Sunday, January 27, 2013

Effective Online Learning Experiences

Week 3:  Setting Up Effective Online Learning Experiences

The steps for setting up an effective online learning experience for adult learners should not be that much more different than that of a face-to-face adult class.  The most important thing should be the instructor’s connection with the content.  Does the instructor have a wealth of background knowledge and experience with the course to help direct and support learning adults or no different than children when it comes to learning we need someone to learn from to.  This helps to set up the learning environment and what is expected of students.  Learning online only takes place when the instructor and students are engaged in the material and one another. 

Online learners depend on each other to build knowledge based on constant feedback from each other.  While in a face-to-face class students take notes, take a test and write papers and experience a great deal of interaction with the instructor and peers.  With online classes there is this notion that independent discipline is a must.  Students must make it a point to read and re-read for understanding how to navigate an online university from the course page to the resources of the course and the university’s library.  Students answer discussion questions, post papers and as in this course create blog pages.  A lot depends on the clarity of written communication because online is in a sense not in real time.  If there’s a question you have an area you can email the instructor for assistance or call during normal business hours (keep in my online means students from all over the world with different time zones).  But for the most part there’s a technology support line to help with technical difficulties.

In planning a face-to-face course, many faculty devote significant time to creating and developing lectures.  For online teaching, the time spent in preparing lectures transforms into preparing short text, audio or video introductions or mini-lectures, developing and managing threaded discussions, and monitoring other student spaces, such as forums on the course site (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010, p. 65).  The instructor should always keep the discussions interesting, because they have an advantage with communicating with students that face-to-face instructors don’t have.  Investing time in developing good questions for the discussion boards and planning out the scoring rubrics and evaluation of the discussion boards makes a real difference in how quickly a learning community starts to form in a course (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010, p. 66).  I think online students are willing to respond and share more not only about the course but also about themselves opposed to in a face-to-face course.     More simply put just keep in touch with students and provide them with as much feedback that fosters positive learning as possible.



Boettcher, J.V. and Conrad, R.M. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and  
      Practical Pedagogical Tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


  1. Aubrey,
    It is very important that every instructor has background knowledge of the subject in which they are teaching, particularly in an online setting. Because there is no face to face interaction, the way we communicate our knowledge and skills is very important to how successfulour learners can be.I also agree with your statement about the freedom in how learners share in the online setting. I know that I am more outspoken in the online forum. You have to set the stage as an educator to ensure that your learners are receiving the best possible education.

  2. Aubrey-
    I agree that it is important for instructors to really know the course content and have the expertise to teach the subject. This is as critical as clear communication. I like your suggestions about the importance of the discussion board and keeping that interesting , most of my one line courses have been pretty interesting, but, I have had a few discussions that were pretty generic and boring. I like it when questions allow for sufficient depth of response and require us to refer to several sources and draw from experience. I get to learn so much in making my reply, but then gain even more when I read everyone's replies. Thanks for your blog this week.