Quick and Easy Course Improvements that All Online Instructors Should Consider

Many articles and workshops explore complex concepts and tools that may not be suitable for everyone.  With this in mind, I asked our instructional design team at ASU Online, “What are some easy, non-technical, low-hanging-fruit-type enhancements for online courses that all instructors should consider?  Here are the recommendations we came up with.   Continue reading

My Favorite Indie Games for Education

education-gaming

In June, I was fortunate to again attend the Games for Change (G4C) festival in New York. As in past years, the highlight for me was hearing indie developers talk about how their game vision was realized by conscious selection of various storytelling techniques and game mechanic decisions. Designing games is like composing music, making movies, writing novels, building houses, or painting pictures because games provide the structure for interesting things to happen. Continue reading

Faculty Showcase: Short Introductory Video Announcements

Joana Girante, Professor of Economics with the W.P. Carey School of Business, discusses how she uses short introductory video announcements in her online courses to introduce weekly topics. Knowing that her largely non-economics majors’ audience is a bit apprehensive about the topic, she illustrates that economics is everywhere and relevant; it is in music and in everyday decisions.

Girante uses highly engaging video announcements based on narrated PowerPoints using a variety of animated graphs, pictures, and Youtube videos to contextualize her weekly online content.  She discovered that her students used the videos as an additional study tool and that it gave her an opportunity to mimic the impromptu comments often made in the in-person environment.

9 Proven Ways for Instructors to Address Online Student Retention

With accessibility to online education increasing, the retention of online students has become a concern of academic leaders in higher education (Allen & Seaman, 2015). As a result, many universities have launched initiatives to improve course completion, program completion, and student support services (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2015). Although many causes for students withdrawing from an online course are beyond the realm of instructor control, retention and attrition can be reduced through various means. Continue reading

The CATs in a Hat: Fostering Higher Order Thinking

This is the third article in our series on Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) which can be used to gauge lesson effectiveness and student comprehension. To review, CATs were developed by Angelo and Cross (1983) to efficiently check whether students understand a certain concept. For more examples of these formative assessments, please see our previous posts:

In this article, we will present three CATs focusing on developing Higher Order Thinking Skills (see Collins, 2014) and that can also be used face-to-face, hybrid, or online teaching. Continue reading

Strategies for Providing Effective and Efficient Instructor Feedback

or “You can provide student feedback, but how do you know if it’s really ever read?”

Instructors strive to provide effective feedback in a timely manner to help their students learn and be successful. Logistically speaking grading especially in large enrollment classes, can become an especially arduous task. Frequently, TAs are employed as graders to help lighten the workload. While such a strategy may be necessary from a management standpoint, it does hinder instructors from making a closer connection to students and better identifying where students are having difficulty. However, no matter what the size of the class, there are strategies to help instructors to more easily manage the delivery of feedback to students. Continue reading

How Important Is Instructor Presence in an Online Course?

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Creating an Educational Experience

The ability to establish presence is closely connected to the ability of the instructor to create a sense of community among learners in an online course. (Palloff & Pratt, The Excellent Online Instructor, 2011)

Research has long pointed to engagement as a key predictor of student success (Pascarella & Terenzini (2005), Kuh, (2005) CITE). Fortunately, new online learning environments and tools (see ASU Online Digital Learning Platform) provide a variety of opportunities for students to engage not only with course content, but during student-student and student-interaction as well. (Swan, 2004) Continue reading

ASU Faculty Showcases Innovative Teaching

Faculty, instructors, graduate students, and staff from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) recently met for the 3rd CLAS Demofest to showcase innovative teaching practices across diverse content areas. For this semester’s event, eight presenters from seven different departments and schools in CLAS shared and discussed their teaching, spanning a variety of course formats (face-to-face, blended, online) and different student enrollment (large lecture courses, small undergraduate and graduate seminars, etc.). Continue reading

Gauging Student Understanding: CATs are puuuuur-fect

Do you find yourself wondering whether your online students are really learning? Whether they are really getting it? During face-to-face classes, an instructor often can use visual cues, such as a puzzled look or a nodding head from a student, to gauge whether students are understanding a certain concept. If they don’t, an instructor has the flexibility to easily explain the concept again or even change the lesson’s activities to ensure that students get it. But what if you are teaching online and can’t always see these visual clues?

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Setting the Stage for Meaningful Peer-to-Peer Feedback

Although many instructors integrate group-based or team-based learning activities into their teaching (see TeachOnline post on The Value of Group Work), getting students to actually provide meaningful peer-to-peer feedback can be challenging. Too often, cultural norms or fears of potential social backlash make students veer away from critiquing each other in a group setting or an online discussion forum. As a result, peers often do not know how to provide meaningful feedback and tend to fall back on statements, such as “I agree with what s/he said!” or the infamous Facebook-popularized, “I like it!”

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