Online Education - General Advice

Hey all,

So, I've taught a handful of courses online, despite the fact that it's not my preferred format. It just seems especially hard (perhaps impossible) to duplicate the benefits of studying a topic in a face to face setting. That said, I want to do the best I can as an online instructor; and provide the highest level of education possible. So, as I know the Bald Move community is filled with smart, thoughtful people, I thought I'd reach out.

For those of you who have taken courses online - what worked? What didn't work? What made for a good (or bad) online course? Even if you haven't participated in online education, if you have an idea you feel is worth sharing, please do!

- Josh


  • I did both of my masters mostly through distance learning. I loved it and I really learned a lot. Maybe even more than in a classroom because I was in my environment, comfortable and did my work when I was in the right mood and setting rather than be restricted to specific hours .Here's my feedback.

    1. Hopefully you have a good/great platform to use so you can place the calendar, display homework, have a chat option, etc. This is probably out of your control and would need to be supported by the university/school. Blackboard is probably one of the best. If you don't have one push your school for one.

    2. Create at least one group project. But don't go overboard. Group projects will bring classmates together and generate more interaction and communication. But just be mindful of people's schedules and personal life. It's hard to get 4-5 people together who have jobs, lives, etc. Have a group leader volunteer to be in charge of the group and someone you can talk to. Also the person who volunteers is usually someone taking it seriously and will help push their other group members. also if you do make a group project make an assessment form required from each student to rate the others in their groups. And provide points for the assessment. Also if the group project is longer than a couple weeks or month you should check in with the group leader.

    3. Time your tests and try to avoid questions from standard forms on the internet. I've taken classes where I got 100% simply because the teacher just copied questions from online and I googled them. There is also monitoring software on some of the platforms that can identify if someone is trying to cheat. You can actually have a video monitor.

    4. If you have a forum option make a part of the grade based on their posts. Give them a discussion and some pointers and let them chat amongst themselves. Always treat Quality first, quantity second.

    5. Record yourself giving presentations like in a real classroom and send to your students. Get a camera, set it up and actually present like they are in the room.

    6. Leverage technology as much as possible. Skype, whatsapp, audio conference calls, web conferencing tools like WebEx

    7. Try to avoid making students available at a specific time. I had one professor who had a 7pm lecture and I'm in Singapore. That was 7am for me. People do distance learning for the flexibility so always keep that in mind.

    8. Mix up the homework. Do an essay one week, a test the next, forum discussion the next, etc

    9. Try to avoid the "correspondence" formula where you just email the class, give them an assignment and ask them to send it back.

    10. While avoiding correspondence try to send a weekly or bi-Weekly email on latest news, homework due that week, etc.

    11. Make each student do one YouTube presentation for a project. This puts faces to people's names and also helps replicate the live environment a bit. You can open this up so everyone can see or where they just send to you.

  • @Hatorian ... you're individual perspective *alone* justifies my initial post. I am in your debt.
  • HatorianHatorian Dagobah
    edited March 2017
    Your* I take it you don't teach English? ;) SUPER KIDDING mate. Haha I make that mistake all the time. I get so paranoid about the apostrophe cuz of grammar Nazis that I find myself using it wrong all the time. And because I've made that mistake a bunch of times my phone now sometimes auto corrects to it even if it's not right.

    Glad I could help mate. Good luck with your classes. Great Teachers make great students.
  • DeeDee Adelaide
    I have nothing useful to add, having never studied online, but I wanted to say great comments, @Hatorian. A very thoughtful list!
  • HatorianHatorian Dagobah
    edited March 2017
    Here's an example for number 11. This is me doing a book review assignment on YouTube for one of my business classes. Sorry for all the ums and ahs. ;) you definitely don't need to view the whole thing. The first minute or so should give you an idea of what my teacher was trying to accomplish.

  • @Hatorian a good lesson for all of us... don't watch TV and (try to) post at the same time.
  • edited March 2017
    Hatorian said:

    Here's an example for number 11. This is me doing a book review assignment on YouTube for one of my business classes. Sorry for all the ums and ahs. ;) you definitely don't need to view the whole thing. The first minute or so should give you an idea of what my teacher was trying to accomplish.

    Nice to see a face from here that isn't Jim or A.Ron! Haha. Also, on the up next was your wedding so of course I clicked on it and omg, so beautiful!!
  • aberry89aberry89 California
    I think teachers sometime over think "their" input on students. A lot of the times, students can learn a lot from their peers. Discussing topics with someone sitting next to you is lost online. So I always find forums for classes really helpful. And maybe guided and specific forums - where it's not just general one where people ask what page something is on, but forums per topic. After absorbing information, we want to spill it out and see what other's think (it's why were all here on the BaldMove forums). You dont just learn more, but it's a group exchanging and discussign ideas that gets people fired up about whatever they are learning. 
  • I think @Hatorian hit most of the points that are important.  I would ask Josh if he is teaching classes that students need to earn a degree (or certificate) or is it just similar to lifetime learning (no degree/certificate)? I ask because group projects after undergrad are so hard to deal with.  Managing time between students is so hard and even in the graduate level, there are people that don't take it seriously enough or communication is problematic.  But as far as what you can control, using YouTube or proprietary web applications to give lectures is a great idea.  you have to be proactive on those forums as well.  I had a teacher who did not provide much feedback or additional questions to counter what the students were saying.  It is really a disservice to the students for a teacher to provide guidance into what students are getting from their own reading of theories and text. 
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