Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Save Time and Communicating with your students

Sometimes we lose focus on the basic teaching skills that we need to be effective online instructors, and sometimes we just need to use tools to help ourselves be more efficient. While you are preparing your courses for the spring semester, consider what areas in the past that students got frustrated, confused, or lost. Here is a little checklist to go through as you prepare for the spring semester.

-Reread and rethink all your instructions for assignments. Could you add resources that would help students get off on the right foot? Do you outline your expectations for the assignment clearly? If you are using a new technology, do you explain how to use it and why it may be a valuable tool?

-Review your assessments, quizzes, and study aides for accuracy and clarity. For essay questions, create a list of facts, terms, ect that should be included for an A to compare to students papers.

-Look over your rubrics to be sure they are clear and seem appropriate. Are the rubrics easy to understand from the student perspective? Would a checklist or other format better suit your students?

-Add spring due dates to your schedule.

-Prepare a welcome announcement or news item that gets students started in the right place in the course. You should also include this as a welcome email. Compose a bank of news items that you use each semester to remind students of upcoming due dates and expectations.

-Compose a welcome discussion post that introduces you to the students. Think ahead and compose a bank of additional questions and summary posts for discussion topics and save them in a file, so that you don’t have to create them on the fly during the semester.

-Outline your expectations for behavior, timeliness, and work load.

-Check all links in the course to be sure they work and take students to web sites and locations in the course that you expect.

-Create an FAQs page or Tips and Tricks to help answer redundant questions you get each semester. You could have them for each assignment, unit, or the course in general.

- Be prepared to point students to the information they need and be prepared to restate information in new ways for your students.

Above all for online classrooms, remember the format can be new to many students and your patience, kindness, and understanding may be especially important the first few weeks of class. Conveying your interest in the students’ success these first couple of weeks can set the tone the rest of the year.

What methods do you use to be more efficient and still communicate with your students regularly and effectively?

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