University of Memphis New Faculty Orientation — online teaching tips

Posted on Posted in higher education, teaching

I was pleased to be part of a panel on effective teaching this morning for our new faculty at the University of Memphis. Here are the notes from what I shared this morning. There is so much to learn about effective online teaching, and this is just a brief list of some practical tips for instructors who are “thrown into the fire” and begin teaching just a few days from now.

  1. When designing a course, ensure alignment between objectives, instruction, and assessment.
    1. Write your assessment first.
    2. Then write measurable behavioral objectives.
    3. Then select the instructional strategies and activities.
  2. Get to know eCourseware
    1. Take courses, seek consultation with CITL, find colleague examples.
    2. Use eCourseware help docs and tutorials
    3. Learn these tools now: rubrics, dropbox, discussions, quizzes, and gradebook.
    4. Go “all or none” on the eCourseware internal email tool. I suggest “none”.
  3. Create a modular course syllabus, so you can modify individual parts over time.
    1. Create separate sections for major assignments, grading, contact info, about me, expectations, etc.
  4. Share a clear rubric for each assignment in advance.
  5. Send a clear introductory email before the course begins.
  6. Introduce yourself via video. Consider a phone call with each student. I give my mobile number to students. 
  7. Set expectations for how to contact you, level of access to you, and professional communication standards.
  8. Use and refer students to the UM help desk for technical support. (901) 678-8888.
  9. Have a frequently asked questions (FAQ) for your course.
  10. “Reply to all”, when appropriate, when a student emails you a question, so all can benefit.
  11. Consider connecting with students via LinkedIn.
  12. Give structure to online discussions.
    1. model what being a good participant looks like
    2. Provide an informal talk area.
    3. Include a “I have a question” forum. 
    4. Consider synchronous office hours that can be recorded (Google hangout, etc).
    5. Consider small groups for discussion. eCourseware handles this.
  13. Award “bonus points” for students finding dead links or errors in your course.
  14. Encourage students to write and show assignments publicly on the open web. 
    1. blogs.memphis.edu  is the University of Memphis wordpress installation.
  15. Require something in the first couple of days. quiz, email, etc.
  16. Keep your own log of each course–a journal about how it went, and what you should and did change or improve.
  17. Evaluate your course based on established rubrics or checklists.
    1. Course checklist from UM3D (ask Fair or Leonia).
    2. Quality Matters
    3. Online Consortium Scorecard
  18. Take an online course yourself.

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