Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year’s Resolution for Your Online Course

Ok, it is really 2010; that is so weird to type or say. The spring semester is days away and you need to tweak your course. So what resolution have you made to rejuvenate your course?

The best way to put new life into your course for you and your students is to look way back into 2009 and see what the students had to say about the course. Look at the discussion board area where you asked students to post the muddiest points or general questions. If there was a theme among student questions or comments for an assignment or other areas, that maybe a good place to start. Reviewing the instructions you wrote and/or having a peer look at them for clarity or understanding can help future students. Also, if there was an assignment or assessment that was particularly difficult for the students, a closer look here could shed some light on how you could alter the instruction for the assignment or assessment to make the experience work more smoothly for the students and you.

If you have not included a Discussion Board section to cover the muddiest point or a Discussion Board area for general questions, now would be a good time to add this to your spring course. Faculty have found that by adding these questions to their Discussion Board areas, it has drastically cut back on their email from students. Many times, a posting to the Discussion Board area can answer many students’ concerns with a single entry from you. And the students in the course can help post an answer to other students’ questions as well. The students also feel more involved with their peers when faculty use these Discussion Board areas for students to use.

You may also want to consider adding group Discussion Board questions to your online course as a break from the whole class Discussion Board. This gives your students a smaller group to work with and allows the students an opportunity to get to know their peers better and have a deeper dialogue with them.

There are many ways to challenge your students with the Discussion Board and talking with your Instructional Designer is a great way to start.

Valerie Shapko
Senior Instructional Design Specialist, Houston Center

Heidi Ashbaugh
Senior Instructional Design Specialist, Dallas

Tracey Mac Gowan
Instructional Design Specialist, College of Professional Education

Jake McBee
Instructional Design Specialist, College of Arts and Sciences

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