23 Things for on-line teachers
JT”S 23 things an online professor should know or do:
- Keep your course website and information up to date
- Calculate “Time to Task” for readings and exercises as you change them – when updating courses, edit or shave things down to avoid scope or course creep
- Take an on-line course or sit in on colleague’s online course. Remember what it is like in the student’s chair
- Email points to remember: somewhere, someplace, email is forever. A) Got a snappy reply ? Write it, save it, look at it the next morning, and if you still want to, send it. B) Don’t click “reply all” unless you absolutely feel it is necessary.
- Give students a project where they have to investigate new developments in software/hardware or technology as it applies to the discipline you are teaching. When you grade the work, you can often learn of latest developments from them.
- Check your links regularly – the links inside a lesson should be checked before you post the lesson – even if they worked last term. The links on your course page should be checked at the beginning of each term, not just for functionality, but for content.
- Attend on-line seminars for instructors. You actually may know it all, but if you go with the attitude that you are going to learn or master at least one new thing, you will.
- Know your Content Management System inside out.
- If your CMS does not do everything you want, use 3rd party software that you can master easily and is tried and true – it may not be leading edge, but you can google questions like “how do I do __________ using Prezi” (for instance) and you will get an answer. You will save a lot of time and frustration.
- Focus your technology – do not flit from new product to new, new product just because it is cool. As well, just because your software can do fireworks in 3D does not mean you should make your presentation look like a circus (unless it is a course on circus promotions). It is about the student grasping the material easily, not about showing off how well you can use the bells a whistles.
- Know your school policies on plagiarism & copyrights and know about your school’s existing licenses/agreements with publishers/authors – but don’t reinvent the wheel – and there is a fine line
- Your cost/benefit threshold. If a piece of software costs $150 and comes with full documentation, support, an intuitive environment, templates and so on, does it make sense, if you get paid $100 per hour to spend 8 hours trying to learn a clunky piece of freeware ? I usually count my leisure time with my kids as something comparable to my work time in terms of dollars.
WEBSITES TO FOLLOW:
- http://fastflip.googlelabs.com/ get a summary of the world’s breaking news
- www.pcworld.com excellent source of both what’s new in hardware and software, with trusted reviews, lots of freebies
- www.Mashable.com or www.techorati.com are good sites for breaking news and technical news
- www.facultyfocus.com sign up with this site for regular articles sent to you that deal with anything from online teaching techniques to Instructional Design
By “follow” I mean visit the sites once a week and scan headlines that may seem of interest or applicable to your course. Remember that newsletters and RSS feeds are often manipulated by the site’s marketers/authors to promote the site or company. Sometimes they can get out of hand. A few quality feeds are worth way more than a hundred shoddy feeds.
- Adopt new software or strategies where they make sense for the student. Some of the above sites will keep you abreast of developments like Skype, Prezi, Audacity and the like. Remember that the end product the students see should be accessible and should not cause confusion.
- Don’t believe everything you read, never be in a hurry.
- Don’t know how to do it ? Neither did somebody else, they figured it out and put it on youtube.
- Multitasking truly is a myth, not just a book title. The kids are better at switching between tasks than us old folks, but really, they can only do one thing at a time
- To quote Victor “BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP”
- Don’t bitch about it, get involved and change it
- Sign up to a “joke a day” website.