Online teaching

Darren at Teaching and Developing Online had a link to an eSchool News article called These traits make online teachers successful.  It is one of those articles where you have to be registered and sign in to read the second page, but it is free, so you might want to do it.

The article reports on a presentation at the 14th annual Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning that was held last week.  The presenter was Bill Phillips.  According to the article,

He said all four demonstrated the “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” (Chickering & Gamson, 1987), which are:

– Encouraging student-faculty contact;
– Encouraging cooperation among students;
– Encouraging active learning;
– Giving prompt feedback;
– Emphasizing time on task;
– Setting high expectations; and
– Respecting diverse talents and ways of learning.

The online teachers also

exhibited what Phillips called “swift trust,” a term taken from the military. “You have to exude authority … and gain students’ trust from Day One or before,” he explained, noting that all four instructors he observed shared this characteristic.

They did this by sending students a note to students before the course started, introducing themselves and telling them them what was expected in the course.  He said the teachers

were all effective writers, used humor judiciously, spent long hours online, provided a lot of feedback, and were caring, compassionate, flexible, creative, and organized. In addition, they created a lot of redundancy–that is, they posted directions and reminders in many places throughout the online course environment, to make sure students understood their assignments and what was expected of them.

From my own experience as an online instructor, I know how important these last things are.  I am online a lot.  I check the course site at least twice a day.  I post directions and suggestions lots of places inside the course.  I have discovered that students are very selected about what parts of the site they look at, so if something isn’t posted in several places, some of them won’t see it.  I try to give them lots of feedback, both in writing on the website, in personal messages  through the site, and also orally through Skype conferences.

I love teaching online.  I want to do more of it.  But I also want to improve my face to face teaching, too.  And I think some of these additional qualities that make for a successful online teacher also make for a successful face to face teacher.

The article is interesting.  I suggest you read it if you are even remotely interested in online education.


2 thoughts on “Online teaching

  1. Nancy,

    I’ve also read the “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education”. I took it as a framework to develop guidelines for University undergraduates here in my faculty ( ). As an undergraduate I also feel the importance of the seven points that Bill Phillips has has illustrated.
    But I am yet to implement the framework because I am under the doubt that how my colleagues would react.

    Lasitha Silva

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