Time-Saving Tips in Online Learning

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.

  1. Create a comprehensive syllabus
    1. Move all tech support to your college’s help desk. If you start answering technology questions, the students will keep asking them.
    2. Create a syllabus quiz.
    3. Create a course “scavenger hunt.”
  2. Make your course easy to navigate
    1. Keep as much content as you can no more than two clicks away.
    2. Use a consistent format week-to-week or module-to-module. This lets your students know what to expect each week.
  3. Schedule your time
    1. Do not work on your online course because you can; work on it because you have scheduled time.
    2. Let the students know your schedule.
    3. 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.
  4. Automate your course
    1. Take advantage of time-release features of announcements and other content.
    2. Record and reuse your lectures.
    3. Let your learning management system handle as much of the grading as you can.
    4. Use a detailed grading rubric.
  5. Distributing and exchanging documents
    1. Use the assignment feature instead of e-mail or the digital drop box.
    2. Have the students use the attach document feature in the forums.
  6. Centralized question and answers
    1. Use a discussion forum for “Frequently Asked Questions.”
    2. Create a FAQ page.
    3. 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.
  7. Use online groups with a deliverable
    1. Let the students do the work.
    2. Do not respond to every posting, respond to the deliverable.
    3. Assign student moderators for selected discussion topics.
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