Friday, October 10, 2014

Is Anyone There?

Hello and welcome to the AEA PD Online’s first  Friday Feature”.

AEA PD Online will be hosting a series called Friday Feature twice a month. The goal of the Friday Feature is to highlight things AEA PD Online does, as well as provide information about online teaching and learning.

So, let’s talk about instructor presence in an online course. If you have ever been a student in an online course, you may have experienced differing levels of instructor presence—depending on the course, the topic, the instructor, etc. Maybe the only interaction you experienced with the instructor was getting your grade. Or, maybe the instructor was engaged in conversations with you as an individual, and/or with the class as a whole through discussion forums, chats, emails, announcements, etc. Which instructor do you prefer? How do you know if the instructor is present?

Instructor presence is one of the factors that many online students comment on most often in course evaluations. What is instructor presence? Since students don’t physically “see” the instructor, a sense of instructor presence is created through the way the course is designed and delivered. Video chats for virtual office hours, photos, narratives, a welcoming video introduction—all easy things to create—can provide students with an “image” of who the instructor is in their online course. Instructors need to spend a little bit of time, before the course begins, setting up the classroom online environment.

Once the course is in session, online instructors can add announcements, post to discussion boards, provide feedback on assignments, upload photos or videos, email students—both individually and to the class as a whole—all of which will provide “evidence of engagement” to online students.

Online instructors can also directly ask students for feedback throughout the course. Feedback can be anonymous. For example, at the end of a unit you might ask, “Was this information clear, or were there any points you didn’t understand?” Face-to-face teachers do this all the time—so can online instructors. Online instructors can also ask questions specifically about their role as an instructor, such as:

·      Is the timeliness of my response helpful?
·      Are the types of responses you are getting helpful?
·      Is there anything else I could be doing to help you?

If you, as in online instructor, ask for student feedback, then you also had better be ready to respond to it, and you may even want to implement some of their suggestions in the current online course.

So—what tools can you use to help create this sense of instructor presence? The use of audio and video can be easily incorporated into an online course. Moodle has some built-in tools that can be used by both students and instructors—it is called “PoodLL”.
Using PoodLL, online instructors  and their students can:

·      Record Audio: Record your voice or other audio input and save it directly into an MP3 file.
·      Record Video: Record video into assignments, questions…anywhere!
·      Draw Pictures & Diagrams: Draw or snap pictures and save them using PoodLL's online whiteboard application.
·      Use Cool Widgets: PoodLL includes Stopwatches, flashcards, dice, timers and more to help your students master certain types of information.
·      Use most of the features with mobile devices: HTML5 compatibility means PoodLL activities will work well with many mobile phones & tablets.

Want to see what it is all about?

2.    Log into Moodle.
3.    In the Go To Course panel, (left side of window), type in the course number, 5.
4.    Click on the Audio and Video tab in order to view the tutorials and get student directions for submitting audio/video assignments

In the Spotlight

A new, self-paced course, Social Media for the Classroom, is now available.

This course explores various social media tools—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest. Teachers/educators can get 1 license renewal credit for only $60.00!

And, because it is self-paced, you can take it on your own schedule—no worries about start and end dates—begin when it is convenient for you, finish as your schedule allows.

Check it out at
Peggy Steinbronn, Ed.D.
AEA PD Instructional Designer

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