Friday, December 5, 2014


I spent some time with a group of science teachers in a local district this week. We were exploring various ways to make the online environment a natural part of their teaching. There were questions posed that may not have straightforward answers—at least not “one right way to do it” type answers.

There are so many ways to connect in an online setting, but how do you, as the teacher, make it fun and engaging while moving student learning forward? Is it “required”? Does it only get assigned as “homework”? How does the teacher get students to “want to do it”? What if the student(s) don’t do it? And, since there is so much out there on the web, how do teachers sort through it all in an efficient manner?

I don’t have any specific, “one-right answer” to these questions, but discussion among the teachers, along with district administrators may move them closer to finding some answers. I know that when teaching adults in an online environment, they, as students, have certain expectations from the course content as well as from the online instructor. Meeting those expectations can make or break an online course. So what do they expect? (Remember, this is from my personal experiences—you may have a different view based on your own experiences.)

They expect:
  • Frequent communication from the instructor (known as instructor presence)
  • Clear directions about assignments, grading criteria, course expectations, etc.
  • Flexibility—with due dates, late assignment policies, etc.—life happens
  • An instructor who shows their “human” side by letting their personality show through (which means students feel they know the instructor personally)
  • Guidance: on how much time weekly readings, activities, and assignments take, the objectives of course, how and when to submit assignments, etc.
  • Some technological skills—able to troubleshoot technological issues a student may have in navigating the course, submitting assignments, seeing grades, and viewing feedback from the instructor
I am sure there are other things that could go on this list. Sometimes it seems like a tall order for an online instructor. But it is what good instructors do—both in the face-to-face and the online classroom environment.

How do you, or online instructors you have had in an online course, set the tone for the course? How can you live up to the expectations of online students? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

In the Spotlight: eduCanon

eduCanon is an online learning environment to build and share interactive video lessons. Teachers begin with any YouTube, Vimeo, or TeacherTube video content (screencasts, Khan Academy, Minute Physics, TED, NOVA, etc.) and transform what is traditionally passive content into an active experience for students. By time-linking activities that students engage with as the video progresses the content is segmented into digestible components - increasing student engagement and, through our real-time monitoring, informing the next day’s lesson planning” (from the EduCanon website). 

And it is free. It can be embedded into an LMS, like Moodle, or in a lesson builder application like Softchalk . An eduCanon lesson can also be shared with colleagues and they don’t even have to log in to view it. It can also be made public without being attached to a course—a new feature of the software.

Watch the following video to see and hear what it is all about:

Video doesn’t have to be a “sit and get” activity. Add some interactivity to how your students watch videos. It is easy and free—try it.

Let me know how it works for you and your students.

 Peggy Steinbronn, Ed.D.
AEA PD Online Instructional Designer

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