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


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

(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?

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


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



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

[tweetmeme]Good quality training material is defined differently for every individual. A definition must be substantiated, the quality of education must be assessed and evaluated regularly.  As an instructor or an instructional designer, we must look at a variety of indicators to get an evident picture of the quality of educational material that we design for online students.

‘Seven Principles of good Practice’, was developed by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda Gamson in 1987 and was later revised in 1996 with a focus on technology. These principles offer suggestions on how to assess and evaluate online education. “The principles were based on a research in teaching-learning activities that produced improved outcomes” (Ehrmann, 2000, p.38). The research has set the groundwork for education systems standards and the implementation of the seven principles of good practice-a foundation used by higher educational institutions everywhere.

Given below are the Seven Principles of Good Practice in online education –

  1. Good practice encourages contact between students and instructor – Frequent contacts between a student and an instructor right from the commencement of the class through the end of the class needs to be encouraged to motivate and have the students involved. E.g. Communicating with students via; Web conferencing, Email, Discussion board, etc. By communicating with the students, the students won’t feel isolated and therefore, will be encouraged to continue the education.
  2. Good practice develops reciprocity and cooperation among students – Collaborative learning develops thinking and expands understanding. Working/studying in a team enhances involvement in learning. E.g. Team project work.
  3. Good practice uses active learning techniques – Students must present reflective write-up about what they are learning, instructor may encourage writing that relates to their past experiences, and apply those to their present situation. Encourage students to participate in asynchronous tools like discussion boards to present their write-up and respond to their peers. By discussing/Critiquing peers work, students are motivated and get involved in learning.
  4. Good practice gives prompt feedback – Recognizing whether you are right or wrong benefits in focusing what you learn. Students at any stage always need help in assessing their existing knowledge competence. The students in online education usually anticipate to two types of feedback; informative feedback and acknowledgment feedback. Informative feedback motivates students and helps them to move further with confidence. Acknowledgment feedback is to inform the student that they have received an assignment and so on.
  5. Good practice emphasizes time on task – Allocating a quality amount of time will always lead to effective learning for students as well as for instructors. Online education needs to have timely deadlines for the students to stay on track and avoid procrastination.
  6. Good practice communicates high expectations – Instructors need to expect high expectations from student’s performance. They can maintain this by assigning challenging project or assignment work throughout the course. E.g. Faculties can show examples of work from older students and explain to the students, how the example work met her expectations. Make your expectations very clear in the beginning of the course work.
  7. Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning – Make tailored course work. Allow students to choose their own project/ assignment work rather than assigning them a particular topic. This will always bring out student’s self-confidence as it would encourage bringing out their talent as well as sharing their own perspective.

Do you accept the ‘Seven principles of good practice’, or are there other principles you consider should also be looked at when assessing quality in learning?


© Priya Gopalakrishnan and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

The impact of Internet and web in ‘K-12 education, Higher Education and Adult Education’

Selected as one of the ‘Best Blog Posts of the Week; May 30, 2010 – June 05, 2010‘  by

The technological innovations of Internet and the web demonstrates a major impact in –

  • K-12 Education (public, private, home school)
  • Higher Education (community colleges, colleges/universities)
  • Adult Education (business, health care)

K-12 Education

Internet and web already have a major impact in K-12 education. It has been around for some time now. Nearly a decade back I worked on a few websites for a private school that would teach math, grammar, spellings for k-8 kids in a fun and interactive way. Online educational games are getting more and more popular in this arena.

Many web-based instruction are also available for home school children; California Virtual Academies use personalized curriculum for K-12. Their curriculum are designed based on their research work of ‘how young minds work’. Children are encouraged to do research work on the web for their assignments.

Many schools in the process of going green are encouraging their students to send their homework online and also the student’s performance is assessed through online exams. The mission of ‘One Laptop per Child’ foundation is to create educational possibilities for the world’s poorest children by giving each child a low-cost laptop with content and software loaded for collaborative learning. Children love technology and when they are given this tool, they are ready to educate themselves, get connected to the world and look forward to a brighter future.

In the current K-12 education world, the involvement of web is reflected as one of the essentials of school.

Higher Education

The impact of internet in higher education is fairly huge, and it is anticipated much more in the coming years. Internet education is a big blessing for the students who are not able to attend in-person classrooms due to many reasons.

Gone are the days when online universities were a big mystery, since they did not show themselves to the world. Today, almost all the brick and mortar universities around the globe have adapted to online education. Their courses are divided into three categories; face to face or traditional classrooms, blended or hybrid and online courses. When I receive a brochure of my local community college, a separate section is devoted to online courses, as well as to hybrid courses. Education has no boundaries after the online education has been recognized.

Given below are just a few features that are available for online students –

  • Face to face interaction is replaced by Video conferencing with professors and classmates using many online collaborative tools but at the same time maintaining similar interaction and educational values as in any classrooms.
  • Classmates share wiki for working on collaborative projects.
  • Apart from the above examples, not to forget; saving commuting time, an opportunity for stay at home mom, upgrading your profile while working, etc.

Yes, there are certain disadvantages to this kind of education. More than traditional classrooms, the online education is a bit intensive and rigorous; however, a little planning and organizing would solve the problem. One might have to give up the socializing part of traditional classrooms. These disadvantages mean nothing over the benefits we gain at this level of education.

Adult Education

The corporate world is immensely progressing to give training through online to their new employees. It’s no more just; give them a bunch of manuals and ask them to study before they join their work. From time to time, the company encourages their employees to take up online courses that would be useful for their organization. Varieties of multimedia training programs are created for the employees to get acquainted about the company. Here are a few examples – training –

Comcast –

Employee Security –

Even health care is making a massive leap towards the Web. A couple of years back, in India, a major surgery saved a life. This surgery was special; the reason, the surgery was performed in India with the help of a surgeon in USA. I believe in both the sides web-cams were connected and the surgeon was giving instructions to the Indian doctors looking at the patient in monitor screen. Amazing isn’t it?

A diversity of interactive websites are devoted to health care that can teach upcoming health specialists to task on certain body parts. Wondering how is that possible? Here are a few examples –

Virtual Knee Surgery –

Interactive tour on Human Brain –

This is Web 2.0 era, and already we are enjoying such huge possibilities. With Web 3.0 fast approaching, how do you think K-12, Higher Education and Adult Education would be more benefited?

Thanks to for providing the eLearning demo links. You can find other E-Learning Demos at


© Priya Gopalakrishnan and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

Do you believe that Instructional Designers require a Degree?


I know, you are thinking, another post on this topic…

The argument on whether, ‘Instructional Designers need a degree or not’, has been around for a very long time.

As a Graduate student of Instructional Design and Technology, my vote certainly goes for – Yes, Instructional Designers require a degree.

  • A certification will set apart instructional technology from other technology areas of proficiency.
  • Certification would authorize the competency of skilled instructional designer and gives an identity to our profession.
  • Certification provides a right to new professionals who are committed towards their occupation.
  • Certification will mark towards liability and integrity within any industry.

However, only a few hold a degree. No offense to anybody, It seems that instructional designers are made from all walks of life; a teacher, a technical writer, a flash designer and so on. I may be biased, but I think, my degree would be a waste of money and time if someone could learn what I can do on their own and compete for the same jobs.

The majority of the instructional designers outside USA, do not have the background of Instructional Design; they are either technical writer or faculties who were teaching computer courses in a private institute or just a fresher after their Bachelor degree (from any background). They gain training from the company in which they are appointed as a jr.instructional. After a few years of experience, they would become sr. instructional designer.

Is there any value for education or not?

With technology rapidly changing and improving every day it gets difficult to stick upon a competency. However, a basic instructional design degree should be a requirement to enter this field.

Read more on this issue by Dr. Karl Kapp in his blog –

You might also be interested in this ongoing debate in LinkedIn on this issue –


© Priya Gopalakrishnan and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

Media overload in instructional web pages and its impact on eLearning.


Selected as one of the ‘Best Blog Posts of the Week; May 02, 2010 – May 08, 2010‘  by

Multimedia positively has the prospective to increase the quantity and quality of information available to learners. More than long and lengthy texts, properly utilized and incorporated rich media assist learners to construct precise and efficient mental models.

However, the purpose of media in Instructional Design is not only to incorporate multiple media or to insert cool effects but to apply individual medium to its advantage in such a manner, that the potential learning becomes better and more effective than using a single element.

Unfortunately, I came across only a few websites that could demonstrate an example of effective use of media for learning. The others were a bunch of online encyclopedias that use an overload of media to educate the users about a single subject, for example –

  • The webmaster/instructional designer’s have provided links to ‘You Tube’ videos, which again redirect the learner’s to many other non-related videos.
  • They have provided links to the additional article of interests, links to other websites for the same information. This extra information’s are misleading for the learner.

By the time the learner settles down on a page to learn, he is so crowded with other topics that he might stop for a minute and ask, ‘why am I here again?’

The instructional web pages, online courses or call it elearning recognizes a massive prospective in the future. It is the duty of the instructional designers to select meticulously appropriate media that flawlessly support a learning requirement.

Examples of media overload or non-relevant items that impacts elearning.

In my opinion, these are a few non-relevant media overload that distracts from learning –

  • Adding lengthy videos – The video content should be relevant with the topic and the particular industry.
  • An appropriate medium to Video Blog sites – Instead of giving the direct links to ‘You Tube’ videos, the required video code may be embedded within the educative material. Extra informative links or videos can be added in separate page and not within the topic.
  • Picture speaks thousand words – Utilize graphics that support the content and not as a decorative
  • Avoid irrelevant text and audio.

In spite, of the demand for elearning, why do we come across such bad examples? As an instructional designer, are we forced to add extra elements just to make the tutorial beautiful?

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