Role of the Online Teacher (6 Hours Accountability)
Today was a typical Monday for an online teacher, at least typical in the sense of how I like to have my Mondays go. I literally sat at my home office desk for 11 hours straight, and I got so much done. I wouldn’t want to spend every day like this, but today was a day that clearly defined what online teaching is all about. There are many important elements that need to be managed to have a successful online class. Here are a few of the important things that need to accomplished.
- Weekly podcasts – Having an audio and/or video announcement at the start of each week to get students started with the week’s work. You can make connections in the readings and assignments, clarify current readings and assignments, and personalize the course. Using audio and video is important to me because it gives the course a face and a voice. And as Jill Schiefelbeing (@impromptuguru) would say, it gives the online class a “human touch.”
- Grading – feedback is a powerful motivator. “Extrinsic motivation is motivation to perform and succeed for the sake of accomplishing a specific result or outcome. Students who are very grade-oriented are extrinsically motivated” (Kirk, 2012). I feel it’s very motivating for students to grade their work in a timely manner, but also it’s important to give feedback on the work. This can be the most challenging part of teaching. Most of today was spent grading, writing feedback, and challenging students to do more. I have some great tools to help with that. I’m using Cengage’s InSite with TurnItIn tools and rubrics, McGraw-Hill’s new Connect Composition 2.0 with a great diagnostic, personalized learning plans and online handbook, and Canvas LMS with their rubrics. All these tools make keeping up with the grading a lot easier than in past semesters.
- Interactions – Often the missing part in online classes is student/student and student/teacher interactions. Last week I invited students to call and talk through research proposals with me if they didn’t have their proposals approved yet. I got four calls today and four students approved. Two other students called to work through problems they were having with the technology. I also spent some time reading and adding comments in the discussion forums in ENG101 and ENH295, but I try not to make that the only interactions students have. Last week’s assignment in ENG101 asked students to share rhetorical terms in a Google Doc to create a glossary for the class. This week I’m encouraging them to go back in and pick their favorite terms based on how well the student explained the function of the term. To pick a term, they have to leave a comment explaining how the poster made the term easy to understand. Today I had to go in an organize the document to make sure it was ready for this activity.
- Mechanics – Even though the site worked when you put it together, it’s always good practice to revisit at the start of each week to make sure everything still works. I like to review each class from the perspective of a student and anticipate areas where students might need extra help. I usually have some students who get started early, and they are usually not shy about pointing out things that are not clear. Today I only had one such issue, where an embedded Google Doc form was not displaying results like I thought it would. I also rewrote a few instructions on a few assignments in Canvas and created a new rubric for an assignment in InSite. Everything is ready to go.
That doesn’t seem like much, but with four online courses and one hybrid, it can take up a good chunk of time. And after 11 hours, I still didn’t get it all done. Tomorrow I will have to find time to create the weekly podcast for ENG102 online and the hybrid online class. Everything else is ready in those courses. It’s the instructor that makes a successful online course. You can’t just build it and expect it to run itself.