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Quickstart Guide in Teaching Online

Teaching online is a different animal than teaching in a traditional face-to-face classroom. Being good at one does not necessarily translate to the other. So if you are making the move from the classroom to the Internet, the first place to start is with the realization that you will have to approach your instruction differently than you have been doing in the classroom.

How is Online Teaching Different?

teacher at computerThe Role of the Instructor. One of the primary differences is in your role as an instructor. In a traditional classroom, the instructor is the "imparter of knowledge." You lecture; students learn. Online, you provide students with a variety of sources of information and guide them through the process to an eventual outcome of learning (and yes, this puts more responsibility on students for learning than in a traditional classroom). For instance, instead of delivering a lecture on the economic collapse during the Great Depression, you may provide a couple of readings on it, a video clip, and some links to other resources on the topic. Then you might require students to participate in a discussion about the Depression where you ask questions that require the application of what they learned through the materials such as, "How are economic and political factors different or similar today than during the time of the Depression?" You provided the basic information and then required them to put it to use demonstrating their understanding of the material. This means your role—apart from designing a good course to begin with—is to provide meaningful feedback throughout the course.

The Preparation of the Instructor. It requires a lot of pre-planning to ensure a smooth and rich learning process. Although you can make changes as you go, you do not have the flexibility to change things or repeat a failed lecture like you do in a classroom. You cannot simply say, "I'll do a chapter a week with a test every other week," and get by in planning an online class. You have to think through the goals and objectives of the course and how best you can provide the learning experience. Since the best answer to that question may involve the development of a number of materials, you need as much lead time as possible to create your course.

The Presence of the Instructor. In a classroom, you are a visual, auditory, and even an emotional presence to students. They get to know you; you get to know them. Together you build a learning environment. This needs to happen online as well, but requires a different effort on the part of the instructor to make it happen. Online students do not see you. They may never hear your voice. All they get is the material you put in the course and occasional text messages from you. This requires that you pay special attention to what each student is doing and make concerted efforts to connect with them and monitor their progress.

How Do You Build an Online Course?

Start with the pedagogy. Avoid building your new course from scratch inside GeorgiaView. Start instead with your objectives—the key concepts to learn, knowledge to acquire, and/or skills to develop—and think through the various ways you can provide learning experiences. Collect materials, design active assignments in which students are interacting and participating. Then design your assessments that measure students' mastery.

Once you have these key ideas down, then start to build it in GeorgiaView. If you start the other way around—start building in GeorgiaView before you really have your content developed—then you may limit your thinking in what you can do in the course. GeorgiaView presents you with a set of tools that tend to give you blinders about different ways you could possibly build learning experiences. So if you start with well-developed learning objectives, you will be more likely to try and make GeorgiaView fit you rather than you adapting to GeorgiaView. To help with your design, take a look at Blackboard's exemplarly course rubric.

Design for Easy Navigation. Your course should be clearly navigable and understandable right from the beginning. Include a Start Here icon (or something similar) which links to an overview of the course, an introduction of the instructor, the course syllabus, and other introductory information to orient the student. The layout should include well-organized units (usually according to each week of the semester). However you do it, try to be consistent throughout the course.

Learn your LMS. LMS stands for Learning Management System. In our case it is GeorgiaView. Once you have the components of your course designed, it's time to learn how to put it all together in the LMS. See GeorgiaView.

Model Courses

One way to get ideas and inspiration for designing your class is to look at well-designed courses that already exist. See model courses.

Learn More

See our Pedagogy page for more in-depth information and links as well as the other pages available through this website.