Posted by: Robert Bodle | October 31, 2012

Notes on the informal discussion of online teaching

Notes on scary meeting 10/31/12 – feel free to add to this as a comment.

Concerns about quality in online teaching – can discuss 3 kinds of quality (and there is Quality Matters and other assessment tools)

1)   student to instructor interaction

2)   student to student interaction

3)   student to content interaction

Concerns about participation – experiences of online discussion being poor in comparison to f2f.

Verification and academic honesty – how do you know a particular student did the work? –a problem in f2f as well. There are various means of verification used to access learning management systems, but also ways of telling through repeated interaction – how students write, respond, think.

Preparation time is frontloaded – much preparation work is done weeks before the first class.

Release patterns – different approaches – some provide semester’s worth of assignments, lectures (10-15 min screencasts with slides), and content, others release assignments bit by bit, on a weekly basis.  There is difficulty interacting with students when you are not on the same weekly schedule.  Whereas weekly assignments and discussions are easier to moderate and guide.

Stressed the necessity of actively guiding discussions – preventing “semester-long confirmation bias,” and clarifying issues and concepts.

Different ways of moderating discussions – acknowledge student participation, assign a number of responses to questions, and assign students to generate more questions and to respond to one another.

How do you teach leadership skills online? Through assignments that students complete offline, group work, other?

Synchronous v. asynchronous – most instructors utilize non synchronous tools, though some prefer a mix of real time interaction (using programs like Common Ground) to accommodate the students who value this interaction.  And there are ways to designate timed responses from students ( “auto-submit” function).

Some concerns about paying structure – the time-intensive development and facilitation process involved before and during the online course.

Questions about the ability to convey passion and enthusiasm online to the same degree as in f2f. Strategies to connect to students developed over time. It can be done, with some examples shared of becoming closer to students as online participants than in the classroom.

Final word of the discussion – perhaps online learning is not appropriate for all subjects, all instructors, or all students – important to find the right mix.



  1. Thanks, Robert. This is very helpful!

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