Great Ideas For Teaching Online

Success in a face-to-face environment does not always transfer to the elements needed for success in an online course; however, teaching online can be as rewarding as teaching in person. By including a variety of interactive strategies and maintaining communication, instructors can create a learning environment that encourages students to learn and to explore. The following tips include the key elements for success in teaching and learning in an online course.

The first week of an online course is very important for both the instructor and the learners regardless of the subject area, program, or level. Clarity is required because the students many not know how to utilize all the online course functions and features, or may be nervous if they have never taken an online class before. Be sure to be very clear on class policies, such as when and how to submit assignments. Some strategies that help the students feel less isolated are including a welcome page or email before the class starts and then having the students introduce each other can help guide how the rest of the class will run as students make connections to their classmates.

Including a general area to discuss things unrelated to a class such as weather, travel, pets is suggested so as to maintain a social connection that is often missing in online courses. It is also very important to clearly outline the rules of netiquette. Let the students know how you want them to frame communications and the tone that is comfortable to all class members. Have a clear organizational structure. For example, the syllabus should be very clearly outlined with dates and deadlines.

When facilitating the class, keep learners actively engaged in thinking about the course content through a variety of strategies such as active participation. For example, you can post thought-provoking questions that do not have direct answers and lend themselves to prompting even more questions and debate.

Make use of online resources that students can easily access. For example they can virtually access electronic articles in the library or repository. With the power of hyperlinks, this is quite doable. However, be sure to check your links each time you teach the course and several times during the course as these may change depending on the hosting service.

Plan interactive assignments that require students to work in teams to problem-solve. For instance, provide them with case studies that they can discuss in chatrooms and discussion boards and have them take turn being responsible for different tasks such as recorder or moderator. Organization is important – make it intuitive where and how to locate course content. Don’t switch out things to often and let them have multiple ways of accessing the information.

Use student-centered techniques. You can empower students by having them be responsible for summarizing the week’s discussion, being in charge of a discussion, or writing weekly reflections. This approach will empower them and save you time. Create activities where the students can integrate new ideas with existing knowledge, and provide them a frame of reference within the online environment.

Do not let the technology drive the instruction! Try to strike a balance between technology and content. Remember that good courses use the best aspects of multimedia but that do not leave the technology to do the teaching. You want the students to learn and use the technology but not at the expense of the course content.

Most important, be there for them! Remember they could be miles away and feeling isolated. Respond to requests as soon as possible and provide detailed feedback. Patience, availability, and accessibility will keep you connected to the students.

A History Of Online Schools

Nursing students, when you’re pursuing that online LPN to RN degree or taking some online continuing education classes,

have you ever stopped to think how far education has come since the development of the world wide web?

Online degree programs are everywhere. We’ve started to take them for granted, and it feels as if they’ve been here forever.

However, the fact is, online degree programs have only been in existence for about a decade and a half.

And one of the earliest innovators in the online education field is a Cambridge-educated professor turned entrepreneur named Dr. John Sperling. Sperling, now a billionaire, founded the University of Phoenix in 1976. It was a private for-profit college developed to serve the needs of non-traditional students. Sperling saw that regular colleges were already serving the needs of all those students who just graduated from high school and were going to college with the help of their parents – but who was addressing the needs of working professionals who might already have a degree but wanted a career change, or who had day jobs and needed a career-oriented education with classes at times they could actually attend?

The University of Phoenix offered night classes and other educational solutions for working adults. And as the internet began to grow in popularity and sophistication, Sperling saw another way for education to be made achievable and convenient for people who were already working for a living but wanted something more.

And in 1989 one of the very first online campuses in the world was created through the University of Phoenix; in 1991, the Online Campus graduated its first class.

Now, there are literally hundreds of thousands of students attending the University of Phoenix online, and they have programs for Licensed Vocational (or Practical) Nurse to Registered Nurse, LPN to BSN, RN to BSN, and many other healthcare classes.

And there are, of course, dozens of other online schools that offer many of these online nursing programs these days. But they owe a lot of their current success – and so do all online students – to the innovative vision of Dr. John Sperling.

Online Safety Tips – Keep Your Computer in a Central Place

Congratulations on your new computer! Now where are you going to put it to make it available to multiple family members?

One of the best decisions we ever made was putting our first computer in the breakfast nook. That was in 1980. At that point we had no other space large enough to hold the computer, monitor, and printer. So it went onto a desk along the wall of our breakfast nook.

When we moved to a new house, we again set up the computer in the breakfast nook. It was a central location, so even if someone was using the computer they were still in the flow of the family.

It also made it easy to help the children, even when I was cooking. I could easily step into the breakfast nook – or just answer a question from the kitchen.

Since we were early adopters of technology, it was long before online threats and personal security were factors. But if I had it to do over again, I would definitely put the computer in the breakfast nook. Here’s why:

1. The breakfast nook (or kitchen table area) are at the core of the home. No one has to separate themselves from the family in order to work on the computer. That makes it more likely to get used regularly.

2. By placing the screen against the wall it makes visual control of the screen easy, even from across the room. There is no temptation for someone to visit online places they shouldn’t because another family member can easily walk by at any time.

3. That same screen placement makes it simple to share the screen for questions, demonstrations, and watching videos. Just pull up a kitchen chair and enjoy.

4. It encourages conversation about what they are seeing and doing on the computer. That can often lead to difficult questions about online safety – or algebra. But being close and available makes the central location ideal.

But what if you don’t have a breakfast nook or an easily tailored alcove? Then consider rearranging some furniture and some lifestyle choices to put the computer in a central location with traffic passing by regularly. Not only does it provide a measure of online safety, but it’s also a bonding experience.

The value you receive and the lessons your children learn as they are using the computer make the adjustments worthwhile. You won’t regret putting your computer in a central location.

Get the Most Out of Your Online Classes

As students re-enter university systems, they will more than likely take a mixture of on campus and online courses. An online class is defined in this survey as a course where more than 80 percent of all content is delivered online, and there are typically no face-to-face meetings with instructors. Online learning offers a different set of challenges to students, but can be just as effective as on campus courses. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you make the most of your online classroom experience.

Read the Syllabus

Online instructors offer in depth syllabi which should explain the course in detail. Make sure to read the syllabus, and send your instructor any questions you may have as soon as the course begins. Knowing what to expect for the semester will help you plan your workflow and give you a method for time management.

Introduce Yourself to Your Professor

Faculty are overwhelmed in a sea of names when it comes to online courses. Put a face to your name by sending your professor a personalized greeting, either in email or through the online course. Add a profile picture to your signature so the professor has a face behind the name. New online classrooms are turning towards a social media style content systems, but as this transition takes place, you can be ahead of the game.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

So much computer technology is at our disposal. Use this technology to your advantage by scheduling tasks or calendar events in your email or through an online workspace. If your university’s education management system has tools or enhancements, take advantage of them. Due dates are important for online classes, and knowing when assignments or assessments are due will help you prepare in advance. Often times, you will be able to finish course work at your own pace. Set aside specific times during the work for specific classes, just as you would if you were going to class on campus.

Make Yourself Available

One of the challenges of online learning is not having as much collaboration with other students. You can alleviate this by making yourself available to your peers. Post in discussion forums that you are willing to have online study times with other students, or are available for questions. If you are stuck on a lesson or assignment, those peers will reciprocate and be available for you as well. Set the example by being a leader and go the extra mile. Not only does this help you get more out of your online courses, it will also make the difference if you are in between a grade level. Professors will look at this extra effort on your part, and give you the higher grade.

Interested in online learning? Check out Dickinson State University Extended Learning Programs at

Ten Ways to Ensure Effective Online Learning

Online learning has become a panacea for all of us who find ourselves without enough hours in the day to accomplish what we need to do. The last thing you want is an online training course that is not clear-cut and leaves a lot of questions for the learner. Both content creators and learners want easy-to-use, effective courses that will provide the necessary training without a lot of confusion.

Here are some design tips for content creators that will ensure effective training courses:

  1. Always include a navigation screen at the start, even if you think the learners have participated in online learning before. The navigation screen should have clear and simple instructions so any learner can easily progress through the course. By making navigation easy, learners can focus on the course content.
  2. Free up navigation. Make sure learners can easily go back to previous screens if they need to review any material for a better understanding.
  3. Pay attention to the layout of each and every screen. Avoid cluttering screens with too much information. The screen should be pleasing to the eye and designed to draw the learner’s eye to the most important information.
  4. Include a glossary. Never assume that the learners will understand jargon, technical terms or acronyms. The glossary should be comprehensive and explain key terms in plain language.
  5. Include regular quizzes to check the learners’ understanding of the content. Instead of having one huge test at the end of a course, it is better to have shorter tests at regular intervals throughout the course. Regular tests and quizzes are a good way for learners to measure their own understanding and build their confidence.
  6. Give learners the option of finding out more information if they need to. You could include a box on some screens saying “Want to know more? Click on this link to learn more about…”
  7. Provide a contact person for questions. If the learners do have questions, is there someone they can contact?
  8. Ask another person to check the course to see if it makes sense. If you have access to proofreaders, they can point out any content that is unclear. Alternatively you can ask a pilot group of learners to go through the course. Ask them to offer feedback on points they thought worked, or didn’t work.
  9. Engage in continuous improvement. Even when you have published and released your course to learners, there is still the opportunity to gather feedback and make improvements to the course. You could include a survey asking learners if there was anything they found unclear. This is a great way for you to keep learning about the learners’ perspective and to remind yourself that you are designing courses for real people.
  10. Distribute your course effectively.

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