Thursday, March 20, 2008

Time Saving Tips for Distance Educators

Sometimes it is easy top get overwhelmed with the amount of work that can take place when teaching online. "Scope creep" can happen in distance education just as it can in any project. What follows here are some basic tips to keep you organized (and sane) as you return from Spring Break.

  • Make your course easy to navigate. .
    --Label the buttons in the menu appropriately and delete ones that are not needed.
    --Organize your content in folders, modules, units, or whatever you would like to call them for each lesson or each week of the class.
    --Use a similar format from week to week or lesson to lesson so students will quickly learn what to expect.

  • To avoid specding time answering numerous e-maail, phone calls and discussion questions about course basics:
    --Provide a comprehensive syllabus that fully explains how the course works.
    --Develop an FAQ (frequently asked questions) document and post it in your course.

  • Schedule
    --Spell out your schedule will be for providing feedback and responding to questions.
    --Set aside a specific time each day that you will devote to the class.
    --Effectively manage your e-mail to reduce the amount of time you spend sorting, searching, and responding.
    --Develop a FAQ for e-mail, too. Copy and paste them into e-mail replies to students.

  • Discussion
    --Encourage them to post their questions in the discussion boards where other students can read & answer.
    --Assigning one or two students to facilitate the discussion each week.

Interesting Tips from the web

"Make use of free electronic greeting cards to help with student rapport, and let the students know you are there!"

"One way I learned to save time both for me and for students was by setting up a “What’s New” section at the beginning of the online course. In the past, I added content to whatever section seemed appropriate. Students either complained about not finding the new material or they simply did not respond adequately to the new assignments or lecture notes. Indicating what has been added at the beginning of the site makes it much easier for students to focus on the new material, and it also provides me with a quick reminder at the start of class about what needs to be covered in the discussion."

"14. Use reusable learning objects and free on-line resources developed by other faculty and made available for widespread use. See a list of such resources at"

Find more great tips at:

Planning and Organizing for Distance Education
Heidi Ashbaugh, Instructional Design Specialist, Lifelong Learning, TWU

Some materials adapted from
Time Saving Tips for Distance Learning Instructors

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

3rd Annual eLearning Lecture - April 4th

Please join the Office of Lifelong Learning for the 3rd Annual eLearning Lecture on Friday, April 4th at 10 a.m. Our lecturer will be Dr. José Bowen, Dean of the Meadows School of the Arts and Professor of Music at Southern Methodist University.

For more information and to register, please visit the eLearning Lecture website. The registration deadline is Monday, March 31 so register soon!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

My video clip wont play!

Video Convertor Program

All videos that we use today come from widely different sources and have varying formats that may or may not play on our computers. To help ease the pain of trying to download different players to accommodate the formats, one thought is to change the format of the video.
There are many video convertor programs available to edit and/or convert video formats. Most are under $5o and have a free trial version to download. I have tested several and my picks are Prism ($59) and Xilisoft ($35).
They are both easy to use and quick on the conversion process. I would ultimately go with the Xilisoft program as it has the capacity to convert most all of the formats we come across on a daily basis. It can convert AVI, MPEG, MP4, WMV, FLV, SWF and many more. It also can convert audio files as well.
Prism can be found at and xilisoft is at so next time you have a video conflict consider changing the format instead of downloading another player.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Distance Education Project Webpage

See what Distance Education is up to from our new Project Webpage. It gives a brief description of all the projects, product trials and campus involvement that Distance Education is currently participating in. Our Project Webpage is available at