Online learning saves time for students. Students in online courses have 24/7 access to their course materials, other students, and their instructor. For working students, this is an incredible benefit. But we often hear that online learning takes a lot of an instructor’s time. I have found that it can be, but when a course is set up in advance to take advantage of a learning management system’s features, a lot of time can be saved. Many of these techniques make for a more engaging experience for the students and less stress for the instructor.
- Create a comprehensive syllabus
- Move all tech support to your college’s help desk. If you start answering technology questions, the students will keep asking them.
- Create a syllabus quiz.
- Create a course “scavenger hunt.”
- Make your course easy to navigate
- Keep as much content as you can no more than two clicks away.
- Use a consistent format week-to-week or module-to-module. This lets your students know what to expect each week.
- Schedule your time
- Do not work on your online course because you can; work on it because you have scheduled time.
- Let the students know your schedule.
- Access your course consistently (e.g. three times a week) and respond to email promptly (with-in 48 hours). Let the students know your communication policies up front and follow them.
- Automate your course
- Take advantage of time-release features of announcements and other content.
- Record and reuse your lectures.
- Let your learning management system handle as much of the grading as you can.
- Use a detailed grading rubric.
- Distributing and exchanging documents
- Use the assignment feature instead of e-mail or the digital drop box.
- Have the students use the attach document feature in the forums.
- Centralized question and answers
- Use a discussion forum for “Frequently Asked Questions.”
- Create a FAQ page.
- Ask students to ask questions in the discussion board rather than e-mail. Give extra credit for students who answer questions in the “Question” forum.
- Use online groups with a deliverable
- Let the students do the work.
- Do not respond to every posting, respond to the deliverable.
- Assign student moderators for selected discussion topics.