Useful resources for online instructors
Supriya Sarnikar, associate professor in the Economics and Management Department at Westfield State University, enrolled in several MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) offered through Coursera for several reasons: personal enrichment, to learn of any pedagogical or technological innovations these courses offered, and to better understand the students’ experiences in online courses. “I was curious about the Coursera platform and wanted to learn whether it offered any features that were different from or better than learning management systems that are commonly used on most campuses.” In an email interview with Online Classroom, Sarnikar shared her reflections of the Coursera experience.
Incivility in the online classroom can take many forms. Angela Stone Schmidt, director of graduate programs in the School of Nursing and associate dean College of Nursing & Health Professions at Arkansas State University—Jonesboro, uses Morrisette’s definition: “interfering with a cooperative learning atmosphere.” So in addition to inappropriate, rude, offensive, or bullying behaviors, Schmidt considers behaviors such as academic dishonesty, over-participation or domination and under-participation to be forms of incivility. In an interview with Online Classroom, she offered advice on how to reduce incivility with a proactive stance and how to address it when it does occur
While the limitations of online teaching preclude on-site meetings with students, the fact remains that seeing a face adds essential elements to a message that cannot be conveyed by email or phone. Our faces humanize us, making others more receptive to our messages. Plus, most of what is communicated comes via nonverbal cues such as facial expressions. Without these cues, messages can be misinterpreted.
The options we have in communicating with our online students have markedly increased, and no longer are we limited to text-only emails and postings. In past columns I have mentioned a few of these, such as the use of audio and live chats, but it’s time for an updated look at some of the newer technological approaches and practices one can take as alternative or adjunct forms of student communication —and how to make sure common errors and oversights don’t happen.
Careful preparation is essential to the success of an online course “to provide a positive experience for the students and to be able to maximize your time with students so that you’re not spending time on reworking things that weren’t clear up front,” says Ann Millacci, associate professor of education at the University of Cincinnati. In an interview with Online Classroom, she offered advice on how to prepare your course for your learners.