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

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