What online teachers have learned from teaching online — from insidehighered.com by Mark Lieberman
Online instructors offer wisdom they’ve gathered — what to do and what not to do — from years of experience teaching in the modality.

Excerpts:

When I first began teaching online, I noticed a disconnect between students and the course content. While I worked to make it relevant to their lives, I often saw students doing the work simply for the grade. Clearly something was not translating. In the last year, I’ve become more focused on helping students connect their passions to the course content. My courses still have objectives. However, I ask students when the semester starts to identify one to three goals and create a short video about what they want to achieve in the course. They reflect on these goals and can modify them at the midpoint and the end. During the semester, I ask students to consider what they are doing during the week to help them meet their goals. They don’t always need to share this information, but having this as a thread in the course helps them stay connected to the content and each other. Students are aware of what their colleagues’ goals are and often reach out and share ideas and resources in support. [Hall]


I also began to see that teaching online could support learner variability better than teaching in a classroom. I observed one student with dyslexia express herself eloquently in video, while her written expressions were fragmented. These experiences illuminated the value of Universal Design for Learning, opening a new world of opportunities for teaching online. [Brock]

I’ve been teaching online since 2008 and entirely online since 2013. When I first started teaching online, I was afraid to create new content or change the course in any way once the course launched. I thought the course curriculum and online environment had to stay “frozen” and intact or I would risk confusing students. Now, I create additional tutorials as needed, using screen-casting tools, videos and podcasts to add additional content to assist students. I have also since learned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to online teaching and learning. Some students prefer basic content and straightforward assignments. Other students like to interact with the instructor through instant messaging, email and discussion boards. I started doing optional webinars for students who wanted more interaction and personalized learning, but I don’t require them. I find that the same group of online students in each course (who enjoy interaction) usually attend the webinars. The webinars are recorded for students who couldn’t attend or prefer the recording format.

Over all, I’ve learned to be more laid-back, multimodal (e.g., webinars, podcasts, etc.), proactive and flexible for my students.

Semingson

 

 

There need to be more active learning activities in an online course.

Greenlaw

 


In a typical class, students talk only to the instructor and each other. Resources, questions and information that are created and shared rarely transition to the next course. In true community, all students and instructors within a program could regularly access information and ideas in a shared space regardless of the content they are currently learning. [Hall]

There are numerous tools and strategies for interacting with students, like web-conferencing platforms, course audio and video tools, and collaborative tools that allow for synchronous or asynchronous interaction. There are simply more ways to communicate, to collaborate and to create. [Hobgood]

Insert from DSC:
Re: this last quote from Hobgood, I love this idea of creating an online-based community of practice — or community of inquiry — that spans across classes and semesters. Great call!

 

Efforts to improve student access to online courses are key, but we also know that equity gaps get worse when minority students learn online. We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Relationships are at the core of meaningful college experiences and they’re particularly important to underserved students who are more likely to doubt their academic abilities. Underserved online students need the presence of an engaged instructor. If you teach online, your human presence matters. This has been my greatest takeaway from 15 years of teaching online and, perhaps, more striking is that this point still seems revolutionary to so many.

Pacansky-Brock

 

 

 

Addendum:
7 Steps to Better Online Teaching — from chronicle.com by Esther C. Kim

Excerpt:

Provide suggestions for a strong classroom climate. At the start of the semester, I offer ways for students to stay engaged in an online classroom environment, and I explain the importance of remaining on camera and on audio. Without a proper explanation, students mistakenly think that they can multitask during live class sessions. Among the tips I offer them:

  • Refrain from opening email, texting, or browsing the web.
  • Choose a space where you don’t encounter distractions, which could include family members, laundry, dirty dishes, or a busy street outside your window.
  • Avoid sitting on a comfortable couch or bed.
  • Pay close attention to peers’ comments and ask yourself if you agree or disagree, and why. Add to the dialogue by sharing your thoughts.
  • Avoid taking class from coffee shops or other public spaces. The background noise can create a distraction both for you and for the entire class. Also, internet connections may be inconsistent in public spaces.

Don’t use the chat box when you can speak instead. On my university’s platform, there’s a chat box in which students can type messages in real time. This could be a useful tool if used properly. But I often find it difficult to simultaneously read the chat box while listening to a student who’s speaking. The same goes for when I am speaking and someone is typing comments or questions in the chat box. If there’s a robust dialogue happening among a few of the students and others want to interject, they can place their comments in the chat box. Otherwise, I ask that they take advantage of the face-to-face online time by verbalizing their questions or comments.

From DSC:
Esther’s point on how difficult it is to both read/respond to the chat area while also trying to listen to someone else speaking is a great example of cognitive load — and it being overwhelmed with too much information to process at one time.

 

 

Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning— by Peter C. Brown, Henry L Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel

Some of the key points and learning strategies they mention in the preface:

  • The most effective learning strategies are not intuitive
  • Spaced repetition of key ideas and the interleaving of different but related topics are two excellent teaching/learning strategies

 

“This is a book about what people can do for themselves right now in order to learn better and remember longer. The responsibility for learning rests with every individual.”

 

 

Some the key points and learning strategies they mention in the first chapter:

  • When they talk about learning they mean acquiring knowledge and skills and having them readily available from memory so you can make sense of future problems and opportunities.
  • There are some immutable aspects of learning that we can probably all agree on:
    1. To be useful, learning requires memory, so what we’ve learned is till there later when we need it.
    2. We need to keep learning and remembering all our lives.
    3. Learning is an acquired skill and most effective strategies are counterintuitive
  • Learning is deeper and more durable when it’s effortful
  • We are poor judges of when we are learning well and when we’re not
  • Rereading text and massed practice (i.e., cramming) of a skill or new knowledge are by far the preferred study strategies of learners of all stripes, but they”re also among the least productive. Rereading and cramming give rise to feeling of fluency that are taken to be signs of mastery, but for true mastery or durability these strategies are largely a waste of time.
  • Retrieval practice — recalling facts or concepts or events from memory — is a more effective learning strategy than reviewing by rereading
    • Flashcards are a simple example
    • Retrieval strengthens the memory and interrupts forgetting
    • A single simple quiz after reading a text or hearing a lecture produces better learning and remembering that rereading the text of reviewing lecture notes.
  • Periodic practice arrest forgetting, strengthens retrieval routes, and is essential for hanging onto the knowledge you want to gain.
  • Space out practice and interleave the practice of 2 or more subjects, retrieval is harder and feels less productive, but the effort produces longer lasting learning and enables more versatile application of it in later settings.
  • Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution leads to better learning, even when errors are made in the attempt.
  • Learning styles are not supported by the empirical research.
  • When you’re adept at extracting the underlying principles or “rules” that differentiate types of problems, you’re more successful at picking the right solutions in unfamiliar situations. This skill is better acquired through interleaved and varied practice than massed practice.
  • In virtually all areas of learning, you build better mastery when you use testing as a tool to identify and bring up your areas of weakness.
  • All learning requires a foundation of prior knowledge.

 

If you practice elaboration, there’s no known limit to how much you can learn. Elaboration is the process of giving new material meaning by expressing it in your own words and connecting it with what you already know. The more you can explain about the way your new learning relates to your prior knowledge, the stronger your grasp of the new learning will be, and the more connections you create that will help you remember it later.***

 

“When learning is hard, you’re doing important work.”

 

“Making mistakes and correcting them builds the bridges to advanced learning.”

 

Learning is stronger when it matters.^^^

 

  • One of the most striking research findings is the power of active retrieval — testing — to strengthen memory, and the more effortful the retrieval, the stronger the benefit.
  • The act of retrieving learning from memory has 2 profound benefits:
    1. It tells you what you know and don’t know, and therefore where to focus further study
    2. Recalling what you have learned causes your bring to reconsolidate the memory
  • To learn better and remember longer, [use]:
    • various forms of retrieval practice, such as low-stakes quizzing and self-testing
    • spacing out practice
    • interleaving the practice of different but related topics or skills
    • trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution
    • and distilling the underlying principles or rules that differentiate types of problems

 

One of the best habits a learner can instill in herself is regular self-quizzing to recalibrate her understanding of what she does and does not know. 

 

Brown, P. C., Roediger III, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014).
Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.
Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Make-Stick-Science-Successful-Learning/dp/0674729013

 

 

*** This quote reminds me of what turned Quin Schultze’ learning around. With Quin’s permission, the following excerpt is from Quentin Schultze’s solid book, Communicate like a True Leader (pages 35 & 36)

 

 

 

During the beginning of my sophomore year, I started reviewing each day’s class notes after classes were over. I soon realized how little I recalled even of that day’s lectures and discussions. It dawned on me that normal note-taking merely gave me the impression that I was learning. I implemented a strategy that revolutionized my learning, launched me successfully into graduate school, helped me become a solid teacher, equipped me to be a productive researcher-writer, and made it possible for me to be an engaging speaker.

I not only reviewed my notes daily. I rewrote them from scratch within a couple of hours of each class meeting. I used my actual course notes as prompts to recall more of the lecture and to help me organize my own reactions to the material. My notes expanded. My retention swelled.

My revised notes became a kind of journal of my dialogue with the instructor and the readings. I integrated into my revised course notes my daily reading notes, reworking them into language that was meaningful to me and preparing to ask the instructor at the next class anything that I was uncertain about. From then on I earned nearly straight A’s with far less cramming for exams.

Moreover, I had begun journaling about my learning — one of the most important communication skills. I became a real learner by discovering how to pay attention to others and myself.

In a broad sense, I learned how to listen.

 

^^^ This quote explains why it is so important to answer the first question a learner asks when approaching a new lesson/topic/lecture/etc.:

  • Why is this topic relevant?
    i.e., why is this topic important and worthy of my time to learn it?

 

 

Per Catie Chase from BestColleges.com:

As you know, online education is rapidly expanding. At BestColleges.com we believe it’s important to evaluate the latest trends in distance education and measure the impact to both students and academic institutions. This is an industry that evolves quickly and these results offer relevant, current insights we are excited to learn from and share with the online learning community.

To keep up with these trends, we surveyed 1,800 online students and university administrators and published two reports based on our findings:

  • 2018 Online Education Trends Report – Synthesizing all of the data we gathered in our study, this academic report provides a holistic look at the current state of online education and offers predictions for where it’s headed.
  • The Student’s Guide to Online Education – Most students we spoke with wished they’d known more about online education and how to choose a quality online program prior to enrolling. We built this guide as a launching point for prospective students to gain that knowledge and make informed decisions on their education.

 

In an effort to develop a broader understanding of how common perceptions of online education are changing, we added several questions for both students and school administrators to the study this year. A majority of students (79%) felt that online learning is either “better than” or “equal to” on-campus learning. They felt their employers (61%), future employers (61%), and the general public (58%) also had a similarly positive perception of online learning.

 

 

From DSC:
It is highly likely that in the very near future, the question won’t even be asked anymore what employers think of online-based learning and whether they will hire someone that’s taken a significant portion of their coursework online. They won’t have a choice. This is especially true if and when more advanced technologies and capabilities get further baked into online-based learning — i.e., truly personalized/customized learning (which most faculty members — including myself — and teachers can’t deliver), virtual reality, artificial intelligence, chatbots, personal digital assistants, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and more. 

The better question could become:

To what extent will campus-based learning be impacted when truly personalized/customized learning is offered via online-based means?

My guess?  There will continue to be a significant amount of people who want to learn in a physical campus-based setting — and that’s great! But the growth of online learning will grow even more (a lot more) if truly personalized learning occurs via online-based means.

 


 

99% of administrators found that demand for online education has increased or stayed the same over the past few years. Almost 40% of respondents plan to increase their online program budgets in the next year.

 


 

This year, 34% of schools reported that their online students are younger than in previous years, falling into the “traditional” college age range of 18-25, and even younger as high school students take college courses before graduating. Several schools noted that recent high school graduates are entering the workforce while also pursuing a college education.

 


 

 

From DSC:
This application looks to be very well done and thought out! Wow!

Check out the video entitled “Interactive Ink – Enables digital handwriting — and you may also wonder whether this could be a great medium/method of having to “write things down” for better information processing in our minds, while also producing digital work for easier distribution and sharing!

Wow!  Talk about solid user experience design and interface design! Nicely done.

 

 

Below is an excerpt of the information from Bella Pietsch from anthonyBarnum Public Relations

Imagine a world where users interact with their digital devices seamlessly, and don’t suffer from lag and delayed response time. I work with MyScript, a company whose Interactive Ink tech creates that world of seamless handwritten interactivity by combining the flexibility of pen and paper with the power and productivity of digital processing.

According to a recent forecast, the global handwriting recognition market is valued at a trillion-plus dollars and is expected to grow at an almost 16 percent compound annual growth rate by 2025. To add additional context, the new affordable iPad with stylus support was just released, allowing users to work with the $99 Apple Pencil, which was previously only supported by the iPad Pro.

Check out the demo of Interactive Ink using an Apple Pencil, Microsoft Surface Pen, Samsung S Pen or Google Pixelbook Pen here.

Interactive Ink’s proficiencies are the future of writing and equating. Developed by MyScript Labs, Interactive Ink is a form of digital ink technology which allows ink editing via simple gestures and providing device reflow flexibility. Interactive Ink relies on real-time predictive handwriting recognition, driven by artificial intelligence and neural network architectures.

 

 

 

 

 

The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE)

QM and Eduventures have teamed up to conduct a multi-year study to examine the changing landscape of online education, provide results to those who can use them and help those involved with online education place their institution within a broader context and possibly influence strategic decisions and organizational changes. Please complete the form on this page to gain access to the 2018 CHLOE 2 Report.

The third iteration of CHLOE is scheduled for April 2018 and focuses on in-depth coverage of issues such as governance of online programs, blended learning and the influence of subject matter on the design and delivery of online programs. If you are a Chief Online Officer and wish to participate in the next CHLOE Survey, or if you wish to nominate the COO at your institution, please contact QM’s Manager of Research & Development Barbra Burch.

Date Published:  Tue, 03/27/2018

 

Also see:

  • Online Learning’s Complex, Fractured Landscape — from insidehighered.com by Doug Lederman — references new report from Quality Matters & Eduventures Research entitled “The Changing Landscape of Online Education: A Deeper Dive”
    Survey of chief online officers shows enormous variation in how colleges define and structure digital education, in terms of pricing, program structure and use of instructional design.

Excerpt:

A new survey of those who oversee online learning programs at their institutions reveals significant diversity in the online education landscape, from differences in colleges’ strategic goals in going online to how they structure and price their programs and how much they require/encourage faculty members to work with professional designers to craft their courses.

The report, “The Changing Landscape of Online Education: A Deeper Dive,” is the second such report from Quality Matters and Eduventures Research, leading them to dub it CHLOE2. (Inside Higher Ed and “Inside Digital Learning” covered last year’s report here and here.) One hundred eighty-two senior officials responsible for online education at their institutions responded to the survey (up from 104 last year), drawn roughly equivalently from four-year private, four-year public and two-year public colleges.

The survey explores a wide range of topics and issues, related to the administrative structure of online offerings, the economics of their programs and the role of instructional designers. Among the most interesting findings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Microlearning Framework — from jvsp.io and Pablo Navarro
This infographic is based on the experience of different clients from different industries in different training programs.

 

From DSC:
I thought this was a solid infographic and should prove to be useful for Instructional Designers, Faculty Members, and/or for Corporate Trainers as well. 

I might also consider adding a “Gotcha!” piece first — even before the welcome piece — in order to get the learner’s attention and to immediately answer the WHY question. WHY is this topic important and relevant to me? When topics are relevant to people, they care and engage a whole lot more with the content that’s about to be presented to them. Ideally, such a piece would stir some curiosity as well.

 

 

 

 

Why Professors Doubt Education Research — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpts:

You found that professors really care about their teaching, and yet they are skeptical of education research. It sounds like a lot of people ended up teaching the way that they had been taught, or the way that they felt good as a student in classes they had had.

That’s right. People sometimes ignore the research precisely because they care about teaching. Different faculty arrive at the point where they’re teaching college students from wildly different experiences of their own. Some have wanted since they were small children to be professors at a university, and some fell into it later in a career.

For faculty who think that research is a good way to learn how to teach, they will devour the literature on learning sciences. They’ll reach out to experts across a number of disciplines and within their own discipline to try and learn what the best way to teach is

For faculty who believe that teaching is an art, that it is just something that you develop with experience and time, that you can’t learn from a book, you need to learn by doing more or learn from your students, no amount of exposure to learning science research is going to disrupt their sense that this is something they learn by doing, or that they need to follow their gut on.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to change someone’s mind to either adopt or consider more of this evidence-based research?

People can always change their perspective. If you’re trying to communicate the value of a technology or an approach, or even of learning science or education research as a field, you have to start with the person you’re speaking to. They may come to that conversation with a sense of, “I know that people get PhDs in education. People get PhDs in curriculum design, and I’ve never even taken a class where we’ve talked about curriculum design. I would like to know what they know.”

Then there are people who will say, “I’ve been teaching since I was a graduate student. My students are very happy with the teaching. I feel pretty good about my teaching. I understand that you have a PhD in curriculum design, but I don’t really need that.”

You need to approach those two different faculty members differently, understanding that there are some people who are interested in hearing about evidence-based practices, and just pointing them towards the resources is great.

Excerpt from the question:
What about your own teaching? I’m curious. Are you someone that tries different techniques that are based on research?

There is so much literature, and there are so many right ways, and there are so many recommendations that incorporating all of them into your practice at the same time is literally impossible. Many of them are contradictory. You have to choose a suite that you’re adhering to, because you can’t do the others if you’re doing these. Trying to embody best practices while teaching is really complex. It’s a skillset that you develop. You develop with time, and instruction, and you can master, but you’re always going to have to continue to perfect it.

 

 

Also see:

Personalized Faculty Development: Engaging Networks, Empowering Individuals — from er.educause.edu by Jill Leafstedt

Excerpts:

During the meeting, I chose to spend my time focused solely on sessions in the Faculty Development and Engagement track. My goal: return to my home campus energized and ready to tackle the age-old problem of how to move faculty from being content experts into dynamic educators.

Luckily for me, I was not the only one looking for this inspiration. The faculty development sessions were packed with people trying to answer questions such as, “Why don’t faculty want help?” or “Why don’t faculty attend my workshops?” On the whole, the sessions reaffirmed my belief that faculty development does not happen in a workshop, nor does it happen through training. Improving teaching is a long, messy, reflective process that must be approached from multiple angles with many entry points.

Sound challenging? It is, but there is reason to be hopeful; our colleagues are working hard to find and share answers. Two themes came through loud and clear from the sessions I attended. First, meet faculty where they are. Don’t expect them to come to you ready to learn; go to them and start where they are. Second, build networks for ongoing learning.

 

From DSC:
Both of the above articles present a HUGE issue in terms of improving the level of teaching and learning. Both articles seem to be saying that anyone interested in really improving the teaching and learning that’s going on needs to meet with each individual faculty member in order to meet them where they are at. When you have hundreds of faculty members plus an over-flowing job plate that’s asking you to wear numerous hats, that’s a very tall order indeed.

 

 

 

 

Faculty Learning Communities: Making the Connection, Virtually — from by Angela Atwell, Cristina Cottom, Lisa Martino, and Sara Ombres

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Research has shown that interactions with peers promotes faculty engagement (McKenna, Johnson, Yoder, Guerra, & Pimmel, 2016). Faculty learning communities (FLC) have become very popular in recent years. FLCs focus on improving teaching and learning practice through collaboration and community building (Cox, 2001). Usually, FLCs are face-to-face meetings hosted at a physical location at a specific date and time. We understand the benefit of this type of experience. However, we recognize online instructors will likely find it difficult to participate in a traditional FLC. So, we set out to integrate FLC principles to provide our faculty, living and working all over the globe, a similar experience.

Recently, our Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence took the plunge and offered a Virtual Faculty Learning Community (V-FLC) for instructors at our Worldwide Campus. The first experience was open only to adjunct instructors teaching online. The experience was asynchronous, lasted eight weeks, and focused on best practices for online teaching and learning. Within our Learning Management System, faculty led and participated in discussions around the topics that were of interest to them. Most topics focused on teaching practices and ways to enhance the online experience. However, other topics bridged the gap between teaching online and general best teaching practices. 

 

 

 

How to Use Questions to Promote Student Learning — from scholarlyteacher.com by Spencer Benson

Excerpt:

Developing Faculty Generated Questions
Developing good questions that enhance student learning and engage all students is difficult. The challenge is constructing questions that engage learning and are “un-Googleable” meaning that students cannot find the answer with a simple online search engine. Some ways to help make questions “un-Googleable” are to

  • Avoid questions that simply ask for facts or definitions,
  • Ask the students to answer the questions based on their own personal experience,
  • Ask students for their personal opinion on an issue,
  • Ask students to describe the answer a different person might give, e.g., a relative, a famous person (historic or present), the textbook or assigned readings author, etc.

 

 

These three questions align with the various levels of Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy, “what” asks about facts and content (remembering), “how” asks about relationships (understanding and analyzing), and “why” asks about higher cognitive level skills (creating and evaluating).

 

 

 

EdX Quietly Developing ‘MicroBachelors’ Program — from edsurge.com by Jeff Young

Excerpt:

EdX, the nonprofit online-education group founded by MIT and Harvard, is quietly developing a “MicroBachelors” degree that is designed to break the undergraduate credential into Lego-like components.

In December, edX won a $700,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation to support the MicroBachelors effort with the organization’s university partners. Officials from edX declined to talk about the project, saying only that it is in the early stages. But at a higher-education innovation summit last month hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, listed the project as part of the group’s long-term vision that began with its MicroMasters program. And the organization has filed a trademark for the term “MicroBachelors” as well.

 

“Education in five to ten years will become modular, will become omnichannel, and will become lifelong,” Agarwal said at the meeting, later explaining that omnichannel meant offering courses either online or in person.

 

How would a MicroBachelors be different than, say, a two-year associate’s degree, which is arguably already half a bachelor’s degree? Sarma said that the idea behind both MicroMasters and MicroBachelors is that they are “about putting stuff that can be done online, online.” In other words, the big idea is offering a low-cost, low-risk way for students to start an undergraduate education even if they can’t get to a campus.

 

 

 

Also relevant/see:

 

 

 

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