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One of the first things we ask faculty to share in the Teaching Online Workshop (TOW) is their apprehensions and concerns about teaching online. The Teaching Online Workshop is an online course for faculty new to teaching online. Participants experience online education first-hand as students in this intensive four- week course.
Teaching online can be very different from what most of us have experienced in the traditional classroom. Many instructors have apprehension and see great challenges with this method of education.
After reading through module 1.1 about online learning and taking the faculty preparedness for online teaching self-assessment, what are your main thoughts or concerns about teaching online? What potential benefits might you expect?
Faculty Concerns (from 2013 TOW)
“My first concern is that I gather much feedback from the nonverbal communication between myself and the students during class regarding their understanding, interest, previous knowledge, etc. I am hopeful that I can still receive feedback to tailor my course for the students I will be teaching.”
“My concern is how to determine the optimum number of bells and whistles (news stories, blogs, wiki’s, video links) to include in order for students to stay engaged?”
“First, I am concerned about the fact that students who struggle with time management and/or have procrastination problems typically don’t fare well during an online course because some of the students who enroll in our class will undoubtedly fit into this category. Second, I have heard many students talk about how they just need to post something to a discussion board for credit rather than because they have a really thoughtful point they are intrinsically inclined to share, so I’m trying to think through how I can manage that issue. Finally, I’m nervous about how well I will do with creating an online classroom feel in which students engage in meaningful dialog with one another.”
“The challenge I see is keeping a balance of social chatter vs. specific assignment discussions, I have seen this get out-of-hand per some online classes. I always appreciated the online facilitator who encouraged more specifics from students who generalized; they also minimized extremely long posts by reminding students to stay on point and the importance of being succinct when discussing a point or adding a relevant comment.”
“I am also apprehensive about being organized enough to pull this off effectively and in a timely way. I always meet deadlines, but I tend to procrastinate up to those deadlines.”
I appreciate the honesty and variety of responses to this prompt and understand that these are all valid concerns for faculty new to online teaching. I will share more concerns later but my next blog post will highlight this groups’ perceived benefits of teaching online.
There are a plethora of misconceptions and challenges about online education within the academy. It is no secret that many higher education faculty members are skeptical about online learning and hesitate to teach online courses.
Last week I had an opportunity to lead a workshop for faculty about online education. Here are the 7 reasons/misconceptions why faculty may be resistant to teaching online.
Note that I added technology challenges as a reason for faculty resistance to online education after it was identified as a concern by several faculty members who attended the workshop.
I think these are all valid concerns if you believe the misconceptions about online education.
Image Source: Pixels.com
This is a quick summary of a FREE professional development webinar I attended from the Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) group. This FridayLive session was about good practices for online education, esp. those encouraged by accreditors, states, et al.
Courses and educational programs that have on-line or distance components have existed long enough to have a history. Scholars and accrediting agencies are sincerely interested in promoting good practices that improve student learning. What are the good practices that have emerged, where did they come from, how are they implemented by individuals and by programs, and what are the interests taken by external agencies such as states and accreditors?
Guest: David McCurry, Director of Distance Education at University of South Carolina Upstate
Interviewer: Doug Eder, emeritus assessment scholar and faculty member
Moderator: Steve Gilbert, TLT Group
Summary & Resources
It was a good conversation and lots of great resources were shared (see below). The TLT group is a great organization with a long history of promoting effective teaching practices. Dr. McCurry shared the attributes of good practices in online education from “National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements” (NC-SARA). We also discussed the 2018 CHOLE Report findings and the role of the Chief Online Learning Officer (COLO).
UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
ICT – Information and Communications Technology
There is no such thing as educational technology (Dr. McCurry’s blog)
A Concierge Model for Supporting Faculty in Online Course Design (MuCurry & Mullinix)
Leading & Managing eLearning (Book Recommendation)
Take advantage of upcoming Friday Live Sessions to learn more about Teaching, Learning and Technology. Keep up the good work TLT!
I just returned from LA after giving a talk at the beautiful Loyola Marymount University (LMU) as part of their Speaker Series. The Speaker Series is a very cool program that is:
“intended to help LMU faculty explore and understand the possibilities and potential challenges involved in online and hybrid teaching. Speakers are invited to facilitate an honest discussion of the opportunities, challenges, and pitfalls of online and hybrid teaching and to offer some lessons from their own institutions’ experiences.”
Like other organizations, higher education has been disrupted by the Internet and technological innovations over the past 20 years. The college classroom is changing as online and hybrid education become commonplace at many institutions today. Although there has been tremendous growth in online and hybrid learning, there is still a lot skepticism and resistance, especially from those who have no direct experience with these new learning formats.
Faculty resistance to online education is one of the challenges I highlighted during my talk.
Faculty resistance is a major challenge faced by traditional higher education institutions considering moving online. Many faculty are skeptical about online education and believe that:
- online courses are less rigorous
- there is more cheating in online courses
- online teaching is more time and energy intensive
- online courses are inferior to face-to-face courses
Faculty who haven’t taught online may assume online courses are self-paced with little opportunities for interaction with students. They may associate online education with correspondence or televised courses from the past that were much less interactive. They may also be skeptical about the quality of online courses.
Another reason for faculty resistance is the lack of rewards, especially related to tenure and promotion decisions. In many institutions, faculty who teach online are often looked down upon by colleagues. Although online education is more common today, there is little prestige for faculty who teach online.
If university leaders want faculty buy-in for online education, they need to acknowledge and address faculty resistance.
I was honored to be part of this wonderful series to talk about online education.
I used the “free” version of VoiceThread (VT) in my online course this fall, EDU 261 – Teaching, Learning & Technology, and based on that experience, I will definitely use it again. VoiceThread is a popular Web 2.0 tool used to foster learner engagement and increase instructor and student presence in online and hybrid courses. It is basically an online discussion on steroids, but it can also be used to create presentations and tutorials. Learners can add audio comments, video comments, or text comments to VoiceThread slides.
This is the second time I’ve used VoiceThread in this course. The first time VoiceThread was optional, and I only used it a few times during the course. This time I required students to use it as part of their course participation and discussion grade. I created a Voicethread almost every week to share mini lectures/announcements. Then bi-weekly, I required students’ to comment/respond to questions using VoiceThread in lieu of a traditional text-based discussion.
What I liked about teaching with VoiceThread
- Easy to re-record VoiceThread comments compared to other screencast/video recording tools.
- Flexibility for adding comments (text, audio, or video).
- Opportunity to both see and hear student comments
- Basic license free for students and instructor
- Very few technical issues
How I will use VoiceThread differently next time
- Use VoiceThread for ice breaker instead of threaded discussion
- Purchase license for VoiceThread to fully leverage the technology
- Use VoiceThread for Peer Review Assignment
- Share/post student tech projects
- Include Voice Thread discussion requirements on VT slide
- Require everyone to post at least one video VT comment early in the course
In addition to supporting several of the principles of good practice on the slide included in this post, VoiceThread also supports the following UDL principles:
- presenting content in a variety of formats
- keeping learners motivated by offering choices
- providing multiple means of engagement
I was able to teach the entire course using the FREE version of VoiceThread. The free account is available for anyone who is at least 13 years old and has a valid email address. It allows you to create up to 5 VoiceThreads, comment by microphone and text, and share or embed VoiceThreads via a shared link or embed code.
Register for FREE Voicethread account
- Go to http://voicethread.com
- Click “Register” in the top-right corner of the page.
- Fill out and submit the short form.
- Check your email for the confirmation message, and click on the verification link in this message.
Visit the link below to compare the differences between the Free account and the Single License here.
Give it a try!
I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Tony Bates, the author of Teaching in the Digital Age at the World Conference on Online Learning in Toronto. Tony is a leader in the field of online education and I was thrilled to receive an autographed hard copy of Teaching in the Digital Age at the conference. I use this as the textbook for my Teaching, Learning & Technology online course. Although the book was written 2015, it is still very relevant and worth checking out.
Dr. Bates is an outspoken advocate for preparing faculty members in the art and practice of teaching. In his 2017 end of year blog post, he laments:
“Without a grounding in pedagogy and a knowledge of the research into how people learn, it is impossible for most instructors to see the real potential of digital technology for improving their teaching.”
Tony’s stance on this important problem (lack of faculty training in pedagogy and how people learn) is similar to other critics of higher education in the US like D. Fink, John Sener, and Richard Felder.
I’ll end my blog post with a recent quote from Tony:
“Technology is best used when it helps solve an actual teaching problem.”
Learn more about this issue, OER, Innovation, and Online Learning in Tony’s “That was 2017 in online learning” blog post. Also, check out his FREE digital book for guidelines about teaching & learning in the digital age.
I’m looking forward to presenting my poster at the World Conference on Online Learning. The poster builds upon Chickering and Erhmann’s 1996 essay titled “Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as a Lever” which encouraged educators to employ technology in ways consistent with the seven principles of good practice. The seven principles are still very relevant today, and the poster highlights 21st technologies that can be used to leverage these research-based principles of good practice. Check out my poster here!
I’ve been debating on whether or not to use VoiceThread (VT) as an alternative to text-based, threaded discussions in an online course I’m teaching this Fall. The course is titled EDU 263 – Teaching, Learning & Technology. The last time I taught the class, we experimented with VoiceThread, but only during one week of a ten week class.
Instructor presence and community building are keys to the success for learners in online courses. VoiceThread will be used to not only support these principles, but also supports the following standard competencies for the course:
III. Utilize technology to manage and communicate information.
VI. Utilize instructional technology to support a wide variety of learners and learning styles.
VII. Explore various instructional tools and technology, including computers, video, graphics, multimedia, audio, and other media, and their contributions to the learning process.
VIII. Investigate and design a lesson using instructional technology coupled with a variety of instructional strategies, including: cooperative learning, discovery, problem solving, games, simulations, discussion, demonstration and presentation.
IX. Select the most appropriate instructional methods, materials, and media for a particular lesson or presentation.
The deciding factor for me as I was spending my Friday evening evaluating and testing VoiceThread, was receiving timely technical support from VoiceThread. I sent support a message to VoiceThread support tonight at 6:50 pm and received an email response from Sadie at VT at 7:14 pm which resolved my problem. What is really impressive is that I’m using a FREE version of VT! I’ve been experimenting with VoiceThread since 2009 and look forward to using it in my course.
Quality technical support is crucial when teaching with technology and I hope the level of support I received from VT tonight continues for me, as well as my students. I’ll let you know how it goes…
The Distance Learning Council (DLC) report below provides an overview of the current status of online/distance learning at the University of Denver (DU). It includes video clips from DLC panel presentations, information on national/local trends, and results of a 2016 survey of DU faculty and administrators about online learning. Take a look!
Tip: If you are unable to view the “Sway” report, visit the Distance Learning Council Portfolio.