Saturday, January 1, 2011

To Online or Not to Online, continued

Picking up where I left off before Christmas. We are still in the course design phase:

1. Be sure to consult with the ADA coordinator at your institution to be sure that your class is ADA compliant or that the institution even has any policy on this. It should, of course--SACS or other accrediting agencies will flag it. My point is that you should be aware.

2. Similarly, be sure you know about how the class will be evaluated, either for institutional research purposes or for your tenure and promotion track. Again, this policy should be in place at your institution. Do the students fill out an online form? Is it confidential/anonymous? Does the form take into account that the course is delivered partially or fully online, which makes some of the typical questions on SET irrelevant or inapplicable?

My point here is that you should know what you are getting into and design the class backward, and to be honest, if you are going to be "graded" for the class' design, you should design it based on the criteria of the "grading."

3. Decide how media rich and how many of the functions of the learning management system really are worth using/bothering with. Online Chat? Discussion board? Assignment dropbox? The question is not just how much time and effort you want to spend on them, but how useful they are in meeting the outcomes of the class, how easy it will be for the students to learn it (especially in terms of bandwidth issues), how time-consuming it will be for students, and what it might mean for your online office hours.

4. As you decide to use these different functions, you will have to have explicit or implicit rubrics for the students. For example, what constitutes correct or adequate use of the discussion board? I tell my students the post to the questions must be 100-150 words in length, composed in Word so that it is well-written (but not necessarily perfect), relevant and on point to the prompt, and that they must respond to a certain number of their peers, in order to get the "points."

5. Finally, for today, and this I have not done well myself, set boundaries about your availability. If you aren't going to respond after 5:00, don't and make it clear. I tell my students I don't touch a computer on Sunday--I celebrate Sabbath rest from technology as well as other forms of work. But I am very good about responses at other times. This 24/7 nonsense has to stop. I was discussing it with a colleague yesterday. She tells her students, "If I showed up to your workplace at 9:00 on Sunday, would you be there? Probably not. So why should you expect me to be at the computer all the time?"

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