5 practical tips to incorporate in my on-line courses

 

Last week I redid the Teaching Perspectives Inventory as part of a project our faculty is working on and once again, it showed that I am a “nurturer”. I think that a number of my “practical tips” reflect this.

  1. instructor presence – I want my students to know that I am there for them. I start each of my Pharmacology courses with a face to face introduction. This allows me to get a feel for who might need extra help. I can show them how to navigate the course, explain how it will be evaluated and solve any technical problems students might be having at the beginning. Interestingly, Tyler-Smith (http://jolt.merlot.org/Vol2_No2_TylerSmith.htm) recommends this as one way to reduce early attrition rates. I ask each of the students to send me an e-mail introducing themselves and I respond with a personal welcome e-mail to each of them. I have started creating introductory video clips for each unit so they can see my face and hopefully feel like they know me a little bit. I also frequently check in with the students via my announcements forum, reminding them that I am available if they have any questions.
  2. create a sense of community – I have the students all introduce themselves to one another in the introductions forum. In one group, I divided the students all into small discussion groups of 6-8. This worked well for establishing a sense of community though that wasn’t my initial intent. The groups took themselves very seriously and met in person to study (my students are also in face to face classes together).
  3. try to manage cognitive overload – to me, this incorporates more than one practical tip.
    • don’t assume that all students are equally tech savvy. Those that aren’t may not be able to handle both learning the course content and how to access it. Either be prepared to teach students how to use the tech required for your course, or at the very least, refer them to somewhere that they can gain this knowledge.
    • make sure that expectations are very clear – both for the course as a whole and for individual assignments. Provide very clear rubrics for each assignment so students aren’t left guessing what it is that you expect. If possible, show them examples of previous students assignments. I know that this decreases my own anxiety hugely (Thank you Joanne).
    • Provide feedback that will help students do better on future assignments.

 4.   Encourage critical thinking – critical thinking seems to be the  current buzz word in education but in nursing it is critical (pun intended  smile ). One way to do this is to give students a case study where they need to go on a “webquest” to find the answers. This encourages critical thinking by having them pull all aspects of the case study together and also learn how/where to access valid information on-line that they can use to inform their practice or provide patient education.

 5.   Utilize a number of different teaching strategies and learning activities – address different learning styles and “generations” of learners by incorporating different ways of facilitating or delivering course content.

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