, such as a diagram of Mr.
Smith’s heart, as well as questions related to the graphics: “Mr.
Smith is diagnosed with an inferior myocardial infarction. Use
the following diagram to locate where the infarction occurred in
Mr. Smith’s heart.” The student then had to check one of three
boxes showing the location of the infarction.
What were Taylor’s goals in using this approach to teaching?
Taylor noted that she hoped to “present students with increasingly complex technology-related skill-building situations related
to their course of study,” as well as to “provide students with
increasingly complex opportunities to apply their growing
knowledge base of pathophysiology to situations which also
require critical thinking skills.”
A Grading Rubric for Every Activity?
A rubric is an assessment tool that offers a defined range and
set of performance criteria for meeting learning objectives.
While most instructors probably have a mental set of guidelines
and criteria that they use to guide their assessment of student
work, creating and posting a rubric makes this internal set of
criteria more explicit, benefiting both students and instructor.
The student knows what to expect and uses the rubric as a guide
in carrying out assignments, while the instructor finds there are
fewer questions from and challenges by students and that students are more responsive to the clearly enunciated objectives.
We have featured a number of rubrics in this chapter in conjunction with instructional activities. But it is possible to create a
rubric for almost any sort of online course activity. We mentioned
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in Chapter 5 the importance of clearly defining your grading criteria when shaping the syllabus for an online class. In addition to
including a concise description within the syllabus, you might
want to consider creating a detailed grading rubric for one or
more of your assignments
An effective rubric should be detailed enough to cover all the
complexity and different aspects required to complete an
assignment, but simple enough that an instructor has little
trouble deciding between the higher and lower parts of the
grading range. We recommend keeping rubrics to no more than
five or six different scoring categories. This will help ensure that
you have an efficient process that avoids unnecessary hair-�
splitting and time-�consuming deliberations.
You may overlay a late policy onto your rubric (for example,
deduct one or a partial point from any score when postings are
made within a specific number of days after the due date) or
build your late policy into the rubric itself.
In writing rubrics for assignments in an online class, you
should also address some general expectations about what constitutes quality work for undergraduate or graduate students,
including coherent and largely error-Â�free writing, adequate documentation, and your institution’s policy on plagiarism. These
are no less important for an online class than for one delivered
face-�to-face, and such criteria help reinforce the principle that
online courses should be held to the same (or higher) standards
as those delivered on campus.
Although writing a good rubric requires some initial investment of time, you may find that the process of constructing
one, by requiring thoroughness and attention to each aspect of
the assignment, helps produce a more carefully considered and
effective assessment of student work.
A Rubric for Online Discussion
Since online participation in particular often presents a challenge
to students who are trying to judge their own performance, you
might find a rubric that helps set standards for online participation
in discussion very useful. Here is a simple rubric for judging online
participation on the discussion board that can be adapted and
revised to fit a number of different circumstances:
Chapter 7╇ •â•‡ Student Activities in the Online Environment
Three Points
■ Participant made at least two postings on the discussion board,
one of which was a response to that of a classmate.
■ Participant’s comments were responsive to the discussion
threads posted by the instructor.
■ Participant made substantive comments or questions that significantly enhanced the discussion and served to help move the
conversation forward. These included follow-�up questions,
examples, or new perspectives.
■ Participant’s comments provided evidence that the participant
had read a substantial number of classmates’ postings.
■ Participant referred to or showed evidence of having read,
viewed, or completed the relevant assignments.
■ Participant’s postings were constructive, and differences of
opinion were expressed in a respectful manner.
Two Points
■ Participant made at least two postings, but none was in
response to that of a classmate.
■ Participant was responsive to the greater part of the discussion
threads posted by the instructor.
■ Participant made comments or asked questions that contributed to the discussion and helped move the conversation
forward. These included at least a few follow-�up questions,
examples, or new perspectives.
■ Participant’s comments provided evidence that the participant
had read at least a few classmates’ postings.
■ Participant showed some evidence of having read, viewed, or
completed the relevant assignments.
■ Participant’s postings were constructive, and differences of
opinion were expressed in a respectful manner.
One Point
■ Participant made at least one posting of a substantive nature.
■ Participant was responsive to at least one discussion thread
posted by the instructor.
■ Participant’s comments provided evidence that the participant
had read at least a few classmates’ postings or had read,
viewed, or completed one of the relevant assignments.
■ Participant’s postings were constructive, and differences of
opinion were expressed in a respectful manner.
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We hope that this chapter has helped you realize that the
types of instructional activities that can take place online are
not only as varied and potentially engaging as those that can be
achieved in the face-�to-face class, but in many cases offer
possibilities far beyond traditional on-�campus classes. In the
next two chapters we will consider how to enrich your content
and opportunities for deepening the learning experience for
your students.
Copyright, Intellectual
Property, and Open
Educational Resources
n the last chapter, we discussed the use of the Web as
resource and focus of online course assignments. Instructional use of the Web has been greatly enhanced in recent years
by the growth of open educational resources (OER). OERs by
their very nature permit instructors to freely use, adapt, or even
add to their content. However, many other potential materials
that you may want to include in your courses are those governed by copyright and fair use laws. Finally, instructors who
create their own content may be concerned with the issue of
intellectual property. This chapter deals with these three related
issues of import to the online instructor. Copyright and fair use
and intellectual property are but two sides of the same coin.
These three issues are treated here as follows:
1. Copyright and fair use. Do you have the right to use other
people’s materials in teaching your course?
2. Intellectual property. What happens to the intellectual material that you create once you’ve posted it online? Do you still
own it? What can you do if an unauthorized person makes
use of it?
3. Open educational resources (known as OER) are generally
free materials that are available under terms of use that
encourage sharing, reproduction, and, in some cases, even
repurposing by educators. In most cases, while the materials
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are freely reusable, the user is required to attribute the
resource to its original creator.
While there exist international copyright regulations, specifics in copyright law differ from country to country. Here we will
discuss copyright and fair use as well as intellectual property as
it relates to the United States, and touch on possible significance for other countries. We are not legal experts on these
matters so our intention is merely to set out some guidelines
that faculty can reasonably follow in approaching these issues.
After discussing copyright, we will then discuss open educational resources, a truly international movement.
Copyright and Fair Use in the United
No matter what country you are in, you need to be aware of the
copyright laws where the material originates. In using materials
you find on the Web, you need to know what material you can
use, under what circumstances you can use it, and when you
are breaking the law.
The simple answer to all of the above is that copyright law, as
it is written, states that if you’re using material that belongs to
others without their permission and the material you’re using
goes beyond “fair use” and is made openly accessible (either on
your public web site or via a DVD you’ve distributed to your
students), then you’re probably breaking the law and thus
vulnerable to a suit by the material’s rightful owner.
If you are an educator, the powers that be (a consortium consisting of representatives of industry, publishing, education,
and other areas in the United States convened to advise Congress on the creation of a new or amended copyright law) have
made a few grudging exceptions. If you are teaching in a classroom or online, you may make use of materials that you don’t
own, as long as you do not make them freely available for distribution and the amount you use does not exceed certain fixed
limits. These exceptions have been collected in a document
known as the Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia
Chapter 8╇ •â•‡ Copyright, Intellectual Property, and OERs
which emerged in the mid-Â�1990s. They are “guidelines” rather
than legal code because they did not constitute a formal
amendment to the basic copyright law. Nevertheless, an educator adhering to the Fair Use Guidelines is likely avoiding the risk
of liability to a suit.
Kimberly Bonner is an expert in intellectual property who
heads up the Center for Intellectual Property at University of
Maryland University College. We asked her about the most
common misconception that faculty have about fair use and
she replied, “I think many faculty really think that fair use is
automatic for educational purposes and it is not.”
So how do you determine if what you’re using falls within the
fair use criteria? The copyright law itself specifies four overall
determining factors:
1. What is the character of the use? Put simply, is it for commercial or noncommercial purposes? Noncommercial use is
much more permissible. If you are a teacher at an educational institution, you will have no problem satisfying this
criterion. But if you are assembling courseware for distribution—say, via a DVD—you may not qualify for the fair use
exemption because you have copied information that does
not belong to you and made it available outside the confines
of your classroom.
2. What is the nature of the work to be used? If the work is in the
public domain—that is, out of copyright or never copyrighted
(created for public use or older than the copyright laws)—
then, of course, you’re fine. If the work is copyrighted, the
“nature of the work” may include how original or creative it’s
considered to be. Original or creative work often requires the
permission of the owner. Strictly factual material is less likely
to require permission.
3. How much of the work will you use? Large amounts and large
percentages of the original work do not qualify as fair use.
4. What effect would the use have on the market for the original
work? Use that would significantly damage the work’s market
value does not qualify as fair use. This is the key provision for
online educators. If you are teaching using a password-�
protected site, to which only students or other invited guests
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may gain access, you probably qualify under this part of the
fair use rules. In essence, your site may be deemed the equivalent of a traditional classroom bounded by four walls. But if
your class is accessible by anyone on the Internet, you are, in
effect, making the work available for anyone who wants it,
and this presumably damages the work’s market value.
To these four original factors, the consortium that developed
the Fair Use Guidelines for Educational Multimedia added the
following stipulations:
1. Students may incorporate portions of others’ works into their
multimedia creations and perform and display those creations for academic assignments.
2. Faculty may incorporate portions of others’ works into their
multimedia creations
a. to create multimedia curriculum materials;
b. to teach remote classes where access and total number of
students are limited and where technology makes copying
impossible. (If materials can be copied, they may be made
available over the network for only fifteen days and then
must be placed on reserve for on-�site use only.)
3. Faculty may demonstrate their multimedia creations at professional symposia and retain them in their own portfolios.
4. Time limit on fair use by faculty: two years from first instructional use of the multimedia work.
5. Copies limit: Generally only two copies are allowed, but joint
work creators may each have a copy. In an electronic sense, a
copy is a file you have saved on a disk.
6. Portion limits:
a. motion media (including video and animations): up to 10
percent of the original work or three minutes, whichever is
b. text: up to 10 percent of the original work or 1,000 words,
whichever is less;
c. poems: up to 250 words, but further limited to:
i. three poems or portions of poems by one poet, or
Chapter 8╇ •â•‡ Copyright, Intellectual Property, and OERs
ii.five poems or portions of poems by different poets from
a single anthology.
7. Music (including lyrics and music videos): up to 10 percent
of the original work or thirty seconds, whichever is less.
8. Photos and images: up to five works from one artist or photographer; up to 10 percent or fifteen works, whichever is
less, from a collection.
9. Database information: up to 10 percent or 2,500 fields or cell
entries, whichever is less.
The Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization
(TEACH) Act of 2002 is a copyright amendment that did serve to
broaden the conversation to explicitly include distance education and digital creations. But the TEACH Act is complex and is
not something individual instructors can be expected to interpret on their own. In some ways it has confused as much as elucidated the rules for educators and it often addresses issues that
must be handled by institutions as a whole. However, if you are
seeking to use text, video, or audio without paying a fee, you are
probably on solid ground if you observe some of the same limits
we have already noted. To sum up:
■ Limit amount—do not attempt to make available an entire
work (see fair use guidelines above).
■ Limit time—do not make the work available for an entire
■ Limit access—make available only to enrolled students in
your class; use a password-�protected site such as your course
management system.
Is Anyone Really Watching?
Some readers may find the foregoing fair use guidelines somewhat excessive. After all, you might argue, with so much material available on the Web, who could possibly monitor it all
Think of the matter this way: It is just as easy for those who
own material to find it on the Web as it was for you to secure it
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in the first place. Sophisticated search tools now exist, and are
continually being improved upon, for tracking down pirated
material. As the market for distance education grows, so do the
economic incentives for people to protect any material that
rightfully belongs to them.
Thus, you must be especially conscientious about materials
you post on the public Web. If you aren’t, the institution you
work for will no doubt encourage you to revise your behavior,
because it is usually the institution that bears the heaviest liability in a copyright suit. But you personally are not immune.
Finding the Rightful Owner
Ascertaining the rightful owner of copyrighted material can
sometimes prove quite complex, particularly when ownership
may have changed hands several times since the work was first
There are a number of ways to track down authorship using
the Web. Services such as the Copyright Clearance Center
(www.copyright.com) can help with searching out the ownership status of a given piece of material and can often give you
price quotes as well.
What to Do If You Aren’t Sure Whether You
Need Permission
First, we recommend that you consult your institution’s library
to see if they are able to assist you with licensing or securing
permission. They will also be able to tell you what costs, if any,
are associated with licensing. Such costs are not easy to calculate in advance—they can range from inexpensive electronic
rights to a short article or an exorbitant price for one poem.
Once you know what the costs incurred might be, you (and your
institution) can make a choice about whether or not to use particular material. Your institution may have a specific form that
they want you to use in applying for permission or to enable
them to make that determination for you. If you do not have
access to such a service and you think the work you are using
does not qualify for the fair use exemption you should write the
owner and ask for permission.
Chapter 8╇ •â•‡ Copyright, Intellectual Property, and OERs
State who you are, what you plan to do with the material, and
how long you plan to use it/when you plan to remove it from
your course site. Some publishers have their own forms for permissions posted on their web sites. But in other cases, you may
A Sample Letter Requesting Permission
The following general template can be can adapted as necessary
when you need to secure permission to use someone else’s work.
In the paragraph where you explain your intentions, be sure to note
the key features of the proposed use, such as who will have
access to the site and how long the material will be made avail­
able. If the material is to be sold as part of a coursepack, you
should indicate that as well.
[Letterhead stationery or return address/email/phone or fax numbers]
[Name and address of addressee]
Dear [title, name]:
I am [describe your position] at [name of institution]. I would like
your permission to [explain intended use in detail—e.g., reprint,
incorporate into lectures, post in online classroom, distribute via
DVD] the following [insert the full citation to the original work or
attach a copy of the image or graphics if needed]. The material will
be made available to # students as follows [e.g., through
password-�protected web site, on DVD] for the expected period of
[time period intended].
Please indicate your approval of this permission by signing the
letter where indicated below and returning it to me as soon as pos­
sible, by mail, by fax, or [by scanned image] via email. Your
signing of this letter will also confirm that you own [or your
company owns] the copyright to the above-�described material.
Thank you very much,
[Your name and signature]
[Type name of addressee below signature line]
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need to write the owner directly. (See the box “A Sample Letter
Requesting Permission.”) Keep a copy of all your correspondence, whether by letter or by email. If no one responds to your
request, you can then probably use the material, relatively
secure that you have made a good-�faith effort to contact the
author and secure his or her permission.
In most cases—probably about 95 percent of the time—you
will receive permission to use the material without having to
pay any fee or royalty. In those rare cases in which you are not
given permission free of charge, you can either pay the fee or
use other material instead.
Important! If you are not sure whether or not you
can use someone else’s content, the rule is—when in
doubt, ask.
What about Links and Embedded Resources?
Linking to someone else’s public web site, whether as part of a
course assignment or as an addition to a page of course notes,
does not contradict the copyright strictures. However, as a
matter of courtesy, it may be advisable to let the owner of a personal page know that you are linking to the site, particularly if it
is a personal site housed on a hosting service that might incur
additional costs if more than a prescribed number of visitors
“hit” the site. Very often, when you notify the owner this way,
he or she may return the favor by letting you know when the
URL for the site has changed.
An increasing number of Web 2.0 sites like VoiceThread,
YouTube, and TeacherTube allow for the copying and embedding of code within your course management system, blogs,
PowerPoint, or web page, permitting your students to play the
video or other multimedia from within your own course site. This
is particularly helpful for those whose institutions have blocked
access to the YouTube site or for those who do not want students
to wade through all the other potentially inappropriate or distracting links surrounding a video. On the other hand, the video
in question is still being hosted on the other source’s external
server, so the instructor does not need to worry about possible
overload on a university or personal hosting server. Instructions
Chapter 8╇ •â•‡ Copyright, Intellectual Property, and OERs
for embedding a video and its player from YouTube are supplied
at www.youtube.com/sharing. When the embed code is automatically generated by the external party as is the case with
YouTube, you, the instructor, do not need to write any of your
own code to embed the video, so it is a real boon to instructors
who do not know how or do not have easy access to support to
create code. Embedding, when it is made freely available in this
manner, may be thought of as a sophisticated way of linking.
Figure 8.1╇ Auto-generated code for embedding a VoiceThread item
within your web page, blog, or course management system.
YouTube and many other Web 2.0 tools offer this option which allows
your students to access the application without leaving the classroom.
Reproduced by permission from VoiceThread.
Teaching Online
Intellectual Property in the United States
It’s one thing to borrow someone else’s work to help teach your
class—you know your intentions are good—but it’s quite
another thing if someone borrows your work. Among instructors who are leery of using the Web, one persistent fear is that
their intellectual property will be stolen by some enterprising
student, or worse still, by another educator.
This fear is not unfounded. Students do reproduce course
notes and even sell them, often supplementing them with notes
they have written themselves. This practice has been going on
since long before the advent of the Web (surely no one has forgotten the dreaded copying machine). But the practice is significantly easier when lectures and other course materials are
posted online, because all one needs to do is to copy the materials electronically and save them as a file.
A more sinister scenario involves other educators, or even
for-Â�profit publishers of educational material, “borrowing” your
lectures and using them for their own purposes, either reworking them or reformatting them to suit their own needs. In a
world in which tenured positions are becoming less commonplace and many instructors find themselves teaching for various
universities at one time or another, intellectual theft of this sort
may not be as rare as you suppose.
Let’s look first at your legal rights and then at some practical
steps you can take to protect your work.
The Legal Status of Your Work
Believe it or not, legal ownership of material you create is a very
gray area at most institutions. Most faculty members are under
the impression that the intellectual work they produce or
publish automatically belongs to them. Not so. It is simply the
accepted custom of most universities, particularly those
involved in research, to cede rights to such intellectual property
to their faculty members, because the administrators realize
that work thus produced will bring the institution revenue in
the form of grants. But institutions do not have to cede these
rights. They merely choose to.
Chapter 8╇ •â•‡ Copyright, Intellectual Property, and OERs
The same has been historically true for course content,
including syllabi, lecture notes, and course outlines. Departments, however, often retain copies of these materials to make
available to new instructors or TAs who are teaching the course
for the first time. Of course, in this situation the new instructors
may be expected to adapt rather than copy the original syllabus.
A departing instructor is also usually free to take his or her
courseware to a new institution.
Teaching online often means creating original material in the
form of electronic files or web pages enriched with multimedia
elements such as graphics, sound, video, and animations.
Instructors who create such material may assume it belongs to
them, but when a university or other institution is intent on
marketing its courses and programs online, ownership of these
materials may not be quite as clear-Â�cut. From the institution’s
point of view, such material may not bring in revenue in the
form of grants, but it can help create revenue in the form of
increased tuition. Hence the institution may be less willing to
cede rights to the instructor. The institution may consider what
the instructor has created as work-�made-for-�hire, that is, work
that was done in the context of fulfilling job responsibilities. Or,
the institution may “unbundle” the rights, permitting themselves to continue to use the material while allowing the
instructor to use all or a portion of the material at another university or in some other educational context.
As Kimberly Bonner notes, faculty,
need to understand the “works made for hire” doctrine in
copyright law that makes the employer the copyright owner
of a work if the work was done within the scope of employment or pursuant to an independent contractor relationship. And they need to know that course ownership policies
may not be enough to alter a “work made for hire”
It is a good idea, therefore, to find out—in writing—your
institution’s policy with respect to online materials you’ve
created to teach your course. If there is no established policy,
come to some agreement with the administrators about your
material. This is especially important if you’re a nontenured
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adjunct or lecturer and expect to use your courseware at several
different institutions, either online or as part of a blended
course. As Bonner explains, “faculty should either have specific
language in their contracts that support them retaining ownership in their works or incorporate copyright policies in their
teaching contracts (particularly if the policy permits faculty
retaining ownership rights in course materials).”
If you can’t secure clear ownership rights to your own material, you can always copyright the material yourself before
making it available to your institution or class. Although most
faculty members aren’t aware of this, you automatically hold
the copyright of your intellectual property the moment you
commit it to paper or to any fixed medium. If it came to a court
case, however, you would have to prove the date you created
the material. One way to do this is to send yourself a registered
envelope or package with the material inside and then keep the
package unopened. A second way is to submit a claim for copyright to the Library of Congress.
As online instruction becomes more lucrative for universities
and private institutions alike, the question of who owns the
rights to material and who benefits from revenues derived from
it will become more and more important, especially since the
percentage of instructors in contingent rather than secure, full-�
time permanent positions has also increased.
The field of copyright law and intellectual property is rife
with legal experts. We do not pretend to a special expertise.
What we do suggest is that you take nothing for granted when it
comes to material you have created and that you make the
effort to learn in advance the specific policies of the institution
you are working for.
Practical Steps for Protecting Your Work
A copyright notice prominently displayed is like a scarecrow in
a field. It will scare away some of the crows, but some will come
pecking all the same. So it pays to be both vigilant and
Various instructional materials are pilfered from ordinary
classrooms every day, and the Internet makes it even easier to
Chapter 8╇ •â•‡ Copyright, Intellectual Property, and OERs
steal material and repurpose it. With a little care, however,
most instructors who post material online can avoid serious
Begin with common sense. Say you have an essay you’ve
been working on. It hasn’t yet been published, but you have
good reason to think it may be published. Meanwhile, you’d like
your class to read it. If you’re fearful that one of your students
may copy it or send it to someone else, then post an abstract or
description of it instead. Or, you may affix a notice that clearly
cautions students that the essay is not for distribution—this is a
milder approach, but surprisingly effective: most students will
be respectful of this and it suggests to all that you are consciously setting up some controls on this content.
There are also some technological strategies you can use to
help ward off potential thieves.
Technological Methodsâ•… The first, and probably the most
obvious, technological stratagem to reduce theft is to use a
password-�protected web site. Most course management
systems possess encryption tools that prevent unwanted visitors from viewing the course. If you aren’t using a course management system, tools exist that will permit your computer
support personnel to password-�protect your web site with
various computer programs. Even if you’re essentially on your
own, with no support, a number of easily accessible programs
will allow you to password-�protect your site (refer to the web
sites listed in the Guide to Resources).
There are also some technological methods for protecting
unlawful copying or downloading of your work. Some software
programs permit you to limit the way your work can be copied
by others online. Take the case of a lecture you have created
using Microsoft Word. If you save this document as an HTML
file or post it to your web site as an attachment, your students
will be able to open it or download it exactly as if they had
copied it from your hard disk. What you might do instead is to
use a program such as Adobe Acrobat. This is the program that
permits you to create the Acrobat file format that you see everywhere on the Web, and it provides options that can help limit
unauthorized use of your material.
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Using Adobe Acrobat
With Adobe Acrobat, you can use any program you normally
would to format your material: Microsoft Word, PowerPoint—
any program that permits you to print. When your document is
ready, you “print” it in a format known as PDF (Portable Document Format). You can then make this PDF file available via
your web site, permitting any student who possesses the ubiquitous Adobe Acrobat Reader to read, download, and even
reprint your file exactly as you originally formatted it without
having to own the software program that created it.
However, if you do not want your students to reprint your
material or save it, Adobe Acrobat permits you to restrict how
the material is used. You can remove the ability to reprint text
and graphics or even to select and copy them once they reach a
student’s home computer. You can restrict printing out the
document so that no printing out is allowed or only in low resolution. You can require a password to open. Similarly, assuming
you are operating according to the fair use guidelines, you can
copy articles or material culled from other sources and “print”
them as PDF files, then limit your students’ rights to repurpose
them by taking advantage of the features just mentioned. (Note:
Adobe Reader is a free program, but Adobe Acrobat is not. If it is
not available on your computer, check to see if your institution
can install it for you. Once Acrobat is installed, the PDF option
should appear as one of the printing options available in your
print setup (dialog) box or in the “Save As” option.)
Another way to protect your intellectual property is to
convert it into streaming media format, particularly when it
involves the use of multimedia. Streaming media, such as narrated slide shows and recorded audio files, are housed on the
server and streamer to the user. They exist in temporary
memory on the user’s computer. A particularly clever student
hacker might figure out how to retrieve this material from the
temporary memory cache, but most users will neither want to
nor know how to. The same may be said for the PDF restriction
detailed above—a determined student may be able to evade the
restrictions, but sending out information in this format is like
building a fence around your fields. It will keep most, though
not all, intruders from pillaging your crops.
Chapter 8╇ •â•‡ Copyright, Intellectual Property, and OERs
Checking for Unauthorized Use
Finally, if you are worried that your intellectual property is being
stolen, or even if you are just sensibly concerned, try conducting
an online search every six months or so. Choose a unique sentence or phrase from one of your lectures and use a search engine
to search online. If the phrase pops up, and it looks as if it was
borrowed from your notes, drop the author of the offending page
a warning note or query, as the case may demand. Be gracious—
it may often be inadvertent on the part of the offender.
Open Educational Resources (OER)
The term “open educational resources,” mentioned in Chapters
3 and 7, derives from a 2002 UNESCO forum on open courseware for developing countries. Since 2005, the OER community
has grown to encompass organizations and individuals worldwide who are interested in sharing resources and creating new
digital resources that can be made available to all on the Internet. The definition of OER not only includes the notion that the
content of OER is free for use but also that sharing of knowledge
is actively encouraged. A useful handbook for OER educators is
available at www.wikieducator.org/OER_Handbook/educator_
version_one—the handbook and the Wikieducator site itself are
both examples of OER.
OER content ranges from small learning objects, images,
quizzes, lesson plans, syllabi, or discrete modules to larger collections of modules and entire courses. OER can usually be
freely reused, adapted to new uses through mixing with other
content, and freely distributed in their new form. The terms of
use for OER can vary but most require attribution to the original
creator and are offered free for use by nonprofits and educational institutions. Look for terms of use on each OER site. For
example, the MIT Opencourseware site clearly sets forth its own
rules as (1) noncommercial, i.e., the content can only be used
by non-�profit groups and educators; (2) attribution must be
made to MIT and the professor whose work you are using,
whether the content is used as is or mixed or repurposed; and
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(3) “share-Â�alike”—anything created with their content must be
offered as an OER to others.
They also give explicit guidelines concerning how to affix an
You can find OER content through a number of different
ways. Obviously, you can search your library databases or the
Web for such resources, and while this may turn up articles on
OER rather than the materials themselves, there may be links to
the actual OER as well. There are some well-�known sites that
provide collections of OER, such as the OER Commons (http://
oercommons.org), or that have more discipline-�specific collections such as the previously mentioned Chemistry Collective
(www.chemcollective.org). (See the Guide to Resources for
more collections of OER.)
By making use of appropriate OER, you are often able to
enhance your course while avoiding the issues and costs associated with copyrighted material. Another approach to using OER
is to incorporate or adapt the OER with your own materials. For
example, you might add to your own lecture in introductory
physics by using some materials from a lecture by one of the
professors featured on the MIT Opencourseware site. By mixing
OER with your own materials in this way, you may find that you
are able to add diversity of perspectives and approaches to your
own content.
Creative Commons License
Do consider whether or not a particular piece you have created is
something you want to protect for whatever reason—e.g., it
involves expected income or because you fear another educator
may reuse it and claim it for their own. If you simply want
acknowledgment and attribution of your work, then especially
for publicly available web sites, blogs, wikis, or other sites where
you may share your work, the Creative Commons license (http://
creativecommons.org/license) may be a good approach. When
you sign up for a free license with this organization, you can
decide what limitations you wish to put on what you publish
online—this can range from no restrictions to no modifications
Chapter 8╇ •â•‡ Copyright, Intellectual Property, and OERs
Figure 8.2╇ Creative Commons Licensing Conditions, from http://
creativecommons.org/about/licenses. Image licensed by Creative
or use by commercial entities; the Creative Commons site has a
very helpful series of questions to take you step by step through
this decision. By affixing one of the six main Creative Commons
notices, you can let others know that you are encouraging the
propagation of your ideas, but that you do want credit for originating those ideas. Deliberately making some portion of your
work available as an OER can actually benefit you in many
ways—you may create a demand for your work that might not
have otherwise transpired, find potential collaborators among
the world of educators, and find yourself quoted, invited to
present at conferences, and other unexpected benefits.
If you want to mix the use of OER materials along with some
non-�OER materials that are not covered under fair use, you will
want to request permission from the copyright holder. The OER
handbook discusses how to handle this situation and provides
a sample letter requesting permission for clearance at
License/ Copyright_clearance.
Special Issues Related to Free Web 2.0 Sites
Many of the free Web 2.0 sites mentioned in this book and the
many others not explicitly mentioned here may invoke terms
of use that, while granting that what you blog, record, or
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otherwise create using their tools and hosting service remains
your intellectual property, may yet contain provisions that
entitle them to display and reveal your content as part of their
publicity, demonstrations, or other possible uses. This is especially true for any content that you choose to make public, but
may also potentially include your “private” areas. While you
should not overreact to this sort of use (which, in effect, is part
of the bargain, like advertisements, in exchange for free use
and seldom exercised), it is a reminder that you should hesitate to post anything or create content—such as something
incorporating private contact info, personal details, photos,
etc.—that you would feel uncomfortable having revealed to
the world. It is a good idea to make your students aware of the
terms of use for the sites and encourage them to use similar
discretion outside your course management system. There is
also the fact that a Web 2.0 site may be hosted on a server in a
country that does not hold to the same privacy provisions as
those of your own country, so that is yet another reason to
carefully read the terms of use and privacy policy posted on a
Assuring Academic Integrity among Your
In Chapter 3 we discussed the need to devise assessments in
such a way as to make it more difficult for students to plagiarize
essays and papers. For instructors who suspect that the elegantly worded phrases they suddenly encounter in their students’ essays may have been borrowed from something the
students discovered online, a simple search on Google will often
result in the identification of the plagiarized portions.
But again, as students spend more and more time online and
students themselves increasingly engage in production on the
Web, assurance of academic integrity and guarding against plagiarism is something that should start well before the work is
produced. Here are some other tips for encouraging academic
integrity when developing an assignment:
Chapter 8╇ •â•‡ Copyright, Intellectual Property, and OERs
■ Make sure that paper or essay topics are sufficiently specific,
rather than so broad that any borrowed text could meet the
■ Include an element that requires students to refer to discussions or other content specific to the class activity.
■ When allowing for choice in picking topics, either provide a
set of choices or require that students provide an outline,
bibliography, and rough draft of their papers so that you can
monitor the development of the work.
■ Make sure that rubrics or listed criteria for grading the
assignment include responsiveness to the assignment
requirements and questions. While you may not be able to
prove plagiarism, you can easily see what’s relevant and what
is not.
■ Ask students to give examples and evidence to support their
arguments and theses.
■ Insist on clear citations and a reference list that matches
those citations.
■ For group work, ask students to clearly label each person’s
■ If students are creating multimedia products, ask them to
read about fair use guidelines and document what they have
borrowed from elsewhere.
■ Remind students at the beginning of the course of your institution’s policy on plagiarism, and give examples, if not provided by your institution, of what constitutes plagiarism.
There are some excellent web sites such as the Virtual Academic Integrity Lab (VAIL) site (www.umuc.edu/distance/
odell/cip/vail/home.html) at University of Maryland University
College that offer tutorials on academic integrity for both
instructors and students. (See the Guide to Resources for additional resource sites.) Requiring students to take such tutorials
or devising other exercises as part of the introductory materials
in your course can help students get off on the right foot. Students do not always realize that they have plagiarized or otherwise offended the rules of academic integrity. Exposing all your
students in a systematic way to such resources, creating a short
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assignment around such a resource, or simply discussing the
rules are frank, non-�threatening ways to raise awareness of the
issues before any offense occurs.
Having looked at the subject of content ownership, in the
next chapter we shine a light on the ways in which lively content
for online courses can be created, assembled, or enriched by
those with limited technical skills as well as those who are more
technically proficient.
Creating Courseware and
Using Web 2.0 Tools
f you are lucky enough to have access to instructional technology staff who can create your every wished-�for simulation,
beautifully displayed web pages, and videos with high production values, then you may not care much about creating course
content beyond the usual text-�based materials on your own.
But even the most fortunately equipped and staffed institutions
may have some limitations as to time that can be expended on
just your course. So if the course you are teaching is not already
fully supplied with superb multimedia and beautifully crafted
modules, you will want to think about how to enhance your
courseware through the use of multimedia, additional
resources, and tools that add interest and enhance interaction
in your class. By the term “courseware” we mean all the software tools, digital materials, and resources used as course
materials to deliver an online class. Courseware thus includes
both text-�based and multimedia-�enriched materials. We also
include applications and tools that are inseparable from the
communication of course content.
This book has always promoted the use of low-�threshold,
low-�barrier types of software solutions for instructors to create
course materials. Low-�threshold, low-�barrier means those technologies that are easily learned by you (and perhaps by your
students) and that can be used to easily accomplish your
instructional objectives. When considering what constitutes the
category of Web 2.0 tools, our definition includes “easy to learn
and easy to apply” tools that have built-Â�in sharing and collaboration features.
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The course management system or virtual learning environment software still serves for most online instructors as their
main stage. Within your CMS, it may be that you can already
create HTML pages via WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you
get”) editors, and perhaps even generate audio clips, PowerPoint slides, and images within this system. If you have a CMS,
it makes sense to fully exploit the capabilities that reside within
it to create enriched content. So find out what the capabilities
are in your CMS and experiment with the various document
formats available to you. Beyond that, you can easily link out to
open educational resources, web resources that incorporate
media, and perhaps connect to textbook-�publisher-supplied
But what if you have no CMS, or want to consider some
options not available in your CMS? In the past, if you wanted to
go beyond enlivening your course with just a few relevant
graphics or charts to creating a narrated slide show with the
sound of your voice synchronized to the display of images or a
video lecture, there was a substantial learning curve to accomplish these things. Some technical staff and instructional
designers might have told you that this was beyond your reach,
that creating “really good” learning objects and web pages
required knowledge of complex software programs in order to
make really cool web pages, the ones with text flying around
like swarms of locusts and colors undulating like the northern
But the great news about software is that every year it
becomes easier and easier to use. The obstacles that formerly
impeded instructors have been removed. In fact, there are a
number of low-�tech tools that cost very little, or even nothing at
all, that are easy to learn, easy to use, and easy to remember
when you use them again a month or so down the road. Better
still, much of what you may need to do can be accomplished
using software that is menu-�driven, freely available to use, and
that requires no programming ability at all. Web 2.0 tools in
particular may not even require a download of software but
may instead allow you to accomplish everything you need to do
through your browser.
To fully appreciate the possibilities that come with using
Web 2.0 tools to create multimedia, just look at some of the
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
educators’ blogs available on the Web. A great way to start is by
viewing some of the blogs by educators nominated or awarded
by Edublogs (http://edublogawards.com), which not only recognizes educators but also class blogs by students, best educational use of wikis and social networking sites, and best
resource-�sharing blogs. The use of multimedia on these blogs,
especially through the use of Web 2.0 tools, is impressive and
can open your eyes to the possibilities now available to ordinary
Let’s look at some of the options for creating courseware and
the use of Web 2.0 tools, beginning with the simplest means.
Creating Text for Course Pages
To write text for your course pages, you can generally avoid
having to learn HTML at all. In most cases, there will be a
WYSIWYG editor incorporated into your CMS or you can create
pages outside that CMS using the built-�in blog or wiki or free
web site software of your choice. If you still need to create a web
page on your own, we recommend using a free web page
WYSIWYG editor.
Figure 9.1╇ Built-in WYSIWYG Editor within Moodle, from http://
demo.moodle.org. Reproduced by permission from Moodle.
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While you can use a word-�processing program like MS Word
to create a web page, it does add proprietary code or can result
in problems like strange spacing that needs to be cleaned up in
an HTML editor, and presumably, if you knew how to use an
HTML editor, you would be likely to use that in the first place.
However, if you are looking to create some very simple pages,
you can certainly try it out in whatever format you intend to
place it—with Word 2003 and 2007, you can simply choose to
save as “Web page.” With Word 2007, you have an additional
choice, to save as “Web Page, Filtered” instead. This filters out
additional Word code, makes for a smaller document, and
should generally work better within a browser, but the best
thing to do is experiment and see how it works in your particular setup.
Creating Web Pages in a Web Editor
A more reliable way to produce a web page is to work directly in
a web page-�editing program. One of the most popular commercial editors is Dreamweaver and your institution may well have
a license for it or a similar program. However, this may be way
beyond what you need and there are several free, cross-�platform
(for Windows, Mac, and Linux) editors like KompoZer (www.
kompozer.net) and SeaMonkey Composer (www.seamonkey-�
project.org) that will do the job for you. Most web editors work
the same way and are not unlike standard word processors.
Functions such as boldfacing and centering a line of text are
invoked by clicking on an image or icon. Once you save a page
created in a WYSIWYG editor, it is automatically saved as a web
page complete with all the requisite code.
Designing Web Pages for Instruction: A Few Tips
Keep the background simple. The fact that you can add a background color or design doesn’t mean you ought to. Your students
are visiting your page in order to get information they need. What’s
important to them is seeing the information clearly. So, if you must
use a background, make it very light so that dark text will contrast
with it.
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
When choosing fonts, don’t overdo it. Too many fonts, sizes, or
colors confuse the eye rather than guide it. Look at any published
book and notice the relative simplicity of the layout. One size of
font (generally between 10- and 12-point type) defines the body
text. It is usually a font with serifs—the fine strokes at the top and
bottom of letters—because serifs help make a visual connection
between one letter and the next. Headings tend to be printed in
either bold or a sans serif (that is, nonserif) font. Sans serif fonts
tend to look stolid and important—or so our brains have been
trained to think.
Never use light text against a light background, such as yellow
text against a white background. It’s usually unreadable. Always
use very light against dark, or very dark against white.
Don’t force your readers to scroll down the page to follow the
main text. Reading on a screen isn’t the same as reading a printed
page. Many people don’t like to read too much text from the
screen, because of eye fatigue. On the other hand, it isn’t particularly enjoyable to follow links from one short page to another short
page. Usually the best compromise is to create one long page and
then provide some way, other than tedious scrolling, for your
reader to navigate through it. This means creating a table of contents somewhere (usually at the top of the page) with links to
“anchors” you set up on the page.
Don’t stretch your text completely across the page. Leave a little
white space on the left and the right. The white space contains the
text and makes it easier to read on the screen. The easiest way to
achieve this format is to create a table with two columns. Type in
the right column and leave the left column blank. Format the table
so that it has no lines defining the columns. Using a table, in fact,
is one of the most effective and efficient ways to format both text
and graphics on a web page and to make sure they will display
evenly no matter what the resolution and size of the monitor on
which they appear.
Don’t overload your page with web links. Your students are visiting your page; they should be able to see or get to the information
they want to find immediately. Even links to other pages within your
own site can easily be overdone. Try to make it easy for students
by listing the main topics on the front or main page, with links to
related pages. On the related pages, make sure you provide them
with a way to get back to the main page. That way, your students
can move back and forth with ease.
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The How and Why of Images
Images include everything from drawings, charts, and maps to
photographs, fine art, and cartoons. Building on the examples
noted earlier, here are some of the ways that images can enrich
your course:
■ to illustrate an abstract or unfamiliar concept, object, or phenomenon. For example, a Japanese woodblock print from
the late nineteenth century showing the Meiji emperor
dressed in a western suit and viewing cherry blossoms might
reinforce a lesson on the concept of modernization of Japan.
Photos or artworks of the trenches of World War I might
remain in the mind of students long after a text description
has faded from memory.
■ to provide more vivid detail than possible with text alone—
for example, maps documenting the changes over time in the
course of the Mississippi River, a drawing or photo showing
the past practice in China of footbinding for women, or a
diagram clearly marking the parts of an animal or the stages
of digestion in a biology lesson will provide more information than from the student’s reading alone.
■ to enliven and emphasize points in a lesson—for example,
photos and artwork capturing major historical events, portraits
of an author or politician, street scenes depicted in paintings
and watercolors may help make your points in a lecture.
■ as the basis for an assignment—for example, students can be
asked to take photos to document activities outside the classroom, to create graphs or tables to demonstrate their work, or
to find examples in the real world of the topics studied in class.
Finding Images
There has never been such a wealth of images available on the
Web as exists today, especially photographs, now that digital
cameras are ubiquitously embedded in our cell phones and
photo-�sharing sites like Flickr have encouraged everyone to
post and make public their photos. You can save almost any
image you find on the Web by clicking on it once, and then (if
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
you’re on a PC) right-Â�clicking your mouse or (if you use a Mac)
just holding the mouse button down. The dialog box will pop
up and permit you to save the image to your hard disk. After
that, you can easily upload it to a web page, into your CMS, or
edit and change it for these and other uses. And of course,
instructors can easily create their own photos for their courses
using those same popular digital cameras.
Two issues are connected with finding and using images—
terms of use (that is, are the photos freely usable or not within
your own course or can you simply link to them?) and finding
images that are relevant and appropriate for your class.
Using Google Image search allows you to insert a keyword to
find a great variety of images related to your topic, but it is not
always obvious which of these are royalty free. A sample search
for the image of T. S. Eliot, even though further refined to look
for only medium-�size photos of the face, results in 4,300 images!
When you click on each image, the standard Google language
declares, “Image may be subject to copyright.” To determine
copyright, you must then go to the original site and see if there
are any notations on the status of the photo. You can see that
this might get very time-�consuming so a better option might be
to use the Google Advanced search tool that filters out those
images that are royalty free from those that are not. By choosing
the criteria “any size,” “photo” in “JPEG” format and specifying
that the usage rights should be those “labeled for reuse,” the
results are much more manageable—106 photos, of which only
four or five actually include images of T. S. Eliot.
Flickr allows one to search for photos that are offered under
the terms of the Creative Commons. If I would like to find a
photo of a pine tree, I can use the Advanced Search to “Only
search within Creative Commons-Â�licensed content” and I can
further refine it to those images that I can modify, adapt, or
build upon in case I want to alter the images. Such a search
results in over 11,000 different photos of pine trees.
Another site to try is PicFindr (www.picfindr.com) which
allows you to search multiple sites for royalty-�free or inexpensive stock photography, a search further organized by the type
of usage or license you are looking for. A search for pine trees
here produces a large number of photos, most of which are
royalty free with a few others offered at a small price.
Figure 9.2╇ Advanced Google Image Search to find royalty-free images. Source: www.google.com.
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
Clipartâ•… There are several collections of clipart illustrations. For
example, Clipart ETC (http://etc.usf.edu/clipart) is a collection
sponsored by Florida’s Educational Technology Clearinghouse,
containing tens of thousands of pieces of clipart suitable for students and teachers, offered free for educational use of up to fifty
items without permission. (No T. S. Eliot here when we searched,
but several illustrations of Emerson and other notable writers.)
Computer Screen Grabsâ•… Sometimes all that’s needed is a
screen grab or screen shot of a portion of the computer screen.
Perhaps you want to show a portion of a web page or the way that
a form should be completed. Whatever the reason, if it resides on
your desktop, you can snap a picture of it. Computer “print
screen” keys can provide capture of an entire page, but when you
only want the menu on the left hand side of the screen, you need
to use screen grab software for that purpose. There are a number
of free or inexpensive tools that can do this and screen capture is
also included in image editors like Adobe Photoshop—check first
to see if your institution has a license for such software. Also
check to see if you already have this type of software on your
computer. For example, Mac OS X owners can take screen shots
of any portion of their screen using the existing keyboard shortcuts. Windows Vista may offer a Snipping Tool that can take
similar screen shots. (Keep in mind that depending on what they
are and how you intend to use them, you may need permission
to use those screen shots. See Chapter 8.)
If you do not have suitable software, you can do a simple web
search for free screen grab software. At the time of this writing,
there is Faststone (www.faststone.org/index.htm) and Screen
Grab (www.screengrab.org) offered free as a Firefox browser
plug-�in. Among commercial software, there is the popular and
very easy to use Snagit (www.techsmith.com/screen-�capture.
asp), available for a free trial.
Scanning Imagesâ•… Scanning means converting printed material
(whether graphic or text) into a digital format that a computer
can read. No matter how many images you can find searching
on the Web, you can’t find everything. If the images you want
reside in a book or magazine, you will have to scan the image
into a digital format that you can then further manipulate
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through editing. Your institution is likely to have scanners available through the library, your department office, or through a
unit that handles instructional technology, but as is increasingly
the case, many inexpensive home printers contain scanning
capabilities. Such printer-�scanners contain their own software
which allows you to save the image in the format and to the
folder on your hard drive that you select—the built-Â�in menus
and steps to make a simple scan are generally easy to follow.
Editing Imagesâ•… Some found or scanned images need a little
help. Some look dark and dreary, and others, such as those
gleaned from magazines or newspapers, seem tinted, grayish,
or full of dots. More common still, the image you scanned is
upside down or tilted. Or the photos and images you saved from
the Web may be too big or need cropping to cut out unwanted
portions of the picture.
It’s fun to fix up these images, but to do so you’re going to
need some sort of image-�editing software. There are many programs available. The venerable monarch of all image-�editing
programs is Adobe Photoshop. This is the program you would
want to use if your goal were to show a politician standing next
to a beautiful young woman he had actually never met. In other
words, it’s pretty sophisticated and expensive. In our view, for
most faculty members such a program amounts to software
overkill. It has so many features and special effects that remembering them after two weeks or so is a considerable feat. GIMP
(www.gimp.org) is a free program of similar complexity to
Adobe Photoshop and is available for multiple languages on
multiple platforms.
But the lesser-�known and often free or low-�cost image-�
editing programs are often a better choice for educators. They
are also easier to use and to learn and will let you do almost all
of the things you need to do to fix up your images.
For photos, Picnik (www.picnik.com) is a free editor, avail�
able online without a download, that allows you to do such
things as resize or crop photos. It is cross-�platform so it works
for those on Windows, Macs, or Linux.
If you just need to quickly resize images to fit more appropriately into your blog or web page, there are free programs like FastStone Photo Resizer (www.faststone.org/FSResizerDetail.htm).
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
Picasa is software that is offered free by Google to edit and
manage collections of photos, but is for Windows only. If you have
a Mac, you can use the iPhoto editing software that comes
installed on your machine.
For free editors for images and photos, there is Paint.NET,
www.getpaint.net—it is available in many languages and requires
a download to a Windows computer. If you have Microsoft Office
suite for either Windows or Mac, you may find it includes Picture
Manager, an image editor.
If you want to explore some of the different options and
features of editors, including platforms, prices, and other data
on each, an excellent comparison page for image editors may
be found on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Now that you’ve fixed up your image, the last thing you must
do is to save it in a format you can use on the Web. Fortunately,
there are only two common choices for this purpose.
If your image is an artist’s illustration or a piece of line art, then
the file format you should use is GIF. It was developed by CompuServe, an Internet service provider, many years ago as a way to
send or display graphics on the Web. GIF remains an excellent
choice for an image with relatively few colors.
If, however, the image you are saving is a photograph, GIF is
not an appropriate format. You should save a photograph as a
JPEG file, a format developed specifically for this purpose. The
acronym stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. JPEGs
aren’t so good, though, for simple line art with just a few colors;
with that type of art, the JPFG format often smudges lines or
makes them look ragged.
Note that some editors like Picasa that are designed solely or
mainly for editing photos save only in JPEG format, although most
can import images from different formats and convert them to
The How and Why of Audio
How about sound?
Sound is a much-�overlooked element in courses. But it can
do a lot. You can search for sound files on the Web and perhaps
discover a radio show or speech that is relevant to your class. Or
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you can record an interview with a colleague in your field, make
the recording available on your web page, and then ask your
students to comment on what your colleague said. Here are
reasons and ways (apart from the use in language and speech
classes previously discussed) to use audio:
■ Introduce yourself to the class in a personalized manner.
Even without a visual element, the voice conveys a sense of
who you are and your attitude toward teaching the course.
Encourage students to do the same but make it optional.
■ Use audio for feedback on assignments—this can range from
comments on papers to projects to insertion in online gradebooks. It is especially helpful for delivering sensitive criticism—your voice can easily soften what might seem like hard
criticism in text.
■ Record your lectures in a natural manner—the idea is to
record lectures and commentary prepared specially for your
online students rather than trying to capture something
recorded from your delivery in a face-�to-face class. For best
effect, keep your lectures and commentary short. It is tedious
to listen to long audio clips—we recommend you keep such
clips to no more than fifteen minutes. If you have the equivalent of an hour-�long lecture, it is best to split this up into
fifteen-�minute segments. That way, students can more easily
play back just that topic or topics that they need to review. If
you decide to do this on a regular basis, consider using a
podcast format to which students can subscribe.
■ Allow students to create presentations that include audio.
Some students are best at expressing themselves through the
spoken word while others may excel in writing or video. Role
playing, debates, and interviews are all examples of assignments in which audio may play an appropriate part.
■ As discussed in Chapter 7, use audio to bring interviews and
guest speakers to your class.
It used to be that if you wanted to play a sound file (usually in
the WAV or AIFF format) that you found on the Web, you had to
download it first. That was often a tedious process. A sound file
one minute in length might take ten minutes to download. If
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
the file was particularly important (such as a clip from President
Kennedy’s inauguration speech), you might have accepted the
inconvenience. But for anything else .â•›.â•›. well, you had to think
about it.
Then, with the advent of streaming media technologies you
no longer had to wait for the entire file to download in order to
hear it. Instead it began playing, and continued to play, within
fifteen seconds or so of your making the request. That’s what
the term “streaming media” means: information is fed in a continuous stream, rather than in one huge hunk, to your
There are three major types of streaming media (and a
number of lesser ones): QuickTime, RealNetworks, and
Windows Media Technology. By “types” we mean formats, that
is, the methods by which visual or audio information is assembled, compressed, and delivered. Each type has a “player” of its
own—a piece of software residing on the user’s computer that
can play the multimedia file once it arrives from the server via
the Internet.
Suddenly, however, all that has again changed. The second
major development that has affected the availability and practicality of using audio for instructional purposes is the MP3 audio
format. This is a compressed file—meaning that it produces a
file many times smaller than the earlier formats and has thus
enabled the explosion of downloadable music and music
players such as the iPod and cell phones—that has been taken
up as the leading format for listening to and sharing music.
While it does not have the same audio quality as a WAV or AIFF
format, it has proved good enough for most listeners, and in any
case, if you are creating instructional material such as lectures
or interviews and not a symphony, we don’t think you or your
students will find it lacking.
These days, you can capture digital audio through a microphone onto your computer, via your smart phone or other
device. Again, it has become easier than ever for a rank amateur
to do this. Let’s look at a few programs and web site services
that offer you some different approaches to recording audio for
your classes. Which you choose will depend on the purpose
of€ the audio as well as some other factors. Before discussing
any€ of these, we recommend that you do purchase a headset
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microphone with a boom mike that automatically positions
itself to the side of your mouth. This need not be an expensive
one—$30–$60 is sufficient to obtain a decent quality headset
with microphone. In addition, we recommend that you choose
a headset microphone that connects via USB because these
offer the most flexibility for different types of use, the best
sound, and they detour around any limitations of your computer soundcard equipment. (Non-Â�USB or “analog” microphones have a set of plugs—one for the microphone and one
for the headset—that work through the soundcard of your computer.) Using handheld microphones or those that are built in
to your computer do not work well for recording or real-�time
conversations as they are apt to create muffled sounds, lack of
clarity, and background noise. You invariably move the mike
about and it’s difficult to place the microphone at just the right
distance. Generally the microphones built into web cams that
sit on top of your computers are not the highest quality and you
will still have to deal with background noise.
Companies such as Logitech, Plantronics, or Altec sell decent
inexpensive headset models that have USB connections, but
they and others include higher-�end versions that include more
noise-�canceling features or more comfortable padding on the
headset. (For a more detailed explanation of this issue see
What Kind of Microphone Do You Need?
Purchasing a headset (or earpiece) with a microphone boom (one
that you can situate at the side of your mouth) along with a USB
connection is recommended for the best sound quality in recording audio and for communicating via real-�time synchronous tools.
To use audio for quick feedback on student papers, try out
Adobe Acrobat PDF—follow the help instructions to quickly
insert and record short audio clips after converting student
Word documents to PDF. All you need are the Adobe Acrobat
program and a microphone. The virtue of this is that the audio
clip is directly inserted at the relevant spot in the paper and the
student needs only the Adobe PDF Reader to listen to the clip.
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
You can perform a similar task in MS Word, but the resulting
file will balloon to an alarming size, whereas the PDF file produces a much more manageable size file.
A free recording and editing program called Audacity (http://
audacity.sourceforge.net) will also allow you to simply and
quickly record an audio file and encode it in MP3 using a LAME
encoder (software that is available for downloading at the
Audacity site) so that you can upload to your course management software, web site, or blog. We have used Audacity with
great numbers of faculty who were complete neophytes and yet
able to produce good audio to suit their instructional objectives.
It must be downloaded to your computer and is available for
Windows, Mac, or Linux. It will allow you to create several types
of audio files and to import and convert files as well.
Many people use Skype (www.skype.com) for making phone
calls over the Internet, and this is a tool that can be used for
providing feedback and consultations with students or to
permit students who are collaborating on a project to communicate. When recorded using a plug-�in, one can create
Figure 9.3╇ Recording on Audacity, from http://audacity.sourceforge.net/about/images/recording.png.
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recordings of interviews. Bethany Bovard teaches several
courses in the Online Teaching and Learning Certificate
Program in the College of Extended Learning at New Mexico
State University. Bovard is a versatile and enthusiastic innovator and her TekTrek blog (http://tektrek.wordpress.com) is a
good source for critiques of new Web 2.0 tools. She notes that
Skype is a regular item in her toolbox for both instructor–student and student–student communications in her courses.
Bovard mentions that Skype can become even more valuable
through the use of such plug-�ins as Pamela MP3 Call Recorder
(www.pamcorder.com) or other tools that extend the use of
Skype. (Such tools can be found in Skype under Tools>Extras or
Podcasting Services
Some of the online hosting services that are used for podcasting
may also be used to create standalone audio files. But true podcasting is generally used to make a series of recordings, publish
those recordings to a web site and to enable others to subscribe
to those podcasts. Your own institution may facilitate your
setting up podcasts. There are many types of podcasting software that allow you to not only record and edit your audio file
(which you can do with Audacity or the Mac’s GarageBand) but
also to publish it to the Web, using wizards to create the RSS
feed code and tags that will allow others to find and subscribe
to your podcast. There are also podcasting services that will take
your MP3 recordings and do all the coding and hosting for you.
Podomatic (http://podomatic.com) is a hosting service that
allows you to create podcasts for free. It also features Web 2.0
types of sharing on the site. There are limits on monthly bandwidth data transfer for free users—in other words, the free
service would not accommodate large files and large numbers
of students accessing his or her podcasts.
Two other online browser-�based services are Gcast (www.
gcast.com) and Gabcast (www.gabcast.com). While these are free
hosting services, if users want to use telephones for recording the
podcasts (rather than uploading already-�created MP3 audio
files), each service charges for that mode of recording, the former
by a yearly subscription and the latter with a per-�minute charge.
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
A free tool that makes the entire process of podcasting nearly
automatic is Posterous (www.posterous.com). Using Posterous,
one can create an individual or group blog to which images,
audio, or video can all be sent via email. Posterous accepts files
in such formats as Word documents, PowerPoint, Avi, and MP3.
Posterous places audio files into a player within your blog and
allows you to set up an RSS feed. It automatically converts video
files into Flash, and if you provide URL links, will even embed
content (such as a YouTube video) when possible.
Bethany Bovard has used Posterous in her courses and points
out that there are many instructors in higher education and
K–12 teachers,
who just don’t have the time or support to create and just
want an easy way to post for themselves, and since pretty
much everyone has email accessible to them, they are able to
get content online without even having to use the term
Bovard is particularly pleased by a feature in Posterous which
allows her to create a group blog,
Place student email addresses into the system and simply tell
students to just send an email here to contribute to the blog.
While they need to register and put in a password to view the
blog, they are able to contribute without having to learn
Also, she notes that on Posterous,
you can set it up so that when you send an email to the Posterous account, you can arrange for it to simultaneously
crosspost that new information to your other accounts on
Facebook, Twitter, etc. So it can do double duty for those who
have multiple sites to update.
Narrated Slide Shows
So now you see that for minimal or no cost at all, you have the
ability to make web pages, insert graphics (which you’ve
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scanned and fixed up), and create audio that you’ve made yourself. Though we don’t want this to sound like a sales pitch for
miracle kitchen devices, there is more, much more.
A narrated slide show can be a very useful tool for any
instructor. With it, you can take a series of slides—say, for a
biology instructor, pictures of a cell dividing—and create an
illustrated lecture in which you talk to your students directly,
explaining the significance of the images they are seeing.
There are a number of ways to create narrated slide shows.
Probably the simplest way is to use PowerPoint’s own “record
narration” option—all you need is your slides and a microphone. Follow directions to set your voice volume level and to
choose other options. Once you have saved the presentation,
you have the option to re-�record one or more slides to correct
or revise as you like.
However, your resulting file may be quite large. For this
reason, many educators like to use other programs that can
reduce the size of the narrated PowerPoint slide so that it is
more convenient to post online. Many of these conversion programs also provide a measure of protection from others changing or editing the presentation. Some of these conversion
programs are free and others are low cost.
A popular choice is Impatica. It greatly compresses your
PowerPoint and creates a new file that then plays on any site
without a plug-�in or download. Check with your institution to
see if it has a license for this product. If not, a free trial version is
available at their site, www.impatica.com.
iSpring is a product that converts your PowerPoint to a Flash
(SWF) file. Flash file conversion can make a large PowerPoint
file that may include animation, images, video clips, and hyperlinks from your PowerPoint into a more compact size and one
easily accessed on a web site. A free version of this program is
available at www.ispringsolutions.com/free_powerpoint_to_
flash_converter.html. The software must be downloaded onto
your computer.
Slideshare (www.slideshare.net) is a popular hosting site that
allows users to upload and share PowerPoint slides (before narration has been added) and other types of files like PDF. The
slides are converted to Flash format and enclosed within a
player. It’s free and one can create files as large as 100 MB. It
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
adds Web 2.0 features like the ability to add “tags” that indicate
what your presentation is about, to easily share with others—
either the public at large or specific users on your contact list—
embed it in your own web site, or create a special URL that you
distribute only to a specific individual or group. You can set up
your slide show with a Creative Commons license or mark it as
“all rights reserved.”
However, to add narration, music, or other audio files, you
must synchronize separately recorded MP3 audio files that are
available on your own web site in a streamable format. The
process is a bit awkward in that the audio files are not actually
uploaded to the Slideshare site but instead your audio file needs
to be already uploaded on another web site.
The previously mentioned free version of VoiceThread
(http://voicethread.com) also accommodates PowerPoint presentation but many find it less complicated to convert the slides
to PDF documents. But it is possible to use this tool to go
beyond the PowerPoint presentation format since image files,
video, and text documents can all be uploaded directly to this
tool. This allows you to build up your own slide show presentation out of many different sources. Adding your narration is
easy and because the tool allows for the addition of student
comments by webcam, microphone, telephone (for a fee), and
uploaded video files, displaying student comments adjacent to
the presentation portions upon which they comment is an ideal
way to provide for interaction at the same time that you or your
students are presenting. Also, the VoiceThread presentation can
be embedded into your own web site so that students need not
leave your online classroom to access it. See a sample of
Michele Pacansky-Â�Brock’s use of VoiceThread for a lecture presentation for her Art Appreciation class at http://voicethread.
Scripted Versus Unscripted Narrations and
There are two ways to do a narration or audio/video presentation:
scripted and unscripted. Scripting—that is, writing out exactly what
you want to say in advance, word for word—is effective for those
instructors who are dealing with complex or detailed material and
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don’t want to make a mistake. Unscripted narrations and presentations, with the instructor speaking to the students from notes or
even from memory or off the cuff, replicate more of the face-�to-face
classroom experience.
With the advent of YouTube and iTunes, students may be
becoming more accustomed to hearing casual presentations and
there seems to be a movement away from overly formal presentations. The ad-�libbed quality of unscripted presentations, even with
an occasional hesitation or error, creates a sense of intimacy
between instructor and student. On the other hand, the ad-�libbed
presentation may ramble on too long.
If you have software that allows you to easily edit audio, video,
or narrated slide shows, you may opt for the more unscripted production since you can still clean up any major gaffes or shorten
long-�winded passages and need not re-�record.
The How and Why of Video
Larry Ragan is director of faculty development for Penn State
World Campus. He notes that in the past, there was always a
barrier to creating video—the cost, the learning curve, the staff
resources necessary to help instructors. Now there are video
cameras built in to computers, or small web cams that can be
hooked onto the monitor or sit on top of the desk for those clips
that don’t require you to leave your desk. And if you want to
capture something outside your office, many digital cameras
and cell phones allow for the making of short video clips. Video
clips can be transferred to your computer through a USB or
Firewire cable or perhaps through a service offered by your cell
phone service provider—you need to consult the documentation and cables that come with the device that you use to make
video. Finally, beyond the great range of available dedicated
video cameras which are getting more compact and convenient
to use all the time, there are low-�cost pocket-�size mini video
cameras like the Flip Video, Creative’s Vado, or Kodak Zi6 that
are specially designed to plug directly into the USB port of the
computer. While these may not have the features and versatility
of the more expensive video cameras, they do make it convenient to create on-�the-fly videos, are unobtrusive because of their
size, and easy to use. Sometimes easy to use translates into
“more likely to use” as well.
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
Many video cameras come equipped with their own video
editing software that allow you to manipulate, cut, or splice
together segments. Computers are often preloaded with video
editing software such as Windows Movie Maker (for PC) or
iMovie (Mac). The Flip video comes with its own editing software
but you can also export its video to work in a different editor.
Ragan talks about some of the creative opportunities this
greater ease of use presents to instructors. He mentions a few
examples of how video can be used in a course:
■ Making a personal introduction video to form a personal
connection with your students. Ragan advises instructors to
do what is comfortable and true for them—that means you
can just as easily film yourself sitting at ease at your desk or
petting your dog or presenting a more formal pose.
■ Creating transitional bridges between segments or at the end
of a course. Ragan displays a video clip at the end of a lesson
to reflect and summarize, “I’ve watched the dialogue around
these discussions this week. Now let’s talk about next week,
when we will be moving into topic X .â•›.â•›.”
■ Enriching course content by adding the voices of other individuals in the community or profession, through interviews
on the fly. Ragan notes that using a small video camera like
the Flip (which is about the size of a pack of cigarettes) makes
interviewing a more casual and seemingly less intrusive
activity, “What you said is interesting,” Ragan typically finds
himself saying in approaching a potential interview subject,
“may I just capture that?”
■ Asking students to use video to do similar interviews in the
community and in their workplace. For example, Ragan suggests, a student in health policy might do an interview with a
public health administrator or even interview other students
about what they think about a concept. Ragan notes that this
in effect helps moderate the responsibility of the instructor
for having to generate all course content and puts some
responsibility for learning into the hands of the students
■ Taking a virtual field trip. The instructor might go out in the
real world and show a sample of something for the benefit of
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the students who can’t be there in reality. For example, an
agronomist can demonstrate local soil samples for the
benefit of his online students who cannot be there with him.
Or the students may be sent out on their own discovery
quests. For example, Michele Pacansky-�Brock, the Art Appreciation instructor, encourages her students to create their
own video or find video on the Web that pertains to art in
everyday life and to share it with their fellow students
through easy uploading to their class Ning online social
Sites and Tools for Video
The YouTube and TeacherTube sites mentioned previously, or
others like Vimeo (www.vimeo.com), have some features in
common. They allow you to share videos publicly or with
groups, to “tag”—categorize your video to make it searchable
by topic—and often facilitate embedding by providing code you
can insert into your own web site.
Another service that offers these and some notable additional
features is Viddler (www.viddler.com). Viddler allows you to
upload in a wide array of video formats and there is a choice of
making your video private, shared, or public. “Shared” means
you can specify who can see it. There is also a interactive commenting or annotating feature that permits users to not only
add comments below the video, but to add comments via text
or their own video clip at any point during the streaming of the
video. Bethany Bovard explains why Viddler features can really
enhance communications,
Rather than have to comment, “2 minutes into your video
you said X and I wondered what you meant by that” you can
just click on the video timeline and directly add your
comment. I’ve found that my students are pretty comfortable
making comments in this way, some commenting in text and
others using their own webcams to make video clip
Bovard uses Viddler “to create discussions around lecture
materials, for presentations and a host of other things—it just
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
generally allows me to increase my presence in the classroom.”
She also appreciates the wide variety of files that can be
uploaded—for example, even cell phone videos can be
uploaded via computer.
Screen-�Capture/Screen-�Casting Video
These programs do not only capture the still shots or screen
grabs of something on your computer screen but actually
record a short video (say, 5–10 minutes) of your movements
onscreen as you click and scroll or otherwise manipulate the
software you have on the screen. For example, if you want to
demonstrate to students how to use an online library electronic database in order to find a full text article, how to use an
Excel spreadsheet, or how to use an online chemical experiment simulator, you can capture the entire process, along with
your narration (if you have a microphone), by using screen-�
capture video software. Bethany Bovard says of this category
of tool,
I use this type of tool for everything from course and lesson
overviews to student tech support. My students use these
tools to show me what they are seeing on their monitor so
that I can better support them or to help out their classmates. These tools are easy to use by anyone with basic
Internet skills, and since they don’t require a download but
work in a browser, you can use them from virtually any
Three easy-�to-use and, at the time of this writing, free programs are Screencast-�o-Matic (www.screencast-�o-matic.
com), Jing (www.jingproject.com), and ScreenToaster (http://
screentoaster.com). Screencast-�o-Matic allows you to make and
host your video right on their web site without even having to
download anything. (Be aware that makes your video public.)
You can provide a link for your students to their site to view the
video or embed it in your own site. Or you may want to export it
to your own computer as an AVI file (for Windows Movie Maker,
for example), a QuickTime file (MOV) or Flash (SWF) file, then
Teaching Online
edit and finally upload it to your own site. Your CMS or one of
the video hosting sites we have mentioned make uploading a
matter of following a series of menu-�driven directions. Like
Screencast-�o-Matic, ScreenToaster is accessed through a
browser. Bovard uses both but notes that ScreenToaster has
some handy features like the ability to add subtitles and to
download a video. Content can be controlled as private or
public content. Bovard likes the “picture within picture”
feature, that is, she can include her webcam image in a corner
of the screen: “It allows me to personalize—I use that when I
am at the beginning of a course and want to introduce both
myself and the course and help students navigate through the
online classroom.”
Jing allows you to take screen grabs as well as screen-casts
and the latter are limited to five minutes. Jing does require a
download but can be used with either Windows or Mac.
Step-�by-step tutorials on the respective web sites provide
helpful instructions on how to use their programs and you
might want to search for additional video tutorials on YouTube.
For those who want more sophisticated or longer screencasts, we recommend a program like Camtasia Studio. Your
institution may already have a license for this program. One of
the authors of this book, Steve Rossen, was an early adopter of
Camtasia and taught his first multimedia classes a decade ago
using Camtasia videos to demonstrate software while also
instructing his students how to use Camtasia for their own
work. Camtasia offers a free trial of their software for thirty days,
which can be ideal for student use, and there is individual educator pricing for Camtasia and Camtasia/SnagIt.
Student-�Generated Content
Let’s take a moment to further consider how encouraging your
students to create content as part of their course work is now a
feasible and attractive approach to teaching and learning. The
Web 2.0 tools we highlight in this chapter and that we have
mentioned in previous chapters are often those that can be
wielded by students. So why should you think about trying this
approach to course work?
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
■ Students learn by doing.
Hands-�on projects, when properly planned, compel students
to research, experiment, and discover their strong points, as
well as reveal the areas of difficulty they may encounter. The
instructor can then give feedback and provide guidance to
resolve these areas of difficulty and help the student move
■ Students add diverse perspectives and approaches.
Students all have different learning preferences and see
issues from diverse vantage points. By allowing students to
make these differences more evident through creating content,
the instructor can mediate, discuss, or help students learn to
evaluate or critique ideas. By allowing students to express
their ideas or solve problems through the means of diverse
media, individual student learning may be better facilitated
while new perspectives may also be brought to bear on an
■ Students learn by sharing and collaborating.
By working together or sharing ideas, students are often led
to reflect on their own ideas, to learn to work as a team, to negotiate different approaches, and to learn how to communicate
their ideas in an effective manner.
■ Student interest is sparked by choice of format.
While some students will prefer to simply write a paper on a
given topic, others will find their interest stimulated by a creative project that involves finding or creating multimedia
resources or collaboration and sharing online. While the
instructor must decide what the relevant options are for a particular assignment, giving students some measure of choice in
how to accomplish the assignment may increase the student’s
involvement and interest in the task.
In encouraging student-�generated content, there are just a
few issues to keep in mind.
Teaching Online
First, find out if your institution has any regulations about
the use of sites external to the university. In regard to considerations of student privacy—before recommending a particular
site or tool, investigate the privacy options. Some sites have
special provisions for educational use and some do not. Some
services maintain the right to use content created on their site
in connection with publicizing their service. Second, if there are
materials that will become publicly accessible online, suggest
that students do not use their full names (you and their classmates can still know who they are), that they are familiar with
any opt-�in privacy options, and caution against divulging any
private identifying information.
Bethany Bovard notes that while you can often make a blog
private, if you do so, you can no longer set up an RSS feed for
that blog. She also makes the point that, from both a philosophical and a pedagogical point of view, carefully and selectively
providing opportunities to create and share information with
the world outside the classroom has a value in itself.
There are different levels of knowledge among the students
in each course and by sharing information, they can be
helpful to their classmates or even to students in other institutions. We feel it’s very important that they are providing
opportunities for others to learn and contributing to knowledge. And knowing that what they contribute is public often
makes them work harder to perfect what they create. So we
let our students know this and if they still don’t want others
to see their works in progress or they have privacy concerns,
we show them how to create an email account with a pseudonym and then they can become a member of our blog or
wiki using that pseudonym. We generate a list for the class
and circulate it so that both instructor and students in the
class are aware of the identity but it maintains that student’s
privacy on the public site.
Bovard also emphasizes the importance of not posting any
grades or records of evaluation in the public site itself, reserving
all such information for entry in the secure course management
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
Other Tools
Polls and Surveys
Polling or surveying your students on a frequent basis is a
quick method to track how your students are faring in the
class. It is an easy way to conduct formative assessment. For
example, you can ask students whether or not they are finding
a particular assignment difficult, or having a problem working
through a solution, and depending on the response, you can
provide some additional explanations. While you may have
already invited students to post their questions or note any
problems in the asynchronous discussion forum, many students hesitate to raise questions until they are really in a muddle—a poll can make the matter seem less weighty and
students are more likely to indicate problems are afoot. Some
course management systems have built in polling and surveying instruments. But if you do not have access to these, for
polling, Polldaddy and Pollanywhere are two easy-�to-use programs that offer free versions of their software to create polls
or surveys for your courses. The free versions include a branding element from the company—a link that leads back to their
web sites. Polldaddy’s free version offers the ability to have an
unlimited number of people responding to a single poll and
unlimited number of polls per month with surveys limited to
ten questions and 100 survey responses per monthly. Text,
images, and even video can be used in the polls. Polleverywhere free version for educators allows no more than thirty-�
two people to respond to a single poll, but educators can use
the polling software for an unlimited number of different
classes. Students can respond to the polls using text messaging or from a web browser as they sit at a computer or via a
smart phone. In both cases, you create the poll or survey on
their site, using your browser, but you can also embed the
code in your own online course management software or
other course site so that students do not have to leave the precincts of your class.
Linda Smelser at University of Maryland University College
has used Polldaddy with her undergraduate course in Principles
Teaching Online
Figure 9.4╇ Creating a poll using PollDaddy (http://polldaddy.com).
Reproduced by permission.
and Strategies of Successful Learning to insert polls into the
announcement section of the classroom software. This allowed
her to calibrate the progress of students on assignments. For
example, she created a simple, “Yes, No, Doesn’t matter” choice
of responses to query students working on group projects to
determine whether or not the groups needed to extend their
preparation time for an additional week.
Other instructors might similarly ask students to rate the
class readings—“Which of this week’s readings has proved most
helpful to you in understanding the X concept?”—or to get a
quick count of how many students want to sign up for virtual
office hours in a particular week.
Surveysâ•… A popular online survey creation tool is Survey
Monkey (www.surveymonkey.com). The free version allows
one to survey up to 100 people with up to ten questions per
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
Please see the Chapter 6 discussion of quizmakers. We will
simply note here that free versions of quizmakers like Quiz
School and My Studiyo include some Web 2.0 features that
allow for the inclusion of multimedia, embedding the quizzes
into your own web site, and tagging and sharing.
Either you, as instructor, or your students might want to create
a mind-�map to illustrate relationships between various categories of things, to present an outline of an upcoming project, to
brainstorm, or for any other number of creative purposes. A free
browser-�based program that allows you and your students to do
this is Mindomo, www.mindomo.com. You create the mind-�
map online and can either link to it on the Mindomo site or
embed it on your web page. Users can delegate permission to
edit to other users so a group of students could work on a mind-�
map together. The mind-�map can also be exported to a text-�
based outline format.
There are other programs of this sort, both those that are
hosted online and browser-Â�based and those that require downloads of software—an excellent source to find continually
updated reviews of mind-�mapping software (or any of the other
categories of tools for learning) may be found at Jane Hart’s Top
Learning Tools site, www.c4lpt.co.uk/learningtools.html, or the
previously mentioned blog of Larry Ferlazzo. See the Guide to
Resources for other sites that review and constantly update
information on the latest Web 2.0 tools.
The use of an avatar may be an option for students who are shy
about introducing themselves through photos, or who might
want to speak through an avatar presenter. Some instructors
use them to inject a note of whimsy. To create an avatar it is not
necessary for students to enter a virtual world. Programs like
Voki (www.voki.com) make it very easy to create a 3-D avatar
and then record a short (limited to sixty seconds) introduction
Figure 9.5╇ Creating a Mind-Map on Mindomo.com. Reproduced by permission from Mindomo.com.
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
or short presentation of opinions. The recordings can be made
using telephone, microphone, or uploading a pre-�recorded
audio file. (If you don’t want to use your own voice, it is even
possible to type in text and have it rendered by Voki into audio.)
Animated Movies
There are a number of sites that will enable you (or your students) to make simple animated “movies” using site-Â�supplied
cartoon-�like illustrations or, in some cases, your own artwork.
These include DoInk (www.doink.com), Digitalfilms (www.
digitalfilms.com), and Fuzzwich (www.fuzzwich.com). DoInk
contains its own drawing tool so you can create original drawings. The main instructional use of these sites would be for
story-Â�telling (especially for those teaching K–12), art, or short
explanatory pieces, but they also lend themselves creating short
scenarios for teaching a foreign language.
Figure 9.6╇ Creating an Avatar on Voki.com. Source: Voki.com™.
Reproduced by permission. Copyright 2007 Oddcast, Inc.
Teaching Online
Using or Creating Multimedia: Why and
When Is It Worth It?
Okay, now some of you may be asking, is it really worthwhile for
me to create audio or video, search for appropriate existing
multimedia, or even ask my students to create multimedia?
Many of you will have neither the time nor the desire to make
your own audio, video, or narrated slide shows even as you
recognize how much easier this is to do than ever before. If you
decide it is not worth your time, you should be aware that a lot
of material is already available on the Web, as noted in Chapter
7. In addition to some of the sites mentioned in that chapter,
there are some search directories like Intute (www.intute.ac.uk/
arts) dedicated to accessing resources in the arts and humanities, engineering, mathematics, and technology that have been
selected and evaluated by subject specialists. So while you may
not want to create multimedia, you still have many other
sources that you can incorporate into your course.
If you teach art history, then using graphics of an artist’s work
will seem a self-�evident reason for employing multimedia. But if
you teach mathematics or philosophy, the need to enhance your
pages with graphics, sound, or video may not seem quite so
obvious. Such subjects are traditionally taught with nothing more
than plain old text or at most some graphs or tables thrown in. So
why would an instructor choose to spend the extra time and
effort to create or integrate existing multimedia?
To summarize and build upon what we have discussed in
this chapter, here are some possible reasons:
1. To illustrate the mechanics of how things work. Often, instructors in seemingly abstract subject areas are called upon to
describe the process of how things work. An economics
instructor may need to illustrate how demand affects cost, or
an electrical engineer may want to demonstrate how digital
information flows through logic gates. These needs call for
multimedia. Sometimes the process in question can be illustrated with a graph or a series of illustrations. At other times,
an animation showing the process in motion is preferable.
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
2. To clarify or emphasize abstract concepts. Complex abstract
concepts are often difficult for students to sort out or remember. Often, graphics can serve as memory jogs for students
who are attempting to keep a host of such concepts straight.
For example, a history professor teaching the Spanish Civil
War might want her students to visit a web site in Spain
exhibiting posters and paintings from the period as a way of
keeping track of the seemingly bewildering array of acronyms
for the anarchists, trade unionists, socialists, Falangists, and
other political groups of the period.
3. To provide another approach or perspective to learning.
Sometimes what is learned through more than one medium
is more effectively retained by the student. Listening to a narration of slides may reinforce the content on the screen, and
watching a video may be more enlightening than simply
reading a text description of a place, culture, or event.
4. To enliven or illustrate unfamiliar material. Whether you’re
dealing with historical or geographical contexts (poverty in
nineteenth-�century London, the ecology of Central American
rainforests), the identification of organisms or structures (spirochetes, postmodern architecture), or the way things function
(human ambulation, a four-�cycle engine), the use of graphics
and animation can greatly enhance your students’ comprehension. A major value of textbooks is the profusion of illustrations,
graphs, and tables they provide. The Web provides a vehicle by
which individual instructors, using comparatively inexpensive
tools, can “publish” their own textbook-Â�quality material and
make it available to their students.
5. As the basis for an assignment. Illustrations can be powerful
and fascinating stimuli for an assignment. Newspaper articles, advertisements, photographs, even articles found on
the Web or scanned and displayed (following copyright prescriptions), can provide the basis for an assignment requiring
students to critically evaluate the material and post their
analyses. Students can also be asked to capture something in
the real world on audio or video and present it online as part
of an assignment. All of these options are becoming more
feasible through the availability of digital devices and Web
2.0 software tools.
Teaching Online
When to Avoid Multimedia and Web 2.0
Putting together a site enhanced by graphics, animation, or
video poses an immediate problem: How much is too much
when it comes to the time and effort involved in creating and
assembling these multimedia elements?
For those fortunate enough to work at an institution that provides ample financial, administrative, and staff support, this
question may be moot. However, for the majority of instructors,
the burden of putting together such materials falls squarely on
their shoulders. How can you gauge in advance whether creating a graphic or an animation is worth the time you will need to
produce it? And when might you be simply overwhelming your
students? Here are some factors to consider.
1. Institutional support and your own priorities. Some institutions encourage innovative teaching by rewarding faculty
members with either merit promotions or release time. Other
institutions provide support through labs, media centers, or
paid student assistants. In such situations, taking time to
enhance your course with multimedia makes sense.
If, on the other hand, your university will regard your extra
work with indifference, putting in the extra effort becomes
strictly a question of how much experimentation with new
forms of expression means to you personally. It does take
time to learn even a simple menu-�driven program or tool let
alone devise the lesson plan underpinning its use. Even an
advanced user needs a few hours to put together a presentation, for example, or to find or search for multimedia objects.
If the effort cuts into your ability to do your own research and
if your institution offers no compensation for your endeavors, then obviously you will want to use discretion before
embarking on anything too ambitious. But many instructors
have found that simple multimedia elements have the power
to greatly enhance their teaching and their students’ learning, sometimes resulting in less work for them and better
outcomes for students after that initial investment of time to
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
create or find resources. If that Web 2.0 tool or multimedia
resource helps you to do your work more effectively and
saves you time in creating lecture material, explaining processes, or grading students, this itself will likely be a compelling reason to pursue it.
2. Relevance of the material. It may seem that using an animation or video will encourage your students to dig into the
material you are presenting. All too often, however, instructors sacrifice relevance to convenience, using a graphic that
almost, but not quite, expresses the concept or the subject
they are trying to illustrate. In these cases, students are often
more confused by the material than aided by it. In such situations, it would be better not to produce the material at all.
3. Availability of the material elsewhere. Before you create a
multimedia presentation, make sure that the material doesn’t
exist on another publicly accessible web site. Spend some
time searching online. If you find what you’re looking for,
create a link from your web page to the site, thus saving yourself the considerable time and effort to create the material
from scratch.
4. Accessibility or ease of use of the material or tool. Before
embarking on the production of a complex multimedia
element, consider whether your students will be able to view
it or use it easily, as the case may be. Readers of this book
range from those whose students will have no problem at all
accessing content to those whose students have severely
limited computer equipment and even more limited Internet
access. Always test out your content under the real conditions in which it will be used. If you’re linking to another
site that has videos or animations, make sure you tell your
students if there are particular types of software or plug-�ins
that they will need to access it. In the end, you must ask
■ Is the material you’re planning to produce so complex that
viewing it online may be more tedious than helpful?
■ Does it necessitate the downloading of software or accompanied by other conditions that would make it not worth
the time expended to access it?
Teaching Online
5. What does it add to enhance the course experience and
learning objectives? Multimedia and Web 2.0 tools should
add something to the learning experience that might otherwise be unavailable or less readily available. These considerations can be very practical in nature or more complex to
discern. For example, screen grabs and text or a screen-�
capture video program may allow you to more easily demonstrate step-�by-step instructions than would be possible
with just directions in text. Less tangible but equally
important is the increased interest students might register
in the course content and activities having been stimulated
by the multiple perspectives on the subject available
through external and multimedia resources, or through
their direct participation by creating and sharing content
with their classmates. Finally, many instructors have found
that multimedia elements and Web 2.0 tools provide a
refreshing and stimulating element to their teaching.
Enthusiasm on the part of the instructor is certainly communicated to students and may in itself be a valid reason to
embark on this activity. And while you may decide that your
presentations do not gain much with the addition of multimedia, allowing your students to fulfill an assignment using
multimedia might be a true enhancement to the learning
Focusing on Web 2.0 tools, Bethany Bovard has produced a
succinct and focused checklist for selecting appropriate tools
for your needs, available at her TekTrek blog, http://tektrek.
selection criteria are Access, Usability, Privacy and Intellectual
Property, Workload and Time Management, and Fun Factor.
She advocates using the checklist to quickly eliminate those
tools that will obviously not do the job for you and then dedicating some time to further experimenting and trial and error to
find the best tool to match your objectives. Bovard’s blog entry
for this checklist provides some helpful examples of how she
used the criteria to conclude whether or not to use a particular
tool. Her discussion may provide a useful model for you in formulating your own set of considerations.
Chapter 9╇ •â•‡ Creating Courseware and Using Web 2.0 Tools
Pulling It All Together
As the possible resources and tools dramatically increase in
number, so does the responsibility for the instructor who must
exercise his or her discretion in selecting what to use and how
to use it. Some concerns have been voiced about the use of Web
2.0 sites that pull students out of the course management
system environment and into other web sites where educational purpose is invariably mingled with non-�educational and
non-�student content. To some extent, as we have noted at many
points, instructors can avoid much of that by choosing services
catering to educators or with special environments for educators, by embedding content from external sources within the
classroom software. In other cases, instructors will simply need
to scout out where they send their students in order to issue
appropriate warnings or for the purpose of giving better directions to finding the sought-�after objects.
But the greater responsibility is to devise a plan for your
course that will integrate all the elements you have chosen, and
to provide a rationale and purpose that will be clear to you and
your students. If integration of tools and resources is lacking,
the course will simply seem a bothersome or diverting but often
irrelevant collection of content and activities to your students.
We recommend that you always maintain a focal or gathering
point for your students, a sort of virtual “homeroom”—whether
that is a home page or blog, the course management system
classroom, or, in the case of blended courses, an actual face-�toface meeting place.
Finally, a reminder about the changing and sometimes
ephemeral nature of Web 2.0 tools:
Important! Free sites in particular may not provide
you with advance warning of their demise or major
changes. Always keep a copy of your presentation documents and multimedia files and advise students to do
the same for material they create. In regard to discussion, comments or chat, you will want to capture and
save any content and transcripts that may be necessary for you to use in evaluating students.
Teaching in the
Online Classroom
Preparing Students for
Online Learning
earning online can be as exasperating for the student as for
the instructor, particularly for those taking an online course
for the first time. Suddenly thrust into a world in which independent or collaborative learning is heavily stressed, students
accustomed to traditional classroom procedures—taking notes
during a lecture, answering the occasional question, attending
discussion sections—must make unexpected and often jolting
adjustments to their study habits.
In addition to these pedagogical concerns, students must
contend with varying web site formats requiring special equipment or software. Indeed, it isn’t unusual for students at the
same university to encounter two or sometimes three different
course management software systems during a single semester.
With unsophisticated equipment and busy schedules, perhaps
unsure whether they should communicate by email or by
posting queries on discussion boards, students often feel frustrated, abandoned, or confused.
Students’ problems fast become those of the instructor as
well. Instead of teaching their course, posting information, and
responding to legitimate queries on the discussion board,
instructors often find themselves trying to troubleshoot technical queries for which they have minimal expertise. Tussling
with why a student using a particular browser can’t see part of
a given web page or why another is unable to install a program
on her home computer, instructors expend too much time and
energy providing support and maintenance while struggling to
keep up with the normal duties of teaching a course. Ideally,
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every institution should have 24/7 tech support to which every
student can turn for help. But we realize that some readers do
not teach under those conditions.
This chapter will address these and related issues concerning
preparation of students for the online learning environment.
The key is to identify and be forewarned about potential problems and to learn some effective methods for handling them.
Problems That Students Typically
A student logging on to a course web site for the first time has a
lot to contend with. To begin with, there’s the terminology.
Those neat rows of icons, either along the side or across the top
or bottom of the screen, meant to guide students to the course
material often bear names, captions, or titles the users have
never seen before. For example, a button might say “Course
Notes,” “My Course,” “Course Information,” or “Main Page,” all
of which generally mean the same thing. The icons under which
such captions appear may look like an open notepad, an owl
reading a book, or a blackboard.
Similarly, an area set aside for students to post information
about themselves, including a small digital photograph, might say
“Course Information,” “Student Home Pages,” or “Biographies.”
Most variable of all is the button or caption leading to the conferencing system. In some course management systems it is called
the “Threaded Discussion,” while elsewhere it might be called
“Conference Board,” “Discussion Area,” or “Electronic Message
Board.” Tests are sometimes called quizzes, sometimes assessments, and the areas where students collaborate on projects may
bear names like “Group Pages” and “Student Presentations.”
Often these mysteries of nomenclature and icons are just the
beginning of the puzzles a student must solve. There are also
technical problems and communication difficulties.
Technical Problems
When they begin a course, students may find themselves unable
to view the web pages properly, either because the browser
Chapter 10╇ •â•‡ Preparing Students for Online Learning
they’re using is too old (for one reason or another they haven’t
updated it), or because they haven’t installed the necessary
plug-�ins. Another common experience is not being able to share
word-�processed documents. Even if students are using the
same program, those with earlier releases may not be able to
read documents created by classmates or instructors with more
current versions without the help of a plug-�in.
Problems Related to Learning Style and
Online Communication
Far more significant, perhaps, is the variance in learning styles
required of those learning online. Students used to instructor-�
directed learning may feel somewhat lost in an environment
that relies heavily on individual initiative and independent
learning or even more dismayed to hear that collaboration with
peers is an expected element of the class.
Even though the requirements of the course are clearly outlined in the syllabus and in the class announcements, the effect
isn’t the same as seeing an instructor glare severely at the class
and announce that the essays are due the following week, without
fail. Assignments are completed at home, often in solitude, and
submitted through the click of a button, without that warm feeling
students sometimes get when they pass in their exam papers or
hand their essays over to their teacher in person. Indeed, without
the discipline and structure imposed by the requirement of physically sitting in a classroom, students often feel cast adrift.
The complicated mechanisms of human expression—facial
expressions, voice intonation, body language, eye contact—are
also no longer available. In their place are the contextual and
stylistic conventions of the written word, a mode of communication that favors verbal over visual or kinesthetic learners, thus
leaving some students curiously unsatisfied. Learning how to
modulate their own speech is also a concern for online students. Most of us rely on body language to deflect the impact of
what we say; we convey our true intentions through gestures
and vocal intonation. The absence of these conventions sometimes causes students real distress.
The asynchronous nature of much online communication
adds a further dimension to this problem. We are all used to
Teaching Online
instant feedback: Susan says something, and Steve responds.
Online, Susan may still say something to which Steve
responds—but the reply may come a day later. This spasmodic
flow of communication takes some adjustment.
None of these problems is beyond the reach of a dedicated
instructor. Now that there are so many ways to easily incorporate
audio into classes, we encourage instructors to think about
selecting opportunities to add these personalizing elements to
the classroom, both in the form of their own short recordings as
well as permitting students to do the same in their projects.
Dealing with these problems effectively can save both the student
and the instructor valuable time, reducing some of the tensions
inherent in learning something new. The key is to understand the
need to prepare students adequately for what they are about to
encounter and to provide them with the necessary tools to get
through the course. These efforts will complement the work you
put into designing your course and syllabus.
Preparing Your Students
To address the kinds of problems we’ve been describing, the
most successful online programs offer student orientations as
well as continuing technical support and resources. They may
also offer study-�skills courses that include a strong focus on the
issues particularly relevant to online learning. But instructors
who are left mostly to their own devices can also find effective
ways to meet their students’ needs. In the following pages, we
suggest approaches for both the individual instructor and the
institution as a whole.
Readiness Programs
Many institutions have short online quizzes or lists that allow
students to judge their readiness for online classes. Some of the
areas they seek to gauge are:
■ whether students are proactive, self-Â�disciplined, and well-Â�
Chapter 10╇ •â•‡ Preparing Students for Online Learning
■ whether students are comfortable communicating entirely
online without face-�to-face meetings (for fully online
■ whether students have access to adequate computer equipment and software, and if not, whether they are willing to
update their equipment.
Two examples of different types of readiness quizzes online
■ Sierra College: http://lrc.sierracollege.edu/dl/survey/OL-Â�
■ Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK: www.celt.
Orientation Programs
Ideally, your institution should devise a student-�orientation
program that will take care of major issues such as these:
■ equipment and browser requirements;
■ a general introduction to the software platform and its major
■ instructions and links for downloading necessary software
■ information about issues that arise in an online class—perhaps in the form of a checklist about what one can expect as
an online student.
Lists of frequently asked questions (FAQs), referral email
addresses, and toll-�free numbers for reaching support staff are
other useful features often included.
Many institutions or their hosting and delivery partners have
created such orientation programs. Most are simply self-�paced
series of web pages, some interactive and some not. Many
incorporate self-�assessment surveys that seek to help students
identify whether they are suited for online learning. Others test
knowledge about computers, the institution’s procedures, and
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so forth. At the University of Maryland University College students can actually try out the classroom environment and interact with others through enrollment in a demo course, UMUC
411 (see www.umuc.edu/spotlight/411.html).
Once students have enrolled, some orientation programs
contain an element of human supervision and feedback, so
that students must complete a few tasks in order to “pass” the
orientation and be admitted to the classroom. These requirements are particularly effective in ensuring that students have
the minimum skills, resources, and knowledge for an online
Having well-�prepared students will mean that you as the
instructor can concentrate on teaching rather than on resolving extraneous problems. There’s enough for you to do once
your online course has begun without having to divert attention to these preparation issues. Effective student orientation
is also beneficial to the institution, because it makes a significant difference in the retention rates in online programs. Students who start off with a good orientation are most likely to
have a positive experience and to return for further courses.
Preparing Your Own Orientation Program
What if your institution hasn’t yet made arrangements for an
adequate student orientation? What should you do?
Two methods will resolve your dilemma. First, you can devise
a simple orientation of your own, one that will satisfy at least
the minimum requirements. Second, as noted in Chapter 5, you
can give clear directions in your syllabus for dealing with documents, as well as explicit explanations of how and where you
will handle material and activities in the classroom. If you are
teaching a blended class, we suggest using the first class
meeting as a chance to take the students step by step through
an orientation to the software used in your class and to answer
any questions students may have.
Before you begin creating your own orientation, you may
want to take a look at some of the information and orientation
pages that other institutions and institutional partners have set
up. The following offer useful examples:
Chapter 10╇ •â•‡ Preparing Students for Online Learning
■ Portland Community College’s “Online Learning Orientation” at www.pcc.edu/about/distance/orientation;
■ UCF Learning Online: http://learn.ucf.edu/index.html.
Some orientation programs address the issue of basic computer skills and suggest how to find assistance. Others try to
give students insight into the classroom environment. For
example, Arkansas State University, Fort Smith (see www.
provides a series of videos (with text transcripts) to orient their
online and blended course students to their course management software, Blackboard. It includes study tips, manages
expectations, and also addresses software-�specific issues.
Elements of an Orientation
If you create your own student orientation, there are several
elements you should consider, as outlined below.
1.╇ General introduction, including our expectations for
online students
A general introduction can be made available to students even
before they enroll in your course. Michele Pacansky-�Brock
created such an introduction for her students at Sierra College,
combining a short video, “Preparing for Your Online Class,”
with a text introduction, all linked from the distance learning
web page at her institution so that students could view this as
early as when they were shopping for classes. She also provided a
transcription and subtitles for her video, using a program called
dotSUB (http://dotsub.com). She tells students in the video,
I created this website in an effort to increase the success of
your learning by providing you with some very important
information about my classes before the semester begins.â•›.â•›.â•›.
This page is important for all my online students but especially for those of you who are about to embark upon your
very first online learning experience .â•›.â•›. You’re going to find,
as you embark upon your journey with me that I really love
teaching online and I work very, very hard to make your
experience exciting and relevant.
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Pacansky-�Brock discussed the attributes of successful online
students and referred students to her institutions’s online
student-Â�readiness quiz and a video of a Student Success workshop she had created, “Are You Ready for an Online Class?”
In the video, she explained how communications worked in
her class,
This may sound a bit odd to hear from your instructor but
communication is the foundation for any successful relationship .â•›.â•›. yep, that’s right. I expect you to fully communicate
with me throughout your semester learning experience.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to interact with me in our
discussions and activities but if you, at any point, need
further help to successfully meet a specific learning objective
in our class, it is your responsibility to reach out to me and
let me know.
She comments on this, “I try to explain what my class consists of ahead of time so I can be more assuring of having prepared students enrolled on day one. I know there are students
who do NOT want such a technologically enriched learning
environment, and they have the right to be informed about the
components of my class before they enroll so that they can find
another class that suits their preferences.”
2.╇ Requirements for computer equipment and software
(other than the platform being used)
State these as simply as possible. Realize that many people
don’t actually know the “numbers” for their computers, such as
how large the hard drive is. However, they can easily identify
their modem speed and the version of their software and
browser, so be specific about these—for instance, “Must have
Internet Explorer 8 or Firefox 10 or higher” or “Should have a
high-Â�speed Internet connection.” You can also devise your own
“tests” of certain requirements. For example, if students need to
be able to access audio in your course, give them a sample to
test—either on your own site or elsewhere on the Web.
Many institutions can make a common word-�processing
program available to your students, or they have site licenses
Chapter 10╇ •â•‡ Preparing Students for Online Learning
for other software. But if your students don’t have access to a
common program supplied by your institution—and this is
often the case for continuing-Â�education students—you will
need to stipulate how documents will be shared. You might ask
students to save all documents in a particular format or to use
software freely accessed through a browser like Google Docs. Or
you might want students to paste their documents into text
boxes provided in your course management software.
Gather information about the software possibilities ahead of
time, and let students know whom they can contact for technical
support or to obtain software. Include links on the Web where
students can download any free programs, such as Adobe
Acrobat Reader, that you intend to use in the classroom. In
regard to technical resources, don’t overload new online students
with many different references; instead, choose a few carefully
evaluated resource links that will meet the students’ needs.
Pacansky-�Brock addressed the issue of technical requirements humorously in a section of her introductory materials
called, “Your Transportation to Class”:
“What?! Why do I need transportation for an online class?!”
Well, you wouldn’t enroll in an on-Â�campus class if you
didn’t have a reliable way to get there, right? So, you
shouldn’t enroll in an online class unless you have regular
and reliable access to the internet. This class requires high
speed internet access (DSL, cable or satellite) due to the
large, multimedia files you’ll regularly be accessing.â•›.â•›.â•›. Reliable “transportation” is paramount to your success in this
online class.
3.╇ Computer skills needed
Depending on your student audience, you may want to suggest a
computer skill set necessary for taking your course. In most
cases, this is fairly simple: “Students should know how to cut and
paste, how to email and send attachments, how to use a browser,
and how to download from the Web.” Refer students to web sites
for Internet neophytes which can help those who are unsure
about their basic skills. Urge them to check their skills before
entering your classroom. In some cases, you may be able to refer
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students to on-�campus workshops as well. In an online language
or speech class, you will need to discuss any software that you
will be using to facilitate audio communication.
4.╇ Introduction to the course management software or
other programs you will use to teach the class
Some course management software companies have already
put together a general introduction, student manual, or classroom demo for their software. Whenever possible, refer students to such pre-�made resources. You may also be able to find
examples of software introductions at the sites of other institutions that use the same software your institution does.
Michelle Pacansky-�Brock added information about the technology and programs students could expect to use in the class
and how she planned to use that technology in a section entitled, “How Much Technology Does This Class Require?”
As you may have heard from other students, my online
classes employ many forms of emerging technologies as
learning tools. This is a topic I’m passionate about, folks, and
I assure you I have carefully evaluated each technological
tool before integrating it into my class and requiring you to
use it.
She continues,
Podcasts (Art 10 and Art 1E)—Both of my online classes offer
options to my students. Lectures are offered in printed PDF
form and in podcast form so you can select between reading
or listening, based upon your own reading preferences. Interestingly, nearly 40% of my students have shared that they
read and listen to my lectures because it enforces their learning. The other wonderful option that podcasts provide is
mobile learning! If you have an iPod, you are welcome to
export the podcasts onto your mobile device and learn on the
go! Podcast lectures are accessed through Sierra College’s
iTunes site and requires students to have iTunes software
installed on their computer. You will be required to download this software in the first week of class.
Chapter 10╇ •â•‡ Preparing Students for Online Learning
VoiceThread (Art 10 and Art 1E) If you enroll in either of my
online classes, you will also be engaging in weekly discussions
and activities using an online tool called VoiceThread. VoiceThread allows you to leave your comments in text or voice, it
enhances our class community and enforces visual learning
through image-Â�based, interactive discussions .â•›.â•›. If you’re interested in using the voice commenting feature of VoiceThread,
you are encouraged to consider purchasing a USB microphone
for your computer or you have the option to purchase one hour
of phone commenting through VoiceThread for $10. The phone
commenting option allows you to leave comments through
your telephone, just like leaving a voicemail (pretty cool!).
Voice comments are encouraged but not required .â•›.â•›.
5.╇ A first assignment that requires students to demonstrate
some familiarity with the software being used
This might be combined with one of the icebreaking activities
described in Chapter 7. Typical of such assignments (depending on the software features available) would be these:
■ Write a short self-Â�introduction and post it in the discussion
■ Take an orientation quiz using online testing.
■ Fill in the template of a basic web page or blog with some
biographical data and an optional photo of yourself. Add a
video clip or audio recording if you like.
A Final Note
We recommend that you avoid beginning any orientation with
material that consists only of a streaming video or animation
that requires the downloading of a plug-�in. Although it may
look snazzy, it could intimidate students who are already
nervous about their ability to take an online course. If possible,
provide students with a text transcript of the video, or permit
them to return to the orientation pages so that they can refer
back to this information as needed once the course has begun.
End the orientation on an upbeat note. This might include an
assignment or a self-�assessment quiz that provides feedback
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and encouragement and reinforces students’ sense of readiness
to begin their online course.
Providing FAQs
Take a good, hard look at your syllabus and ask yourself if anything you’re requiring your students to do will require special
additional skills or equipment. For example, if you’ve devised an
exercise that entails uploading or downloading software, using a
plug-�in or accessing a useful but difficult to navigate site, go
through the steps yourself and jot down any parts of the exercise
that may not be obvious. You may think that all of the operations
involved are commonly known, but you’ll be surprised to discover how many students don’t understand them. If you don’t
provide some way for students to readily find out, you may
spend an inordinate amount of class time filling in the blanks.
One approach is to gather all these possible sticking points
into one FAQ file. You can compose it using a word-�processing
program, or create it as a web page. In this FAQ you should list
each procedure your students may encounter and provide a
short explanation of what they need to know to complete it. The
web convention for composing such FAQ pages is to list all the
possible questions at the top of the page and then create a link
to each one with a bookmark (in Word) or an anchor (in HTML),
thus permitting your students to find the question they want
answered without having to search the entire document.
Introductory Techniques
Your initial postings in the discussion forum, your first messages
sent to all by email, or the greeting you post on your course home
page will do much to set the tone and expectations for your
course. These “first words” can also provide models of appropriate online communication for your students.
Your introductory remarks should reinforce what is contained in your syllabus, your orientation, and other documents
Chapter 10╇ •â•‡ Preparing Students for Online Learning
students will encounter as they commence their online class.
Note some of the examples we have already given of instructor
remarks that set a tone and reinforce expectations.
The last thing we would like you to remember is that you must
establish a presence and rapport in your classroom that are
evident to students as soon as they walk through the online classroom door. Even though this would seem to be a matter of instructor preparation, it is also an important part of what you can do to
foster your students’ readiness to begin the learning process.
Here are a few tips for establishing your presence:
■ Convey a sense of enthusiasm about teaching the class.
For example, you might say:
Welcome to our course! I look at teaching Intro to Biology as a
chance to share my enthusiasm about this subject with all of
you, whether you are taking this class to fulfill a general
requirement, have a personal interest in biology, or because
you are exploring whether or not to major in this area. If you
are one of those who feel some trepidation about science classes
in general, I hope that you will soon realize that biology is all
about the life around us and I look forward to helping you discover the underlying principles of this subject.
■ Personalize and provide some touchstones about yourself
and encourage students to do the same.
A biology instructor might share the following information
about himself:
I first became interested in biology as an undergraduate,
changing my major from business. My particular interest is
in the biology of marine animals and I have spent many
summers at a research center in California. Here’s a photo of
me chatting up the sea lions .â•›.â•›.
I have been teaching biology for 20 years here at State
College. In my private life, I am a member of the chamber
music group here in Smithtown and play the violin.
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Or an instructor might share her enthusiasm about online
I began teaching online two years ago and found that it has
opened up a new world for me, broadening the range of students with whom I come in contact to include those from
many different places in the world and diverse backgrounds.
Please tell me and your classmates a bit about yourself and
what you hope to learn in this class.
■ Indicate your availability for questions and communications,
the protocol to follow, and that students are not stranded on
their own when it comes to online learning.
For example, you might say:
If at any time you have a question, please post it in the Q&A
discussion area after checking the class FAQ. If it is something relevant only to yourself, please send me an email. I log
in each day and should respond to you within 24 hours.
Sometimes your classmates will come to your assistance, but
please don’t wait to contact me if you are encountering a
serious issue. If you have a technical problem, contact the
24/7 help desk as soon as you can rather than endure frustration and delay trying to figure out the problem on your own.
A well-�organized course, with signs that you have anticipated
the students’ problems, plus a welcoming attitude apparent in
your first communication, conveys your appreciation of student
concerns. Your initial efforts set the tone, and when these are
followed by a responsiveness to students throughout the course,
they will go a long way toward instilling student confidence in
the online learning process.
Classroom Management
and Facilitation
╛╛lassroom management, as we use the term, includes all the
organizational and procedural measures that keep a class
moving along. Like any class on the ground, an online class can
get out of hand if you don’t manage it properly. Facilitation is
defined as the way in which an instructor interacts within the
online classroom to set things in motion and to respond to students, focusing here on discussion and student presentations in
the classroom. In this chapter, we’ll look at record keeping,
class communications and participation, facilitation of both
asynchronous and synchronous discussion, different
approaches to facilitating discussion, providing feedback, and
arrangements for team teaching. Chapter 12 will deal with
special issues, such as student behavior problems.
Your classroom software, whether a full-�scale course management program or simply a set of web pages, Web 2.0 tools,
and discussion boards, will have an impact on your classroom
management and facilitation alternatives. We urge you again,
therefore, to become familiar with your software in advance, so
that you can exploit its capabilities and compensate for its
Record Keeping and File Management
Teaching online can be a nightmare for record keeping. By the
end of a course, there may be thousands of postings and emails
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from students. Where and how will you save this information?
How will you organize it?
Begin by finding out what the rules are for the server on
which your course is housed. Will material be left on the server
after the course is over or archived in a way accessible to you?
Even if you’re lucky enough to have such an arrangement, it’s a
good idea to prepare a system for saving material on your own
computer. Moreover, if you intend to save any discussion
materials, it’s important to do so at intervals during the course
rather than trying to sort through them all at the end.
If you are using Web 2.0 applications outside your institution’s
control, you will want to be even more assiduous about developing a system to capture the content you create and you should
encourage your students to do the same for their own content.
Tips for Record Keeping
Here are some suggestions for setting up your record-�keeping
1. When you compose major pieces of information, do so first
in your word-�processing program or your HTML composer
software rather than directly in your online classroom. If you
are writing online and your connection is interrupted, you
may lose all or part of your material. Also, if you start out in
your word-Â�processing program—and save your work there—
you will already have created an instant “archive” of your
2. On your computer’s hard drive or on a flash drive, create a
series of folders that parallel the divisions of your course. For
example, if your course is organized by week, create a folder
on your computer for each week and then subfolders for
“Discussion,” “Lecture,” “Exercises,” and whatever other
components you may have.
3. Create folders for student work on your computer and make
sure that you’ve set up folders for student assignments in your
email program. If possible, don’t leave students’ assignments
in your email program only, but download and store them
along with the other classroom folders. Some instructors like
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
to house all Assignment #1 papers from students in the same
folder, while others keep all assignments from an individual
student in a sort of portfolio set aside for him or her alone.
You may also find it useful to take notes on the contributions of individual students while you read postings in the discussion forum, particularly in a large or active class. This can
be done with simple paper and pen, in your word-�processing
program, or even by copying and pasting representative snippets of a student’s postings into a folder for that student. Some
course management systems make it easy to assemble and
store or print discussion threads. Any measures that help you
build up a profile of individual students will assist you in following their progress and evaluating their work.
4. Make sure that all student email is sorted automatically or
manually as it arrives at your email address. One of the
greatest organizational perils is email from students that
becomes commingled with email from other sources. This
results in misplaced assignments and late responses to
If you’re working from a business account or a personal
email account, you may want to consider establishing a separate email address for your class communications. There are
many free email services available on the Web but be certain
to ask about the limitations for size of individual attachments
and total storage capability. If your students send you multimedia files, those may exceed the service limits.
In regard to IM or text messaging, you will need to sort out
the ephemeral from the potentially worth saving communications from students. You may simply want to keep a log of
questions asked and answered via these means.
5. As noted earlier, make sure you specify how students should
use the subject line in email communications with you. For
example, you may want to specify that the subject line
consist of student’s first name + last initial + number of
assignment. Gently remind class members if there are lapses
(and there will be) during the progress of the course.
Extend this system to students’ attachments as well, whether
text or multimedia: make sure that students put their name
and assignment number in the body of the attached text itself.
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Often, attachments are downloaded and saved separately from
the emails that delivered them or the course management
assignment folders where they were submitted. In this case, if
students remember to affix their names and assignment
numbers, you will be able to print out assignments, if you wish,
without having to guess who authored each paper!
Relabel assignments and emails if necessary before saving
them to folders. Keeping the nomenclature uniform will enable
you to sort quickly through your students’ contributions. This
is a valuable time saver.
For multimedia files uploaded to a third-Â�party site—put the
onus on students to maintain their own copies in the event of a
third-�party host incurring disruptions or even going out of
business. With the ephemeral nature of many of the new Web
2.0 sites, such a loss of service is not an idle notion. Or, if you
prefer to view such files offline and want your own copies,
clearly express that wish to your students as part of the rules for
creating these types of assignments.
6. If you are using external web sites outside your institution’s
control—for example, a blog or other Web 2.0 tool—be sure
to create a system for handling student communications and
student-�generated content housed there. These sites can
change or even disappear with little or no opportunity for
you to recapture content. Even as you caution students to
keep a copy of their work, few students would think of preserving their discussion postings. Your review and record
keeping (or downloading as the case may be) of student
activity at these sites is essential as an ongoing procedure.
You would be wise to keep tabs on communications on at
least a weekly basis. Depending on the nature of the content,
this might mean anything from copying and pasting everything into a word-�processed document or simply taking
notes on student contributions and copying and pasting only
graded assignments.
Electronic Files versus Hard Copy
In contemplating the multitude of online activities and student
assignments, you may be wondering how much you need to
read online and how much you should download and print out.
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
This is really a personal choice. However, don’t feel somehow
less “cyber-Â�expert” if you want to print out and read most
assignments or even some discussion offline. It can be very
hard on the eyes to read a great deal online. Some instructors
print out and read all assignments offline, preferring to make
their notes in the paper margins while on the train, at the coffee
shop, or lying in bed. Others read the papers offline but make
their notes in word-�processed documents, which they then
copy and paste into their emailed correspondence with their
students. Still others may create PDF versions of documents to
read on their mobile devices and take screen shots of assignments posted on third-�party sites.
The same issues apply to record keeping. If you want to keep
paper records as well as electronic ones, that’s fine. In any case,
always keep a backup copy—either on a flash drive, computer
hard drive, or on paper—of your gradebook and any other
important class records. You may want to have a paper chart
that you use while online, to tick off credits for student participation as you read. This may save you the time and bother of
having to toggle back and forth between the classroom and your
word-�processing program. You may also want to keep a paper
journal of events in your class. Perhaps your course management system gradebook can be saved to a spreadsheet—if so,
plan to download it on a regular basis so that you have your
own record of the class as it proceeds.
You may have to experiment to find out which system works
best for you. The factors to balance here are flexibility, economy
of time, security of records, and how much time you want to
spend online. But do devise a system of your own and follow
through with that system.
Managing Communications
Not surprisingly, many online classroom management issues
involve communication—between you and your students and
among the students themselves. Designing an effective communication system and monitoring it are key steps in teaching
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Creating a Uniform Announcement Area
You need some area within your course where students know
they can receive the latest updates and corrections. If you
cannot easily update a web page area linked to the course’s
home page, consider using a mailing list to email students your
updates. If you have a discussion board, you can also choose
that as your venue: let students know from the first day of class
that each time they log in, they should check a particular area
for the latest announcements. Depending on your preferences
and those of your students you can also send SMS text messages
to students that repeat online announcements or simply remind
students to log in to view those announcements. Some faculty
have experimented with using Twitter for this purpose. Twitter
has an advantage in that its communications can be followed
on mobile devices as well as via the Web. If you send a weekly
message via email or some other format, make sure these are
identical to any announcements in your online classroom—one
way to do this is by starting an email with words to that effect—
“This message is a duplicate of one posted in the classroom.”
Since Twitter messages are very limited in length (140 characters) you may need to remind students to visit the classroom to
see the remainder of the announcement. For example, you
might send out a “tweet” that says “Reminder essay assignment
due Fri, see classroom for details or to ask questions.”
It’s a good habit to make regular announcements on a weekly
or biweekly basis—to keep students on task, and get them in the
habit of checking in, even if there are no special changes or
updates to announce. Simply give an overview of the week
ahead or of upcoming due dates for assignments and exams.
Here are a few examples of the types of information that might
appear in announcements:
1. Reminding students about upcoming due dates and stages of
the course:
As we start week 5, all of you should now have chosen your
topics for the final essay. It’s a good idea to start outlining
your ideas now for the rough draft that will be due at the end
of week 6.
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
2. Offering a preview or overview of the week’s activities to reinforce the students’ attention to tasks:
This week we will be focusing on the romantic poets. Be sure
to visit at least one or two of the recommended web sites for
additional background information before taking part in the
discussion about the readings.
3. Taking stock of progress and encouraging students:
We are now entering the seventh week of the course. I am
pleased that so many of you are participating in the weekly
discussion forums and that the quality of those conversations
is so evident. Nearly all of you have turned in your journal
entries for week 6. You can expect to receive your grades and
comments from me during the next week. Feel tree to email
me it you have any questions about how I determined your
4. Noting problems in computer access:
Our server experienced a shutdown this morning from
8:00â•›a.m. to 9:00â•›a.m. EST. If you tried to access the classroom
at that time, you would have received an error message.
5. Updating, clarifying, or changing the syllabus or schedule:
Please note the following change in the reading for this week:
pages 10–25 in White (not 110–125 as recorded on the syllabus). Quiz #2 will be postponed until after the holidays—
therefore, it has not yet been posted. Also, there will be no
on-�campus meeting this week, due to the holidays. However, I
will be holding live online chats throughout this week, by prior
email appointment only. Student groups who hoped to meet
on campus are encouraged to use the live chat as well.
6. Reminding students about special events or introducing
This week we are fortunate to have as our guest Dr. Basstone.
I have posted Dr. Basstone’s lecture in Unit Three. He will be
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available on Tuesday and Thursday of this week only to
answer your questions in Discussion Forum Three.
7. Maintaining your presence: Bring in the outside world when
relevant to demonstrate your own active interest in the class
topics and to involve your students:
Don’t know if any of you have seen the news today about the
economic stimulus plan, but it highlights the importance of
our current discussion concerning that issue. I was very
struck by the fact that the New York Times editorial challenges the findings that have hitherto been accepted by nearly
everyone, including me, on this issue. Take a look for yourself
at the following URL and post a response to my message on
the discussion board.â•›.â•›.â•›.
Setting Rules and Establishing a Protocol for
All Communications
One key to handling the email problem—the potential deluge of
email you may receive—is to divert individual email, as much as
possible, into the common classroom space. This prevents your
having to make the same response over and over again, and it
also has the positive effect of promoting students’ consciousness
of the online classroom as a shared space, not simply an assemblage of web pages. If you make your presence felt primarily in
the online classroom and only secondarily in the private email
realm, your students will look for you in that public space. When
you receive an emailed question or comment that isn’t really
private in nature, praise the student and encourage her or him by
requesting that the student post the item in the classroom—or
offer to do so yourself. A common protocol is to ask students to
first post a question in the appropriate discussion forum or a separate Q&A area and wait twenty-�four hours for a reply before
attempting to email the instructor.
The more tools and avenues of communication that are
available to students, the more important it becomes to establish a protocol for communications. For example, if you are
using blogging or other Web 2.0 communication tools you will
need to add those to your mix in thinking about where and
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
when and what students should communicate in each type of
forum. For example, a logical rule might be that blog comments
are only for postings directly related to the blog content, while
all general questions are to be asked in the course management
system discussion area.
Among younger students, you may find that the email influx
is diminished by the tendency of these students to favor text
messaging and instant messaging for their communications.
With synchronous communication tools—whether text messaging, chat, instant messaging, audio messages, and the other
options in Web 2.0 tools that we have discussed in this book—
you will need to set rules for your own response times (or
perhaps you don’t want to be available via text message or
instant message at all) and for your students in regard to using
these tools for course-�related work and assignments. For
example, if you allow students to do their group work using synchronous tools, do you want them to save a transcript for you to
see? If you do communicate with your students via instant
message or text message, how will you keep a record of your
communications so that misunderstandings are avoided?
These modes of behavior and protocols will not evolve
among students on their own—you must set the rules and procedures early in your course and carefully consider how to
structure the channels of communication.
Important! With the increasingly diverse channels
of communications that might be available to you and
your students, it is necessary to establish rules, procedures and expectations for all chosen forms of
Encouraging Participation and Managing
Your Workload
Most instructors would like to promote as much interaction as
possible in an online class—not only between instructor and students, but student to student as well. Instructors who run large,
lecture hall, on-�campus courses with an online component would
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perhaps like to use the online environment not only to replace
some of the lecture time, but also to give students additional
opportunities for discussion, presentation of projects to their
classmates, and other forms of participation that are difficult to
manage in a large classroom meeting. In previous chapters, we
discussed the variety of activities you can set in motion to engage
students. Here we want to take a look at how you can promote
participation in these activities. At the same time, we will examine
how the choice and design of activities may affect your workload.
Two factors determine the level and quality of participation
and interaction in a class—your course design and student
dynamics. The second part of this formula, student dynamics, is
really not wildly different online than it is in the on-�campus classroom or discussion seminar. Students will bring their own expectations and work habits to your online classroom. To some
degree, you will be able to shape and influence their behavior,
but in other respects it’s the luck of the draw. Experienced
instructors can fairly quickly identify the core group of students
who are active participants (perhaps including obnoxious students as well as the most delightful), and these can be enlisted to
get the classroom dynamics moving. Here, though, the factor of
course design comes into play as well: instructors need to design
the course so that other students are drawn into the orbit of the
core group and begin to participate, even if in different ways and
to a lesser degree. The trick is to get enough of the reluctant or
shy students to be active in the classroom, at least occasionally,
to make the class more diverse and interesting for all.
The Effect of Class Size
The way you use classroom design and organization to promote
student participation will probably depend on the class size. As
in the handling of email, your own workload can become an
important factor in your decisions. Let’s look at the issues
involved in an online classroom or online component for
classes of various sizes.
Classes of Ten to Thirty Studentsâ•… If you have a class of only
ten students, your major problem will be how to encourage participation and student-�to-student interaction. Given that, in a
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
class of ten, perhaps only three to five students will have a tendency to be very active, while the others will be nearly inactive or
only moderately active, that group of three to five may become
discouraged, fatigued, or bored if it spends most of the course
carrying the load for the entire class. While you can give each of
your students more individual attention than in a larger class,
you presumably would like to avoid having the course become
a de facto independent study class. So you have a real incentive
to encourage student-�to-student participation.
With a class of twenty, you may have several active coteries
of students, and if even half of the students are active in discussions, they can potentially generate hundreds of messages for
you to read—not to mention homework or exercises. You need
to achieve a balance of energy between relating to students as
individuals and relating to groups of students. This means not
only getting students to talk to one another, but also apportioning your assignments and activities so that at least a few are
group efforts or involve peer contributions.
In a class of thirty, your potential problems are your workload and the risk that students will disappear into the corners of
cyberspace. In a class of thirty on the ground, you can see the
rows of students and generally keep track of them visually.
Online, you really do have to remember the names and check
your records and notes to keep track of all of them. At this level,
group work and presentations become a necessary part of your
course design. You’ll want to create smaller groups for the purposes of at least some discussion topics and projects. This
arrangement will give shy students a more comfortable environment for airing their views and asking questions. It will also
allow students to form social connections with other students
and build up a sense of camaraderie. In any class of more than
twenty students, you will probably also want to use some type
of self-�assessment or an automatic assessment vehicle such as
online testing.
Classes of 40–100 Students (or More)â•… Beyond thirty or so students, you will find it difficult to operate without the assistance
of a teaching assistant (TA) unless you dramatically redesign the
class. There are two approaches you can take if you do not have
a TA—first, the implementation of group strategies, and second,
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replacement of some instructor–student interaction with builtÂ�in interactivity of content. The latter can be accomplished by an
individual instructor investing a good deal of time in creating
modules, but it is more commonly done by a course development team.
Group Strategies and Interactivity of Content
In a class of forty or more students, even with a TA, and the
addition of rich content and exercise modules, you must interact more with groups of students than with individuals. In such
classes, if possible, you should use online testing with automatic grading for at least one-�third to one-�half of your assessments, and you should have students working in groups and
making presentations to the entire class.
In such a large class, discussion forums can be established
for groups of 10–15 students. You (and your TA or team teacher
if you have one) can then observe the groups, noting the interaction and responding when necessary. You can think of this as
the party-�host model. You and your colleague circulate among
the various groups of guests, joining in on conversations at
times and making sure there are no wallflowers sitting by
In order for students to benefit from ideas and questions that
arise in groups other than their own, you should set up dual
levels of the classroom—one for the entire class and the other
for the group level of organization. Establish a forum where students can ask general questions about the course; this will
prevent your having to answer these questions in each group.
But also establish discussion areas where student representatives from each group can address the topics of discussion with
the entire class.
For example, in Week 3, if students are discussing the chapter
reading assigned on the French Revolution, you might have students meet first in their groups to discuss and summarize the
main ideas of the chapter on Robespierre or to reach some conclusions about the dominant causes of the Revolution. You
would set a time limit for these group discussions to conclude.
Then you would post the same discussion question or assignment in the discussion forum for the entire class, asking the
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
student spokesperson for each of the various groups to
exchange and discuss their groups’ ideas.
When there are individual assignments for a large class, you
can choose examples that typify the responses and the problems encountered, then post these anonymously (without the
student’s name attached) for all students to view. In this way
you can create a lesson by means of your comments. This
method works best for courses with much factual or objective
material—computer science, math, and so forth. For courses
that involve more subjective responses, you can spotlight those
you think are full or good responses. Some instructors do this
by creating presentation pages, while others use the discussion
forum areas for this purpose. To comment on problems the students may be encountering, you can derive principles and illustrations from the poorer student work without actually posting
individual examples.
Christine Appel of Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Open
University of Catalonia) in Spain and Jonathan Matthews from
Pennsylvania State University were previously highlighted in
Chapter 7 as those who teach large online classes and rely on
group strategies and interactive content to manage their teaching load. Both of these instructors are able to avail themselves
of strong instructional design or course development and technology units on campus to provide interactive content.
Christine Appel notes that the Modern English 1 course she
teaches to fifty students consists of five major types of assessment tasks. “Some are self-Â�correcting, like reading exercises
for which students can check their answers after a certain
date,” she notes. There are three tasks involving writing and/
or speaking for which students receive individual feedback
from the instructor, while another two projects are based on
group work, with the instructor offering feedback to the group
midway through the project, “intervening in the process, highlighting changes that need to be made.” The final versions of
the group projects in this highly standardized course are set
up so that the instructors give feedback to the groups but can
use their own discretion to decide whether or not to give additional individual feedback as well. Matthews and his TAs similarly use computerized quizzes, interactive modules for
content, rubrics, and group projects to deliver feedback and
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assess their students. Such a strategy of providing a mix of different assignments in which feedback may be given to individual students, to small groups of students, and through
automatic computer programmed or pre-�written feedback,
allows for effective assessment of students in a large online
If you find yourself in a situation where you alone teach and
provide nearly all course content for a class of forty or more
students, a good solution is to find appropriate Web 2.0 tools
that enhance the small-�group capabilities that might exist in
your CMS and to seek out relevant enriched content available
on the Web. At the same time, seriously rethink the objectives
of your assignments and assessments so as to target a smaller
number of assignments for individualized feedback. If you formerly gave individualized feedback on five separate assignments, you might replace a few of these with rubric-�guided
grading, designate one as a group assignment, or consolidate
closely related assignments into one larger project.
Rich, interactive content can also serve to help instructors
who may not have expertise in a critical aspect of a subject. In
the area of nursing education, there has long been a shortage
of nursing educators. Pam Taylor notes that this shortage is
even more pronounced in the subject area of nursing informatics. Taylor creates nursing informatics content (see her
company site at http://nivateonline.com) required by nursing
credentialling organizations so that nursing programs can
incorporate this approved content. Her modular, self-�paced
materials were developed for entry-�level informatics courses
and are currently incorporated in a host of nursing courses
within the U.S.. Taylor comments on the potency of truly interactive content:
Online learning is not just reading a screen of text. Presentation of content needs to be paired whenever possible with an
application that provides the student with an opportunity to
evaluate if they understand the content presented. Too often
educators rely on 4 or 5 screens of text plus a short quiz to
meet the ‘interactive’ definition. In my online modules, we
discuss how databases work as the foundation of the electronic medical record. Once the content has been presented,
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
the student is then presented with a series of mock medical
record screens where they actually enter data using the techniques that were presented. This tends to promote better
retention of the content since it has been applied to a real-�
world situation rather than just having students answer a
Changing Class Sizes
Perhaps the hardest thing for instructors to adapt to is a sudden
change in their class size—one gets used to teaching within a
particular design and context and to suddenly be confronted
with an increase of even 25 percent—say, from twenty-Â�five students to thirty—can be a challenge. If you are faced with this
situation, what you need to do is think about is redesigning, not
merely adapting, your syllabus and manner of interacting with
There is really no one ideal class size for an online class—the
quality of teaching and learning hangs on understanding the
model, purposeful design, and the instructor’s skill in managing the class. A poorly organized and haphazardly designed
course for twenty is not going to promote better learning than
a richly enhanced and carefully designed course for forty students. As an instructor, you may prefer teaching under one
model rather than another just as those who teach face-�to-face
may prefer small seminars to large lecture hall classes. But if
you do find yourself facing a change in the model to which you
are accustomed, (especially if it is not in the nature of a radical
change), you may find it comforting to realize that by implementing a few changes in design of activities and content, you
can attain the same level of effectiveness in your teaching and
perhaps find equal enjoyment in the teaching experience as
Here are a few tips for adjusting class design to a larger class:
■ Trim the number of topics in the main discussion forum to a
manageable number of items or create a new forum to handle
additional topics. When the discussion area is overcrowded
with large numbers of topic threads and postings, it becomes
difficult for students (and you) to follow the discussion.
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■ Consider reducing the minimum number of postings you
require of students each week and weigh the participation
grade more heavily on the quality of the responses.
■ If appropriate, replace at least one individual assignment
with a small group project. Have groups present their
projects in a common discussion area. Consider having students use a peer-�review rubric to evaluate themselves and
other group members.
■ Use detailed rubrics to give guidelines and to supply general
feedback on assignments. Save your more detailed individual
feedback for key assignments—at least one of these should
be on an assignment given early in the course so that the
student receives the necessary feedback that will enable him
or her to improve.
■ Revisit the class schedule, consolidating assignments if possible, and revising due dates or expected feedback times for
assignments if necessary—don’t set up unreasonable deadlines for yourself in regard to returning long assignments.
■ Maintain a pattern of frequent visits to the classroom to
avoid feeling overwhelmed by a backlog of postings you must
read. Frequent visits will also help promote a sense of your
presence in the classroom.
■ Prepare a list of resources to which you can easily refer students who may need assistance in writing, the use of the
library, or computer skills. You may also want to prepare a
FAQ of questions and answers about assignments based on
your past experience teaching the class. While both these
ideas constitute a helpful approach for any class, they are
even more effective for a larger class in which your feedback
time is at a premium.
Finally, find comfort in meeting the challenge of a larger class
with the knowledge that the diverse backgrounds and potential
for greater interaction among students may actually make the
course more stimulating than one of a smaller size. Keeping
yourself organized is the key to maintaining your enthusiasm
and energy for teaching, and transmitting that enthusiasm and
energy to your students.
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
The Debate about Class Size
Class size of totally online courses has been an issue since the
inception of online education. Often overlooked in this controversy
are the underlying assumptions about the online instructor’s role in
the classroom, the nature of the course, and the design considerations that are appropriate for the course.
We can state one point quite emphatically here: You can’t have a
high level of instructor-�facilitated interaction with individual students
in an online class of forty or more students. Having said that, a course
design based on small-�group strategies, highly interactive content,
and targeting of key assignments for individual feedback may adequately compensate for this overall lower level of individual instructor–student interaction.
Some institutions have applied the same rules to their online
courses as to their on-Â�site versions—for example, assigning one TA
for every 20–25 students if a class exceeds thirty or forty students.
Applying such equations is a good start. However, the cut-�off point
for the “average” class served by one instructor should be lower for
the completely online class than for an on-�campus version, assuming
that the same level of instructor–student interaction is desired. From
the experience of those who have taught in both formats, it appears
that one instructor in an on-�campus class can comfortably handle a
class of 30–50 by herself, whereas the equivalent online is closer to
15–30 students, with the latter number dependent on the level of
instructor–student interaction desired in the class.
Some instructors who have taught online would put the number
even lower—say, 15–20 students for one instructor. Although this
estimate may come from a heartfelt reaction based on their experience, it cannot necessarily be applied to all cases. Our observation
is that many who teach online automatically fall into a pattern of very
intense instructor-�generated activity and a great deal of one-�on-one
interaction. In fact, the workload issue is usually the number one
complaint of first-�time online instructors, whether they have fifteen
students or twenty-�five.
The very seductiveness of the online environment, with its seemingly endless avenues of communication, can cause an instructor
to become far more interactive online than he or she would be in a
traditional on-�campus class. Student expectations also play a role
here: online students tend to be more demanding and to need
more affirmation and attention than their on-�campus counterparts.
Further, the fact that one can see and review one’s interactions
with students may make an instructor more acutely self-�conscious
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and eager to respond more often and more elaborately than in an
on-�campus class.
While this high level of instructor responsiveness may be a desir�
able thing in itself, it may not be practical for some programs to have
classes small enough to make it feasible. More importantly, it is not
necessarily true that actual student learning outcomes are higher in
small-�scale models. Programs should ideally base their decisions as
to class size on the type of course, design of course, resources available, and workload that may be expected of instructors. And institutions need to prepare instructors to teach under the resulting new
model rather than assume that instructors will simply continue to
teach the same way for forty as for fifteen students!
Finding a Balance between Student-�
Centered and Instructor-�Centered
No matter what the class size, most students appreciate a balance
between student-�centered activities and those that focus on the
instructor. In other words, they want the instructor to contribute
something unique, something they can’t “get from the book,” but
they also respond well to an environment that asks them to be
active participants in their own learning. While there is strong
consensus that the online instructor needs to emphasize facilitation of student learning, we believe that it is a mistake to think
that students have ceased to seek inspiration and the imparting of
experience or the sharing of expertise from their online
In a class of fifteen, you might wish to do away with the formal
lecture mode and simply provide a segmented lecture as
described in Chapter 3: a running commentary of short paragraphs that offers the initial material—the thread topics—on
which students can base their discussion. But in a larger class, you
will want to provide a more structured presentation of instructor-�
generated materials. Students would quickly lose their way if they
had to find the tidbits of lecture material hidden among hundreds
of discussion topics or anecdotal comments.
Your ideal mix of instructor-�generated and student-�based
activity depends on the number of students, the length of the
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
course (for instance, whether there is enough time for several
projects and how long students will have to get organized for
group efforts), the number of TAs you have (if any), and any
matters related to the level or type of course you teach. We recommend that you include some calculations for your ideal mix
in the planning stage for your course.
We also encourage you to take advantage of the increasing
ease of use of Web 2.0 tools to allow students more opportunities to generate content whenever this choice seems appropriate and relevant as a learning activity.
Some General Guidelines for Student
One of the most effective ways to promote student participation
in an online class is to make it required and graded. As
explained in Chapter 5, this should be clearly stated in your syllabus, and the criteria must be defined.
Participation online ranges from “attendance”—defined as
logging on and (presumably) reading in the online classroom—to
actually posting messages in discussion forums and taking part
in small-�group activities. It is not possible to gauge pure attendance unless you have tracking features in your software that
monitor the opening of files or time spent in a particular portion
of the classroom. These tracking capabilities can help give you a
clearer picture of a student’s activities, but they are generally not
sufficient for assessment purposes. For example, they may tell
you that a student opened up a particular document and kept it
open for a period of time, but not whether the student actually
read the document. So it’s best to think of the information you
gain from these features, if you’re lucky enough to have them, as
merely a small piece in the puzzle. They are chiefly valuable for
alerting you to a negative—i.e., telling you that a student has
never accessed a portion of the class
To be an effective goad to activity, participation grades for a
completely online class or true blended class should constitute
somewhere between 10 and 40 percent of the student’s overall
grade. If you include a separate category for contribution to
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small-�group activities, you might end up with 50 percent of the
grade in the “participation” category. For an online component
in a mainly face-�to-face course, we recommend that at least 10
percent of the total grade for the course be reserved for online
You may want to establish criteria for both quantity and quality
of participation. For instance, one-�third of the participation grade
might be based on the student’s meeting a minimum quantity
level (say, posting a comment or question in the discussion forum
once a week), with the remaining two-�thirds based on the quality
of participation. Or, if your course involves lots of teamwork, you
might divide the participation grade between individual accomplishments and contributions to the group.
Depending on your course objectives, presentations—either
group or individual—may be an essential part of student participation. You might define participation to mean completing all
weekly classroom exercises, taking part in discussions, and presenting a project to the class. The use of presentations, whether
group or individual, fosters interaction among students, but it is
most effective if you emphasize that student comments and
questions about their classmates’ presentations are counted in
participation grades or are separately graded.
Important! However you choose to define “partici pation,” make sure that a significant part of the grade
depends on what the student does in the shared
classroom, not simply on the completion of assignments submitted to you alone.
So think about how you can structure opportunities for
student-Â�to-student interaction—it’s not something that will
necessarily happen without your deliberate effort.
Asynchronous or Synchronous
Some instructors are firm believers in synchronous communication for fostering a sense of online community while others find
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
it difficult and exhausting to facilitate synchronous sessions with
a large group. Both asynchronous and synchronous communication have their advantages as well as disadvantages. Asynchronous discussion allows time for reflection and encourages more
careful consideration but often lacks spontaneity and it may take
longer to arrive at a conclusion or for a group to reach a decision.
Synchronous communication provides a sense of immediacy
and cultivates a feeling of responsiveness among participants
while allowing for quicker problem solving, but at the same time
the greater speed and short-�hand expression can lead to misunderstandings, superficial interaction, and poorly considered
decisions. Many of the shortcomings of synchronous discussion
can be alleviated by software that provides a means for archiving
or replaying as well as by careful preparation leading up to a
synchronous session. The disadvantages of asynchronous discussion are downplayed when the discussion prompts and questions are well-�constructed and stimulating, the facilitating
instructor has some skill in tending discussion, and there is a
clear beginning and ending schedule for the asynchronous discussion, with students willing to post throughout the week
rather than all jumping in during the last two days of a week.
Tips for Fostering Asynchronous Discussion
In Chapter 6, we discussed the impact that a particular discussion software structure may have on the way you organize your
discussions. However, no matter how your software may be
organized, there are techniques you can use to foster greater
participation and clarity among your students.
1. Start the major topic threads yourself. It’s a good idea for the
instructor to start all major topic threads unless you have
designated a forum for student presentation or have designated students to act as the moderator. If you wish to (and
your software permits), you can allow students to contribute
additional threads as they feel the need. This arrangement
should be considered with great care, however, because students often tend to create new topics without real necessity,
and your discussion area may soon be overwhelmed with too
many threads on duplicate topics.
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2. Narrow down topics. A good discussion needs pruning and
shaping. An overly broad topic thread—say, “The French
Revolution: What Do You Think of It?”—will often result in
very fragmented discussion. This is especially true in an
introductory class, in which most students know little about
the subject. If you divide up broad topics into logical subtopics—say, “Economic Conditions on the Eve of the Revolution” or “The Execution of the Royal Family”—you can
prevent the discussion from going off in too many directions.
In an introductory class, you may want to provide even more
guidance. For example, a discussion based on specific readings in the textbook, on a focused web site visit, or on
assigned exercises, coupled with your guideline questions,
will likely be more productive than simply pointing students
to the forum and expecting them to find their own direction.
A short series of closely related questions can allow students to jump in on any one of the points and still find themselves “on topic.” In our example of the French Revolution, a
topic thread might contain several questions about the economic conditions and invite students to choose one to which
to respond:
Please address one of the following, “What were the land-Â�
holding patterns? How important was foreign trade? Had
the average well-�being of the citizens improved or worsened
in the years leading up to the Revolution? Give a rationale
and provide support for your response.”
The shaping of discussions takes some genuine forethought.
You might think of this task as similar to creating chapters in
a book or long article you are writing. Threads will stay of
manageable length if you keep topics specific and allow a
place such as a lounge or question-�and-answer forum for off�topic conversations.
Sometimes, of course, a thread goes off on a digression
that is so valuable and interesting in itself that you don’t
want to curb it. The pruning and organization of threads is
for the purpose of sustaining discussion, not stifling it. Allow
students to digress, but if you think that the new direction in
the conversation calls for an entirely new thread, you might
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
create one or suggest that a student begin a new topic
message to explore the subject further.
3. Organize forums and threads to reflect the class chronology or
topical sequence and suggest a pattern for posting. The organization of discussion forums should complement the class
structure but also provide some reminders of the course
chronology and sequence. For example, creating one forum
for each week or unit of the course helps students know at a
glance where they should be looking for that week’s activity.
Even if you don’t have a forum structure, you can designate
all the threads for a particular week under the rubric “Week
1” or “Unit 1.”
Suggest a schedule for posting that is appropriate to the
topic, assignment, and your student audience—for example,
if you want students to comment on other students’ postings,
you might suggest that everyone post their first responses to
your question by midweek and to classmates during the
remainder of the week. You may even set up your system of
credit for the discussion participation rubric to reflect that.
(If you have many working students who must do the greater
portion of their schoolwork on the weekends, and you are
able to do so, you may want the class week to run from
Tuesday through Monday rather than Monday through
If you have a general forum area for ongoing questions
about the course, you might want to divide this up by week
so that students can more easily find questions that pertain
to a particular week’s activities.
4. Address students by name and encourage students to signal
topics and clarify responses. Mention the student’s name in
responding to their message: “Joan, your point certainly
reflects on the issue of the previous chapter.” Change the
subject line to reflect the topic of your response (“Response
to Joan,” or “Joan and the previous chapter’s issue,” etc.) and
encourage students to do the same. Clarify the portion of the
message to which you are responding through copying of the
statement before your own reply, quotation marks or whatever means your discussion software features most readily
allow and remind your students to do the same. (While some
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discussion software automatically repeats the entire message
to which one replies, you may need to pinpoint the relevant
5. Key the thread topics to appropriate and relevant activities.
Keying thread topics to the assignments, readings, projects,
and exercises for a particular week will help keep students on
topic in their discussions and also provide an obvious place
to discuss anything that occurs in the course during that
week. While you may have some key topics in mind, do allow
students to ask related questions that you may not have
anticipated. Adding a prompt at the end of the discussion
question such as “If you have another question based on this
week’s reading, feel free to post it in reply/post it in a new
thread.” Or you may create a thread each week that is a
placeholder for “other questions about this week’s readings
and activities.”
6. Establish a pattern of frequent response. Students tend to
follow instructor expectations for online participation, and
these expectations are communicated not only by the declarations of the syllabus but also by the instructor’s behavior.
During the first week or so, if your class size allows (this
would be in a class of no more than thirty students), greet all
students individually in the classroom as they arrive and
engage as many as possible in discussion. Thereafter make
an effort to respond to a diverse group of students each
week—not just to the same one or two individuals. If you
have a large class, you will find yourself rotating your time
among all the small groups, as well as tending to any all-�class
forums. For a class of fifty, Christine Appel notes that instructors in the Open University of Catalonia’s (UOC) Modern
English 1 are expected to monitor the group discussion areas,
and are expected to post in either the announcement area or
the group discussion areas at least once every forty-�eight
hours. A rhythm is established so that students visit the
common forum at the beginning of each major project, and
return again at the end of each project to the common forum
to share what their groups have accomplished.
In such large classes, rather than engaging in long, concentrated visits to your classroom, it is best to establish a
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
pattern of short but frequent activity. When students see you
“poke your head into” the classroom (that is, see your postings), it makes them feel that you are truly present and
actively responding to the class. In contrast, when students
see that an instructor rarely engages with them, they are discouraged from posing questions and comments aimed even
indirectly at the instructor, and they may also conclude that
the instructor will be unaware of what is going on in the
Think in terms of three to five short periods of logging on
each week, rather than the one or two sessions you may be
used to in your on-�campus courses. If you have only four
hours to devote to the classroom in one week, spend an hour
for each of four days in the classroom, rather than two hours
twice a week. This will allow you to keep up with the flow of
student discussions and will also reinforce the impression
that you are responsive and on the scene.
If you are teaching a primarily on-�campus course that
meets once a week and also has an online component, you
will have to decide how important student discussion online
will be in your class. If you really want students to make use
of this venue, then you too must actively attend to it. The discussion forum is a great place for you to continue conversations you started in class or for the TA to extend the weekly
discussion section. Initiate topics on a weekly basis and
require some weekly participation from students in the
online forum. This is also the best place to update the class
on changes and errors, to pose and answer questions, and to
help students review material. Again, unless you are actively
“showing the flag” in this area, students will quickly learn
that they can ignore it with impunity.
7. Facilitate and build on participation. While the instructor
needs to be seen as engaged, don’t try to respond to every
posting in the classroom. Even in a class of twenty, this will
quickly overwhelm you and can actually put a damper on
student discussion. The quality of your postings is as important as frequency. And you want to encourage students to
interact with each other, not only with you. So make comments that address a whole train of thought—responding, for
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example, to five or six related messages in the thread rather
than to each of the five individually. In this way you will do
your part to encourage participation as well as interaction
among students. Think about jumping in or tending to the
conversational fires at critical junctures, working as a facilitator to help move the discussion forward and keep the fire
Don’t merely post friendly expressions of affirmation. You
should also contribute comments that summarize what students have posted, as well as follow-�up questions that stimulate further discussion. In some cases, it might be appropriate
to invite students’ responses to their classmates’ ideas:
“Anyone else want to comment on Tom’s observation?” “Did
anyone reach a different conclusion about this issue?”
If a class is fairly quiet, it may seem that it’s a good idea to
jump in and reply as soon as someone finally posts something. The truth is, instructors feel uncomfortable when
nobody’s talking. Resist the temptation to jump in too
quickly and risk squelching student voices with an excess of
chatter or by answering the question you have posed to
them. There are also times when there will be a lull in conversations because students are working on a major assignment. Some instructors may even schedule a “quiet time,”
such as a few days during which students are encouraged to
devote most of their time to a project.
8. Provide feedback that stimulates higher-�level thinking. Look
for student postings that imply unspoken assumptions or
suggest a line of other questioning. Provide follow-�up
responses that ask for more information or deeper consideration, from the student posting and/or the other students in
the class. For example, ask students questions like, “What are
the implications of your statement?” “What evidence is there
to support your point of view?” “Does anyone want to add
to/dispute/verify that?”
Equally important is to confirm when students are on the
right path but then help guide them to the next step: “What
Joe has said about X theory is sound, but when we look at it
operating in the area of Y rules, how would we go about
testing that theory? Anyone want to tackle this?” It may also
be appropriate to ask students to apply issues to real-�world
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
situations—“Several of you have posted comments on the
economic price of environmental protection. Can anyone
think of a current example in which economic development
has been negatively impacted by environmental degradation and explain how?”
╇ 9. Be aware of cultural patterns as well as differences in personal
styles in discussion. If you have a classroom that includes students from another country, be alert and request information
from informants (rather than making assumptions) about the
best way to ask questions. For example, a group of students
from a particular culture may not respond very well to questions and topics that call for volunteered responses. In this
case, a question like “Anyone want to comment on this?” is
better altered to “I would like to hear what you think about
this. Please post your response to this question by Wednesday
Be aware, too, that not all students respond well to the same
approaches to discussion. For example, some students
respond poorly to a question that asks them to share personal
experiences, while others are not at all shy about divulging
information about their background and preferences. We
think it’s important to respect these differences and not make
students feel boxed in by the way you frame a question. A way
around this problem can be to split the question in such a
way as to offer an alternative: “Can you relate this to your own
experience or one you have heard or read about?”
10. Prepare a strategy for potentially controversial discussions. It is
even more important to have a strategy for approaching
potentially controversial subjects online than in a face-�to-face
class since it is more likely you will see a wider range of students posting online than might have been willing to venture
an opinion on-�campus. If you have a code of conduct or netiquette stated up front, that will help matters as you gently
remind the class as a whole when people tend to stray from
the rules. When strong opinions are expressed that seem irrelevant to the subject matter, you may redirect as needed.
When relevant but unsupported opinions arise, don’t hesitate
to ask for facts to back up assertions or to ask for clarification.
Avoid irony or heavy-Â�handed phrasing—remember that as
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the instructor, what you say automatically carries a lot of
weight and without vocal cues, students may easily misinterpret irony. If you know that the subject matter is inherently
controversial, you may want to ask students to debate an
issue and either assign them randomly to a particular viewpoint or ask them to take the side most opposed to their own
personal view. Having to research and defend a position with
logic often helps students discuss highly charged subjects.
A Study in Workload Management
A community college instructor, Fred is assigned to teach an online
course in American history. He finds that he has been asked to teach
a class of fifty students, the same number as in his on-�campus course.
He has always prided himself on promoting active discussion in his
courses and wants to continue to do so in his online course, so he
requires that all students contribute to the discussion on a weekly
basis in order to receive participation credit.
Two weeks into the course, Fred is overwhelmed by the time it
takes him to read through and respond to the student discussion postings. Instead of the dozen students who usually dominate the class
discussion, a much larger percentage of his class freely express themselves on the discussion board, to his surprise and delight. However,
most students seem to respond directly to his postings and seldom to
other students. This means a substantial amount of his time is needed
to read and respond to students.
Also, the sheer number of postings on the discussion board each
week makes it hard for him to follow the conversations. Students often
arbitrarily start new threads instead of replying to a thread, making it
hard to follow the continuity of a discussion.
Following the advice of a colleague, an experienced online instructor, Fred divides the class into five smaller groups of ten students each
for the purposes of discussion. He refines his participation credit so
that students must respond to at least one other classmate each week
rather than only to the instructor’s initial discussion threads. He asks
students to remember to reply to a message rather than start new
threads for a response and to save new threads for new topics or
clearly divergent subtopics.
Fred finds that he is able to circulate among the five discussion
groups, addressing his remarks to each group as a whole as much as
to individuals. Discussions are easier to follow, and as an added
benefit, students begin to provide more follow-�up questions and comments to their classmates, raising the overall quality of the discussion.
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
Tips for Establishing Effective Instructor-�
Facilitated Synchronous Communication
The most common form of synchronous communication available to instructors is text-�based chat. However, voice-�enhanced
and video-�enhanced chat and presentations have become more
widely available.
You should carefully consider any requirement that students participate in chat as a graded assignment. When students live on campus, chat arrangements are not a difficult
problem, but if your group includes working adults or students
from a mix of time zones, chat can be a real impediment to
their full participation in the class. In such cases, you will have
to be very flexible about scheduling times for chat. It is best to
offer some variety in the choice of times. If possible, too, you
should copy the chat to post asynchronously (if archiving is
not automatically generated by the chat) for the benefit of
those who cannot attend. If you are supervising group work,
request that groups post their chat transcripts in a group asynchronous area or email it to all the group’s members and to
Gila Kurtz, who teaches a course in Synchronous Technology in Distance Education for the Master of Distance Education program at University of Maryland University College,
differentiates between instructor preparation for a text or
audio- and video-Â�enhanced chat. “With audio/video synchronous presentations, I prepare content in advance, allowing
time for questions and discussions after finishing a topic. This
type of synchronous audio/video presentation is an instructor�led mode and can accommodate a larger group than for a text
based chat session. For the latter, I don’t recommend preparing a story-Â�board or script in advance. Live chat is a learning
event and not a show that needs to be perfect.”
Here are some further tips for organizing an instructor-�led
chat or other synchronous session with more than one student:
1. Try to limit group chats in which students are expected to
fully participate to four or five participants.
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2. If you must have a group of more than five students, establish a system for granting turns to speak. If your chat software
includes a crowd-�control function (the equivalent of raising
hands to be recognized), then you should definitely make use
of it. If your software doesn’t have such a built-Â�in system, you
can design one: for instance, a question mark, asterisk, or
some other sign that, when typed, will appear next to the student’s name, allowing you to recognize him or her to speak.
3. Allow some time at either the beginning or the end of the
chat for students to ask off-�topic questions and to socialize.
Announce this before the chat or at the opening of the
session. Budget an extra two minutes as well for greetings
and goodbyes.
4. For synchronous presentation formats like Adobe Connect,
Elluminate, Wimba LiveClassroom and other such software,
make sure participants test out their equipment ahead of
time to ensure that browsers, microphones, etc., are all available. As presenter, have a backup plan in place for those who
encounter problems speaking or hearing the presentation.
When presenting, it can be helpful to have an assistant to
help handle technical issues. If this is not possible, make sure
you practice before the presentation under realistic
5. Chat may be used to bring in a guest speaker. This is best
done in conjunction with an assigned paper or lecture by the
guest, and it may follow the guest’s participation in an asynchronous discussion for a period of a few days. This technique is most effective when you adequately prepare
students for the guest chat. You should time the chat to coordinate with associated activities and give students an interval
to formulate questions they can pose to the guest. If the guest
is not available for a particular time, consider a one-�on-one
interview which can be replayed for students—you can even
gather the questions ahead of time from students and ask the
guest on their behalf. Gila Kurtz emphasizes that it’s important to also verify that the guest is familiar with the technology
if if he or she is expected to directly interact with students.
6. Limit each session to approximately one hour or less and
announce the time limit before the chat. An hour period
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
allows for the social niceties that smooth the way, as well as
some spontaneity, but also provides a substantial period of
time during which all can focus on the pre-�announced
7. Prepare students for the chat by posting the topics or agenda,
assigning readings or activities, or giving them questions to
consider before the chat. Ask them to keep these questions or
notes at their side while chatting. Have ready your own notes
or outline so that you can keep track of all the items on the
agenda. In some chat software, students entering late can’t
read anything that was said before their entrance. In such
cases, strongly emphasize in advance that students should
appear on time. You won’t have time to keep recapitulating
the “plot.”
8. Whenever possible, preface your response with the name of
the student to whom you are replying, or include bits of the
question or comment to which you are responding. Using
student names is particularly effective when you answer two
students in one reply:
Joe, I think reading the book before seeing the film would be
best. No, Elsa, Exercise 1 is not due until the day after
Including bits of the question also helps pinpoint the object
of your response. This is often necessary when several comments have been made in rapid succession.
Joe, book before film is best, but, as Linda reminds us, there
are some films that are merely loose adaptations of books.
9. If the software you use does not indicate when someone is
typing your students will not know (without a video cam of
your actions) when you are thinking or entering a response.
Students are often impatient in chat, trying to keep alert and
anticipating your answers. So, in a fast-�paced chat with a
group of students, break up any long responses into two or
three parts each ending in a word that indicates the thought
is incomplete. This will let students know you’re actually formulating a reply, not ignoring what they’ve said:
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First response:╇ Joe, book before film is best, but,
Second response:╇ as Linda reminds us, there are
films that are merely loose adaptations of books, while
Third response:╇ at the same time it is true that some books
are created after the fact, to capitalize on interest in a
This technique can also help you set the pace of the chat.
Students automatically slow down, knowing that you’re still
sending your response. A similar slowdown tactic is to type
just the student’s name with a comma and send that, and
then send the rest of the message in your next segment. As
students see “Joe,” they will await the remaining phrase,
“book before film is best.”
10. Have a backup plan in place, in the event that you or some
of the students encounter a computer crash, lose the Internet connection (in countries where connections are unstable) or experience a dropping out of the audio. For example,
note all participants as they come in, so that you can email
everyone in the event of a break. Remind students that they
can use the text chat if unable to use their microphones. If
you have twenty-�four-hour technical support, make sure
the phone number is available ahead of the session.
Chat and other Synchronous Communications: Benefits
versus Drawbacks
Let’s be honest about the shortcomings of chat and other synchronous communication. Real-Â�time communication is often productive of
disjointed or widely digressing conversations, sloppy or impressionistic responses, bad spelling, poor grammar, and flippant attitudes.
The lines of communication are often out of sync. While you’re creating your response, the other participants may already have moved
on to other questions. An instructor-�led chat with more than five
people can quickly become difficult to follow. In fact, real-�time chat is
probably the most exhausting intensive activity an online instructor
will ever encounter. Your attention must be attuned to rapid-�fire comments and questions from several students; you must respond
quickly, and, if your typing on the keyboard (or thumb-�typing on your
mobile device) isn’t the most skillful, you may struggle to keep up
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
with more nimble-�fingered students. Worst of all, while your students
may allow themselves less than complete sentences and partially
formed ideas, they are still likely to take everything you write as official pronouncement.
Given all these shortcomings, why use chat or other synchronous
communications at all?
And when is it most appropriate or effective? Here are some
1. One use of chat is to provide reinforcement and immediate feedback for students. When there are no face-�to-face meetings in the
course, chat can provide a forum for such communication.
2. Virtual office hours and personal consultation can be provided by
chat (or Instant Messaging). Such real-�time communication can
serve in lieu of an email or phone conversation, or provide clarification for communications by those methods. For example, you
may have a student who writes cryptic emails with key information
missing. You may be able to clarify his questions via a real-�time
chat. If a Whiteboard feature is available as well, you might be
able to assist a student with a problem that requires more hands�on demonstration. You might also want to schedule individual
chats with students for the purpose of asking follow-�up questions
about their work.
3. The social aspect of chat and IM may be one of the most important uses. Students may appreciate the opportunity to use chat
and IM among themselves without its being an official class activity. It can help students form bonds with others in the classroom.
Casual group chats (or even text messaging) may add to the
sense of cohesion among group members collaborating on a
project. Some students miss the spontaneous interaction common
to on-�campus classes, and chat may provide a suitable outlet for
humorous exchanges, social chatter, and team-�building
4. Chat may be used in conjunction with asynchronous group areas
for group project meetings and discussions. Typical reasons for
holding a chat are brainstorming and finalizing unresolved issues.
5. Chat may be used to bring in a guest speaker. This is best done
in conjunction with an assigned paper, lecture, or even asynchronous discussion with the guest. To be most effective, you should
carefully prepare students for the guest chat. You should time the
chat to coordinate with associated activities and give students an
interval to formulate questions they can later pose to the guest
during the chat.
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Team Teaching Online
Team teaching, whether online or on the ground, presents some
unique challenges as well as opportunities. Students can derive
the benefit of the multiple perspectives and teaching styles
brought by two instructors, while instructors may appreciate
the intellectual stimulation of the collaboration as well as the
prospect of sharing some of their duties and workload.
However, instructors who have experience of team teaching
know that being half of a two-Â�member team doesn’t necessarily
mean doing only half the work. Moreover, the difficulties
involved in coordination can be legion.
Important! Team teaching online requires even
more advance
Even though you and your colleague aren’t together in a
physical classroom setting, you are very much occupying the
same online classroom space, and you can easily trip over each
other there as well! Once teaching begins, differences in teaching style and approaches will invariably appear, so it’s best to
discuss your pedagogical approach as well as practical procedures before the course begins.
Avoid team teaching a course with fewer than fifteen students. Such a small group of students will tend to feel overwhelmed by two instructors seemingly vying for their attention.
There are three basic models you can adopt in team teaching: shared responsibility, division of labor, and primary–
secondary. Let’s look at each of them in turn.
The Shared Responsibility Model
In the shared responsibility model, both instructors do everything; that is, each of you shares the responsibility for all activities in the class. Online, this means that both of you read and
respond to all discussions and assignments. Students will know
which instructor is which in the discussion forum, because your
name will appear next to your comments.
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
Assignments can be graded by consensus (very time-�
consuming if you’re communicating with each other only
online) or by averaging. However, unless you have an online
gradebook in which to enter grades, one of you will have to
take charge of notifying students of grades and passing along
the corresponding comments by email. If you wish, you can
sign both names to the grade and add comments.
One risk in this form of team teaching is that students may
not know whom to address a particular question. Students
may also become confused by the two instructors’ different
teaching styles and approaches. No matter how much we
instructors like to imagine that we have a student-�centered
classroom and an anti-�authoritarian style, students do tend to
adjust themselves to the prevailing classroom mode that we
This model of team teaching also presents some of the same
problems encountered by two parents. You want to be two
individuals, offering different opinions, but you don’t want to
contradict or undermine each other. You must also avoid
being played off, one against the other, by students.
A further risk of this model is that neither of the instructors
may have the course firmly in focus. Areas of the course can
become relatively neglected if no one takes responsibility for
them. Finally, this model can be exhausting for instructors
because not only are they responsible for teaching the entire
class, but they also must spend additional time coordinating
with the other member of the team.
Nevertheless, in some situations you may decide that the
shared responsibility model is the best approach for you. If so,
here are some tips on making this “everything” model work:
1. Ask students to send any emailed queries to both instructors.
2. Each instructor must assiduously read all discussion threads
in the class. If one instructor has more comments than the
other on a particular topic, that’s fine, but the other should
make at least a few responses to the same topic.
3. In your syllabus or introductory messages, clearly state the
procedures for students to contact you and to submit
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4. For grading and evaluating student work and participation,
work out a procedure that you can easily follow. If you’re
meeting with your co-Â�teacher online, you’ll need a way to
smoothly exchange any emailed assignments and to maintain record keeping as well.
The Division of Labor Model
The division of labor model involves just what the name suggests: the two instructors divide their responsibilities according
to a pre-�arranged plan. Like the shared responsibility model,
division of labor also requires a great deal of planning and
coordination, but it is generally easier to implement.
The division of labor may be arranged by weeks (Joe for week
1, Mary for week 2); by topics (which may overlap with weeks);
by types of class activities (Mary handles the research project,
and Joe supervises all group reports); or by a combination of
these factors (Joe takes on the research project and weeks 2, 4,
and 6 of the discussion, while Mary handles all individual presentations and weeks 1, 3, and 5 of the discussion). You may also
want to have some activities handled separately by each of the
two instructors, while other activities are a joint effort.
The biggest risk in this model is that one instructor may lose
track of the classroom while the other instructor is taking his or
her turn. Here are some tips for making the division of labor
model most effective and least frustrating:
1. Make sure each instructor contributes something to the
overall effort. This contribution should start with the selection of texts and planning of class activities.
2. Decide how you wish to divide up the classroom responsibilities, and state the arrangement in your syllabus so that students know who has the primary responsibility for any
particular activity.
3. Make sure that your introductions during the first week of
class, or your comments during the first topic of discussion,
are carried out jointly with your co-�teacher.
4. Ask students to copy (cc) the other instructor on any queries
sent to one instructor. This will ensure that each instructor is
kept “in the loop.”
Chapter 11╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management and Facilitation
5. Even if you divide up the discussion responsibilities by week,
make sure that the instructor not assigned to that duty in a
particular week reads through the discussion. The “off-Â�duty”
instructor might want to make a comment as well, and he or
she can best do so after the other instructor and the students
have had their say.
6. Divide up grading of assignments as evenly as possible but in
alternating cycles so that neither instructor loses track of students. In other words, Joe grades assignments 1 and 3, while
Mary does 2 and 4. Each instructor should cc the other on
any emailed evaluation comments to a student. Each instructor should have copies of all grades and comments. If there is
no central gradebook online, the two instructors need to
keep identical records. This may mean that after each grading
turn is taken, the instructor who did the grading emails a list
of grades to the other.
The Primary–Secondary Model
In the primary–secondary model, one instructor assumes the
primary or dominant role in managing the class. This approach
is necessary when one instructor cannot participate in the class
to the same extent as the other, yet is still making an active contribution. For example, one instructor may have less Internet
access or more workload issues than the other, or one instructor may feel less expert in certain areas of course content.
Tips for making the primary–secondary model work include
the following:
1. Make sure that each person is fully aware of the responsibilities he or she has agreed to take on. Work this out by going
over the week-�by-week activities of the course.
2. Try to balance the workload to each person’s satisfaction. If
one instructor cannot participate online as much as the other,
for instance, let him or her take on more of the record-�keeping
duties or slightly more of the grading of assignments.
3. Clearly indicate to students the respective responsibilities for
each instructor, but ask students to cc each instructor on any
email correspondence sent to the other.
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4. If one instructor does not have as much uninterrupted Internet access as the other (this would be particularly true for
partners who have no home access), set up a system so that
the partner with good access does the posting. For example,
if you need to post a message but lack ready access to the
web page or discussion forum, you can email or IM to send
the material to your partner, who can then post it for you. In
this case, your name, as the instructor who wrote the actual
message, should be typed at the top of the message itself
(because the posting will automatically bear the name of the
person who puts it online). Students need to be reminded
about this practice to avoid confusion about the two instructors’ contributions.
Classroom Management:
Special Issues
n addition to the issues discussed in Chapter 11, several other
problems may arise in conjunction with managing your
online classroom. Some, such as student behavior problems,
aren’t unlike those that may occur in an on-Â�the-ground classroom, except that the online environment may introduce
further complications. Other issues, such as privacy concerns
and the difficulty of confirming student identity, are unique to
the online environment.
Privacy Issues
It’s hard to argue that anything on the Web is truly private:
computers automatically make records, students may share
their passwords, and so on. Password access to classrooms and
discussion forums brings us some measure of privacy, but short
of encryption and identification by eyeball, voice, or fingerprint, it is hard to ensure complete privacy or security. Perhaps,
however, we can speak of “more or less private.”
In previous chapters, we have mentioned the new privacy
issues raised by the use of Web 2.0 communications taking
place on sites and servers external to your institution. It is worth
reading the “terms of use” for each such site and giving your
students fair warning or the option to use an alias on public
sites if you are not able to or do not choose to create a private
group area.
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Beyond the security measures afforded by our software and
hardware, there are other things we can do to protect privacy. For
example, we must be careful about distributing student work,
discussion transcripts, and email outside the classroom without
permission. It’s surprising how many otherwise discreet and
caring instructors will think nothing of posting student materials,
complete with names, on an open web site for the entire world to
access without permission or even notification.
Important! What is said in the classroom is origin ally said in a defined context. Those later reading
these words outside the classroom may not understand that context.
Similar privacy concerns affect your own contributions. You
can expect that students will copy and download your words for
the purpose of learning. Do give some thought to what you wish
to disclose about your private life and opinions in the classroom
discussion. If you’re concerned about students distributing
your material, then make sure you state up front that words and
materials are for class use only, not for distribution. With social
networking sites like Facebook, many instructors would do well
to separate their private profiles from an academic one. And it
doesn’t hurt to remind students who are networking with their
classmates about the many privacy options available in Facebook that can help them control what information they want to
release to classmates as well as the instructor.
We recommend that instructors teaching completely online
classes never give out their personal phone numbers to students
unless absolutely forced to by the program. If your institution
requires some phone “office” hours each week, use either your
campus phone or your work phone. It is also sometimes possible
to work out an arrangement by which students who want to
contact you by phone call your department, which relays the
request to you via phone or email. You can then return the student’s call. The prevalence of Skype as a communication medium
provides another option—you may create a Skype account just
for the purpose of communicating with your students.
Most issues can be resolved in the online classroom or by
private email. This has the advantage of giving you a record of
Chapter 12╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management: Special Issues
the communication with the student. It also means that the
student has to think a bit about his or her question and perhaps
has a greater opportunity to reflect on your answer as well.
Identity Issues
How do you know the real identity of the person you encounter
online? The truth is, sometimes you don’t. If students are registered with the university, we can assume with some degree of
certainty that they are indeed the people they say they are. Presumably, they had to show an ID at some point. Yet in the
continuing-Â�education classroom—and especially for students
who live far away from campus—this authentication may not
occur. Generally, institutions are more concerned about identity confirmation when a student is enrolled in a state certification or degree program. In those cases, students may be
required to take at least one live, proctored exam or to prove
their identity when applying for and exiting the program.
In terms of our daily interactions with students online, we
cannot always detect gender, ethnicity, age, and other characteristics that are often more easily detectable in a live classroom. This type of identity might be thought of as social identity
as opposed to the authentication of those enrolled. Some institutions may give you a roster with no more than name and ID
number and address, while at others you will have access to
computer databases holding extensive information, but most
instructors are unlikely to have ready access to more than the
most limited details about students.
Although there may be clues—for example, a name that
sounds Italian or references to foods and customs belonging to
a particular culture—these are all merely guesses unless the
student confirms our conjectures. Approximate age is sometimes easier to detect but also prone to error. Are those references to television shows of the 1950s or music of the 1960s the
product of firsthand experience or a love of retro fashions?
We are particularly prone to mistakes about female students,
because their surnames are often not those they grew up with,
but instead represent new identities taken on through marriage.
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Immigrants may also take on new names that they think are
appropriate to their new country. Students with names such as
Pat, Dale, Sasha, Kim, and Ming may be male or female. Or your
student’s name may be in a language so unfamiliar to you that
you have no way of knowing whether the syllables signify a particular gender.
You may ask for voluntary submission of photos, but even
photos, short of the student’s official ID photo, can be less than
revealing of the truth. Is that your student in a photo taken ten
years ago, or is that your student’s handsome friend?
There’s no point in trying to stop ourselves from imagining
our students (and them from imagining us); our minds can’t
help trying to categorize. But be alert to the possibility that you
may be dead wrong about the identity of your students. Avoid
making statements and assumptions that aren’t based on
information actually provided by the student. The best policy is
to allow students to self-�identify. Unless you think fraud may be
involved (for example, one person masquerading as another to
take a test or complete an assignment), we would advise you
not to worry too much about such identity issues. Just keep an
open mind and watch for clues.
The use of virtual worlds such as Second Life and the creation of avatar identities can present unique identity problems.
When creating the name of their avatar in Second Life, students
are unable to use their own surnames but must instead choose
one from a list of names. Instructors using Second Life for
course activities will want to immediately create and publish a
“cast of characters” so that all participating students know
who’s who in the virtual world. Some instructors request that
students incorporate their real first names when choosing a first
name for the avatar to aid in this process of class identification.
Managing Student Behavior Online
When it comes to the topic of handling “difficult students,” we
think that most problems can be averted by the skillful management of student expectations such as we have outlined in earlier
chapters—the comprehensive syllabus, clearly written assignment
Chapter 12╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management: Special Issues
instructions, protocols for communications, codes of conduct,
and clearly stated policies and criteria for grading, as well as
instructor responsiveness, are all ways to ensure that students
understand how to do their best in your online course. Some
students are being “difficult” because they are having problems
handling the conventions and habits of learning online (or the
complexities combining online and face-�to-face classes). Such
students can benefit from a quick explanation, some patience,
and possible referrals to appropriate resources.
But there is another important point to keep in mind: sometimes the “difficulty” actually resides with the instructor, not
the student! So, before jumping to the conclusion that you have
a “difficult” or intractable student, do a quick self-Â�review to
make sure that you have not been ambiguous or lacking in
clarity about your expectations and instructions for students.
In the online asynchronous discussion forum, the blog, the
wiki, or chat room, the range of student types remains pretty
much the same as in the on-�the-ground classroom. There are
the quiet ones, the nurturers, the take-�charge types, the class
clowns, the disruptive ones, and the imaginative procrastinators. There are a few aspects of the online environment,
however, that create new opportunities for the “usual suspects”
to manifest their trademark styles.
Noisy Students
A noisy student in an online classroom, much like his or her traditional counterpart, spends much energy raising issues that
are only tangentially related to the topics under discussion. One
way this occurs online is that the student will begin new topic
threads even when the comments he or she has to contribute
actually fit in with pre-�existing threads. Such students often
avoid replying to anything but the instructor’s comments. And
when they do join in the discussion, they generally ignore the
direction of the conversation and simply pepper the thread with
inane comments.
This type of student is actually easier to handle online, in
asynchronous discussion, than in the regular classroom. There
are more space and time in an online classroom for such students to perform without seriously affecting others. When they
Teaching Online
start a new thread on what is already an ongoing topic, most
other students will simply ignore this detour in favor of continuing the more active and peopled conversation. In the interest
of housekeeping and to prevent the area from over-�blooming
with threads, you may want to drop this individual an email
note. Ask him or her to please reply to an existing thread if the
aim is to participate in a conversation rather than to break out a
true new topic. Or, treat the problem as a technical one. Remind
the student of the difference between replying to a subject and
starting a new one. Many students are actually confused by the
differences in software response methods.
When the student peppers the existing conversation with
inane comments, this isn’t really as disruptive an influence as it
would be in an on-�the-ground setting. Classmates will read this
student’s inane comments but simply not respond to them and
move on to the next message in the thread. Other than the
moment required to read the inane comment, nothing is really
lost. The noisy student hasn’t forestalled the comments of
others because the clock isn’t ticking away in the asynchronous
classroom, and no “air time” has been consumed.
A good way to deal with the noisy student is to give him or
her some personal attention in the form of a personal email.
Sometimes a noisy student is just feeling a bit lost and anonymous, and wants some individual attention. Suggest that the
student share some of his or her ideas with others in a lounge
forum. In the public discussion area, acknowledge the student,
but then steer him or her back on track: “What you say about X
is interesting, Joe, but how would you respond to Ian’s
comment about Y?” or “This is an interesting point. We may be
able to take this up later, in week 5.”
In the synchronous chat room, a noisy student can take up
precious “real time,” so setting rules and procedures for chat
will make a major difference. Some forms of chat software will
actually allow you to eject a student who isn’t following the
rules. While that is an extreme measure, it may be necessary if
the noisy student crosses the line to become disruptive. Other
software permits you to call on students, supplying the equivalent of the raised hand. However, even if you don’t have such
software, simply requiring students to type an asterisk, exclamation mark, or question mark to be recognized before speak-
Chapter 12╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management: Special Issues
ing will have the same regulating effect. The noisy student will
have to wait his or her turn along with everyone else.
There are ways to deal effectively with the noisy student. Be
gentle and remember that the noisy student may prove to be
your salvation when the classroom discussion hits the doldrums
and you desperately need someone to respond to your
Quiet Students
Quiet students can present even more of a problem online than
in the traditional classroom situation, because you can’t see
them nodding their heads in assent or shaking their heads in
disagreement. If the quiet student doesn’t post anything,
whether by text or audio comment, you can’t readily tell if he or
she is even in the room, occupying a virtual seat.
Two strategies can come into play here:
1. If tracking is available through your software, you can follow
the quiet students to see if they are present, how often, and
what they are reading.
2. By requiring a minimum level of participation by posting,
you can probably coax a few contributions out of them.
You can also use private email to gently urge quiet students
back into the classroom discussion space. Send a message
saying that you’ve noticed that the student has been accessing
the classroom but not actually posting and that you wonder if
he or she is having any technical problems. Or say that you
wonder how the course is going for the student—does he or she
have any special questions about procedures?
Often you can find a way to bring the student into the classroom discussion by virtue of his or her special talents or background—information you’ve gleaned from the biographical
introduction. Sharon Packer, a psychiatrist who has taught online
courses in psychology and religion for the New School, suggests
that asking questions in the introduction phase, such as “What
do you want to get out of this class?” (rather than the usual “Why
are you taking this class?”), often elicits information that the
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instructor can later use to motivate students to participate. For
example, in a comparative religion class, if Joe has mentioned
that he lived half his life in Japan, you might address a question
to him directly during the discussion of popular religious practices: “Joe, is there anything you can recall from your experience
in Japan that relates to this type of folk practice?”
Some students may actually be “learning while lurking,” but
if participation constitutes a major portion of the grade, they
must be reminded that a lack of active participation will have
consequences. Look to their written assignments to gauge
whether learning is indeed occurring. Also, once the student
has completed an individual assignment, see if there is something worthy of note in it that you might ask him or her to share
with the class. If the quiet student happens to send you an email
or reply to an inquiry of yours, grasp that opportunity to say
that his or her presence is missed in the classroom. Emphasize
that a good question is as valuable for discussion purposes as a
brilliant comment, and that he or she should feel free to contribute in a casual tone to the conversation. Some quiet students are really just overly self-�conscious about writing and
posting their thoughts, imagining that anything seemingly
“published” to the world in this manner ought to be perfectly
expressed and articulated.
In audio- and video-�assisted communication modes, quiet
students may shy away from using voice and appearing on a
web cam—if the class is not one that requires audio (for
example, a language or speech class), consider allowing such
students to choose the text option that is usually available.
Disruptive Students
The disruptive student will attempt to take over your class by
commandeering the discussion and questioning the major thrust
of your course or some essential aspect of it in the public forum.
He or she may answer questions addressed to you, contradict
you, and in some cases become abusive. This is one of the worst
situations an instructor has to face online. Few students will stage
such behavior face to face, but more feel emboldened to do so
online. The situation is considerably worsened by the fact that
the comments will sit there for days, to be read by all.
Chapter 12╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management: Special Issues
At the extreme, when a student uses foul language or is
abusive or threatening, you should immediately notify your
administrator. Copy and save all posted or emailed communications with that individual. Although you may be moved to
delete (or ask your administrator to delete) outright four-�letter
words and the like, knowing how to handle comments that
don’t sink to that level may be more difficult.
Some instructors post their own classroom codes of conduct
at the beginning of the class to help set boundaries for students.
Sharon Packer, whose online classes concerned the psychology
of religion, history of psychiatry, and approaches to dreams,
was particularly sensitive to discussions that might elicit personal or controversial topics. She recommends that instructors
keep objective criteria in mind when formulating a code of
conduct. These criteria often must be keyed directly to the type
of course being taught. For example, in her courses she often
included such guidelines as “There will be no discussion of personal use of illegal drugs” and “This isn’t the place to discuss
personal psychiatric history.” She also urged that students
maintain a cordial atmosphere and use tact in expressing differences of opinion.
Many instructors provide a link to, or an excerpt from, the text
of their institution’s honor code and emphasize that the code
applies in the online classroom as well. Often, such codes are not
specifically related to online education situations and may not be
sufficient to provide all necessary guidance for your students.
Nonetheless, in terms of issues such as plagiarism, cheating, and
so forth, these may provide useful material. Other institutions
have been more forthright in addressing these issues. For
example, Kansas State University has published guidelines concerning student behavior online (see www.k-�state.edu/provost/
policies/studentconduct.htm) to augment their regular student
conduct rules, drawing a distinction between dealing with non-�
threatening disruptions as well as those of a threatening nature.
Dealing with disruptive students
In dealing with disruptive students in particular, it’s important
to achieve a balance between asserting your authority in the
classroom and overreacting to a student provocation. However,
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you must act quickly to prevent disruptive students from escalating tensions in the classroom, and you must take the lead in
informing your department if students cross the line.
Following are some examples of different types of disruptive
behavior and instructor responses, based on real situations
we’ve observed or heard described. Please note that these are
composite examples, not actual case histories.
Example 1: The Know-�It-All╅ Midway through a course, one of
the students, Janet, who had some real-�world experience in the
subject, began to answer questions that were addressed to the
instructor in the asynchronous forum. At first this seemed fine,
because Janet was contributing some good tips to the student
questioners. The instructor simply acknowledged Janet’s comments and then added her own remarks.
At some point, however, Janet began contradicting the
instructor’s information. Janet even offered her own web site
information and suggested that students use it as their guide.
The instructor checked her facts. She wasn’t wrong, so she
simply reaffirmed the information to the other students (and,
by implication, to Janet as well) without responding directly to
Janet’s contradictory message. Her message was polite and generous, beginning with:
Although there may be some disagreement by scholars in the
field on the details, the general principle I enunciated
remains sound and is the one I would like you to use in this
Janet wasn’t directly mentioned, and she was able to save
face; yet the instructor reasserted the primacy of her authority
and refocused students on the objectives of the course.
Example 2: The Mutineerâ•… Professor X’s approach to the
subject matter wasn’t interesting to one of her students, Jerry.
Jerry was a bright student and knew quite a bit about the
subject. Therefore, he had already formed his own ideas about
the way to approach it.
Jerry began to sound somewhat critical and condescending
toward the instructor in the class discussions. But his first direct
Chapter 12╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management: Special Issues
attack came in response to the instructor’s comments on Jerry’s
public presentation. The instructor’s comments were dry and
very brief. Jerry commented in the classroom forum to the effect
that the instructor had “not given me any constructive comments at all.” Note that, at this point, the instructor had not
responded in turn.
A few days later, in a private email to the instructor, Jerry
blasted the instructor’s teaching methods and complained
about the poor quality of the class. The instructor got angry, but
instead of answering Jerry’s more abusive private email, she
posted a public reply to his less strident public note:
I believe I have given you constructive comments, and I don’t
appreciate your tone here or the way you expressed yourself
in your recent email.
This set Jerry off, and he began to post angry messages in the
classroom, trying to enlist students to his way of thinking:
I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way I do—this course is a
gigantic waste of my time and money. I think we should ask
the department for our money back.
A few students actually posted affirmative replies, such as these:
I agree—am not satisfied with Professor X’s responses.
I feel that I was misled by the way this course was
Professor X was well on her way to losing control of this classroom. Jerry’s original public posting about not getting constructive comments was sharp and somewhat rude but hadn’t yet
overstepped the bounds of decency. In responding publicly, the
instructor would have been better advised to hold her criticism
in check, merely noting the sharpness of Jerry’s public message
by implication.
Jerry, I have been rather brief due to the constraints of time,
and perhaps you did not get the full import of my comments.
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Any time students feel they need more feedback, I hope they
will let me know via private email. I will send you a private
email within a day or so that I hope will provide you with the
additional details you have requested.
This response by Professor X would have had the effect of
noting Jerry’s complaint while ignoring the hostility behind it
and addressing what she as a teacher could do to respond to the
student’s needs. She would also have succeeded in moving the
conversation to the private sphere.
As for Jerry’s private email, she should have responded to it
privately and firmly.
Jerry, I’m glad that you have expressed these thoughts with
me via private email. I’m sorry that you don’t find my
approach one that is helpful to your study of the subject.
Because it is too late to withdraw from the class, I suggest
that you do the best you can with the material and activities. You have many good ideas, and I welcome your airing
of alternative approaches in the classroom, as long as this is
done in an objective manner and in the appropriate
The subtext here is this:
I did not appreciate the personal comment you made in the
classroom; you should have withdrawn from the course
when you could, but I will not penalize you for your opinions
even though I do expect you to follow my syllabus. I appreciate that you are bright, and I will give you some opportunity
to display your knowledge, but don’t make any more personal comments in the classroom.
Note that even if an instructor doesn’t normally express
herself in a formal manner in the classroom, this is a situation
that calls for a certain degree of formality. Formality in online
forums signifies seriousness, clarity, and firmness to students. It
is particularly effective when it contrasts with an otherwise
casual instructor tone.
Chapter 12╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management: Special Issues
Example 3: The Belligerent Student Who Hasn’t Kept
Upâ•… Andy barely participated during the first part of Professor
B’s course, but he seemed suddenly to reappear, apparently
angry that he was finding it hard to catch up with the class. He
posted angry messages in the public classroom that reflected
his very real frustration arising from his lack of understanding
of what was going on in the class.
What’s this supposed to be about? I don’t get it. What’s the
point of this assignment?
In a case like this, Professor B should ignore the emotion in
Andy’s comments in the classroom forum. The professor should
post objective, concrete suggestions in reply:
This concerns Lesson 5. You might find pages 10–25 the most
Andy, as I mentioned in my previous lecture, this assignment asks you to focus your attention on Problem 2. See the
guidelines for Assignment #1 in the syllabus. All students: If
you have any specific questions on this assignment, please
feel free to post your questions here.
Professor B needs to back this up by emailing this student
and being supportive, while still calling him to account.
Andy, I have noted your expressions of frustration in the
classroom and have responded. Since you were somewhat
late getting started in the class, you may need to go back and
review Lessons 1 and 2 and the guidelines. If you need further
help, just email me and I will try to assist you.
The subtext of this is:
I can see that you’re frustrated, and that may be due to the
fact that you didn’t keep up with the work. I think you can
do it—go back and try again. Read the relevant material,
read the guidelines. You aren’t the only one who may have
questions. If you really don’t understand after making a
decent effort, I’m here to help.
Teaching Online
Example 4: The Belligerent Student on the Attackâ•… Professor Y
teaches an online course in contemporary American politics, in
which students are encouraged to explore their assumptions
about American political parties and hot topics of the day. Professor Y does have a code for students to follow in expressing
their opinions; however, she likes to keep the classroom as open
and free as possible.
During a particularly heated argument about school vouchers, Tom attacks another student, Linda, saying, “You’re a right-Â�
wing bigot!” Professor Y cannot track the readership of
individual messages, but she assumes that many students have
read this one, because it has been posted for two days and the
record shows that many students have logged on during that
She carefully copies and saves a record of the online
exchange. She then posts a response, without naming Tom:
I would like to remind everyone to base your arguments on
the issues. Please observe the code of conduct posted for this
class, which asks students to refrain from personal attacks
and labeling of other students.
At the same time, she writes a private email to Tom:
Tom, perhaps this was not your intent, but your remark to
Linda seemed inappropriate and insulting. I hope you will
apologize by private email to her and then delete your
But then Tom attacks Professor Y in the classroom forum:
Who are you, the pope?! We should be able to say whatever
we want to say.
At this point, Professor Y telephones an urgent request that
her department head deal with this student and, if necessary,
officially remove him from the class. She follows up with an
email that makes the same request but also includes a copy of
all the online and email communications. She sends a brief
private email to Tom, letting him know that she has referred his
Chapter 12╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management: Special Issues
case to the department and warning him to refrain from any
more personal comments; she forwards this to the department
as well. She continues to monitor the situation and all classroom communications carefully until the matter is resolved.
There are a few particular things to note about this situation:
■ Professor Y felt that she had to post a public response, but
she wanted to avoid targeting Tom in public, so she posted a
general reminder to all in the class about the code of behavior expected. She emailed Tom privately to give him an
opportunity to make things right. If Professor Y had simply
responded to Tom in the classroom forum with an equally
personal remark, the situation would have rapidly degenerated.
■ Even though Professor Y had the ability within the software
functions to delete Tom’s note, she felt that it was better to
ask Tom to delete it himself and apologize to his classmates.
Had Tom’s note been even more blatantly derogatory, or had
he used profanity, Professor Y may have chosen to delete the
note immediately upon discovering it, after carefully copying
and preserving a record. She then should have followed up
this deletion by notifying the department and Tom that she
had felt compelled to take this action.
■ When Tom escalated the situation by posting a direct attack
on her, Professor Y decided to let the department handle the
matter. As a last resort, she was prepared to delete any more
comments by Tom.
■ Professor Y needed to back up her story and protect herself
by forwarding a copy of the communications to the department. Otherwise, the department head might not have
reacted quickly enough.
At this time, more and more institutions have guidelines in
place for student conduct online, but where online education is
new, guidelines may be lacking and there may be few administrators who have firsthand familiarity with online classroom
management. Although you should keep your department or
other relevant institutional authorities in the loop whenever
special issues arise—and protect yourself by keeping scrupulous
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records—you may find that you, as an online instructor, are
often out there on your own. You must be proactive and quickwitted when dicey situations arise.
Other Behavior Problems
In addition to students who are unusually noisy, quiet, or disruptive, there are other behavior problems that may create
problems in the online classroom. We’ll comment on a few of
them here.
The Controllerâ•… Sharon Packer notes that a student who emails
you before the class begins, to request all assignments in
advance, may not be the conscientious eager beaver you
assume, but one who actually wants to control the class. By
getting a head start on everyone else, this student can be the
first to post responses to the discussion questions. Perhaps this
student will post in such extensive detail that the entire discussion is squashed. Or perhaps this student wants to seem in
control of the material because he or she actually lacks sufficient background for the class.
Naturally, there are students who request assignments in
advance for valid reasons. Maybe they will be traveling during
the first week of class, or they may have a disability that could
slow their assimilation of the reading material. Some students
just want to see the reading list to find out what they’re getting
into before committing to the class. These valid concerns can
be discovered by simply asking the student his or her reasons
for requesting all assignments in advance.
The Stallerâ•… Packer also suggests that students who delay
logging on to the class (barring actual technical problems) may
be unmotivated or stalling. These students may not want to
become part of the group process and may fail to create bonds
with others in the class. Some students of this sort simply like to
work alone, and they may eventually access the class, absorb
the material, and do all the necessary work; many more,
however, are likely never to finish the course.
Another possibility is that such students are deeply insecure
about their abilities or intimidated by the unfamiliar online
Chapter 12╇ •â•‡ Classroom Management: Special Issues
environment, even when they’ve gone through an orientation.
The strangeness of the online environment can make those who
are normally competent and professional in their chosen fields
fearful that they will look foolish or somehow lose control. An
email reminder to such students, to encourage their participation, can sometimes be the personal touch needed to bring
them into the classroom. Technical problems are a wonderful
face-Â�saver: even if they aren’t the real issue, asking a student
whether he or she has delayed logging on because of technical
problems may elicit the actual reasons or at least cause the
student to realize that he or she shouldn’t delay any longer.
If you can use your tracking features and observation to keep
track of student progress in the classroom, you may be able to
intervene to encourage students who delay or stall. It’s also
important to keep a record of student “attendance”—how often
and when the student was in the classroom—because being able
to document a student’s participation may be necessary in the
event that a student challenges you about a grade. If attendance
reports aren’t available from your software, you should keep a
manual record. Unfortunately, a small percentage of students
imagine that they can more easily get away with a lack of participation in an online course than in a traditional classroom.
The “Must-Â�Have-an-Â�A” Studentâ•… Although the student who
tells you early in the course that she or he “has to get an A in
this course” is a familiar phenomenon, these students may be
particularly drawn to distance learning and online courses.
Some find it easier to assume a pose of invincibility and grandeur when they know they won’t meet you in person; this type
of adult student may even claim honors and credentials he or
she doesn’t really possess. Some students may simply find it
easier to harass you about their grades by email than they
would by coming to your office.
In any case, those words, “have to get an A in this course,”
should definitely raise your antennae. Meet such declarations
with firm, objective statements about your grading criteria and
standards, combined with a mild rebuff:
Thank you for your note. It is good to see that students are
motivated, but there can be no guarantees that any particular
Teaching Online
student will receive an A in this class. This online course is a
challenging one, no less rigorous than its on-�campus version.
See my grading criteria listed below. Students will receive
further instructions about the requirements for assignments as
the course proceeds. To do your best in my class, follow the
guidelines and schedule in the syllabus and pay attention to
the rubrics for all assignments.
Keep every scrap of correspondence with this student and be
cautious in your email to him or her. Be aware that this student
will likely keep a record of everything you say.
A Final Word
The foregoing examples are offered to help you recognize and
deal with potential problems. Naturally, each student presents
a unique profile and must be responded to as an individual.
Avoid jumping to conclusions, and don’t hesitate to rely on
those gut feelings derived from long experience in the traditional classroom to help you sort out one situation from
another. Sometimes a phone call or Skype conversation will
allow you to better evaluate the student through the aid of voice
and tone (and perhaps the web cam video as well), but keep in
mind the need to keep a record of such communications and
follow up with an email that summarizes the conversation.
When in doubt, err on the side of softening your language in
emails and postings. A “might” or “perhaps” in your advisory or
disciplinary message can often provide the face-�saving gesture
needed to defuse a tense situation. Finally, don’t allow yourself
to become overly reactive or distracted by difficult students.
Remember that there are other students who also deserve your
attention, and don’t get too caught up in one student’s drama.
Teaching Web-�Enhanced
and Blended Classes
lthough we’ve discussed issues as they pertain to “blended”
classes throughout the book—classes that combine online
and face-Â�to-face activities—this chapter focuses specifically on
them as well as those in which online elements play a merely
supplemental role to the face-�to-face class. You may find that
material that was discussed in the context of the chapters in
which it occurred is here summarized or treated in greater
Today, the use of the Web by instructors is broad and varied.
Some universities maintain their own “channels” on YouTube
to stream video versions of their best instructors’ on-Â�campus
lectures to the Web while others schedule just a few online discussions throughout the semester and post their lecture notes,
while still others teach classes that regularly meet online one
week and on campus the next. How can you best integrate the
online and face-�to-face elements of a class? What factors should
you think about? Are there any pitfalls to avoid? To answer such
questions, we’ll try to offer helpful tips for blended classes as
well as for integrating online tools for a primarily face-�to-face
Let’s look for a moment at those instructors who make
minimal use of the Web. Perhaps they teach a traditional on-�
campus course but maintain a web site for the course. Typically, such web sites contain a course syllabus, a schedule of
required readings and assignments, a listing of the course
office hours, and some hyperlinks to relevant web sites in the
instructor’s particular subject area. They may also include a
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link to a discussion board which may be entirely an optional
area, with students deciding whether to use or not use the site.
In these cases in which students seldom look at the web site,
the situation suggests that the instructor isn’t using the web
site to maximum advantage. If asked to provide a reason why
their web sites are so lightly utilized, instructors might cite
their students’ lack of reliable access to the Web from off
campus (a typical complaint for developing countries), or even
a lack of interest on the part of students who are having their
instructional and social needs met on campus. Instructors may
also say that because of their own workloads, they don’t want
to spend more time creating material for the web site. They
may even express the fear that if they use the Web more extensively, their students will no longer have a reason to come to
class. In other words, instructors are asking why they should
work more for the same pay, doing something that perhaps
threatens their livelihood. The ultimate answers to this question are beyond the purview of this book. Academic senates
and other faculty organizations, institutional administrators,
and union representatives must work them out. But we don’t
believe that using the Web effectively requires you to labor
twice as long for the same pay. We do think that it can improve
the way you teach your traditional course. To that end, this
chapter will also provide some practical suggestions for this
skeptical audience.
As previously noted in this book, the Sloan Consortium definitions of Web Facilitated (what we call “enhanced” here),
Blended/Hybrid, and Online are based on the amount of
content delivered online. They term “Web Facilitated” as those
courses with 1–29 percent of content delivered online;
“Blended” courses as those in which 30–79 percent of the
content is delivered online but still require some face-�to-face
meetings; and true “Online” as containing 80 percent or more
online content with few or no face-�to-face meetings. But
another way to approach this is to look at the types of instructional activities carried out online and whether or not they are
required or the degree to which they replace face-�to-face time.
(Still persistently termed “seat time” by many.) For the purposes of this chapter, we will use the following definitions:
Chapter 13╇ •â•‡ Teaching Web-Enhanced and Blended Classes
■ Web-Â�enhanced: A broad category of courses with associated
web sites or course management system classrooms that
contain materials relevant to the course (perhaps a syllabus,
a list of web-�based resources, a course calendar, a reading
list, lecture notes or video lectures, discussion board, and/or
real-�time online meeting functions and chat). Actual online
activities may be required or optional.
■ Blended: Courses in which both online and face-Â�to-face
instructional elements are required and complementary. A
sizeable percentage of content is delivered online, there are
required online student activities, and a significant portion
of the student’s grade is based on online activity.
Tips for Teaching Web-�Enhanced Courses
While we want to focus first on those teaching web-�enhanced
courses, readers who are mainly interested in true blended
courses may find that many of the following tips are also relevant to their needs.
Posting Lectures Online
The matter of online lectures is probably the biggest bugaboo
teachers face when considering whether to use the Web. Why
should students bother to come to class if they can simply read
(or view video versions of) the lectures online?
Most lectures consist of a body of core material, factual or
introductory in nature, followed by a discussion of more
complex issues, proofs, or processes. The core material constitutes the main dish of the lecture. It’s usually this material that
students are expected to know. The other material serves as side
dishes, which help differentiate the A students from the B and C
students. If the core material were posted online, enriched by
graphics and charts (perhaps with a few links to other relevant
material available online), students would be relieved of the
chore of reproducing this material word for word in their notes.
That would allow them to concentrate on the finer points of the
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lecture. In other words, posting the lectures online frees the students to concentrate on what is being said.
Yet that argument still raises the question: Why should most
students bother to come to class?
The answer may have something to do with learning styles.
Some students learn better by listening and taking notes. Others
do better by reading rather than by listening to lectures, and a
third group seems to benefit by doing specific assignments
based on the material covered. In that sense, posting lecture
notes online helps some, but not all, students.
But the answer goes deeper still. It involves the basic
approach to lecturing. Perhaps you need to rethink how you use
your face-�to-face time with students.
A Revised Approach to Lecturing
Admittedly, an instructor who posts lecture notes and reads them
aloud in class may be in danger of putting students to sleep. But
if the lecturer alters what he or she does in class, relying on the
fact that the material is freely available online, then the experience of attending class may have a different meaning.
Say that the assignment for the week is to read the core notes
posted online, along with whatever textual material supports it.
In that case, instead of spending the first twenty minutes or so
reviewing the core or introductory material, the instructor can
concentrate on a particularly knotty issue or complex concept,
examining it, elucidating it, debating it in class. Those students
who have read the material beforehand will gain a deeper
insight into the concept. (Of course, those who have not read
the material will have considerable difficulty following what’s
going on. One hopes they will get the message and come to the
next session better prepared.)
Online lectures offer other advantages as well. For the
instructor, posting lectures can be an aid in re-�evaluating older
and possibly out-�of-date course materials, improving organization, coherence, and comprehension. For the students, having
the core portion of the lecture online provides an opportunity
to review the material in its original form (rather than using
their scribbled notes) or to catch up on material they may have
missed because of illness or absence.
Chapter 13╇ •â•‡ Teaching Web-Enhanced and Blended Classes
Important! The point here is that using the Web to
post lectures is neither a panacea nor a threat. It
depends entirely on how effectively the web-�based
material is integrated into the class.
How to Post Your Lectures Online
Posting your lecture notes online does add to your initial
workload, particularly if you’ve never prepared them this way
before. But once you’ve done it, you’ll find it comparatively
easy to update your notes the next time you teach the course.
There are more and more choices available to accomplish this,
which were discussed in Chapters 6 and 9 in some detail. You
may post your lectures by uploading PowerPoint, by creating
a PDF version of your word-�processed documents, write
directly into your course management system content area, or
use one of the free sites mentioned in earlier chapters to
create course web pages. You may also use one of the many
Web 2.0 programs already mentioned in this book to create
narrated slides or an audio or video lecture. You may want to
experiment with these diverse ways of offering lectures before
deciding on one that is easiest for you to create and for your
students to access.
Using a Discussion Board
Most classes, particularly smaller, seminar-�style classes, involve
discussions of some sort. Ordinarily, students prepare for the
discussions through readings. In some graduate classes, students prepare “position” papers, which are then circulated to
other students for their consideration before coming to class.
Using the Web in conjunction with the work done in class can
enhance any of these techniques. Take the case of the seminar.
In order to present the topic properly, the instructor will generally introduce it with either a short lecture or an impromptu
talk. The students will then offer initial reactions to the discussion topic, setting the stage for the eventual discussion. A half-�
hour or so may have elapsed before the discussion is really
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An alternative approach is to have the students post their
initial reactions to a discussion topic online and read the postings on each topic before coming to class. Although this would
require more work from the students, it would not increase the
instructor’s workload except insofar as he or she had to read the
work posted to the web site. What it would require of the students is perhaps a more carefully considered appreciation of
the discussion topic and a greater awareness of where they
stand in relation to other students in the seminar. Presumably
this would make for a livelier and more informed discussion,
and it would elicit remarks from all the members of the class
rather than merely the most vocal.
A discussion board can be of use in large, lecture-�style classes
as well. For most students, “attending” such a class means
finding a seat somewhere in an auditorium, staring at the back
of someone’s head, and listening to the instructor intone the
lecture from a stage. Discussion in such a setting is usually fairly
haphazard. The instructor pauses to solicit input from the
assembled students. The more intrepid dare to raise their
hands, while the rest sit quietly.
The Web can humanize such a class and permit students far
more interaction with their colleagues and instructors than
might otherwise be possible. An instructor can divide up the
class into groups of twenty or so, depending on the number of
TAs or assistants available. The instructor with a large class and
no assistance might even devise a system of rotating student
moderators who take turns facilitating their groups. Students
using the discussion board will thus have a work group composed of class members whom they might not ordinarily get to
know, a considerable advantage in schools where a majority of
students don’t live on campus, or in large universities where
most students know only their dorm-�mates.
Instructors and students can use these virtual study groups for
a number of purposes. Students can post and discuss questions
related to the material covered in class. Or, having delivered a
lecture in class, an instructor might post a follow-�up question,
requiring the students to formulate an appropriate response as
part of their grade. These responses might then become the basis
of a future class discussion or lecture. They might also serve as an
archived resource for students reviewing the material.
Chapter 13╇ •â•‡ Teaching Web-Enhanced and Blended Classes
An instructor can monitor the comments posted in the discussion groups and use them as the basis of a frequently asked
questions (FAQ) page containing general answers to the students’ more noteworthy queries and concerns. This will save
the instructor the extra time of having to respond to the same
question over and over again, either by email or in one-�to-one
advising sessions. Finally, if the instructor creates some relevant
and focused initial discussion prompts, the discussion group
postings can provide the instructor with valuable insight into
how effectively the material in lectures has been conveyed.
Enlisting Technology in Your Favor
Much has been made of the ubiquity of laptops, netbooks
(small, scaled-�down laptops), and smart phones and the distraction these pose to students in the on-�campus classroom,
taking attention away from the lecture or other activity that the
instructor has so carefully prepared. Rather than fight it, try to
enlist technology in your favor. This goes beyond the “clicker”
personal response systems many universities have introduced
on campuses whereby instructors can poll students or ask them
to contribute questions. Why not make something on the Web
the object of your attention (for example, a photograph representing a current event or a video) and ask students to log in
and take five minutes to post their quick responses in a chat.
Then display the chat and its results and discuss the issues. (For
those students who may not bring an electronic device to class,
you might provide the option of logging on after class to an
asynchronous forum you have established to add their
responses to those of their classmates.)
Similarly, there are ways to take advantage of the popularity
of social networking sites like Facebook. However, be careful to
allow students to preserve the boundaries between social interaction and “official” class participation. You can create a special
Facebook group to communicate with students, or ask students
to create a limited class profile with appropriate privacy settings
for participating in your class. There are an increasing number
of applications designed for Facebook that might enhance your
face-�to-face class, including the application previously mentioned, Blackboard Sync, for institutional customers that
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provides some integration with a Blackboard classroom.
However, start by deliberating what you would like to accomplish and then try out these applications of interest to you
within Facebook to judge for yourself whether it would be easier
to use a course management system or one of the many collaborative sites like Ning rather than Facebook for your purposes.
It may be that you decide to use Facebook primarily for
community-�building activities for the class or as a way to
update students on the class activities.
Using Online Quizmaking Tools
If your course is enhanced or blended, you presumably can
conduct your high-�stakes testing in a proctored on-�campus
environment. But online quizmaking tools can provide valuable
Figure 13.1╇ Miriam Sharpe prepares to create a group page on
Facebook (www.facebook.com) in order to build community in her
blended physics class. Reproduced by permission from Facebook.
Chapter 13╇ •â•‡ Teaching Web-Enhanced and Blended Classes
assistance by permitting you to construct self-�grading quizzes
online. Most course management systems contain this feature.
They permit you to construct a quiz consisting of true/false
statements, multiple-�choice questions, one-�word answers, multiple answers, matching answers, ordered answers, or short or
long essay questions. Even if your institution offers no access to
course management systems, you can make use of the numerous free quizmaker tools available online. (See Chapter 6 for
more detailed discussion of this.)
Students taking these tests can receive immediate feedback.
This feedback can consist of a simple “correct” or “incorrect”
message, or a statement explaining in detail why the student got
the answer right or wrong. Questions can include embedded
graphics. Depending on the software, they can even include
sound or video files you’ve made, or links to such files that you
found elsewhere on the Web. Another use of such online
quizzes is to provide sample practice exams for student to use
to prepare for midterm or final exams. Using one of the quiz
generators, the instructor can provide answers as well as
focused feedback, so that those taking the practice exams can
learn from their mistakes. As with the preparation of lecture
notes, creating quizzes can be time-�consuming at first and then
save you a great deal of trouble the second time around. One
caveat, however: be sure to save the questions and answers in a
word-�processing file of your own. Sometimes institutions
change their course management systems, and it isn’t always
possible to import a set of questions in one software system into
Providing Advice and Support
Providing counseling, advice, mentoring, and support is part of
the job of teaching. Instructors list their office hours in their
syllabi and, once or twice a week, sit dutifully behind their desks
waiting for someone to knock on their door. All too often,
nobody comes, leaving the instructor to wonder about the
utility of sitting in an office for two hours a week. For some, the
meager trickle of students is an opportunity to catch up on
paperwork. Some may see it as a testament to their pedagogical
skills—a sign that students aren’t having any difficulties. To
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others, however, the lack of office visitors is a warning signal
that something may be wrong—either the allotted time isn’t
convenient or the students don’t feel they are getting what they
want from the course. Using two of the online tools readily
available to most instructors—email and chat—can improve the
flow of communication markedly.
Counseling Students Online
With email, text messaging, instant messaging and chat,
instructors can respond to student inquiries at a time and place
of their choosing, leaving them freer to structure their activities
during the day. Students can submit their inquiries as the need
arises—for example, in their dorm room late at night when
they’re studying.
But shifting the counseling load to the Web has its obvious
downside as well: it can significantly increase the instructor’s
workload if it isn’t kept in check. To control your workload, we
suggest the following guidelines, some of which we’ve recommended in earlier chapters as part of establishing a protocol for
■ Set strict parameters for responding to emails and other
online messages and make these clear to your students in
both your syllabus and your class. For instance, make sure
your students understand that although you will accept
emails from them, you will not necessarily respond to each
one immediately and that you may provide responses to a
question in the classroom if you see it is one that has been
repeatedly posed.
■ Specify which kinds of problems you will respond to: for
example, personal problems, requests, or issues; or difficulties comprehending the subject matter. Steer clear altogether
of administrative issues, such as dates for upcoming tests or
questions about homework. Such information is either available in the syllabus or more properly discussed in an online
or on-�the-ground discussion session.
■ Insist that you will not respond to any emails whose chief issue
isn’t clearly identified in the subject line of the communication.
Chapter 13╇ •â•‡ Teaching Web-Enhanced and Blended Classes
This will save you the trouble of having to read through the
entire email to discover the problem at hand. It will also allow
you to forward a student email to a TA or assistant when
■ Respond to a problem you perceive as being potentially a
question for all by sending one email to your entire class, or
by posting an announcement in the online classroom or by
compiling a FAQ page with your answers and post it on your
web site.
Establishing Virtual Office Hours
Online chat software can be used to conduct virtual office
hours. It can, for instance, lighten your advisory load, or at
least make it less onerous, if you use it in a focused way. Say,
for example, that you tell your students that you will be available for consultations for an hour or two on certain days. If
you’re in your office, or even your home, you can open a chat
session, leaving the chat window visible on your screen. As
you wait for students to check in, you can do other work,
glancing at the screen now and then to see if anyone has
Once a student has arrived, your conversation (depending on
the chat software you’re using) can usually be logged; that is, a
record of your conversation is automatically saved to a text file.
This permits you to edit the text file at some later date, extracting material for your FAQ page.
Some chat software tools now include a whiteboard function.
The whiteboard, as you may recall, is a communal area where
an instructor can draw or type. The students in the chat session
can then discuss the instructor’s display or present material of
their own as part of the online give and take. Such software
tools permit you to display in the whiteboard area any document on your hard disk (such as a PowerPoint presentation or
an Excel spreadsheet) or any web page you have bookmarked;
you can do this simultaneously while chatting with your students. More impressive still, the students can do the same thing.
Thus you and your students can see the same documents, web
pages, or applications at the same time that you are discussing
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Many of the foregoing capabilities are now augmented by
browser-�based videoconferencing tools that permit one-�to-one
or even group video and audio communication without the need
to even download software. (Some of these tools were described
in earlier portions of this book, especially Chapter 9.) But as the
pipelines carrying the information have improved, this form of
communication has become more accessible and common.
Today’s instructor now has a broad array of communication tools
with which to conduct advisory or small-�seminar sessions with a
class whether or not their institution provides such tools.
Assigning Group Projects
One feature commonly available in most course management
software is the ability to divide large classes into small student
groups, affording them a private area online in which to
collaborate on the production and publication of group projects.
In these private areas the students have access to the full
panoply of online tools—message boards, chat rooms, and
whiteboards. They can create information, format it, and share
these newly created items with each other, unseen by the rest of
the class. This gives them a virtual workspace, permitting them to
work together on a schedule convenient to them—a particular
advantage to students with busy schedules or difficult commutes.
It also permits you as the instructor to assign group collaborative
projects with the assurance that they won’t overwhelm the students’ time or capabilities. Many institutions and course management systems also provide wiki software for such group
collaboration purposes.
In a small private school, using a discussion board or other
tools to promote online group work may seem superfluous. But
in a large urban school, where students commute long distances,
have jobs, or are raising families, the opportunity to work online
overcomes a number of logistical obstacles while at the same
time affording a level of intercommunication that wouldn’t
otherwise be possible. It also helps students learn how to collaborate with one another, a communication skill highly valued in
the workplace.
Access to online group collaboration tools may permit you to
assign more complex research projects than you might have
Chapter 13╇ •â•‡ Teaching Web-Enhanced and Blended Classes
before. By dividing the workload, students can tackle problems of
much greater complexity than might have been possible if the
assignment were for one student alone. With adequate preparation and planning, students from different institutions, cities, and
even countries can connect via the Internet and may be able to
work together collaboratively using the same set of group tools.
Finally, the group projects can be released for viewing to the
whole class and form the basis of a vigorous face-�to-face or
online discussion. To explore this subject further, see Chapters 6
and 7 for discussion of some of the specific options available for
group activities.
Using the Web as a Student Presentation
The Web is a powerful presentation medium, and it can be used
in both web-�enhanced and blended classes to display work
created by students as course projects, either individually or in
groups. Some instructors understandably prefer the more traditional means of expression, such as the research paper or the
PowerPoint slide show delivered in front of the class. Frequently,
however, an inordinate amount of classroom time is required to
present such projects to the class. How much more efficient it can
be to have students present their work online instead.
Using the Web to present such reports permits students to use
a wider range of media to make their points. Students can create
videos, narrated slides, blogs, and web pages replete with graphics, sounds, animations, and links. Even without such multimedia
embellishments, web-�based reports can be read and evaluated by
all the students before or after they come to class, leaving more
face-�to-face class time for discussion, analyses, and critiques.
Assembling such projects should no longer be considered a
hardship for students. In most cases, it is a skill they can master
easily, and one they ought to learn. Using simple, menu-�based
Web 2.0 type tools described in earlier chapters, they should be
able to assemble relatively sophisticated presentations with ease.
Web-�Based Exercises
The Web is so rich in potential learning materials that traditional instructors would be depriving their students of valuable
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educational resources if they ignored it altogether. No matter
what subject you teach, be it molecular biology or cultural
anthropology, a multitude of sites can provide you and your
students with information, simulations, or resources to consider, critique, analyze, or discuss. A list of some very useful
sites on the Web to search for such resources is provided in the
Guide to Resources at the end of this book.
Aside from visiting informational web sites, students can
participate in global science experiments, perform experiments
in online labs, collaborate and communicate with students
from another school, state, or nation, analyze and critique articles published online and post reactions to them in a discussion board, and meet and discuss relevant issues with a “guest
host” in a discussion board or chat room.
Here are some pointers for incorporating Web resources into
your face-�to-face on-site class:
■ Identify each site you want your students to visit by its URL,
both on your web site and in the syllabus. Revisit the site just
before you begin teaching the class to make sure it’s still alive
(sometimes sites are moved to different URLs or simply no
longer work).
■ Be very clear when defining what you want your students to
see or do when visiting a site. Be respectful of the time they
must spend online to accomplish the assigned task. Generally, you’ll want to avoid the treasure-Â�hunt approach—that
is, having your students hunt for information before they can
critique it.
■ Avoid wasting time displaying web sites in the on-Â�site class
unless it is for the purpose of discussing a specific assignment
focused around that web page or it otherwise requires some
explanation that can’t be duplicated online. If your Internet
connection in the classroom is not stable, you may want to
prepare screen shots of a web site being used for this purpose.
Team Teaching
Just as students can collaborate easily online, so can teachers.
Team teaching a large, lecture-�style course requires a great deal
Chapter 13╇ •â•‡ Teaching Web-Enhanced and Blended Classes
of advance planning and preparation. Traditionally, this is done
in face-�to-face meetings, but using the collaborative tools available on the Web can ameliorate the process, speeding up the
production of course materials and easing the task of approving
them once they are done.
Once a course is under way, using the Web has its advantages
as well. Instructors can spell each other at certain tasks, with
one instructor handling lectures in the classroom while the
other publishes backup materials on the Web and replies to
student inquiries on discussion boards.
In less common cases, instructors may be situated too far
apart to commute easily to the physical class. Using the Web is
an obvious alternative, permitting the use of “experts” to
prepare online lectures, but leaving the discussions to the
instructor in the on-site class.
A Final Thought on Web Enhancement
In this discussion of ways the Internet can be integrated in an
on-�the-ground class, one key thought underlies our comments.
Important! Making the use of the Internet optional
rather than incorporating it into the curriculum dooms
it to failure.
When you make the Web an integral part of the course work,
you automatically make it more relevant and valuable to your
students and yourself alike. Treating the web site merely as a
repository for chance comments or random postings reduces it
to the level of a technological appendage and squanders its considerable potential to enrich what you are doing on the ground.
Tips for Teaching Blended Courses
While many institutions new to online education have surmised
that the road to online teaching is made easier by first exposing
instructors to blended teaching, there is little or no research
that bears this out. In fact, many people who are experienced
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online teachers might tell you that blended courses can actually
be more difficult to teach than fully online ones. Why is this? It
is chiefly due to the challenge of integrating the two modalities
of teaching in a way that makes both equally meaningful and
Two of the biggest errors made by those attempting blended
courses are:
■ overloading students with a great deal more work than they
would have in either a completely face-�to-face or fully online
■ not giving clear directions about what will be accomplished
in each mode and how to coordinate the two.
The first issue has been termed the “course and one-Â�half syndrome.” The second is best handled along the same lines as
fully online courses—with a comprehensive syllabus and schedule that clarifies how the class will operate.
The tips offered here in some cases reiterate principles
already stated in this book and previously illustrated by examples, while in other cases, tips supply some additional information specially tailored for the blended format.
Preparing for the Blended Course
■ Take advantage of any training or training resource materials
offered on campus (or off- or online) if you are new to online
teaching and blended learning. Look for training that not
only focuses on how to use online software from the technical point of view, but also offers some insights into
approaches to teaching and learning and design for a
blended course. See Chapter 14 for some suggested training
opportunities for blended teaching.
■ Review the face-Â�to-face version of the course if that’s what
you have been teaching. Consider what is best reserved for
face-�to-face delivery and be able to explain your rationale.
Find the weakest points in the teaching experience as you see
them and consider how these may be changed with the addition of online activities and resources.
Chapter 13╇ •â•‡ Teaching Web-Enhanced and Blended Classes
■ Review the schedule for your blended class. Are the face-Â�toface meeting dates already determined or can you determine
the pattern yourself? The first class should ideally meet
face-�to-face so that students can be fully prepared for the
blended format. On many campuses, students are accustomed
to thinking about the first class day as provisional, a waste of
time, or not a “real” class meeting. For this reason, it is a good
idea to email your students ahead of time to stress the importance of not missing this first class date. If this would seem to
be a losing battle on your campus, strongly consider making
both the first and second class meetings face-to-face.
■ Generally speaking, in putting together your syllabus schedule, it’s a good idea to plan discussions of the most complex
materials for a face-Â�to-face meeting. This doesn’t mean that
complex issues cannot be handled just as well in a fully
online class, only that you may find that it will be relatively
quicker for you to clear up misunderstandings if you have the
opportunity for a face-�to-face session. Many instructors have
found that scheduling the first small-�group meeting for a
face-�to-face meeting week greatly facilitates the rate at which
groups form and establish cooperation. Some instructors
also recommend that groups be scheduled to meet face to
face at other critical moments in a group project. Again, this
doesn’t mean that the same objective cannot be reached
purely online, but if you have the opportunity to convene
groups face to face, you may find that it simply accelerates
the process of forming groups or reaching consensus on key
aspects of the project.
■ Be prepared to offer an orientation to students on your
course management system or other software if this is not
supplied to students elsewhere.
■ Define how your blended class operates in the introductory
area of your syllabus and what expectations are for students in
regard to participation in online and face-�to-face activities.
Explain how the weeks will work in tandem as a fully integrated
course. Make sure your syllabus schedule clearly delineates in
a graphic manner (through use of bold font or other means)
those weeks in which the class meets face-�to-face and what
online activities, if any, are expected for those same weeks.
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Design Issues for the Blended Course
■ Pay careful attention to the transition between face-Â�to-face
and online activities. Ideally these two modes are not completely separate—therefore, always have some online activity, no matter how minor or brief, within the week in which
the class meets face to face. For example, you might ask students to go online to the discussion board within forty-�eight
hours after a face-�to-face meeting to continue to reflect on
the topics broached at that meeting. This gives students who
may be reticent about speaking in the on-�campus class a
chance to weigh in and it also provides an interval for all students to reflect on the preceding face-�to-face discussion. It
also signals to the students that what happens in these two
modalities is not disconnected, but interrelated. The online
work following directly upon the face-�to-face meeting helps
bridge the topics and activities of the two successive weeks,
and can serve as preparation for the entirely online week.
The opposite is also true—a carefully planned activity in the
online-�only week may be designed to provide essential background for the upcoming face-�to-face meeting.
■ Consider the pacing and time needed to complete each
week’s activities, both online and face to face—calculate the
total time expected for students to be on task—whether that
means reading, researching, discussing, or completing other
“homework.” The total time should be comparable to that
expected for a purely face-�to-face class. This avoids the
problem of “a class and one-Â�half.”
■ In devising a participation grade, be sure to define what participation means in the context of a face-Â�to-face class
meeting and an online discussion. Keep in mind that there
generally isn’t time for every student to participate in a 1–3hour face-Â�to-face classroom meeting. You may want to give
students an opportunity within a face-�to-face meeting week
for participating in either format. In other words, if you give
ten points for participation, you can stipulate that the ten
points can be distributed over both the face-�to-face and
online meetings or confined to just the online. Or you can set
up separate criteria or a rubric for each modality. Perhaps
Chapter 13╇ •â•‡ Teaching Web-Enhanced and Blended Classes
there are a certain number of points for participating in three
of the fifteen face-�to-face discussions with another total
number of points for online participation in a face-�to-face
meeting week and yet another collection of points for those
weeks in which the class is only online.
■ Carefully incorporate Web resources into your course
content and instructional activities to provide more diverse
pathways to learning and supply guidelines to help students
devise a more critical approach to reviewing information.
■ Avoid scheduling all your face-Â�to-face meeting time for lecturing! The on-Â�campus meeting affords valuable time to
explore ideas and gauge understanding by engaging students
in active discussion and debate, case studies, or other active
learning strategies.
Teaching the Blended Course
■ Post your syllabus online but depending on your student
audience and expectations for the on-�campus meeting, you
may want to bring hard-�copy printouts to the first class
meeting (if that is indeed face-�to-face) as well. At some campuses, students can be emailed in advance and instructed to
read and bring the syllabus to the first class (on their laptops
or in hard copy).
■ At the first and perhaps second class meeting, you will want
to review the syllabus for the course. Additionally, here is
when you may need to lead that orientation to the course
management software for students. At the very least, you will
want to clarify how and when and where to carry out online
activities, as well as to point to your syllabus schedule to
emphasize the face-�to-face meeting dates and the required
online activities.
■ Provide weekly announcements in the online classroom
every week to highlight the week’s activities ahead and guide
the “handoff” from the face-Â�to-face meeting week to the
purely online ones and vice versa.
■ Send weekly emails to students to remind students of continuing online activities during weeks in which the class does
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not meet face-�to-face. Sometimes students in a blended class
tend to think of the weeks in which they do not meet on
campus as “weeks off.”
■ Send a personal email to provide a friendly reminder to students who at any time are not participating in the online
portion of the class or the opposite—to encourage students
to come to face-�to-face meetings.
■ Use an online gradebook to allow students to follow their
progress in the class. By grading students on their online
activities on a weekly or biweekly basis, it is easier for you to
keep track of student learning and for the students themselves to be reminded of an ongoing class in which they may
seldom meet face-�to-face.
■ Strive to interact with students online every week in some
manner. This may range from active facilitation of online discussion to announcements or posted commentary that help
illuminate the readings and assignments underway. Let students know that you will be monitoring their online activity.
■ In addition to any student course evaluations your institution may administer at the end of a course, consider asking
students some of your own questions tailored to the blended
course design you devised. For example, you may ask students questions such as, “Which assignments provided the
best learning experience for you this term and why?” “Was it
clear to you what needed to be done in weeks in which the
class did not meet face-Â�to-face?” or “Rate the following Web-Â�
based activities from our class .â•›.â•›.”
Finally, after teaching your first blended class, carefully
review it and don’t be shy about enlisting the extra pair of eyes
that a trusted colleague can provide. It’s difficult to get the
blended course “recipe” exactly right the very first time, but
your effectiveness will improve with feedback from students
and colleagues along with reflection and practice.
Taking Advantage of New
ecause online education is a relatively new enterprise, you
have an opportunity to make a positive contribution to this
growing field. To take full advantage of this new opportunity, you
would do well to keep yourself informed of the latest trends and
issues and to continually improve your skills and knowledge.
Each time you teach online, you have the chance to acquire
insights and experience that can be used as the basis for further
exploration. In this chapter, we hope to point out some of the
possibilities for your development as an online educator.
New Career Directions
The field of online education has become the preoccupation
not only of most institutions of higher education but also of
software producers, media conglomerates and publishing
houses, and education-�delivery companies. All of these players
are beginning to appreciate the need to employ people with
solid academic credentials, experience in the classroom, and, of
course, an understanding of how teaching and learning can be
effectively handled and enhanced in an online environment.
Because online education ranges from self-�paced independent study modules to fully instructor-�led courses, career prospects cover a similarly wide range. For instance, you can find
new opportunities in areas like these:
■ creation of courseware for your own courses;
Teaching Online
■ design and creation of courseware to be used by other
■ curriculum development for both nonprofit and profit-Â�
making entities;
■ course development or instructional design and technology
■ training and providing support for other faculty;
■ administrative positions directing online education programs and training.
Academic and staff jobs related to online education are
growing in number and even a cursory look at some of the
online job-�listing sites demonstrates the range of non-�
academia-based jobs for which educators with online expertise
might qualify. As technology races ahead of content, those with
the intellectual capital to create courseware and shape curriculum will be increasingly in demand.
The example of Pam Taylor, the nursing informatics expert,
illustrates some of the possibilities. Taylor taught her first web-�
enhanced course in 1995, but within a couple of years she had
transitioned to a fully online course. She became a leader
among her peers, helping other instructors make the same
transition to online teaching. Teaching online, she says, “has
opened my classroom walls up to the world beyond.” She has
learned to work with tools like Dreamweaver for HTML pages,
Fireworks for image editing, and Articulate for Flash-�based
movies to create interactive courseware. Building upon her
experience in teaching and content development, she created
her own business, the NIVATE online program (http://
nivateonline.com) in early 2009, focusing on creating online
content in the area of nursing informatics, content that could
be incorporated into the nursing informatics curriculum of
diverse institutions. As a result, she has made a positive contribution to alleviating the shortage of nursing informatics
instructors nationwide. Taylor notes,
I have taught nursing for over thirty years, and have always
felt it was wonderful to contribute in this way to patient care.
But teaching online, and creating nursing informatics
Chapter 14╇ •â•‡ Taking Advantage of New Opportunities
content, has allowed me to indirectly touch thousands and
thousands of patients through these nursing students, rather
than the more limited number of nurses and ultimately their
patients that I would have reached through direct contact in
the face-�to-face classroom. This is a wonderful thing for an
Already, online teaching has revitalized the careers of many
longtime instructors, allowing them to experiment with new
approaches to teaching and to create courses for an expanded
audience of learners. Many have assumed new positions of
leadership within their own institutions. For others, online
experience has provided an opportunity to start a new career
outside academia, to bring their needed expertise and perspectives to associations and companies engaged in education-�
related businesses.
Moreover, instructors who are ready to retire may consider
extending their teaching lives with online courses. As part of
regular online programs as well as continuing education, online
teaching offers new opportunities to retired professionals who
have much to offer students in the way of expertise and
What to Do after You’ve Read This Book
Although this book strives to provide you with a comprehensive
guide to online teaching, we hope that it will also inspire you to
explore some additional pathways for your continued development as an online educator. Here we’ll suggest a few of them.
Further Training
This book was developed as a practical guide for instructors
who wish to teach online, but it wasn’t meant to replace a
formal training program completely. In fact, although a good
training program would include at least some of the information provided by this book, a training program should also
include the experience of teaching and learning online.
Teaching Online
Important! Whenever possible, opt for a program
that emphasizes online training, not just on-�site
Most of us are used to learning in a workshop or lab arrangement, with an instructor hovering over us or directing from the
front of the room as we struggle with a software program. Such
personalized attention can be very helpful; the face-�to-face
interchange and the ability to ask questions “on the fly,” gaining
immediate feedback and support, can be quite valuable.
But trying to learn to use a specific course management
system in a workshop environment can have its disadvantages
as well. For one thing, some course management software programs are too complicated to master within a manageable
amount of real time (three hours, for instance, which is about as
much time as the average instructor has to spare in a single
afternoon). This isn’t because the software itself is especially
difficult to use, but because it contains too many individual
parts and functions to cover adequately in the space of a few
hours. Learning how to operate the basic functions in software
is one thing, but knowing what to do with them is quite another.
In a workshop devoted to a course management system, most
instructors, especially novices, find the information too plentiful to digest in one sitting. Without repetition over time, much
of the experience is lost. Or—and this is probably just as harmful—instructors may leave the workshop thinking they know
pretty much all they need to know.
Coupling an on-�site workshop with further work online is
often the best solution for those eager to learn enough to proceed
confidently on their own. Until you’ve become a student, there’s
no way you can properly appreciate, or even identify, the problems and pitfalls of learning online. Sitting in a classroom with
other instructors is a totally different experience from sitting at
home and communicating with your instructor and fellow students online. Using the actual online tools to complete an exercise or post a comment on a discussion board is entirely different
from experimenting with the tools in an on-�site workshop.
An added advantage to learning online, rather than in a
workshop, is that students can progress at a speed that suits
Chapter 14╇ •â•‡ Taking Advantage of New Opportunities
them. Thus the novice can afford to proceed at a slow pace
without worrying that he or she may be holding back the rest of
the class, while more advanced users can proceed quickly to get
to the material they need to learn.
You can learn some fairly complex and technical material
online. For example, in a course we taught about how to make
effective use of multimedia, instructors learned how to make animations, short videos, and narrated slide shows on their own,
submitting their completed work to a web site. Most of these
instructors had never used the various software tools before
taking the class, yet none of them complained that they could not
learn without a live instructor standing by. These instructors
were not “techies”; they ranged from English professors to
instructors of machine-�shop technology in a trade high school.
The instructional material supplied—narrated slide shows and
video-Â�capture demonstrations—guided them through the
various exercises, and the online discussion board provided a
forum in which they could voice their problems and concerns.
Training outside Your Own Institutionâ•… If you have a good
training program at your institution, we strongly recommend
that you sign up for one of its offerings. Your institution’s center
for teaching and learning, instructional technology or academic
technology units, may all provide one or more types of training.
What should you do, however, if your institution isn’t offering
faculty development training in online teaching?
First of all, you can enroll as a student in an online course of
your own choosing. There are many online courses being
offered now by institutions all over the world. You might base
your choice on any number of criteria:
■ a subject you’ve always wanted to study;
■ a course that is in your field or similar to your own course;
■ a course that uses the same software platform your own institution is considering;
■ a course that simply suits your schedule and budget.
Even though such courses won’t show you specifically how
to teach online, they will give you vital experience as a learner
in the online classroom.
Teaching Online
In terms of specific training for teaching online, there are
now a number of national and vendor-�operated programs,
including the following types:
■ short online courses and tutorials in particular software platforms, offered by the providers of those platforms or their
■ short, site-Â�based training courses and workshops for particular software platforms and tools, often available at conferences focused on the use technology in education;
■ full-Â�scale, comprehensive programs covering teaching
methods, curriculum development, and tools that aren’t specific to any software platform.
Many of these programs are available completely online, thus
eliminating the constraints of geography. Online training is
particularly advantageous in that it doesn’t involve removing an
instructor from the classroom in order to be trained, and it is
particularly economical in that it doesn’t require the travel and
lodging expenses necessary for an off-�site workshop.
You may be able to work on an interdepartmental, districtwide, or consortium basis to arrange discounted tuition for
yourself and other faculty members. You can also investigate
whether any regional or statewide opportunities are available.
For example, the Illinois Online Network has developed a
program of instruction in online teaching for all of its interested
instructors and external partnering institutions.
Opportunities for Further Training outside Your Own
For those interested in programs offering a certificate or graduate-�
level degree that are open to the public, there are such programs
as the Sloan Consortium’s Online Teaching Certificate Program
and its separate Blended Teaching Certificate. The California State
University, East Bay similarly offers a Certificate in Online Teaching, while the University of Wisconsin provides a certificate
program in Distance Education.
For those interested in a deeper commitment represented by a
graduate program, there are such programs as California State
Chapter 14╇ •â•‡ Taking Advantage of New Opportunities
University, East Bay’s Master of Science in Education, with an
Option in Online Teaching and Learning (MS-�OTL). The University
of Maryland University College offers a Master of Distance Education, now in its tenth year, as does Athabasca University in
Canada while the University of Hull offers a Master of Education in
eLearning. The Open University of Catalonia (UOC) in Spain offers
a diploma or certificate in E-�Learning Course Design and Teaching, delivered online and in the English language. The University
of Colorado, Denver, offers both a Masters in eLearning Design
and Implementation and a Designing eLearning Environments
certificate. All these programs differ in regard to time involved,
focus, qualifications, and cost but they are mentioned here
because all are delivered online and all have reputations for
It can also be advantageous to have several instructors from
your single institution take an online teacher-�training course
together. You can point out to the administration that training
several people at once will provide a seed crop of informed
faculty who will go on to share their new insights with other
faculty members. Faculty collaboration and sharing will often
stimulate others to continue learning. But whether or not your
institution is willing to offer financial support for you and your
colleagues, taking a course together will provide a mutual
support network for all of you.
General Characteristics to Seek in a Training Programâ•… What
characteristics should you look for in a training program? First,
as we suggested earlier, it is essential that the core of the development program be conducted online.
The ideal training program should also have a flexible schedule, emphasizing asynchronous (not real-�time) communication, although there should be a start and stop date to prevent
participants from losing focus and motivation. Lessons and
activities should be arranged so that students can work on
them on a weekly basis, rather than on a specific day. Faculty
should participate three to five times a week, for short intervals, in the discussion forums, rather than once a week for
longer periods of time. This replicates the ideal online teaching
Teaching Online
Ideally, the program should be a minimum of about six
weeks in length if it is to include some time for actual course
development. This sort of time frame will allow a week for
general introduction to concepts and time to get accustomed to
the software. This would be the minimum to ensure that you
and your fellow students have adequate time to get up to speed
with the software, interact in the online environment, and begin
to build your own courses. However, a program may also
consist of a shorter series of focused modules, each only a week
or two in length. In investigating the different training options,
you will need to determine whether the course is comprehensive or organized into shorter courses on discrete areas like
course design, facilitation, etc.
It is advantageous if the person leading or designing the
training is someone who has experience in both teaching and
learning online, has taught in a face-�to-face or blended class as
well as online, and has a working knowledge of course design.
Perhaps you will find that the training is done by a pair or team
in which one of the members is an instructional technologist or
instructional designer. That’s fine, as long as at least one of the
trainers can share the perspective of teaching in a live classroom. Such a person is better able to comprehend the sensitive
nature of transferring years of experience in the face-�to-face
classroom to an online setting.
Content to Seek in a Training Programâ•… What content and
topics should you look for in a training program? We think there
are five important categories of training content: software training, facilitative or methods training, course design, personal
consultation, and supervised start-�up.
1. Software training. Naturally, software training is important. In
an online teaching program that isn’t platform specific, you
will learn the software being used for the program and perhaps
be introduced to several different platforms. As in the process
of learning a foreign language, you will find that learning one
platform and analyzing others will improve your facility in
learning further platforms. Sometimes these programs will ask
you to produce a demo in your own chosen platform. If your
program has been specifically designed for your institution,
Chapter 14╇ •â•‡ Taking Advantage of New Opportunities
then the software training may include having each participant build a basic shell for a model classroom.
Training in HTML code used to be automatically included
in training programs. However, with the rise of built-�in HTML
editing through WYSIWYG tools, this is often an unnecessary
expenditure of time. Other software training may include specialized topics on multimedia production, whiteboard, and
synchronous conferencing systems or mobile learning. Good
programs combine observation and analysis of how tools are
used with opportunities for hands-�on experience.
Overall, how much do you need to learn about the software you’ll be using? Naturally this will depend on how much
help you can expect to receive from support staff. But even if
you have technical support, including instructional designers
or instructional technologists to assist you and do a good
deal of the work for you, we suggest that you learn as much
as you can so that you can provide direction and make
informed decisions. In the end, because decisions about
design and organization affect curriculum, a wise online
instructor will seek to be fully involved.
2. Facilitative or methods training. The next layer of training is
what may be called “facilitative” or “methods, approaches,
and techniques.” A good training program will give you the
chance to explore the differences and similarities between
live and online classrooms. For example, it will help you confront the sometimes-Â�troubling issue of the instructor’s
“voice” and style in the classroom. In large part, a sense of
your own online voice will develop as you engage in online
communication with others. The trainer as well as other colleagues can help you achieve this vision of yourself through
interaction and positive reinforcement. It’s difficult to
achieve this sense of ease about oneself in a one- or two-�
week training program; that’s one reason why we recommend a longer course or a succession of shorter ones.
Any comprehensive training program should also include
classroom management, course preparation, methods of
handling student participation and interaction, the use of
web resources, and other areas explored in this book. Moreover, we believe that a substantial portion of the training
Teaching Online
should involve analysis of case studies in online teaching and
learning. You’ll want a chance to observe real online courses,
at your own institution or even elsewhere if the latter is possible. The program should offer guided discussions of the
diverse teaching methods and styles present in online
courses. Especially in a short-�term program, we believe you
will find analysis of teaching models as they are actually used
in a real course to be more valuable than instructional design
theory in the abstract.
3. Course design. This need not involve extensive exposure to traditional instructional design training, but it should involve real,
hands-�on practice under authentic conditions and it should
cover the basics of planning a course, writing instructions for
assignments, and other issues related to design and development. The training course itself should provide a model for
good course design, and there should be opportunities to
observe and analyze examples of actual online classrooms.
Many training programs are now using the Quality Matters™
rubric (see Chapter 3) or other such formulations as their
framework for exposing instructors to online course design.
4. Personal consultation. In either the final portion of your training or as a follow-�up to the training, some personal consultation is desirable. Ideally, training instructors or other staff
should be available to work with you on a one-�to-one basis or
to provide individualized feedback in the context of the training course to arrive at a model that will satisfy your particular
goals and objectives. Finding a good fit for your own preferred
teaching methods and style is paramount here.
5. Supervised start-�up. Finally, in an ideal training program, the
last stage should involve a supervised start-�up of your actual
course. If this isn’t available to you, we recommend that you
ask another instructor with experience teaching online to critique your online classroom setup. At the University of Maryland University College, new online instructors are provided
with a peer mentor who is an experienced online instructor.
For the period of one semester the peer mentor helps the
novice online teacher to bridge the gap between completion of
training and confronting that new online classroom on one’s
Chapter 14╇ •â•‡ Taking Advantage of New Opportunities
Focused Workshop Training
Again, if you have access to regional programs, distance education associations, or faculty development offerings from your own
institution or consortium, take advantage of these free programs.
For those wanting to explore the emerging new technologies,
organizations like the Sloan Consortium offer focused, short,
completely online workshops in such topics as Second Life, Podcasting, and new Web 2.0 tools. These topics are varied, with new
ones introduced on a regular basis. Best of all, you will find yourself in the company of a worldwide audience of other instructors
who are eager to share their experience and discover new
approaches. Conferences by organizations like NUTN, SLOAN,
WCET, AACE, CATE, the Teaching Professor, University of Wisconsin’s Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning, ISTE,
ICDE, EDEN, and countless other groups typically provide pre-�
conference workshops geared toward acquisition of a particular
skill or area of knowledge related to blended and online teaching.
Learning from Your Own Experience
No matter how good your preparation for teaching online,
there’s still more to be learned when you actually begin teaching your class. It takes time to feel entirely comfortable teaching
online. It’s quite common for instructors to feel anxious, lost,
confused, or disoriented by the new teaching situation.
The following profile of an online instructor describes some
of the stages you may go through as you embark on your first
experience in teaching online.
Profile of an Online Instructor
Joanne is a new online instructor assigned to teach a marketing
course. Before planning her class, she conscientiously completed
the short training and orientation course offered at her institution,
and she took advantage of opportunities to consult with support
staff. Besides asking for technical assistance, she sought advice
about her syllabus and course activities.
After putting together an electronic “pack” of articles for her
course, she submitted it to the program office at her institution,
Teaching Online
which promised to secure copyright permissions and post the
material in the online classroom. She worked out her syllabus on a
weekly basis, making sure she had thought out the activities and
readings students would pursue, as well as specific discussion
questions she would pose in her discussion board threads. She
also thought carefully about the procedures for students to deliver
assignments to her and about whether she would schedule virtual
office hours via real-�time chat. She decided that she would offer
real-�time chat office hours only by prior appointment (arranged by
email), because it was difficult for her to carve out a specific time
in her schedule when she would be available each week.
Joanne did have some trouble deciding how to convert one of
her favorite assignments to the online setting. She was accustomed
to giving students a twenty-Â�minute “quick writing” assignment each
week, requiring them to brainstorm rapidly and formulate a basic
marketing plan. How would she handle “quick writing” in an asynchronous class? What, she asked herself, was the equivalent of
twenty minutes in the asynchronous mode? Or should she use the
real-�time chat room instead, having each student meet with her
there for a twenty-�minute period? With twenty-�five students, the
latter option didn’t seem feasible. She finally settled on a two-Â�day
window for each “quick writing” topic; that is, from the time she
posted a topic in the online classroom, students would have two
days to upload their responses in the online classroom’s assignment dropbox. She would then post the best examples online. The
entire sequence of procedures would be explained to her students
in the syllabus.
Joanne was surprised at the amount of time she ended up
devoting to the preparation of her online class. She had created
new courses before, and that always took an enormous effort; but
because this wasn’t an entirely new course, she didn’t imagine that
it would require so much preparation. For example, although she
had some lectures already written out in full, most of her lectures
existed simply in outline form. Over the years she had been able to
speak at length on the basis of the outlines. She hadn’t calculated
that it would take so many hours to put her previously spoken
words into print, and then upload or copy and paste these documents into the course presentation areas. After all that work, she
wondered if, after all, she should simply have created a series of
audio recordings along with text summaries, but by the time she
thought of that solution, she had already invested too much time in
creating text lectures and decided to leave that option for the
exploration of another day.
Chapter 14╇ •â•‡ Taking Advantage of New Opportunities
Joanne also discovered that, despite her extensive preparation,
issues that she hadn’t anticipated arose during the course. Students required more clarification of assignments than she had supposed they would. The activities and assignments turned out to be
too closely scheduled. She unexpectedly encountered problems
getting Internet access while attending an international conference
and subsequently missed logging in over a period of three days
right during the middle of the course.
It was a very active class, with hundreds of postings from the
twenty-�five students. As the course progressed, she felt it was successful overall, but she was a bit overwhelmed by the intensity of
the experience. She was online nearly every day, and she found
herself logging on at odd times, as though she might otherwise be
missing something. She was always a little surprised to see how
many new postings there were. The little signs indicating new,
unread postings began to trigger feelings of anxiety in her. She
also found that she was sometimes overlooking a message, or that
she had read it quickly and forgotten to respond.
During one particularly difficult and busy week, she discovered
that she had made a mistake in announcing the due date for an
assignment. She worried that students would lose confidence in
her. At this point, she emailed a colleague, who had been teaching
online for a few semesters, to express her feelings of anxiety. The
colleague wrote back with what proved to be an important piece of
advice: “Anxiety is normal at this stage. Don’t be afraid to make a
mistake. If you make a mistake, just tell the students as quickly as
you can of the corrections needed.”
By the fourth week of the eight-�week course, she was beginning
to feel less anxious. She also started to feel confident that she
could take a less interventionist role in her class. She realized that
she could pose questions in such a way that students would begin
to address each other rather than her. She recognized, too, that
she need not answer every single posting. The large number of
initial questions on technical issues could be greatly reduced by
creating a short FAQ to precede each unit of the course. She
implemented these changes for the remainder of the course.
By the sixth week, Joanne was already scrutinizing her class
with an eye to improving it next time around. She also contacted a
few colleagues with whom she had trained, to find out what had
worked or not worked for them in their own online courses. After
this review of her course and some useful anecdotal evidence from
her colleagues, which seemed to confirm her own conclusions, she
decided that she needed a better mix of individual and group
Teaching Online
activities to reduce the number of individual students’ postings on
each topic. She also resolved to replace the large number of different assignments with an incremental series of assignments, each
building on the preceding one. This change would mean that students could choose a single topic, research it, and structure each
successive assignment around it. She felt this approach would
save time and provide a more focused, in-�depth learning
Joanne enjoyed the remaining portion of the course and felt
optimistic about teaching online in the future. She realized that her
preparation time had been a wise initial investment and that,
despite the revisions she planned for the next go-�round, she
wouldn’t have to totally re-Â�create the course. She resolved to stay
in touch with others involved in online teaching at her institution
and to spend some time before every term keeping herself
informed via the Web about progress in online education.
A few things stand out in Joanne’s case history. First, Joanne
took good advantage of training opportunities to prepare
herself for teaching online. Second, her planning was comprehensive—not only for the overall arrangements, such as distributing reading material and establishing virtual office hours, but
also for the week-�by-week online classroom activities. Nonetheless, the preparation time involved was more than she had
expected. Moreover, despite all her preparation, she went
through a period of adjustment in the first weeks of the course,
during which she felt great anxiety about her ability to manage
the classroom.
She responded to her worries by taking action. Midway
through the course, she made certain adjustments that were
immediately feasible, and she began to note aspects of the
course that could be improved the next time it was offered. By
talking with others who were teaching online, she was able to
get practical suggestions that confirmed her own best
We imagine that your own experience will be similar to
Joanne’s. Although you’ll do your best to prepare yourself, you’ll
still have adjustments to make as the course progresses, and
you’ll find ways to refine it in the future. It’s important that you
take the time to reflect on and fine-�tune your course each time
Chapter 14╇ •â•‡ Taking Advantage of New Opportunities
it runs. As we mentioned earlier, the online course, with its
recording of student–instructor interaction, permits a higher
degree of scrutiny of our teaching methods than a face-�to-face
A good student evaluation designed for the online classroom
can provide valuable feedback. If members of your institution’s
instructional design staff or support staff have observed your
course, they may also be able to provide insights about improving it. Of course, this can be a delicate issue, and you may feel
uncomfortable with the heightened scrutiny. What we have in
mind here is a review for the purpose of improving your online
instruction, not for judging or criticizing your performance as
an instructor. We want to encourage you to see this process in a
positive light. Greater appreciation of what you do will also
become possible, and, we hope, greater rewards for excellence
in teaching may one day result from this climate of openness.
You may find that you need additional professional development to maximize your potential as an online instructor. You
can avail yourself of opportunities for further formal training in
online teaching. You may take on the challenge of learning
more about your course software so that you can use some of
the higher-�end tools. Or you may want to explore some entirely
different software programs to attain skills in the creation of
Where Do We Go from Here?
The Importance of Lifelong Learningâ•… Online education is an
evolving field. In years to come, it will feel the impact of many
technological improvements.
Unfortunately, it is quite common for faculty members to
learn one approach and one type of software and convince
themselves that these are the answers now and forever. After all,
few people relish putting in extra time to learn new programs or
retrain themselves. Nonetheless, faculty who want to teach
online need to adopt the same attitude they often prescribe for
their students—that lifelong learning is for everyone.
Keeping up with New Ideas and Technologiesâ•… This book is
based on our knowledge of the teaching approaches, technology,
Teaching Online
and software currently available to instructors teaching online.
Because it is intended as a practical guide, it has focused on the
types of tools you are most likely to encounter and find useful
and the best pedagogical approaches to take advantage of these
We are currently in the midst of another sea change in
online education technologies wherein high-�speed access of
the Web via computer or smart phone has become much more
common, and there is a greater ease and variety of new tools
for creating content and communicating typified by the Web
2.0 phenomenon. It is becoming more plausible to rely less on
the written word and to instead see your students on a web
cam and talk to them on a microphone. Small, mobile smart
devices allow us to be untethered from the desktop computer.
“Cloud computing,” i.e., browser-Â�based software, has made it
easier to do our work from anywhere we can deploy a browser.
The effect of this change on the way classes are conceived and
administered is just beginning to be felt. Therefore, we expect
that many more instructors will be likely to make the switch
from the classroom to the Web, whether to blended or fully
Consider the dynamism of education today. Education is
now a “commodity” that is much in demand. Without it, many
people can’t secure decent jobs or advance in their careers.
The previously termed “nontraditional” college student—i.e.,
working, living off campus, perhaps first in his or her family to
attend university—is now in the majority. Online learning
doesn’t necessarily save money. But as the tools for delivering
it become more effective and easier to use, and if the costs for
its delivery have diminished, how many more students might
then opt for it rather than for the more expensive traditional
courses of study, particularly when online learning allows
them to hold a job and support a family while getting a
It would be nice if we could tell you just what is going to
change, and when. But we aren’t soothsayers. For us to try to
predict what the world of online learning will look like five
years—or even one year—into the future would be at best an
entertaining diversion, and at worst a complete waste of time.
At conferences you can find gurus galore delivering keynote
Chapter 14╇ •â•‡ Taking Advantage of New Opportunities
speeches with smug aplomb, peering into the future with laser-�
like eyes. We think it’s wiser to remind ourselves that even Bill
Gates, in 1993, didn’t regard the Internet as a serious pretender
to his desktop throne. Now, the Web so dominates our lives
that it’s hard to remember when it wasn’t there. For many
instructors it isn’t just “publish or perish” anymore. It’s “keep
up with new developments or miss the train.”
Finding information about online learning and educational
technology is fairly easy. Leading periodicals and newspapers,
many of which are available online, cover technology, and distance education in particular, in considerable depth. A teacher
seeking to keep up with general trends need look no further
than the Chronicle of Higher Education, among US periodicals
for news and spotlighted hot topics in the field. For the latest
research in the field, there are publications that reflect the new
worldwide reach of online education, with topical articles
ranging from program administration to teaching methods to
emerging technologies. Just to illustrate this point, such journals range from Canada’s Athabasca University’s International
Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (www.irrodl.
org), to Anadolu University’s Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education (http://tojde.anadolu.edu.tr) to the European
Journal of Open, Distance and Elearning (www.eurodl.org) and
the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (www.
Then there are the blogs and wikis, often written by individuals in the field of online and distance education, that highlight new tools and innovations or cast a spotlight on case
studies of online teaching practice. These include blogs already
mentioned in this book, as well as countless others that are
extremely diverse in their interests and content—from Larry
Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day (http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.
org), to Tony Bates’ Elearning and Distance Education
Resources (www.tonybates.ca) or Ray Schroeder’s Online
Learning Update Blog (http://people.uis.edu/rschr1/onlinelearning/blogger.html) or Jane Hart’s E-Â�Learning Pick of the
Day (http://janeknight.typepad.com/pick).
We highly recommend that you choose such blogs based on
your own interests and situation, select the best of these blogs,
subscribe, and then review regularly via an aggregator such as
Teaching Online
Google Reader or a home page/start page like PageFlakes or
Netvibes that can provide you with constant updates of your
subscribed blogs each time you open your browser.
Networking with Others Involved in
Online Education
At some institutions there are certain faculty members who
have succeeded in promoting themselves as chief watchdogs
and opponents of online education. They may express the idea
that online education has nothing to offer pedagogically and
that it will undermine face-�to-face interaction between student
and instructor. Oddly enough, some of them have little or no
experience in an online classroom, as either student or teacher.
In this sense they resemble the anthropologist of Bali who
undertakes all his field research without leaving his apartment
in Manhattan.
It’s useful, then, to remember that ignorance can be found
even in the most erudite academic circles. Don’t allow the naysayers to dissuade you from becoming experienced and knowledgeable in the area of online teaching. There are many more of
your colleagues in higher education who are excited by the new
possibilities afforded by online education and who are anxious
to share their enthusiasm and learning. There are likely to be at
least a few such colleagues at your own institution, but if there
are none on your own campus, they can be readily found
through online discussion forums or at conferences such as
WCET, the Sloan Consortium’s ALN, EDEN, and Ed-Â�Media. The
people you meet online or at such conferences can provide a
wonderful support network for you. Conferences also provide
opportunities to hone your skills in a focused workshop setting.
Such online communities or regional and discipline-�related
groups of online educators provide instructors a venue in which
to talk with those of similar interests but perhaps divergent
amounts of professional experience. Therefore it is almost
always possible to learn something from someone who is just
the right number of steps ahead of you for you to benefit from
his or her experience and advice.
Chapter 14╇ •â•‡ Taking Advantage of New Opportunities
Student Expectations
Steal a look over the shoulder of any student today, and you will
probably see him or her chatting or texting with friends. Or you
may see students updating their Facebook pages, uploading
photos, or posting messages. Or perhaps they are bringing up a
music playlist as they sport the ubiquitous earphones marking
the use of an MP3 player or a smart phone which houses their
music. While the student clicks out a response to a text message,
he or she may be working on an essay for a class or taking notes
on the professor’s lecture. Maybe the student is viewing the
latest video of interest on YouTube, and not necessarily a video
produced by his professors.
This rather stereotypical portrait may in fact be telling us
where we as online educators may be headed. While we should
not assume that all students expect the classroom to resemble a
social networking site, it is wise for instructors to keep up with
the latest communication and content-�creation trends and to
judiciously choose those that seem to harbor a promise of
enhancing their instructional strategies. Doing so will make life
more interesting for your students and for you!
Course management systems have also changed. While there
has been greater consolidation in the field of integrated
systems, there are a constantly evolving set of tools being
developed outside these major companies. Therefore, course
management systems have had to become more open to incorporating such applications. But beyond any CMS, the ubiquity
of free Web 2.0 tools has encouraged instructors to try out new
technologies without having to depend on prior large-�scale
institutional commitment.
Now, using readily available and inexpensive software tools
such as those described in Chapter 9, an instructor can create
some relatively sophisticated courseware products customized
to the needs of his or her students. These can be narrated lectures or digital videos demonstrating in real time how to use a
software program, or a series of audio interviews. The content
depends on the individual instructor’s needs. Instructors can
do it; departments can do it; whole schools can do it, all without
Teaching Online
having to secure a grant or solicit a generous donation from a
rich alumnus. What is more, it can all be done with simple tools
on basic machines with a bit of ingenuity and no small amount
of determination. And many of your students will expect to be
allowed to try their hand at alternatives to writing a paper or
taking an exam when it comes to assessment.
The Educational Marketplace
Academics have traditionally lived in a world in which, for the
most part, they control their own fate. Academic bodies
convene and vote to make changes; administrators sit on committees and devise policies; and trustees meet to set tuition
schedules. The pace is unhurried, especially when academics
must wait for legislatures to allocate tax monies to fund expansive plans. Yet the leisurely pace with which academic change
takes place may no longer meet the needs of those living outside
academia. As the workplace evolves and becomes more
dynamic, as adults find they must upgrade their skills and
knowledge every three to five years, as older citizens hunger to
return to school, as corporations search for employees with
cutting-�edge skills, as young students desperate for a decent
education find they can no longer afford the cost of residential
colleges, people may increasingly turn to online learning, with
its improved tools and easier access, as not just a viable alternative but a more desirable one.
Already there are signals that this process is under way. Large
institutions or small ones have established a presence online
sometimes far out of proportion to the size of their physical
plants. For-�profit institutions have achieved regional accreditation and compete with the public and private nonprofit entities.
What leads students to choose one institution over the other
may have to do with cost, or it may be the cachet of a famous
name. No doubt a significant part of their choice, however, will
be based on the quality of the education provided by the institution, and that quality can be provided only by well-�trained,
well-�supported, and well-�motivated faculty using tools equivalent to their energy and skills.
Chapter 14╇ •â•‡ Taking Advantage of New Opportunities
We’re used to thinking that change in the academic world
takes place from within, through a vote by the academic senate,
a decree from a “visionary” chancellor, or a policy set down by a
governor that can control the shape and rate of social change.
But it may well be that in the case of online learning the “marketplace” itself will dictate the pace of change. While many educators shudder at the very idea of an educational “marketplace,”
what we are really talking about is meeting students’ needs. We
hope that this book has provided some valuable techniques to
help you take advantage of new opportunities in this changing
world of education. Who knows? In a few years, in order to
polish up our skills, we may find ourselves in an online course
taught by you.
Glossary╇╇╇╇ ● ● ● ● ●
application service providerâ•… Also known as an ASP, it is a private
business set up to host the latest course management software on
its own servers and provide technical support as well.
application sharing╅ Using real-�time software that allows the instructor or student to give access to the computer desktop of the other
party and provide assistance in real time.
asynchronousâ•… Occurring at different times; for example, discussion
boards are said to be an asynchronous form of communication
because messages are typically posted at one time and read at
another and the participants do not have to be online at the same
time to communicate.
avatarâ•… Graphic representation of a person to interact in a virtual
world or in chat or other online format. Avatars can take the form of
icons, animals, cartoon-�like characters, or images more closely
based on a person’s own appearance
biometricâ•… Verification of physical characteristics of an individual to
provide authentication of a student such as login via eye scan or
blended course (also known as hybrid)â•… A course which includes both
face-�to-face meetings and online components as required elements.
Definitions of blended courses vary from one institution to another.
The Sloan Consortium has defined a blended or hybrid course as one
in which 30–79 percent of the content is delivered online.
blogâ•… Short for “web log,” it is a web site on which a person (could be
more than one) posts commentary, and can allow others to
respond. The blog is usually arranged in reverse chronological
order, providing a journal-�like series of frequent entries. The blog
does not require knowledge of HTML to create, and blogging software usually provides a variety of templates that can be used
without having to design a site. Visitors can choose to subscribe to
the blog so that they are notified via email when a new entry or
response has been made.
Bloom’s Taxonomyâ•… A hierarchical system of classifying different
levels of thinking that can be helpful in designing assignments.
chatâ•… Online communication that occurs synchronously, that is, in
real time. Usually chat conversations are conducted with typed text,
but some employ audio or video. A chat room is the online area
where a chat is held. Typically, it consists of a window where messages are displayed, as well as a message box where each individual
can type in a response.
cloud computingâ•… Software utilized through a browser and the Internet rather than downloaded or installed on one’s own computer.
course management system or software (CMS), also known as virtual
learning environment (VLE), learning management system (LMS),
learning platform, online delivery systemâ•… A software program
that contains a number of integrated instructional functions.
Instructors can post lectures or graphics, moderate discussions,
invoke chat sessions, and give quizzes, all within the confines of the
same software system. Not only can instructors and students
“manage” the flow of information and communications, but the
instructor can both assess and keep track of the performance of the
students, monitoring their progress and assigning grades. Typical
examples of a CMS are those produced by Blackboard and eCollege,
or adopted from “open-Â�source” products such as Moodle or Sakai.
discussion boardâ•… Also known as discussion forum, electronic bulletin board, conference area. An asynchronous software program that
allows one to post messages and permits others to reply to your
messages. Generally messages are posted in text, but many allow for
the attachment of images or sound files, and there are also versions
that allow audio postings.
distance educationâ•… Any form of learning that does not involve the
traditional classroom setting in which student and instructor are in
the same location at the same time. Examples range from correspondence courses to videoconferencing to online classes.
downloadâ•… To retrieve a file from a remote computer and save it on
your own computer.
ebooksâ•… Electronic books accessed either online or downloaded to
special reading devices (such as Kindle or Sony Reader), or to other
mobile devices like phones and PDAs.
eLearningâ•… (electronic learning), another name for online learning,
often the preferred term used in connection with corporate training.
electronic bulletin boardâ•… See discussion board.
embeddingâ•… Taking code automatically generated by an external site
and inserting it into your own course management software, web
page, blog, or other site. This allows your students to access the site
without leaving your classroom pages while the embedded object is
actually playing on the external site’s server.
emoticonâ•… A text based or graphic symbol used in online communications to express emotions that might otherwise be misunderstood
when relying only on text. The word comes from combining
emotion with icon. Text-�based emoticons are formed from keyboard
characters, like the smiley face :), and are usually designed to be
read from left to right in Western cultures, but may be created to be
read vertically (^_^) in Asian cultures.
fair useâ•… The allowable use or reproduction of material without specific permission from the owner. Although copyright law itself outlines the extent of fair use, various rules and guidelines have
extended the definition for educators.
FAQâ•… Acronym for “frequently asked questions”; typically an online
list of common questions and their answers.
Forumâ•… A unit of discussion board software. Plural is fora or forums.
GIFâ•… Graphics Interchange Format, a compression format useful for
graphics files with a limited number of colors.
hotspotâ•… An access point by which wireless devices can connect to the
hybridâ•… See blended course.
hyperlinkâ•… An element on a web page (typically an image, icon, or
highlighted word or phrase) that makes something happen when
you “click” on it with the mouse. Typically, it takes you to another
web page, but it can also cause a digital movie or audio file to play.
Also known simply as a link or web link.
Instant messaging (IM)â•… is a form of chat that is most often between
two people, although it is increasingly possible to IM multiple users.
The distinctions between chat and IM are gradually blurring, but for
the purposes of this book, you can think of chat as taking place in
an online classroom site to which one or multiple users are invited
or able to enter, while IM involves summoning another who is
online to chat privately.
ISPâ•… Internet service provider; that is, an organization that provides
the user with access to the Internet.
JPEG fileâ•… A format developed specifically for the purpose of digitizing
photographs. The acronym stands for Joint Photographic Experts
linkâ•… See hyperlink.
listservâ•… See mailing list.
local area network (LAN)â•… A network made up of interconnected
computers in a relatively small geographic area, ranging from a
single office or lab to a campus.
mailing list (listserv)â•… An online discussion group, administered by a
software program, in which each message is sent to a common
email address, which then forwards the message to all members of
the list.
mind-�map╅ A representation through diagram or flow chart of the
interrelationships between ideas, words, or other items.
MP3 audio formatâ•… A compressed file, meaning that it produces a file
many times smaller than other types of audio formats and has thus
enabled the explosion of downloadable music and music players
such as the iPod and cell phones, has become the leading format for
listening to and sharing music.
multimediaâ•… A combination of two or more different communication
media, such as text, graphics, audio, animation, and video.
netbooks╅ Small, scaled-�down laptops that are lightweight and relatively inexpensive and designed to access the Internet via wi-�fi
open educational resourcesâ•… Resources available on the Web that
allow for free educational use. These open educational resources
(referred to as OERs) range from courseware made available by such
universities as MIT to freely shared podcasts from an individual
biology instructor at a community college.
open source softwareâ•… Software in which the underlying source code
is made known, collaboration in its development is encouraged,
and which is distributed with the ability for others to use and
modify. Linux is an example of an open source operating system,
while Moodle and Sakai are examples of open source course management software.
operating systemâ•… The software that controls a computer and allows
it to perform its most basic functions.
PDFâ•… Portable Document Format, an electronic file format designed
to be readable by different operating systems. A PDF document can
be created with Adobe Acrobat software and viewed with the free
Adobe Acrobat Reader.
plug-�in╅ An application that supplements a web browser, downloaded
and then automatically activates itself when it is needed.
postâ•… To contribute a message to discussion board; more generally, to
place any message or document on a web site.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed readersâ•… Also known as aggregators. These permit you to subscribe to a blog, podcast, or other
resource site so that you can receive the latest news or installment
from that site without having to actually visit it each time.
screen-castingâ•… Software that records the entire sequence or an
edited version of what you display on a computer screen as you
click and scroll or otherwise manipulate software. Also known as
screen-capture video.
streaming mediaâ•… Audio or video files that are sent in a continuous
stream from a source computer (usually via a web site) to a receiving computer. Using a “player” software program, the recipient can
hear or view the content in real time.
smart phoneâ•… Phone with features that allow one to do such things as
access the Web, chat or IM, send text messages, utilize global positioning systems (GPS) and play music.
SMS (short message service)â•… Commonly know as text messaging,
generally limited to 160 characters and commonly accessed via cell
phones and other mobile devices.
social bookmarkingâ•… A method by which users can easily annotate,
tag, search, and share bookmarks to web resources with others,
either the public or limited to small groups or individuals. Delicious,
Diigo, and Furl all offer social bookmarking tools.
storyboardâ•… A series of sketches, slides, or pages on which the sequence
for a video, web site, or other product be may mocked up and planned.
Storyboards are a way to organize and plan a dynamic design.
synchronous╅ Occurring simultaneously and in real-�time. For
instance, a synchronous online discussion is one in which users can
communicate immediately in real-�time; examples include online
chats and Internet telephone calls.
tagâ•… Give a searchable term or topic label to a bit of information.
text messagingâ•… See SMS.
threadâ•… An ordered row of online comments on a particular topic; a
number of threads in a single discussion board forum constitute a
threaded discussion.
uploadâ•… To transfer a file from your computer to a remote computer;
the reverse of download.
URLâ•… Short for Uniform Resource Locator, the address for a site on
the Internet. An address such as www.ucla.edu is a URL.
virtual classroomâ•… Also known as online classroom or virtual learning
environment (VLE). Any online area in which instructors and students “meet,” via their computer connections, for course activities.
This term applies to environments in which communication is asynchronous (people do not have to be online at the same time to communicate) or synchronous (in real-�time) or a combination of both.
virtual worldsâ•… Online 3-D immersive environments that simulate
reality and in which participants interact by using avatars. A well-�
known virtual world is Second Life.
Webâ•… See World Wide Web.
Web 2.0â•… Those tools and sites which allow for easy interaction and
creation of content (from text to multimedia) on the Web without
special technical skills, and whose structure and features foster collaboration and sharing among users. Most of these tools are available for free use. Blogs, wikis, YouTube, and social networking sites
like Facebook are among the better-�known Web 2.0 tools and sites
web browserâ•… A software program that permits you to view and interact with material on the World Wide Web. The most popular browsers are Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari (for the Mac).
webcamâ•… A small digital camera attached to the computer with software which can capture and save or allow one to transmit live
images and video over the Internet.
web-�enhanced╅ A broad category of courses with supplementary
associated web sites or course management system classrooms that
contain materials relevant to the course. Actual online activities
may be required or optional.
web linkâ•… See hyperlink.
webmasterâ•… Person who administers and maintains a web server;
usually a programmer.
web serverâ•… Software that “serves” out, or disseminates, web pages
across the Internet; also may refer to the computer on which this
software has been installed.
web siteâ•… The “place” on the World Wide Web where online teaching
and learning generally take place. A site typically includes a series of
pages (a “page” is equal to a screenful of information) containing
text, images, and hyperlinks to other web pages.
whiteboardâ•… An online version of the traditional blackboard that
allows an instructor or student to draw or write on the whiteboard
in real time (and in some cases to use math and science symbols as
well) while students can type in their questions using the chat
wikiâ•… Software which allows for the collaborative creation and editing
of content in web page format without knowledge of programming
code. Various built-�in controls allow for the setting of different
authoring permissions and the tracking of each contribution and
different versions over time. The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, is
a prominent example of the wiki format.
wireless╅ Also known as wi-�fi for wireless fidelity. A wireless-�enabled
device can access the Internet without cables or wires, through radiowave connection with a wireless network.
World Wide Webâ•… A vast network of Internet locations that share
common protocols, allowing displays of text and multimedia as well
as hyperlinks between one site and another.
WYSIWYGâ•… An acronym for “what you see is what you get,” referring
to screen displays that match the appearance of the eventual
product. WYSIWYG web page editors look much like word-�
processing software and allow you to format text within a CMS or
other program or create a web page without using the actual HTML
coded tags.
Guide to Resources╇╇ ● ● ● ● ●
In this section we have gathered together the various resources
mentioned throughout the text, organized them into a few simple
categories, and added a number of other references. Our intent is
not to be exhaustive, but rather to concentrate on sources that are
useful and practical. Most of the sites and texts listed here include
their own hyperlinks or references to other resources.
Learn theNet.comâ•… www.learnthenet.com
A good site for learning the basics of web navigation, how to
download files, and related topics.
The Webwise Online Courseâ•… www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/course
The BBC’s introduction to Internet very basic basics.
HowStuffWorks, Computerâ•… http://computer.howstuffworks.com
This site has articles with clear graphics and video tutorials
on the Internet basics but also covers subjects for the not-Â�sonewbies on topics like “How RSS Works,” “How Podcasting
Works,” social networking, wifi and mobile technologies, and
much more. Another nice feature is that the site includes
options for printable versions of the articles.
Reports╅ www.sloan-�c.org/
A great resource page to keep updated on the latest Sloan
Survey reports.
The Horizon Reportâ•… www.nmc.org/horizon
The yearly Horizon Report is one of the best ways to read
critical insights about technology in education trends on the
short-�term, mid- and long-�term horizon.
Guide to Resources
Korea Informatization Promotion Committeeâ•… www.ipc.go.kr/
South Korea’s site for policies and publications on information technology and Internet use.
For those who are interested in learning about theories underlying distance education and online teaching and learning
practice, we suggest the following short list, all available
Community of Inquiryâ•… http://communitiesofinquiry.com/
Can read and review presentations on the influential community of inquiry approach promoted by Randy Garrison
and others—the concepts of social, cognitive, and teaching
The Theory and Practice of Online Learning, edited by Terry
Anderson, the second edition of this popular book, published in
2008, is available for free atâ•… www.scribd.com/doc/6703653/
Theory-�and-Practice-�of-Online-�Learning-2nd-Edition-�editedby-�Terry-Anderson or for free download at╅ www.aupress.ca/
index.php/books/120146, click on ebook tab for PDF
Recommend reading the first two chapters, “Foundations of
Educational Theory for Online Education” by Mohamed Ally
and “Toward a Theory of Online Learning” by Anderson.
For those interested in reviewing research on specific
topics, in addition to the many journals listed in this Guide,
the following web sites and journal are recommended:
EdITLibâ•… www.editlib.org
Sponsored by AACE, offers “peer-Â�reviewed papers and articles on the latest research, developments, and applications
related to Educational Technology and E-Â�Learning”—articles
from AACE publications. They also have organized
“collections”—compiled writings on a particular subject—
that are very useful.
Guide to Resources
Distance Education Certificate Program Articles of the Month
Spotlights a few articles each month that are available on the
Web concerning distance education research. An archive of
articles goes back to 2000. See also their section on Research
Reports—there is a special area focused on distance education in K–12â•… http://depd.wisc.edu/html/reports3.htm
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learningâ•… www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl
A refereed electronic journal covering theory, research, and
practice in distance learning.
Creating a Syllabus
Faculty Resources Quick Tips: Creating a Syllabusâ•… www.park.
The list is for all syllabi at Park, whether for online or face-�toface. Follow the link to see examples of online class syllabi by
choosing online courses from drop-�down list at╅ www.park.
Online Course Sample Syllabusâ•… http://cobl.bgsu.edu/Forms/
From The Center for Online and Blended Learning at Bowling
Green State University.
Online╛╛╛Course╛╛╛Syllabus╛╛Checklist http://ed.fullerton.edu/Faculty/
From California State University, Fullerton, College of
Sample╛╛╛Online╛╛╛Syllabus╅ http://dl.bristol.mass.edu/wiki/images/
From the distance learning program at Bristol Community
College, Massachusetts.
Sample Syllabus Format—Online Coursesâ•… www.mtsu.edu/learn/
From Middle Tennessee State University.
Guide to Resources
Syllabus Template for Online Coursesâ•… www.hehd.clemson.
From the College of Health, Education, and Human Development at Clemson University, South Carolina.
Tips for Developing an Online Syllabusâ•… http://missiononline.
Tips and a model syllabus (http://missionitac.pbworks.com/
model-�syllabus) from Mission College, Los Angeles.
Instructional Design
Bloom’s Taxonomyâ•… www.odu.edu/educ/roverbau/
Old and new versions of Bloom’s Taxonomy from Richard C.
Overbaugh and Lynn Schultz at Old Dominion University.
Guidelines for developing e-�Learning╅ http://liad.georgebrown.
From George Brown College in Toronto, a how-�to guide for
those developing online courses. Introduces faculty to basic
instructional design principles with a light touch. Easy-�tofollow templates and examples for every step of the development process.
Instructional Design for Online Resources╇╇ www.ion.
From the Illinois Online Network, links to short topics related
to instructional design and development of online courses.
The information is presented in clear and easy-�to-read
fashion for nonspecialists.
Instructional Design Modelsâ•… http://carbon.ucdenver.edu/
Martin Ryder at the School of Education of the University of
Colorado at Denver offers this collection of links organized
according to different models or theories of instructional
Guide to Resources
Principles of Online Styleâ•… www.csu.edu.au/division/landt/
Charles Sturt University in Australia offers these principles
and a link to their online style guide.
Edit Central Style and Diction Toolsâ•… http://www.editcentral.
Has demo of six different readability indexes.
Tests Document Readability And Improve Itâ•… http://www.
online-utility.org/english/readability test_and_improve.jsp
Readability index tool uses four different systems to calculate
readability of text.
Learning Styles
Index of Learning Stylesâ•… www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/
An online instrument to determine one’s learning preferences, developed by Richard Felder and Barbara Solomon.
Multiple Intelligences and Learning Stylesâ•… http://projects.
A chapter focusing on Howard Gardner’s theory by Emily
Giles, Sarah Pitre, and Sara Womackof, Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology, University of Georgia.
Teaching Support Services: Learning Stylesâ•… www.tss.uoguelph.
Summarizes various theories, from the University of Guelph,
Quality Design Rubrics and Standards
Distance Education Certificate Program, Quality Principles
Reviewed selection of works on guidelines and quality standards for distance and online education.
Guide to Resources
The Illinois Quality Online Course Initiative rubricâ•… www.ion.
Comprises six main areas: instructional design; communication, interaction and collaboration; student evaluation and
assessment; learner support and resources; web design; and
course evaluation.
Quality Online Course Standardsâ•… www.inacol.org/research/
The North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL)
has adopted the rubric developed by the Southern Regional
Education Board.
Rubric for Online Instructionâ•… www.csuchico.edu/celt/roi
From California State University, Chico, which is designed to
be used as a guide for course design as well as a set of evaluation criteria.
Accessibility Issues in Design
Accessibility in Distance Educationâ•… www.umuc.edu/ade
A resource for faculty in designing courses to meet accessibility
Best Practices and Case Stories for Universal Design for Learning╅ http://ctfd.sfsu.edu/udl-�best-practices.htm
Offers case stories in video format concerning faculty’s use of
Universal Design in their classes.
Universal Design for Learningâ•… www.cast.org/publications/
Guidelines, many of which pertain to online courses, for
making learning more accessible to all.
Assessment Resources: Sample Rubricsâ•… www.winona.edu/air/
A rich collection of links from many universities for different
Guide to Resources
subjects and types of assignments, hosted by Winona State
Middle Tennessee University site offers six samples of rubrics
for grading online discussion.
Rubricsâ•… http://teachingcommons.depaul.edu/How_to/
From DePaul University, general information and links to specialized rubrics for different areas, including those for collaboration and teamwork, blog and wiki assignments, writing, etc.
Using Scoring Rubricsâ•… www.calstate.edu/itl/sloa/links/using_
Explains the principles behind rubrics and contains a link to
sites offering examples. From Mary Allen of California State
EduToolsâ•… www.edutools.info/index.jsp
Based on a web site originally created by Bruce Landon and
now maintained by WCET “to help educators evaluate and
select online delivery software”; offers reviews, comparisons,
and links to the major providers of course management
Commercial CMS Software
Blackboardâ•… www.blackboard.com
Details on Blackboard software. Acquired Angel CMS in 2009.
Desire2Learnâ•… www.desire2learn.com
eCollege.comâ•… www.ecollege.com
The home page for what is now Pearson’s eCollege’s varied
products and services.
Guide to Resources
OpenSource, Free, or Low-�Cost Software for
Bloggerâ•… www.blogger.com
Free blogging sites, owned by Google.
Edublogsâ•… www.edublogs.org
Free hosted blogging sites for the educator community; for
fee version provides added features.
Google Sitesâ•… www.google.com/sites/help/intl/en/overview.html
Create and have free web site hosted.
MediaWikiâ•… www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki
Free, open source wiki software that can be downloaded to
institutional server. Same type of wiki software used on
Moodleâ•… http://moodle.org
The Moodle community home page. Free, open source software that can be downloaded to run on institutional servers.
Nicenetâ•… www.nicenet.org
One of the oldest free hosted CMS (started in 1998), its Internet Classroom Assistant (ICA) has simple, easy-�to-use features
for document creation and discussion and private messaging,
and as a non-�profit it is free of any advertisements.
Ningâ•… www.ning.com
While it classifies itself as social networking site, it has many
features such as discussion and blogs that allow it to be used
for blended courses or as adjunct to an online class.
PBworksâ•… http://pbworks.com/academic.wiki
Previously PB Wiki, for creating hosted wiki sites.
Sakaiâ•… http://sakaiproject.org/portal
The portal for the Sakai Collaboration and Learning Environment open source software (CLE). Can be downloaded to run
on an institutional server.
Wetpaintâ•… www.wetpaint.com
Free hosted web sites that include many features of a CMS
like discussion, wiki-�type collaborative content creation,
uploading of video, etc.
Guide to Resources
Zoho Wikiâ•… http://wiki.zoho.com
Free hosted wikis.
Quizmaking Tools with Free Versions
ClassMarkerâ•… www.classmarker.com
Allows for free and hosted quizzes, emails reports of results,
creates links from your own site.
EasyTestMakerâ•… www.easytestmaker.com
Free hosted quizzes.
Hot Potatoesâ•… http://hotpot.uvic.ca
A useful, freeware suite of software that can be downloaded
for creating web-�based quizzes and exercises. Tutorials are
included on the site.
MyStudiyoâ•… http://mystudiyo.com
Hosts and provides templates to create multimedia quizzes
and automatic feedback, and features scoreboards so that
you can see how students have done. The quizzes can also be
easily embedded into your course web pages.
ProProfs Quiz School╅ www.proprofs.com/quiz-�school
Enables one to create and have quizzes hosted, offers many
options and allows for tagging and sharing and embedding
the quiz on your own site.
SurveyMonkeyâ•… www.surveymonkey.com (for surveys only)
Free survey for up to 100 responses.
ZohoChallengeâ•… www.zohochallenge.com
For creating and hosting free quizzes.
Social Bookmarking
Deliciousâ•… http://delicious.com
Popular social-�bookmarking tool, easy to use. You can annotate and share bookmarks selectively or with the public.
Diigoâ•… www.diigo.com
Social bookmarking, annotating and sharing, plus highlighting and sticky notes directly on web pages, create separate
private groups.
Guide to Resources
Social Networking Sites
Classroom 2.0â•… www.classroom20.com
A social networking site for educators interested in using
Web 2.0 technologies in education, created on Ning. Great
place to hear from and share ideas and examples with other
educators. Also, see bottom of home page for quick search of
discussion concerning specific Web 2.0 tools.
Facebookâ•… www.facebook.com
MySpaceâ•… http://myspace.com
Ningâ•… www.ning.com
Increasingly popular with educators, includes blogs, discussion, and other areas that allow it to be used for extensive
class activities. See the Ning in Education site, http://
education.ning.com, to share ideas on how to use Ning in
instructional context.
Flock browserâ•… http://flock.com
A web browser optimized with features to make it easier to
update your communications with your social networking
sites. Must be downloaded and can be used in addition to or
to replace your current browser, works with Windows, Mac,
and Linux operating systems.
Creating and Sharing Video, Audio, and Images
Digitalfilmsâ•… www.digitalfilms.com
Create and share animated movies.
DoInkâ•… www.doink.com
Create and share animated movies.
Flickrâ•… www.flickr.com
The photo-�sharing site.
Posterousâ•… www.posterous.com
Create an individual or group blog to which images, audio, or
video can all be sent via email. Posterous accepts a wide
variety of file formats for multimedia. It places audio files
into a player within your blog and allows you to set up an RSS
Guide to Resources
feed. It automatically converts video files into Flash, and if
you provide URL links, will even embed content (such as a
YouTube video) when possible.
Teacher Tubeâ•… www.teachertube.com
A community and video-Â�sharing site that is aimed at K–12
Viddlerâ•… www.viddler.com
Allows you to upload in a wide array of video formats and
there is a choice of making your video private, shared, or
public. Also has an interactive commenting or annotating
feature that permits users to not only add comments below
the video, but add comments via text or their own video clip
at any point during the streaming of the video.
Vimeoâ•… www.vimeo.com
Free to upload and share videos.
VoiceThreadâ•… http://voicethread.com
Free or low-�cost versions, upload videos, images, and other
content with built-�in discussion by text, audio, or video cam.
YouTubeâ•… www.youtube.com
YouTube EDU, www.youtube.com/edu, is the channel
created especially for universities to post their video content.
Screen-�Casting Video
Camtasia Studioâ•… http://techsmith.com/camtasia.asp
Sophisticated screen-�casting software with editing tools;
version available for Mac as well. Can be bought bundled with
SnagIt screen-�grab software. Education pricing available.
Jingâ•… www.jingproject.com
Free version allows you to take screen grabs as well as short
video captures. Requires a download but can be used with
either Windows or Mac.
Screencast-�o-Matic╅ www.screencast-�o-matic.com
Free, accessed through browser with Java applets. Allows you
to make and host your screen-�recorded video on their web
Guide to Resources
site without download of software. You can provide a link for
your students to their site to view the video or embed it in
your own site.
ScreenToasterâ•… http://screentoaster.com
Free, accessed through a browser. Makes screen-�recorded
video, allows one to add subtitles and content; can be controlled as private or public.
Communication Tools
Skypeâ•… www.skype.com
Make free calls, including video cam, over the Internet. Good
for communicating with students at a distance.
Twitterâ•… www.twitter.com
Features micro-Â�blogging (short messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”) that can be received via mobile
device or on a web site. Users can “follow” other users and
share with a small group or the public.
Other Software Tools and Web sites
Adobeâ•… www.adobe.com
Links to information about Adobe’s many well-Â�known products, including Acrobat, Acrobat Reader (a free download),
Photoshop, Adobe Connect, and the former Macromedia
product, Dreamweaver.
DimDimâ•… www.dimdim.com
Free software to conduct real-�time presentation and conferencing, with whiteboard and other tools.
Elluminateâ•… www.elluminate.com
Real-�time presentation and conferencing tools with archiving.
Google Docsâ•… http://docs.google.com
Free browser-�based software for word processing, spreadsheets, slide shows, etc. Allows for collaboration on documents, downloading documents to your own computer, or
exporting for conversion into many Microsoft applications
and other software formats.
Guide to Resources
Vokiâ•… www.voki.com
Easy to create 3-D avatars and make sixty-�second recordings.
Mindomoâ•… www.mindomo.com
Mind-�mapping software and sharing.
Wimbaâ•… www.wimba.com
Voice tools include asynchronous discussion board, voice
email, and other tools. Also features Wimba Classroom for
real-�time conferencing and presentation tools with archiving.
Web Page Editors: Free, Cross-�Platform
KomPozerâ•… www.kompozer.net
SeaMonkey Composer╅ www.seamonkey-�project.org
Screen-�Shot/Grab Software
Faststoneâ•… www.faststone.org/index.htm
Screen Grabâ•… www.screengrab.org
Offered free as a Firefox browser plug-�in.
Snagit╅ www.techsmith.com/screen-�capture.asp
Easy to use, not free but available for a free trial.
Image Editing Software
FastStone Photo Resizerâ•… www.faststone.org/FSResizerDetail.htm
Paint.NETâ•… www.getpaint.net
It is available in many languages and requires a download to
a Windows computer.
Picasaâ•… http://picasa.google.com
Software that is offered free by Google to edit and manage
collections of photos; for Windows only. Can upload and
share albums on their web site.
Picnikâ•… www.picnik.com
A free editor for photos, available online without a download,
Guide to Resources
that allows you to do such things as resize or crop photos. It
is cross-�platform so it works for those on Windows, Macs, or
RSS Feeds/Aggregators
Google Readerâ•… www.google.com/reader
An aggregator that allows you to log in and see all your feeds
from various web sites and blogs in one place, continually
and automatically updated.
Netvibesâ•… www.netvibes.com
A start page that serves as customized aggregator to keep you
updated with all your feeds every time you bring up your
browser. Also permits one to add various “widgets” or code
to add to the start page that allows you to have access to
services, news, and other sites. Includes some collaboration-�
sharing features as well.
PageFlakesâ•… http://pageflakes.com
Has most of the same features as Netvibes, described above.
For an idea of how you can customize, see PageFlakes’
Teacher’s Edition atâ•… http://teacher.pageflakes.com
Virtual Worlds
Active Worldsâ•… www.activeworlds.com
Requires download of software. Has an educational community atâ•… www.activeworlds.com/edu/awedu.asp and
education pricing.
Second Lifeâ•… http://secondlife.com
Requires download of software, basic membership is free.
Many education institutions active in Second Life, see
wiki for educators atâ•… www.simteach.com/wiki/index.
Sound and Podcasting
Audacityâ•… http://audacity.sourceforge.net
Free, easy-�to-use editing and recording software, must be
downloaded, is cross-�platform.
Guide to Resources
Gabcastâ•… www.gabcast.com
For free podcasting.
Impaticaâ•… www.impatica.com
It greatly compresses your PowerPoint and creates a new file
that then plays on any site without a plug-�in or download.
Free trial version available.
Podomaticâ•… http://podomatic.com
A hosting service that allows you to create podcasts for free.
It also features Web 2.0 types of sharing on the site.
BUBL Link Catalogue of Internet Resourcesâ•… http://bubl.ac.uk/
Organized by subject area or types of resources, for example,
search under Moving Imagesâ•… http://bubl.ac.uk/link/types/
movingimages.htm for multimedia resources.
Intuteâ•… www.intute.ac.uk
A rich site for finding Web resources, created by a consortium of seven universities in the UK that review global
resources on myriad subjects. You can also search their
subject-�area databases for multimedia, simulations, tutorials, etc. The current Intute site incorporates a number of
other subject-�area web sites such as the former HUMBL and
EEVL portals for humanities and engineering respectively.
MERLOTâ•… www.merlot.org
Peer-�reviewed online course materials, including multimedia
Collections and Portals
The National Geographic Map Machine╅ http://maps.nationalgeographic.com/map-�machine
Allows one to search for maps worldwide, with street, birds-�
eye, satellite, and 3-D maps available. Google Maps and
Google Earth can similarly allow one to interactively explore
the globe and the oceans.
Guide to Resources
The Atlas Image Database of the Louvre in Parisâ•… www.louvre.
Offers views of 35,000 works in the museum. Many of the
major world museums offer databases of art works or at least
samples of art from their collections.
Clipart ETCâ•… http://etc.usf.edu/clipart
A collection of clipart sponsored by Florida’s Educational
Technology Clearinghouse, containing tens of thousands of
pieces of clipart suitable for students and teachers, offered
free for educational use of up to fifty items without
EcEdWeb: Economic Education Webâ•… http://ecedweb. unomaha.
Links to resources and lesson plans for incorporating web
resources on economics and related topics.
Europeanaâ•… www.europeana.eu/portal
A portal that provides access to digital materials from different sources in Europe, including text, images, video, and
Flickrâ•… www.flickr.com
Image collections, many royalty free.
Free Music Archiveâ•… http://freemusicarchive.org
A curated collection of music as well as a social networking
iTunes Uâ•… www.apple.com/itunes
Visit the iTunes site to download the software that enables
you to access the university areas of the iTunes store for free
education material. Many universities have made their audio
and video lecture materials freely available through iTunes.
ImageBase, Fine Arts Museums of San Franciscoâ•… www.famsf.
A searchable collection of art, not free for reproduction but
useful as resource for students.
The Internet Archiveâ•… www.archive.org/index.php
A free library resource of web sites and other digital content.
Guide to Resources
Math Forumâ•… http://mathforum.org
Sponsored by Drexel University, offers math resources for
both K–12 and higher education.
New York Public Library Digital Collectionsâ•… www.nypl.org/
Images, texts, audio, and video. Permissions for use vary.
National Archives Online Exhibit Hallâ•… www.archives.gov/
Documents and objects from the US National Archives
�collection, most can be freely used in education.
Science Education Resource Center (SERC) â•… http://serc.
Course materials, lessons, and multimedia for science
UNESCO’s World Digital Libraryâ•… www.wdl.org
Launched in 2009, and available in seven languages, offers
primary source cultural materials from all over the world—
manuscripts, recordings, photographs, drawings, etc.
The World Radio Networkâ•… www.wrn.org/listeners/#stations
Carries “on demand” audio programs and podcasts from
radio stations all over the world.
World Wide Internet TVâ•… http://wwitv.com
A portal featuring direct links to live online streaming from
television stations worldwide, in the language of diverse
countries but also sometimes in English.
YouTube EDUâ•… www.youtube.com/edu
Videos from higher education institutions on YouTube.
Open Educational Resource (OER) Sites
Connexionsâ•… http://cnx.org
A site for sharing content, OERs.
Currikiâ•… www.curriki.org
Open courseware with an emphasis on K–12.
Guide to Resources
OER Commonsâ•… http://oercommons.org
Materials for both K–12 and higher education.
OpenCourseWare Consortiumâ•… www.ocwconsortium.org
More than 200 higher education institutions share course
materials in this consortium.
WikiMedia Commonsâ•… http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
Repository of freely accessible images and multimedia objects.
Selected University Sites for Opencourseware
MIT OpenCourseWareâ•… http://ocw.mit.edu
Open Yale Coursesâ•… http://oyc.yale.edu
Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiativeâ•… www.cmu.edu/oli/
Open Learnâ•… http://openlearn.open.ac.uk
Site gives access to courseware from the Open University in
the UK.
Web sites, Blogs, and Online Periodicals
DE Oracleâ•… http://deoracle.org
An online magazine for University of Maryland University
College faculty, but with articles and resources of interest to
faculty everywhere.
Distance Education Clearinghouseâ•… www.uwex.edu/disted/index.
Offers definitions of distance learning and links to other distance education resources, conferences, etc.
Distance Ed Certificate Program Journals and Magazinesâ•… http://depd.wisc.edu/html/mags3.htm
Extensive and annotated list of journals, both online and in
print, in the field of distance education.
Educause Publicationsâ•… www.educause.edu/Resources/Browse/
Periodicals and newsletters, many available online, from the
organization concerned with information technology use in
Guide to Resources
higher education. See also Educause Podcasts atâ•… www.educause.edu/podcasts.
e-�learning and distance education resources╅ www.tonybates.ca
Web site by Tony Bates.
EURODL (European Journal
E-�Learning)╅ www.eurodl.org
Excellence in Teachingâ•… http://psuwcfacdev.ning.com
A social networking and information site from Penn State
University’s World Campus faculty development group.
Worth exploring are the carefully selected resources offered
under “Tips, Samples and Resources.” Also see the video
clips, “Tips from Faculty: Effective Teaching Online.”
Faculty Focus╅ www.facultyfocus.com/free-�reports
Free reports on pedagogical issues from Magna publications.
Go2Web20â•… http://blog.go2web20.net
A blog that reviews new Web 2.0 tools. See also the Directory
tab on the site for an index of tools.
Innovateâ•… http://innovateonline.info
A peer-�reviewed, online periodical published bimonthly by
the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at
Nova Southeastern University.
Instructional Design and Development Blogâ•… www.iddblog.org
From DePaul University, an ongoing, lively blog concerning
instructional design issues.
JALN (Journal for Asynchronous Learning Networks)â•… http://
Sponsored by Sloan Consortium, requires free registration to
read whole articles.
Jane Hart’s Top Toolsâ•… www.c41pt.co.uk/recommended/
Continually updated list of tools for learning, compiled from
contributors in education and workplace.
JOLT (Journal of Online Learning and Teaching) â•… http://jolt.
Guide to Resources
Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Dayâ•… http://larryferlazzo.
English teacher’s blog highlights and critiques resources on
the Web and new technology tools—although aimed at K–12
teachers of ESL and EFL, the resources are nearly always
equally valuable to those in other subject areas and higher
NCS-�Tech╅ www.ncs-�tech.org
Blog about educational technology and lessons aimed at K–8
educators by Kevin Jarrett.
Online Learning Updateâ•… http://people.uis.edu/rschr1/online
Active blog featuring news and selected links to articles of
interest concerning online education by Ray Schroeder of
University of Illinois at Springfield.
Sue Waters Blogâ•… http://suewaters.com
Sue Waters focuses on elearning and Web 2.0, with emphasis
on K–12 educators. Lots of “how-Â�to” tips. She also has a site
called The Edublogger atâ•… http://theedublogger.edublogs.
org which has tips for other educators on blogging and
A monthly electronic newsletter service of the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill ITS Teaching and Learning
division. Issues are available as email or on the Web; subscriptions are free.
Tektrek blog and checklistâ•… http://tektrek.wordpress.com/2009/
Blog and checklist for choosing Web 2.0 tools, from Bethany
TravelinEdManâ•… http://travelinedman.blogspot.com
Blog from Curtis Bonk.
The Turkish Online Journal of Distance Educationâ•… http://
Guide to Resources
Search Engines
Google.com and Google Scholarâ•… http://scholar.google.com
Google Scholar is a good entry point for those looking for
scholarly literature that is available in different formats
through the Web. Many universities have arranged with
Google Scholar for specific types of access so that the user
immediately is alerted when for-�fee works found in the
search are available electronically without charge through
the user’s library.
PicFindrâ•… www.picfindr.com
Allows you to search multiple sites for royalty-�free or inexpensive stock photography, a search further organized by the
type of usage or license you are looking for.
The Internet Detectiveâ•… www.vts.intute.ac.uk/detective
Tutorial designed for students to promote critical research
skills on using the Internet.
KartOOâ•… http://kartoo.com
A search engine in which results are image-�based as well as
Search the Web and Evaluate Web Resourcesâ•… www.umuc.edu/
UMUC’s Information and Library Services provide this guide
to more effective search strategies and how to critically evaluate web resources.
Technoratiâ•… http://technorati.com
Searching service to find blogs to meet your interests. Also
offers Twitterati, http://twittorati.com, to keep up with the
latest “tweets” from bloggers on Twitter.
Viewziâ•… www.viewzi.com
Search engine in which results can be displayed in visual
format or text.
Guide to Resources
Computer-�Based Simulations
Chemistry Multimedia Objectsâ•… www.chem.ox.ac.uk/it/chemfun.
html and Virtual Chemistryâ•… www.chem.ox.ac.uk/vrchemistry
Both sites from the Department of Chemistry at the University
of Oxford offer free multimedia and interactive simulations.
Coglab, Purdue Universityâ•… http://coglab.wadsworth.com
Cognitive psychology demonstrations, designed mostly for
specific classes. Registered users only from Wadsworth
MERLOTâ•… www.merlot.org
Collection offers a number of links to simulations and animations, with commentary about how they might be used in
teaching. Many Merlot materials are accompanied by peer
reviews of the resource, pointing out the special features of
an item or suggesting ways in which it can be incorporated
into a course activity. Contains many OERs.
Multimedia Teaching Objectsâ•… http://tlt.its.psu.edu/mto
At Pennsylvania State University, a repository of royalty-�free
animations in many disciplines that illustrate such varied
items as the time value of money, the measurement of blood
pressure, or the electron flow in lightbulbs.
PhETâ•… http://phet.colorado.edu/index.php
Interactive, free simulations for physics, chemistry, biology,
earth science, and math, from University of Colorado at
SERC portalâ•… http://serc.carleton.edu/index.html
Based at Carleton College, an excellent collection of
resources for the sciences, including computerized simulations and simple animations. Contains many OERs.
Solar System Simulatorâ•… http://space.jpl.nasa.gov
Sponsored by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration, this simulator allows
one to view parts of the solar system.
Guide to Resources
ChemCollectiveâ•… www.chemcollective.org
Hosts a variety of simulations, virtual labs, and scenario-�
based activities for chemistry courses.
Middle East Politics Simulationâ•… www.mq.edu.au/mee/Sim
Home page for Macquarie University’s extended role-Â�playing
simulation for students of Middle East politics.
MIT Sloan Teaching Innovation Resourcesâ•… https://mitsloan.
Instructors can download and freely use case studies in such
areas as industry evolution, sustainability, and global
National Center for Case Study Teaching in Scienceâ•… http://
Collection by the State University of New York at Buffalo. The
Center not only provides cases but also includes instructor
guideline notes.
Public Health Gamesâ•… www.publichealthgames.com
Provides links to simulations and games in which scenarios
such as a bioterroism attack or a natural disaster striking a
community are presented with the participant choosing a
role to play and decisions to make in response.
International Debate Education Association (IDEA)â•… http://
Includes an online debate topic database, teaching resources
and other helpful resources for educational debates.
Debate Centralâ•… http://debate.uvm.edu/
Sponsored by University of Vermont, “everything about
debates and debating,” includes debate training resources,
debate formats—helpful for those instructors who do not
have background in debating.
Economist Debatesâ•… http://www.economist.com/debate/archive
The Economist magazine sponsors online debates on current
topics of interest, using Oxford-style debating format.
Guide to Resources
Center for Intellectual Propertyâ•… www.umuc.edu/distance/odell/
The Center, housed at University of Maryland University
College, provides education, research, and resources for the
higher education community on copyright, academic integrity, and the emerging digital environment.
Copyright Clearance Centerâ•… www.copyright.com
One of several online services that will help you find a copyright owner and secure permission to use material.
International Copyright Lawâ•… http://depts.washington.edu/
Section on international copyright law from the University of
Washington copyright connection.
The UT System Crash Course in Copyrightâ•… www.utsystem.edu/
Provided by the University of Texas, this is another well-�
designed and comprehensible site dealing with copyright
and intellectual property. The “crash course” is extremely
What is Intellectual Property? ╅ www.wipo.int/about-�ip/en
From the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
links to resources for understanding IP rights on a global or
country-�to-country basis.
Preventing Plagiarism
Turnitinâ•… www.turnitin.com
Company that provides services to institutions and instructors to detect plagiarism by students.
Virtual Academic Integrity Lab (VAIL)â•… www.umuc.edu/cip/vail/
Offers excellent tutorials about academic integrity for both
students and faculty, especially with a focus on prevention.
Guide to Resources
Selected Conferences and Organizations that Offer
Professional Development Opportunities
AACEâ•… www.aace.org
Offers online resources, publications, plus a number of different annual conferences, each aimed at different audience
for educators involved with technology.
Annual Conference on Distance Education and Learningâ•… www.
Sponsored by University of Wisconsin–Madison.
EDEN╅ www.eden-�online.org/eden.php
European Distance and E-�Learning Network offers several
conferences, including one on the open classroom and
another on research into the distance and eLearning areas as
well as online discussion and publications.
IASTEDâ•… www.iasted.org/CONFERENCES/
Offers several different conferences on an annual basis, all
involved with technology in education, engineering, or
International Council for Open and Distance Educationâ•… www.
International Society for Technology in Educationâ•… www.iste.org
For K–12 and teacher education sector.
League for Innovation in the Community Collegeâ•… www.league.org
Aimed at the community-�college educator in the United
MDLA (Maryland Distance Learning
Resources and conferences
Association)â•… www.
National University Telecommunications Network (NUTN)
Offers resources and workshops at annual meeting.
Guide to Resources
Online Educa Berlin╅ www.online-�educa.com
Conference held each year in Berlin, Germany, focuses on
education and corporate training areas.
Sloan Consortium╅ www.sloan-�c.org
The Sloan-�C offers online workshops, online community discussion, publications as well as workshops at their annual
ALN and International Symposium conferences.
The TLT (Teaching, Learning, and Technology) Groupâ•… www.
The site offers resources, online symposia, and workshops.
WCETâ•… www.wcet.info/2.0
Offers online webinars and workshops at their annual meeting.
Readiness Surveys and Orientation Materials for
Arkansas State University, Fort Smithâ•… www.uafortsmith.edu/
Provides a series of videos (with text transcripts) to orient
their online and blended course students to their CMS,
Blackboard. It includes study tips, manages expectations,
and also addresses software specific issues.
Manchester Metropolitan Universityâ•… www.celt.mmu.ac.uk/
Orientation and Welcome Messagesâ•… http://psuwcfacdev.ning.
Penn State’s collection of examples of orientation and
welcome messages used in diverse classes and disciplines.
Portland Community College’s Online Learning Orientationâ•… www.pcc.edu/about/distance/orientation
Rio Hondo College Online Survival Guideâ•… http://online.
Includes information on a variety of basic skills needed to
take an online course.
Guide to Resources
Sierra College╅ http://lrc.sierracollege.edu/dl/survey/OL-�studentassess.html
UMUC 411â•… www.umuc.edu/spotlight/411.html
At University of Maryland University College.
University of Central Florida Learning Onlineâ•… http://learn.ucf.
Some Training Programs for Online and Blended
Athabasca University, Master in Distance Educationâ•… http://
Athabasca offers a variety of certificates and degrees in the
distance education field.
California State University, Hayward, Certificate in
Online Teaching and Learningâ•… www.online.csuhayward.edu/
Illinois Online Network, Making the Virtual Classroom a
Realityâ•… www.ion.uillinois.edu/courses/students/index.asp
Illinois public institutions and international partners receive
discount—single workshops and a Master Online Teacher
Certificate are offered.
Recommended graduate programs in elearningâ•… www.
A list of recommended graduate programs from Tony Bates.
University of Colorado, Denver Masters in eLearning Design and
Implementationâ•… http://thunder1.cudenver.edu/ilt/elearning/
The University of Colorado, Denver; also a Designing eLearning Environments certificate.
University of Hull Master of Education in eLearningâ•… www2.
Guide to Resources
University of Maryland University College, Masters of Distance
Educationâ•… www.umuc.edu/programs/grad/mde and www.
UMUC also offers an E-�Learning and Instructional Design
certificate and a Master of Education in Instructional Technology degree oriented toward K–12 teachers.
UOC E-�Learning Course Design and Teaching╅ www.uoc.edu/
The Open University of Catalonia (UOC) in Spain offers a
diploma or certificate, delivered online and in the English
Index╇╇ ● ● ● ● ●
Note: Page numbers in italics denote tables, those in bold denote
figures or illustrations.
abstract concepts, clarification of
academic integrity 244–52
academic web sites 221
accelerated courses 88
classroom 146–7
computers 26–7, 34, 122–3
accessibility resources 410
Active Worlds 169, 193
categorization of 66–7
division and organization
145–56; group 174–87
structural sequence of 64–6
student-centered/instructorcentred 318–19
Adobe Acrobat 239–40
Adobe Acrobat Reader 240, 260,
Adobe Connect 71, 76, 158
Adobe PDF Reader 260–1
Adobe Photoshop 255, 256
advertising, web sites 37
aggregators see feed readers
AIFF 258–9
aliases, use of 347
Altec 260
analytic papers/projects 131–2
animated movies 277
animations, computer-based
announcement areas 120, 151
creation of 306–8
information on 127
application service providers 30,
application sharing 76–7, 398
arguments, well-developed 182
Arkansas State University 293
art appreciation classes 118, 198–9
course design considerations 82
groups 179–87
large classes 305–6
rubrics resources 410–11
varying mix of 82
assignment descriptions 138–40
assignment dropboxes,
information on 127
audio feedback 258
completion times 147–9
consolidation 90
coordination with discussion
to demonstrate familiarity with
software 305
descriptions 130–2
due dates 116, 314
elimination 91
ensuring academic integrity
feedback and interaction 91
filing 310–11
folders 302–3
images in 252
instructions for 125
in large classes 313
lengthened courses 92
multimedia as basis for 279
responsiveness to requirements
of 85
reworking 90
asynchronous discussion 4, 72–4,
tips for fostering 321–8
attendance 165, 319, 345, 355
attrition rates 107
Audacity 151, 261
in exams 163
how and why of 257–62
in interviews 208
in language courses 105
in presentations 150–1
to relieve burden of text 12–13
resources 414–15, 418
audio-enhanced chat 329
authentication 84
authority, assertion of 348–50
authorship, ascertaining 232
automatic feedback 162–3
availability, instructors 119, 121,
avatars 75, 169, 176, 275–7, 342,
AVI files 269
backup copies 305
Berkeley College 46–8
biometric 84, 398
Blackboard 46–7, 166
Blackboard Sync 168, 363–4
blended courses 398
definition of 11, 359
design and development 48–51
design issues 374–5
example of 10–11
group activities 78, 177, 178
need for clear directions 116, 121
participation 21
participation and grading
criteria 117
preparation for 372–3
re-design 103–5
sample syllabi 126–34
teaching 105–6, 375–6; use of
CMS 30
blogging software 37–41
choice of 393–4
creation of 30
educators 249
explanation of 31, 398
groups 263
and reflective journaling 197–8
rules and protocols 308–9
sites 422–4
uses 36–7
Bloom’s Taxonomy 55, 56, 101,
202, 398
business finance courses 189–90
business risk management and
insurance courses 97–9
calendar features 125
California State University 62
Camtasia 70, 262
“canned courses” 110
career progression
educational marketplace 396–7
focused workshop training 387
further training 379–86
learning from experience
lifelong learning 391–4
networking 394
new career directions 377–9
and student expectations 395–6
Carleton College 191–2
case studies 50, 203–5
resources 426–7
CD-ROMS 87, 192
cell phones 266
Center for Online Collaborative
Learning (COIL) 210–14
chat rooms, ejection from 344–5
benefits and drawbacks 332–3
as collaborative tool 157–9
explanation of 399
and guest speakers 207, 330
communication 329–33
tools 74–5
cheating 83
Chemistry Collective 205, 242
Chronicle of Higher Education
class chronology, forums/threads
to reflect 323
class design, adjusting to large
classes 315–18
class size
changing 315–18
and participation/workload
software 367
ClassMarker 163
classroom access 146–7
classroom building
communication tools 156–66
course areas/features 167–72
division/organization of
material and activities
classroom guide 136
classroom management/
asynchronous versus
synchronous discussion
balancing student-centered/
instructor-centered activities
communications 305–9
establishing effective
synchronous communication
identity issues 341–2
participation and workload
privacy issues 339–41
record keeping and file
management 309–13
student behavior 342–56
student participation
guidelines 319–20
team teaching 334–8
classroom materials online 219
classroom procedures 127, 135–6
classroom, access to 146–7
“click time” 147–8
Clipart 255
Clipart ETC 255
cloud computing 25, 36, 392, 399
code of conduct 347, 352, 353
guidelines on 174–5
see also cross-cultural courses;
group activities
collaborative course design
advice for instructors 103–9
advice for instructional
designers 99–103
model for 97–9
teaching approach 109–12
teaching highly standardized
courses 113–14
collaborative tools 71, 76–7, 157–9
collaborative training 382–3
collections 217–18
resources 419–21
commentary 67–77
commercial CMS software
resources 411
commercial property risk
management and insurance
course 182–3
commercial web sites 219
communication 66, 72–7
availability for 300
frequency of 324–5
group activities 78
opportunities for 20–1
problems in 289–90
protocols for 366–7
resources 415–16
communication tools 149–66
communications management
creation of announcement
areas 306–8
setting rules and protocols
CompuServe 257
computer access 26–7, 34,
computer skills requirements
17–18, 294–6, 297
computer-based simulations and
animations 191–4
“concept” conferences 199–200
conceptual understanding 84
consensus groups 194–5
contact information 134, 126
“controlling” behavior 354
controversial discussions,
strategy for 327–8
copying, unlawful 239–40
copyright and fair use
in choosing materials 86–7
resources 234–5
images 253–5
monitoring 231–2
permission to use materials
resources 427–8
sample letter requesting
permission 233
tracking down ownership 232
US 208–15
Copyright Clearance Center 232
core learning objectives 89
core material 359–60
virtual office hours 367–8
web enhanced classes 365–7
“course and one-half syndrome”
course contacts/communications
course content experts 106–8
course content
and class size 312–15
instructor online training
interactivity of 312–15
lengthened courses 91–2
shortened courses 89–91
course description 134, 126
course design and development
analysis 53
blended courses 374–5
choosing textbooks,
coursepacks and software
design 57–60
development 63–7
examples of 46–51
goals and learning objectives
group-oriented work and
student presentation 77–82
high-stakes/low-stakes testing
instructor-generated content
and presentation 67–77
legal ownership of 237
resources 407–10
rubrics and guidelines 60–3
tips on 92–5
training in 386
see also collaborative course
design; course re-design
course divisions, folders for 302
course experience, enhancement
of 282
course geography 120–2
course goals 53–7
course introduction
example 135
as part of orientation 293–4
questioning students in
use of audio 69, 267
course management system/
software (CMS) 8, 399
capabilities 240
changes in 395–6
choice of 25
features 149
institutional provision 30
introduction to 296–7
learning to use 380
resources 411
course management systems and
tools resources 411–18
course materials 137
accessibility of 281–2
character of use 229
comprehension of unfamiliar
division and organization of
information on 127, 128–9
legal ownership of 236–8
licensing 242–3
nature of 229
online 219
prevention of unauthorized use
relevance of 281
saving 94
use effects 229–30
course objectives 55, 128
example 135
in re-design 88
course planning templates 64–6
course re-design 89–92
collaboration 97–9, 103–5,
lengthening courses 91–2
one-to-one transformation
shortening courses 89–91
template for 92, 93
course textbook 128–9, 137
CourseFeed 168
coursepacks, choosing 86–7
courseware creation
animated movies 277
avatars 275–7
avoidance of multimedia/Web
2.0 tools 280–2
creation of text 249–72
mind-mapping 275
polls and surveys 273–4
pulling it together 283
quizzes 275
rationale for use/creation of
multimedia 278–9
definition of 247
resources 421–2
Creative Commons licence 242–3,
253, 265
creative writing 212
Creative’s Vado 266
cross-cultural courses, challenges
and rewards of 212–14
cross-cultural exchanges 208–10
cross-cultural teams 210–12
cultural difference 212–13
cultural learning patterns 209
awareness of 327
curriculum experts 106–8
data resources 405–6
database information, fair use
guidelines 231
dates, specificity in 124–5
debates 188–9, resources 434–5
Delicious 80, 87, 161
DePaul University 56–7
Desire-2Learn 166
dial-up access 26
digital cameras 252, 266
Digitalfilms 277
Diigo 80, 162
DimDim 158–9
disabled students 71
discussion activities 66, 72–7
rubric for 224–5
shortened courses 89–90
discussion areas 167
and group formation 178
information on 127
FAQs in 73–4
structure of 152–3
discussion boards
as announcement area 306
explanation of 399
group activities 76, 368–9
web enhanced classes 361–3
wholly online courses 6–11
discussion forums
activities 201–3
to address class chronology/
topical sequence 323
biographical information in
to encourage participation 21
explanation of 120–1
large classes 312–13
reflective activities 199–201
discussion groups 10
discussion software
user options 153
viewing and sorting messages
asynchronous 72–4, 321–8
controversial 327–8
coordination with assignments
discussions continued
differing styles in 327
posting topics and agendas 331
responsibilities in team
teaching 337
disruptive students 346–7
dealing with 347–54
distance education 3, 399
division of labor model 336–7
DoInk 277
dotSUB 293
download 399
unlawful 239–40
Dreamweaver 250
due dates 116, 306
DVDs 71–2, 87
enthusiasm 299–300
essay papers 131
evaluation 205–6
exams, questions 83, 84–5
exercises, web-based 369–70
expected outcomes 54
experience-based practicum
experiential learning 387–91
experiments 71–7
external email 156
external sites
system for handling content
university regulations on 272
external training 381–3
EasyTestMaker 163
ebooks 86, 399
EcEdWeb 219
eCollege 166
editing images 256–7
Edublogs 37–8, 40
education as commodity 392
educational marketplace 396–7
educators’ blogs 249
educators, services catering to 283
EduTools 144–5
eLearning 3, 399
electronic bulletin board 398
electronic files 304–5
electronic full-text services 81
Elluminate 71, 76
email 148
management of 303–4
parameters for responding to
rules and protocols 308
use for mentoring 34–5
embedded resources and
copyright 234–5
embedding 399
emoticon 12, 13, 400
encryption tools 239
energy and environment courses
engineering courses 48–51,
face-to-face activities
cross-cultural courses 213–14
incorporating web resources
transition with online activities
when to use 373
Facebook 168, 340, 363–4
facilitation see classroom
facilitative training 385–6
faculty development units 28
fair use 228–35, 400
Fair Use Guidelines for
Educational Multimedia
228–9, 230–1
FAQs 35, 73, 298, 363, 400
Fastone 255
Fastone Photo Resizer 256
feed readers 169, 198
resources 417–18
audio 258
in course re-design 91, 92
large classes 313–14
lengthened courses 92
quizzes 363
shortened courses 91
standardized courses 113–14
to stimulate higher-level
thinking 326–7
fieldwork 81, 195–6, 267–8
file management 301–5
electronic files versus hard
copy 204–5
films 108–9
Firefox 8, 255
firewalls 26
Firewire cable 266
Flash (SWF) files 264–5, 269
Flesch-Kincaid systems 68
Flickr 220, 252–3
Flip Video 266, 267
Florida’s Educational Technology
Clearinghouse 255
focused workshop training 387
fonts 251
formality 350
format, choice of 271
formative assessment 82
Forum 400
fraud 83
Free Music Archive 218
free software resources 36–8,
Furl 80
Fuzzwich 277
Gabcast 262
Gcast 151, 262
Geogebra 87
GIF (Graphics Interchange
Format) 257, 400
GIMP 256
glossary 398–404
Google 149–50, 151, 156, 217, 257
Google Docs 36, 87, 295
Google Image 253, 254
Google Reader 198
gradebooks 166, 376
grading 82–5
example 137–8
group-based work 79, 179,
180–2, 183, 187
information on 129
participation 319–20, 374–5
peer review 206
in syllabus design 117–18
in team teaching 337
grading rubrics 223–4, 314–15
graphic designers 106–8
group activities
dividing students into groups
icebreaking 175–6
and class size 311–12
supervision and assessment
group activity areas 160–1
group blogs 263
group projects, web enhanced
classes 368–9
group roles 178
group strategies 312–15
group summary 130
group-oriented work, planning
and implementation 66,
collaboration tools 368–9
composition of 78–9
dividing into 176–8
guidelines for 77–8
reconstitution of 77
size and duration of 178
supervision and assessment of
guest speakers 206–8
use of chat 330, 333
guided web research 221–3
guidelines, course design 60–3
Gunning Fogg 68
handheld microphones 260
hard copy 304–5
hardware, institutional
availability of 26
headset microphones 259–60
help links 167–8
high institutional resource
readiness 31–2
solutions to 41–2
high-speed Internet service
high-stakes testing 82–5
history courses 108–9
hotspots 31, 392
HTML 249–50, 385
hybrid course see blended course
hyperlinks 80, 400
annotated collections of 219–20
and copyright 234–5
hypothetical cases 6–11
icebreaking activities 78, 175–6,
identity issues 341–2
Illinois Online Network 382
Illinois Quality Online Course
Initiative rubric 61
image collections online 220
image editing software resources
image editors 255, 256
benefits of using 252
editing 256–7
in exams 163
fair use guidelines 231
finding 252–7
resources 414–15
scanning 255–6
iMovie 267
Impatica 264
in-class activities, tests based on
Indiana State University 97–9,
individual contributions, groupbased work 178–82
information technology courses
example 135–6
opportunities to create/share
supplying to students 125
Informatization White Paper 2008
instant messaging (IM) 9–10,
74–5, 156–7, 400
rules and protocols 309
institutional policy
affecting choices 95
property rights 110, 237–8
institutional resources
adapting to readiness levels
computer support 27
existing courses 24
instructor training and support
network set-up 25–7
readiness levels 28–32
software platforms/tools 25
institutional support 280–1
Instituto Superior de Engenharia,
Lisbon 19–20, 48–51, 119
instruction resources 418–24
instructional design resources
instructional designers 52
collaboration with instructors
99–103, 106–9
unrealistic expectations of 108
instructional role, modification of
instructor blogs 190
instructor online training 381–3
content of 384–6; general
characteristics of 383–4
instructor presentation 71–7
instructor profile 387–90
instructor responsiveness and
class size 317–18
instructor-centered activities
synchronous communication
instructor-generated content and
presentation 66, 67–77
instructor-led courses 102
availability 119, 121
collaboration with instructional
designers 99–109
computer skills requirements
intellectual property rights
legal protection of work 238–9
online availability 119
personal attacks on 348–50,
priorities of 280–1
see also career progression
intellectual property
checking for unauthorized use
legal ownership of work 236–8
practical steps for protection of
work 238–9
resources 427–8
US 236–41
use of Adobe Acrobat 240
intensive courses 88
interaction 66, 72–7
and class size 312–15
reducing 91
interactive evaluation rubric 180–2
interactivity, course content
internal email 156
international learning
collaboration 208–14
Internet Archive 218
Internet cafés 27
Internet connections
loss of 332
off-campus 26–7
reliability of 210
Internet service providers (ISPs)
26, 29
internship 81
interviews 208, 267
introduction, papers 182
see also course introduction;
student introduction
introductory classes, discussion
topics 322
introductory messages 120
introductory techniques, online
learning 298–300
Intute 278
iPhoto 257
iPod 296
ISP (Internet service provider)
iSpring 264–5
iTunes 151, 296
iTunesU 208, 220
Japanese language courses 107
jargon, use of 101–2
Jing 70, 269, 270
job-listing sites 378
Journal of Education, Informatics,
and Cybernetics 84
journaling 196–201
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts
Group) file 257, 400
Kansas State University 347
Kodak Zi6 266
KompoZer 250
lab assignments 195–6
language courses 59–60, 103–5
language issues 208–9
laptops 363
learning by doing 16, 271
learning by sharing/collaborating
learning contract 117–20
learning management system
(LMS) 8
learning objectives 53–7, 89
enhancement of 282
writing collaboration 99, 100–1
learning opportunities 173–4
learning perspectives 279
learning preferences 71, 271
learning styles 173, 289–90, 360
resources 409
“learning while lurking” 346
learning, convenience of 4–5
lectures 67–77
posting 359–60, 361
recording 258
segmented 318
web enhanced classes 360
use of discussion boards 362
videotaping 69–70
legal ownership of material 236–8
lengthened courses 91–2
library research 47, 80, 81
licensing 232, 242–3
lifelong learning 391–4
link see hyperlink
linking pages 161
listserv see mailing list
local area network (LAN) 401
logistical problems 368–9
Logitech 260
Louvre, Atlas image database 217
low institutional resource
readiness 29
solutions to 33–8
software solutions 247
low-cost software resources
low-stakes testing 82–5
Macquarie University, Sydney 190
magazines online 218
mailing lists (listserv) 35, 221, 306
management see classroom
Manchester Metropolitan
University 291
mandated activities 110
mapping in syllabus creation
marketing principles courses
MarylandOnline 62
mathematics courses 106–8,
asynchronous discussion in
software 87
mechanical engineering courses
19–20, 48–51
mechanics, illustration of 278
messages, viewing and sorting
methods training 385–6
“micro-blogging” 157
microphones 259–60
Microsoft Word 253
mid-range institutional resource
readiness 29–31
solutions to 38–41
Middle Tennessee State
University 188, 378–9
mind-mapping 275, 401
Mindomo 275, 276
MIT Opencourseware 241–2
MIT Sloan Teaching Innovation
Resources 205
Modern China courses 126–34,
Modern English courses 112,
Moodle 7, 36, 84, 154, 166, 249
motion media, fair use guidelines
MP3 audio format 259, 261, 262,
265, 401
Multimedia Teaching Objects 191
music, fair use guidelines 231
MySpace 168
MyStudiyo 164, 275
naming 331–2, 339
narrated slide shows 263–6
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
National Center for Case Study
Teaching in Science 205
National Geographic Map
Machine 217
“natural” groupings 177
navigational “buttons” 8–9
“net congestion” 70
netbooks 363, 401
Netvibes 169, 170
network, institutional availability
of 25–7
networking 394
New Mexico State University 262
new software tools, awareness of
new technology, emergence of 5
New York Public Library 220
news online 218
newspapers 393
Nicenet 37
Ning 78, 160–1, 364
NIVATE online program 378
noisy students 343–5
non-commercial web sites 37
North American Council for
Online Learning (NACOL) 62
nuances, attention to 13
nursing informatics courses 188,
222–3, 314–15, 378–9
OER Commons 242
off-campus Internet access 26–7,
open courseware resources 421–2
open educational resources
(OER) 86–7, 217, 241–2, 401
sites 421
open source documents/software
36, 87, 401
resources 411–12
operating system 401
institutional availability of 25
orientation programs 291–2
blended courses 373, 375
elements of 293–7
in managing student
expectations 118
preparation of 292–3
see also course introduction;
student introduction
orientation resources 429–30
“over-ambitious” students 355–6
pacing considerations 89, 147–9,
Pageflakes.com 169
Paint.NET 255
acculturation to 14
changing class size 315–18
disruptive students 346–54
effects of class size 310–12
facilitating and building on
general guidelines 319–20
and grading criteria 117–18,
group strategies and
interactivity of content
group-based work 179–82
information on 130
noisy students 343–5
progress reports and tracking
quiet students 345–6
in syllabus design 117–18
partner instructors, cross-cultural
teams 211
password protection 239
PBworks 37, 38
PDF (Portable Document Format)
240, 401
pedagogical considerations 12–15
peer editing 205–6
peer evaluation, group-based
work 179–80, 187
peer review 47, 50
Pennsylvania State University
180, 191, 201
Pennsylvania State World
Campus 204–5, 266
periodicals 393
sites 422–6
personal attacks 348–50, 352–4
personal consultation 386
personal emails 344, 345
personal web sites 219
personalization 69, 81–2, 167,
258, 299–300
personnel, training 15–17
photo-sharing sites 252–3
photos 69, 75, 167, 176, 214, 342
fair use guidelines 231
physical science courses
physics courses 10–11
Picasa 257
PicFindr 253
Picnik 256
Picture Manager 257
plagiarism 84–5, 209, 224, 244–6
resources 427–8
Plantronics 260
plug-ins 167–8, 401
downloading 297
podcast collections 220
podcasting resources 418
podcasting services 262–3
podcasts 150–1
use in orientation programs
Podomatic 262
poems, fair use guidelines 230
politics simulations 190
Pollanywhere 273
Polldaddy 273–4
polls 273–4
portals 217–18
resources 419–21
portfolio assessment 85
Portland Community College
“position” papers 361
Posterous 263
posting 402
exams 11
lectures 359–60, 361
patterns for 323
student materials 340, 373
team teaching 338
timing of 139
convertibility 60, 264–5
in hybrid courses 10
narrated slide shows 263–6
in posting lecture notes 353
slide shows 68–9
use with guest speakers 206,
practice exams 357
practice resources 406–7
practicum 195–6
establishing 12, 299–300
maintaining 308
presentation areas 149–51
presentation pages 305
and class size 311
and participation 320
planning and implementing
use of audio 258
web enhanced classes 369
primary-secondary model 337–8
printer-scanners 256
privacy issues 339–41
privacy options 272
problem-based learning
approach 182–3, 203
process evaluation rubric 186
proctor reports 81
proctored exams 83, 131
product evaluation rubric 186
professional association web sites
professional development
resources 428–31
programmers 106–8
progress reports 164–6
progress, taking stock of 307
project reporting logs 182–3, 184–5
Pronto Instant Messenger 47
ProProfs Quiz School 163
Public Broadcasting Service
(PBS), US 218, 222
Public Health Games 205
public speaking 47–8
publishers web sites 87
quality design rubrics and
standards resources 409–10
Quality Matters rubric 62–3, 386
Quality Online Course Standards
QuickTime 259, 269
quiet students 345–6
Quiz School 275
quizmakers 162–4
resources 412–13
web enhanced classes 364–5
quizzes 275, 365
randomization 160
rapport, establishing 299–300
read-only status 147
“readability index” 67–8
readiness programs 298–9
readiness surveys 429–30
reading, questions based on 130
real-time meetings 158–9
RealNetworks 259
record keeping 301–5
tips for 302–4
reflective activities 196–201
research activities 66, 79–81
availability of 51
collections and portals 217–18
courses 132
evaluating/searching out 79–80
guide to 405–31
on the web 214–23
see also institutional resources;
Open Educational Resources
web as resource
retention rates 107
reverse reasoning skills 84
review 82–5, 205–6
role playing 187–94
resources 426–7
role rotation 178
royalties 234
royalty free images 253
RSS (Really Simple Syndication)
feed readers 169, 264, 272, 402
resources 417–18
course design 60–3
grading 198, 223–6, 314–15
group projects 180–2, 186–7
resources 409–11
Sakai 36
scanning images 255–6
scenarios 203–5
blended classes 373
conflicting 209
examples 132–4, 140–2
posting 152
in syllabus creation 122–5
sciences, asynchronous
discussion in 73–4
screen capture 255
screen casting 402
screen-casting software 269–70
video resources 415
Screen Grab 255
screen grab software 255
resources 417
screen-shot resources 417
Screencast-o-Matic 269
ScreenToaster 269, 270
scripted narrations/presentations
scrolling 251
SeaMonkey Composer 250
search capabilities 161–2
search engines 424–6
Second Life 169, 171, 193, 342
security issues
students 162
testing 83–5
segmented lectures 73
self-assessment 82–5
self-directed learning 50–1
self-evaluation 187
self-identification 342
self-introduction tools 167, 168
self-paced computer-based
instruction (CBT) 102
self-pacing 117–18
self-plagiarism 85
self-review 47
seminars 73, 353–4
sequencing, activities 64–6
SERC 191–2
Seton Hall University 62–3
shared display spaces 76
shared documents 295
shared responsibility model 334–6
shortened courses 89–91
Sierra College 118, 198–9, 291,
293–4, 296–7
Silesian University of Technology,
Poland 83–4
simulations 71–7, 187–94
computer-based 191–4
resources 425–7
skill attainment objectives 64
Skype 261–2, 340
slide shows
narrated 263–6
using PowerPoint 68–9
SlideShare 264–5
Sloan Consortium 5, 63, 169, 357,
Survey Reports 405
smart phones 363, 402
smartboards 158
Smithsonian’s American Memory
site 193
SMS (short message service) 34,
156–7, 402
rules and protocols 309
Snagit 255, 270
social aspect, chat/IM 333
social bookmarking 80–1, 87, 161,
resources 413
social identity 341
social networking resources
social networking sites 363–4
connecting to 168
software training 384–5
choosing 86–7
ease of use 248
evaluation of 169
familiarity with 297
institutional availability of 25
Southern Cross University,
Australia 177
Southern Regional Education
Board 62
speaking, taking turns 330
specific dates 124–5
speech course, design and
development 46–8
“stalling” behavior 354–5
standardized approach to
development/ delivery
standardized courses
benefits of 96
teaching suggestions 113–14
State University of New York 197,
storyboards 71, 402
streaming media
explanation of 402
films 108–9
formats 251
and intellectual property 240
lectures 69–70
student behavior management
student evaluation 391
student expectations 395–6
management of 118–20
student groups, dividing into
student handbooks 118
student introduction
icebreaking activities 175–6
through discussion forums 167
through social networking sites
student motivation 354–5
student names, use of 323–4
student preparation
introductory techniques
provision of FAQs 298
readiness programs 290–1
see also orientation programs
student problems 288–90
student profile 25–7
student reminders 307–8
student responses, shortened
courses 90
student volition, group formation
student-centered activities 318–19
student-generated content 270–2
communication 310–11
summaries 194–5
summative assessment 82
supervised start-up 386
supervision, groups 179–80
support personnel, training 15–17
SurveyMonkey 163, 274
surveys 273–4
syllabus creation
class participation and grading
criteria 117–18
managing student expectations
map 120–2
sample syllabi 126–34
schedule 122–5
ambiguities in 116
checklist for 123–4
creation resources 407–8
introductory area 373
narrated guide to 121
notifying changes in 307
posting 152, 375
synchronous chat rooms
noisy students in 344–5
synchronous discussion 4, 74–7,
320–8, 402
benefits versus drawbacks
tips for establishing 329–33
synchronous tools 157–9
rules and protocols 309
tag 80, 402
TeacherTube 234–5, 268
teaching assistants (TAs)
in hybrid courses 10, 11
in large classes 317, 362
provision of 33
skills of 16
teaching style 103, 335
basics of wholly online courses
designers’ experience of 100,
on courses designed by others
heightened awareness of 19–20
highly standardized courses
online experience 107–8
resources 430–1
theory and practice resources
trends and data resources 405–6
see also blended courses; team
web-enhanced courses
team development 186–7
team marketing communications
plan 183–7
team teaching
division of labor model 336–7
primary-secondary model
shared responsibility model
web enhanced classes 370–1
team-building activities 175
technical computer skills
instructor requirements 17–18
students 16
technical problems 288–9
technical support 15–16, 27
high level 31–2
informing students of 126, 295
low level 29
mid-level 29–31
technical support areas 167–8
technological methods,
intellection property
protection 239
keeping up with 391–4
web enhanced classes 363–4
Technology, Education, and
Copyright Harmonization
(TEACH) Act (2002) 231
TekTrek blog 262, 282
telephone, use of 340
television programs 108–9
terminology problems 288
testing 82–5
equipment 330
software for 162–4
text creation 249–72
text messaging see SMS
fair use guidelines 230
formatting 251
readability 67–8
transcripts of 71
textbook reading, cuts in 89
textbooks 86–7, 128–9
theory resources 406–7
thread topics
keying to appropriate and
relevant activities 324
narrowing down 322–3
student signalling of 323–4
threads 402
creation of 202–3
instructor initiated 321
printing 303
to reflect class chronology 323
time management 49
time zones 75, 78–9
timelines 64, 129–30, 138
chat 330–1
classroom access 146–7
completion of activities 374
testing 84
Top Learning Tools 275
adapting to software functions
use in gauging student
attendance 319, 355
use of CMS 9
use of polls and surveys 273–4
use of wiki 11
blended courses 372
content characteristics 384–6
focused workshops 387
resources 430–1
support personnel 15–17
instructors 27, 379–86
programme characteristics
“treasure hunt” approach 215
turf management courses 204–5
TurnitIn.com 85
Twitter 157, 306
UCF Learning Online 293
UNESCO World Digital Library
United States
copyright and fair use 228–35
intellectual property 236–41
Universidad de Los Andes, Bogata
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
(UOC) 112, 178, 324
university created simulations
University of Central Florida
University of Maryland University
College 59–60, 74, 87, 106–8,
111–12, 183–7, 197–8,
199–201, 208, 273–4, 292, 329,
University of Nebraska 219
University of Technology, Sydney
University of Tennessee 222–3
university sites for open
courseware 421–2
unscripted narrations/
presentations 265–6
upload 402
URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
8, 77, 264, 265, 370, 402
US National Security archive
USB 260, 266
user options, discussion software
user profile, networks 25–7
Viddler 268–9
video cameras 266–7
video capture 403
video editing software 267
video production courses 210–14
video sharing sites 220
how and why of 266–8
language courses 105
to relieve burden of text 12–13
resources 414–15
sites and tools for 268–9
speech courses 47
video-enhanced chat 329
videoconferencing tools 368
Vimeo 268
Virtual Academic Integrity Lab
(VAIL) 245
virtual classroom 4, 403
virtual field trips 267–8
virtual learning environment
(VLE) 8
virtual office hours 367–8
use of chat 333
virtual study groups 362
virtual workspace 368–9
virtual worlds 169–72, 403
identity problems 342
resources 418
simulations 193
Vodcast collections 220
Voice Direct 59
VoiceThread 154, 155, 234, 235,
265, 297
Voki 275, 276, 277
WAV 258–9
Web 403
Web 2.0
availability of tools 158–9
concerns about 293
and courseware creation 247–83
description of 31, 403
finding tools/keeping informed
for posting lectures 361
rationale for use 155–6
social bookmarking sites 81
special issues related to sites
use issues 234–5
see also courseware creation
web as resource
evaluating sites 216
examples 221–3
preparing the way 214–16
varieties of sites 215–21
web as student presentation
medium 370
web browsers 403
start pages 169, 170
webcams 47, 258
web editor 250–1
web links 403
overloading 251
web pages
creation of 250–1
editors resources 416
text in 67–8
web research 79–80
web searches 215–16, 254
web servers 25, 402–3
web site hosting services 35–6
web-based exercises 369–70
web-enhanced courses 403
assigning group projects 368–9
counselling students 366–7
criteria for 14–15
definition of 359
discussion boards 361–3
establishing virtual office hours
posting lectures 359–60, 361
providing advice and support
revised approach to lecturing
team teaching 370–1
use of CMS 30
using quizmaking tools 364–5
using technology 363–4
web as student presentation
medium 369
web enhancement 371
web-based exercises 369–70
webmaster 403
Websites of the Day 219
weekly activities, preview/
overview of 307
weekly announcements 114,
Western Cooperative for
(WCET) 144–5
Wetpaint 37, 38, 39
whiteboards 76, 157–9, 333, 367,
wholly online courses
basics of teaching 12–15
example of 6–10
design and development 46–8
sample syllabi 126–34
choice of 293–4
as collaborative tool 37
description of 11, 404
for group activities 78, 161
subject areas 220–1
Wikipedia 161, 257
Wimba LiveClassroom 71, 76, 158
Wimba Voice Board 47, 59, 61
Wimba Voice Presenter 59
Windows Media Technology 259
Windows Movie Maker 267
Windows Vista 255
wireless (wi–fi) 26, 404
word-processing programmes 302
work schedules, students 122–3
workload management
changing class size 315–18
effects of class size 310–12
group strategies and
interactivity of content
study in 328
“works made for hire” doctrine
110, 119
workshop training 387
World Clock 75
World Radio Network 217
World Wide Internet TV 218
World Wide Web 404
WYSIWYG (“what you see is what
you get”) 18, 249, 250, 404
Yahoo 75, 156
copying/embedding code
streaming video files 69–70
university channels 150, 268
video sharing 220
YouTube EDU 70, 208
ZohoChallenge.com 163
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