Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part III

Previous posts –

Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part I
Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part II

In this concluding blog let’s get to know ‘Building Virtual Community’ by online instructors which also plays a vital role in the portal of Online Learning.

“Online communities of practice are electronic gatherings that develop, evolve and disperse according to the energy of participants” (Reiser & Dempsey)

In a face-to-face community, a student can interact with his fellow classmates and teachers just about anywhere. Though, this is may not be done in online learning. Nevertheless, it’s not impossible.

When a student takes admission in an online class, he/she becomes a member of that class’s community. This student craves to share his/her views with his/her peers and teachers. This is the most important responsibility for the instructor.  Please, do not just post the assignments and expect students to be happy to submit it. I can hear you say,…”I don’t have just one student.” Right, you are busy with so many classes running but you may setup periodic communication with students through email, chats via Skype, class discussions through webinar etc. Think about this way, if a student is lagging in a brick & mortar classroom, your one-on-one conversation might motivate the student. The same is done in the online classroom. However, just the media is different. You may choose; a personal email, chat, etc.

An online learning should not be just about giving access to the content but also give access to the interaction and communication. Inability to collaborate and communicate with fellow students and teachers might lead to isolation and dropouts.

Final thoughts to consider before you build your learning community

  1. In the beginning of a course, encourage students to post about themselves (family, hobby, work, future goals, etc.) with a small introduction video or picture.
  2. One of my professors sent a personal mail to all the students and asked them to send her a mail, make a phone call or was available in skype for them to interact and make them feel comfortable.
  3. Involve the students for a group project work, a discussion in a webinar and so on.
  4. It might be helpful to ponder; if you were in a brick & mortar classroom, how would you collaborate with your students or pull the students as a group? With the help of technology and the same thoughts, you can help a student to give him/her a sense of community that would motivate to continue his/her education without any fear of being isolated.

Goldsmith (2001) “E-coaching is going to be a huge breakthrough in the way people learn, a huge breakthrough for coaching, a huge breakthrough in the way people get developed”.  “With E-coaching, you’re going to get the opportunity to learn what you need, when you need it, from whom you need it and from the best sources.”

Online instructors, you have a huge responsibility here. You can either make a student isolate and drop out or motivate them and reach their goals. What are you going to do?

References –

Reiser, R., & Dempsey, J. Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Goldsmith, M. (2001). E-coaching: The future of learning.

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Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part II

In continuation with my previous post, some of the major features to ponder while deciding to get your course work on-line are –

Synchronous learning – This kind of pedagogy is highly appreciated in the platform of on-line education. Incorporate synchronous teaching as much as possible, through webinar, video conferencing, live chat etc. As I recall, one of my professors arranges for one or two webinar, per semester. Synchronous learning makes a student feel at a classroom, of course virtually.  It enables students and teachers to collaborate and learn in real-time.

Motivation – The author of  http://blog.thewritersgateway.com, Rupa Rajagopalan is a well-known blogger in the arena of Instructional Design, In her blog she raised a questionWhat are the challenges with Online Training? 
For which I had commented,

“As an online student, I would like to point out that one of the foremost challenges in any online training program is “Motivation”.

The concept of motivation is a good one abstractly, but extensively it fails in the online training program. Nevertheless, there are some enormous ways to motivate students. The presentation of training program through ‘Multimedia’ itself will lead to reinforcement and positive motivation. The practice of Multimedia designing according to the 12 principles of Mayer will be of huge help during the program.

Walter Deal (2004) (p. 3) suggests, “Students who come to class and are well motivated generally will maintain or improve their level of motivation. However, students who are poorly motivated can benefit through additional attention to build their interest and motivation through teacher intervention”

Ruth Clark in her book (p 209) suggests that “Leverage personal interest to boost motivation”. She says, “Contextualize learning material in ways that relate to learner goals.”

Rupa says – “With online training, the trainer has to make an effort to keep the communication going. If there is a lack of communication, then the online training program is sure to fail.”

My opinion – I have seen myself lose motivation and interest if my professor does not take an interest in the students personally. I have one professor who interacts via mail with every student in the beginning of the semester and gives feedback to every comment we make in the discussion board throughout the semester. This certainly benefits us as we don’t feel isolated.

Rupa says – “The trainer needs to make the learners comfortable because most people are apprehensive about online training. I work hard on my attitude, tone and language to interact well with my learners and I am sure with time I will get better and better at it”

My opinion – Your students will be motivated with this perspective. For a distant student, this definitely helps to further continue with their program. I understand that it is difficult to maintain it but constructive criticism leads to improvement.

Deal, Walter F., III. “Using flash technology for motivation and assessment.” The Technology Teacher May-June 2004

Mayer, R. E. (2009), Multi-media learning (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Ruth Clark. (2003). Building Expertise (Second ed.). Silver Spring, MD: International Society for Performance Improvement. ”

I’ll conclude this series in my next blog with another important feature – “Building Virtual Community”

You might also like :

Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part I

‘Seven Principles of Good Practice’ to follow in designing Online Education

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© Priya Gopalakrishnan and eLearningbuzz.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

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Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part I

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The fast growth of technology has for sure affected the way education is experienced or shall we say delivered. Online education is the growing need for professionals in today’s economy.

Distance Education can be said as  ‘easy accessibility to learning’. Globally, all the universities have incorporated online learning in their curriculum. With many universities adapting online learning, it certainly takes high-quality coursework to keep their students motivated.

Thanks to the technology that’s helping me get my Masters in Instructional Design and Technology through online. During my coursework, I have received rich and proficient learning experiences. The praise goes to the instructor/facilitator of every course who has contributed diverse methodologies to offer competent knowledge and skill with an effective use of instructional technology.

With the experiences, I have gained; I would like to share the strategies that my instructors used, to build a virtual community that eliminates isolation and keeps the students motivated at the same time.

Eliminate Isolation – Judith L. Johnson, the author of the book, ‘Distance education, the complete guide to design, delivery and improvement’, recommends 5 points for facilitator (Pg 21). In her 2nd recommendation, her thoughts go towards isolated learning. Her suggestion is “to come up with a solid support system to assist students who for the most part are faced with independent and isolated learning.”

Isolation is when a student is left unaccompanied. Faculty has to make an effort to develop communications with the students often throughout the coursework. Technology plays a vital role in this situation. Faculty can connect with students by various methodologies. As I recall, during one of my courses, the instructor made the discussion board very active. She used to connect with every student by giving regular feedback to them. We also had a University messenger where we could chat with our instructor/facilitator, peers, etc.

We were asked to do collaborative assignments and project works. This was a little tough part as I had my peers in different time zones and with various life styles, however, once we figured out a way to communicate it became much fun and a sigh of satisfaction.

Personal connection with students – A one on one interaction is recommended with students. In one of my course works, when we students introduced ourselves with a picture or a small introductory video in the discussion board; the facilitator/professor of the course sent personal mail to us. Possibly, a phone call or a chat conversation with the students at the start of every course will make students comfortable. These approaches would certainly make a course rich in quality and will be highly motivating.

Include Video lectures – A high quality courseware would be where I can see and hear the faculty. For every chapter, I would like to see video of a faculty giving lecture on the lesson. This would be like having a one on one with the faculty for every learner. Duane Champion, Director of Computer Technology, Penn State Public Broadcasting, researched and developed ‘Web Presenter’, multimedia package in which faculty would be able to include live video, audio and many other features in the web-based course. More can be seen here http://qualityspotlight.psu.edu/web_presenter/index.html.

(Distance Education, The complete guide to design, delivery and improvement; pg 120) Author, Judith L. Johnson states about live video services in varying universities such as Coastline Community college in Fountain Valley, California and University of Maine System University College.

I would like to add Stanford University, who offers recorded video lectures. My husband graduated in Stanford’s Project Management Professional certification course. Throughout his course work, he heard saved video lectures. It was an innovative way of reaching students and putting them in ease with difficult chapters. I was highly impressed to see a real faculty in a traditional classroom. Video lectures is a great boon for Distance Education students.

In my next blog, I will continue with synchronous learning, virtual community etc.

Have you acquired any online courses? Could you please share your experiences on the delivery mode and how your instructor/facilitator connected with you?

You might also like :

‘Seven Principles of Good Practice’ to follow in designing Online Education

_________________________________________________________

© Priya Gopalakrishnan and eLearningbuzz.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

_________________________________________________________