What Makes A Great Online Teacher?

I really felt quite a sense of elation and joy yesterday when our final announcement ‘Seminar 2 – summary now available’ was posted. This indicated the end of a busy and exciting 2 weeks experiencing what it means to be ‘a great online teacher’. In this post, and subsequent posts, I’ll be reflecting on what co-leading a seminar has uncovered and how it should inform and improve my online practice.

Today I’m referring back to the unit 1 question ‘What makes a great online teacher?’.

As described in Faculty Focus (2013) there are 5 things online students want from their course and here is how I think we measured up to them:

  1. Quick Responses – our responses were appropriately timed i.e. not taking over the discussion, responding when a response was required or invited, but also leaving ‘space’ for participants to respond. We also self-regulated through our ‘duty rota’.
  2. Instructor Presence – personally  I was aware I checked even more regularly what was going on in discussion boards. It wasn’t so obvious on Moodle Community who was online, however as seminar leaders we had access to the participants list which showed how long it had been since someone accessed it. I’m unsure how participants knew who was on so we had to depend on our posting to indicate our presence. Something to investigate and of course I’ll understand this more fully when I participate in unit 3 seminar
  3. Reminders – in our list of leader activities, we prepared in advance how we’d communicate with our participants and this worked well, as it helped us keep sight of the planned stages of our seminar
  4. Easy-to-access course design – I think we nailed this and as well as the straightforward layout of the topics, we ensured links opened in new pages (something I learned how to do early on!) but let’s wait to see our participant’s feedback before I congratulate us prematurely
  5. Fun, interesting discussion formats – I think we provided a solid and engaging platform for participants to get involved in the discussions but again let’s wait to see their feedback!

Lessons learned for future? 

  • Quick Responses – occasionally I might have responded a little quicker but as I wasn’t the person appropriate to respond, I held back. In a seminar where I was sole leader, I’d want to ensure I didn’t set a response time expectation that I found untenable. An option would be to set a response time expectation target i.e. ‘I’ll respond in no more than 6, 12 or 24 hours
  • Instructor Presence – the idea of short video messages is appealing and might have been a good alternative to our short written announcements? However, we wanted to keep our announcements short, so we may have added unnecessary content to make the video worth watching! Something I can explore in future online courses
  • Seminar Summary – unit 1 summary gave us the idea for a simple visual that wouldn’t take too much time for participants to review. With more design time, I’d ideally have embedded the URL provision into our jigsaw summaries.  This may have made them even more relevant, but then not all the links were pertinent to the key summary points. Again I’ll consider this option in future online design

Faculty Focus (2014, last accessed 29/1/15) http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/online-students-want-from-faculty/

All in all I consider we measured up well to the summary of ‘The Good Online Teacher’ as we described it in unit 1.

Good Online Teacher

More on my  learning from the seminar in my next post. Bye for now 😀

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