Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
- Icebreaker Discussion: Have students reply to an introductory discussion topic during the first week of class. This response can include things like: introducing themselves to the class, explain why they are taking the course, what they hope to get out of the course, something interesting about themselves, etc.
- General Questions: It is a good idea to have a discussion topic that can be used for any questions students might have throughout the term. Giving students a designated place to post their questions can also allow other students, who know the answer to reply as well.
- Specific Topics: Requiring students to make a discussion post that is related to the topic at hand, can help them to learn the content better. It will give them an opportunity to discuss their knowledge of the topic, and be exposed to new thoughts and ideas about the topic, when reading other students’ posts.
- A Forum can be thought of as a “folder” or “category”. A Discussion Forum is used to organize your individual topics. For example, you might have a forum titled “Chapter 1”, in which all discussion topics that are related to chapter 1 would be located.
- A Topic is the actual prompt that students will respond to. You might ask students to reflect on a video, answer application questions from a chapter, or discuss how their own experiences can be related to a certain topic. You might have two or three prompts you want students to respond to, that all relate to the same category. All of those topics would be placed together in the same forum.
- Require students to respond to 1 or 2 other student postings: This will give students an opportunity to further discuss the topic, and be exposed to new ideas they may not have considered before.\
- In the 2007 study that was mentioned previously, it was found that 11% of students and 21% of instructors from the study perceived that building a community online was easier than in a face to face course for various reasons. Including “Online courses provide an environment in which students can be themselves, can learn by reading other student’s postings, and an environment in which 1-2 students do not dominate discussions as can occur in some face-to-face courses.” (Vesley et al., 2007)
- Participate in the discussions yourself: It is important to make sure you give feedback and direct student discussion. You should read the students’ postings and try to respond to every student, at least once throughout the term. (You do not need to respond to every student during every topic.) You should offer guidance to help students stay on track with the topic, and thought provoking questions that will help students to dive deeper into their discussion with one another.
- “Students contend that instructor presence is a key factor in online learning and online community. In online classes, instructors can generate a sense of “presence” through their actions in the online environment. Students in this study indicate a need to be heard by their instructors through consistent feedback, responses to postings and responsiveness to concerns. One of the key means by which instructors establish presence in the online classroom is via their ongoing interactions” (Vesley et al., 2007).
- When it comes time to grade your students’ discussion postings, there is an easy way to see all posts made by one student. This will help you determine if they have really contributed to an ongoing discussion, and determine if they have met the requirement of responding to 1 or 2 other student posts.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
- You can have each module represent one chapter. For example, Module 1 = Chapter 1, and have as many modules as there are chapters.
- Some instructors might want to structure their modules based on weeks, with one module per week. For example, Week 1 = Module 1, Week 2 = Module 2, etc. Each module lasting only 1 week.
- Create a “Getting Started” Module – It is beneficial for the organization of your course, to create a module just for “housekeeping” information, as well as to provide students a clear starting point in your class. This module should contain your syllabus, your biography, contact information, and any other introductory information or activities you would like students to complete.
- This module should be titled “Getting Started”, “Course Information”, “Begin Here”, or something similar, so students know this is the starting point of the course.
- Creating this module will help you address some of the required Quality Matters standards.
- If you each more than one course, it’s a great idea to keep your different syllabi and biographies saved on your computer. This way, each new term, you can review and edit them as needed and easily upload them to your new courses when the term starts.
- When organizing the content within your modules, it is beneficial to organize all modules the same way. For example, if in the first module your content is as follows: introduction, notes, assignment, quiz; you will want to continue this theme throughout the course. This way, students will be familiar with your course structure and layout.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Release conditions and course item dates provide the online teacher with tools to structure and customize the course experience for students. Here are just a few examples from courses I have taught or supported.
- Course dates sequence the material and activities, and provide a loose synchronicity.
- A large online class breaks into small groups for problem-solving or a reading discussion.
- Students must receive feedback for their outlines before submitting their papers.
- Signing up for an interest group opens specialized resources and activities.
- An online student must agree to a liability waiver before accessing instructions for an at-home lab.
- A student with an accommodation letter gets customized timing on a quiz through "Special Access".
How-to in D2L
How NOT-to in D2L
Circular logic, when applied to release conditions, can efficiently keep students away from needed course resources. Think about it. Suppose you made students walk through two gates to get to your on-ground class. The first one only admits students named George. The second only admits students who are not named George. Your classroom would be empty of students; not good. Similarly, if students can only access a discussion if they are in the orange group and also have done the blue group project (which is not available to students in the orange group), there will be no posts on your discussion board. Don't put your students in an impossible situation by imposing impossible conditions, or by layering up conditions that, when taken together, create an impossible situation.
True redundancy in release conditions wastes time every time the system has to check whether all conditions are satisfied. If a student must achieve a certain score on "Reading Quiz 1" before accessing "Dropbox Folder 1", and must have submitted a paper to Dropbox Folder 1 before accessing "Discussion Topic 1", putting a release condition for "submitted to Dropbox Folder 1" on the discussion topic would be sufficient to ensure that students had completed both the quiz and the dropbox submission. In another example, if you have a Content module hidden, there is no need to also hide each page of the module.
Not Actually Redundant
There are, however, times when you need to hide or release the same thing in two different places. Say you have a discussion topic that you do not want students to see or post in until after Week 3 in your course. The discussion is part of your Week 3 module. You've effectively hidden the entire Week 3 module through date release. That's enough, right? Actually, it isn't. You've taken care of the content link, but students can still get at your Week 3 discussion topic by using the "Class Tools" menu and going directly to your Discussion board. You will need to apply your release condition to the discussion forum or topic as well as to the content link. It's like locking both the front and back doors of a house; it takes extra effort but it's not actually redundant.
Don't keep secrets
Letting students in on your use of selective release is just good sense. Knowing that you will be releasing a Content module each Monday, if that is your plan, will allow students to make their own plans. If students must sign up for an interest group in order to access an important discussion topic make sure that they are aware that there is a consequence to not signing up. Students who know what to expect will have a smoother path through the course, and your chance of having them do what you expect will be greater.