OLC 2015 Session Notes: Teaching With Your Hands Tied

I am currently attending (and presenting) at the International Online Learning Consortium Conference in Orlando. After each session I attend I plan on sharing some of my notes that I find helpful from each session. If you would like to leave feedback or share other helpful tips for online learning contact me on Twitter @renshaw330


Many people seeking to teach online will find themselves in an environment where the content, schedule, and delivery of the course is standardized. There is little to no opportunity to modify anything in the course. This can often times be difficult for the teacher of the course because they may feel as if they are just a glorified grader. If you are in this type of situation how can be more than a glorified grader for the course.

The first session I went to was titled, “Teaching with Your Hands Tied”, which addresses this very issue. Here is a link to the PPT presentation http://tinyurl.com/teachuntied and below is some of my expanded notes from the session. I would say in summary what differentiates you from a mere grader is your interaction with your students. Interaction is one of the most important aspects of an online course. Students need to know that they are not just a mere number on the screen that is just progressing through a course. They need to know that there is someone on the other side of the computer screen that cares for them and wants to engage with them.

Teaching With Your Hands Tied Session Notes

Presenters: Aaron Traphagen and Brad Burgess from Liberty University

The Industrial Online Environment

  • Standardized content
  • Standardized design
  • Standardized delivery

Our Experiences

  • Experiences and frustrations with industrial model
    • Students want to feel as if they are just a number in the classroom
  • Experiences implementing new processes and tools
  • End of course surveys

Practical Tips

  • Announcements
    • Pre-course/weekly/mid-week
      • Before the class starts send out information about the course. Solicit questions students may have
      • 8 week courses with modules
        • Every week professors are required to send out a weekly email with deadlines, what’s going to be covered, and tips for the students
      • The midweek announcement is over grading, general feedback, etc.
    • Progress reports
      • Half-way through the course send out a progress report (Liberty works with a 1000 pts per class and students work up to that number)
      • Establishing presence and communication to the students. Students feel less like a number.
      • You must strive to have prescense in the online classroom
      • You’re not only facilitating information but letting the students know that you care about them.
    • Enhanced: Video/Design
      • Create a quick movie (trailer) with iMovie on the iPhone - cheesy but a good way to connect at the begining of the course
    • Tools: Remind.com/Populr.me
      • Remind.com allows students to sign up to the class to receive texts. You don’t see the students numbers and they don’t see your numbers — free for teachers. Aaron said he saw a dramatic increase in students completing assignments. This can be optional for students
  • Assignments
    • Opportunity for informal feedback (formative assessment)
    • Video/audio feedback
      • Jing is free
    • Timely feedback
      • This is key but always difficult to do
    • Faculty presence
      • Respond to email even if you can’t answer let the student know that you will get to it in a couple days or next week. Just that quick response lets students know you care about them
  • Enhanced Outreach
    • When - as teachers we should engage with students who are falling behind.
      • Missing assignments
      • Extended absence
      • Recognize students who are doing well
        • Send this out individually about the halfway point. Students love this type of feedback. As teachers we are usually reacting to students who are falling behind and the people who are working diligently through the course tend to not get recognized.
    • Tools
      • Email
      • Video
  • Virtual Meetings
    • When:
      • Office hours
        • Set times twice a week
        • The night an assignment is due tends to be more helpful for students (especially adult learners)
      • Synch moments (optional study sessions)
        • Send out invitation to attend online student session
          • Big presentation, walk through details, and answer questions (Liberty uses WebEx)
      • Weekly overview