As an online instructor, it is essential that the instructor is proficient in computer basics and navigational tasks performed on the computer. These basic tasks include navigating to locate files on the computer (file explorer), saving files to folders, copying, cutting, moving and pasting files, as well as uploading and downloading files. Familiarity with social media software, wikis, and course management systems are also good skills to have. Having knowledge of the online technology course building tools will support the instructor in designing any learning experience that they may have designed for a face-to-face environment (Boettcher, & Conrad, 2010). The instructor can design an engaging learning experience while keeping it simple by understanding how to use a few key technology tools to create audio and video lectures, using discussion forums, use of social networking sites, instant messaging and course management systems. Sharing navigational tips and tricks with students to ensure they are prepared to learn in an online classroom will benefit the student in adapting to the online environment (Ely, 2011). Opportunities for synchronous communication, including live chat or live video sessions, will only help you gain credibility and respect in the students eyes (Ely, 2011). As the online instructor gains more experience in teaching they can introduce more advanced technology to their courses.
Establishing the guidelines for what is expected at the onset of the course ensures understanding and satisfaction in an online course. Providing a syllabus for the course provides the learner with goals, learning outcomes, and requirements (Boettcher, & Conrad, 2010). For myself when I start a new online course one of the first pieces of information that I seek out is the course syllabus. The syllabus will give me an overview of what the course objectives are, what I will learn and what tasks and projects I am expected to complete. The rubric provides me with what is expected of me when completing discussion board and project assignments. If the student is provided with the expectations for the course it sets the stage for the course and prepares them for success.
What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?
Additional considerations that the instructor must consider when setting up an online learning experience are making themselves available to the students by letting them know their schedule and how they can be reached along with their online office hours. Professional communication in an online environment requires a degree of netiquette (Ely, 2011). In the online environment where text prevails, it is important that the instructor pays special attention to the tone that is communicated to the students. The instructor must be careful of how they address and respond to the students in an online discussion board. Responding in a respectful manner will cultivate respect for the instructor and their position (Ely, 2011). Letting the students know the time that may be required for the weekly readings, activities and assignments provide guidance, which is essential to planning for the student. The ability to show your expertise in the online classroom by interacting in the discussion forum, feedback from grading assignments and general announcements is also essential to engaging the online student. The online instructor must take the time to set realistic expectations for their online learning environment and also have realistic expectations. It will probably require figuring out the dynamics of the online learning experience and establish a sense of what the standards as an online instructor will be (Ely, 2011).
Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (Updated ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Ely, Sabrina (2011). Five Expectations Students Should Have of an Online Instructor. eLearn Magazine. Retrieved from http://elearnmag.acm.org/featured.cfm?aid=2048939