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					     Taking Face to Face Teaching On-Line

     A TEACHERS‟GUIDE

     1. The On-line Imperative

“Technology has revolutionised the way we work and is now set to transform education.”

“ Learning through ICT not only offers the chance to become proficient in the skills needed in the
world of work. It enhances and enriches the curriculum, raising standards and making learning more
attractive. The best educational software is not an alternative to books or class teachers – it is a new
opportunity.”1

Is this promise of new opportunity realistic, desirable, worth the effort? Many universities and other
institutions are focusing on achieving and maintaining quality in on-line learning delivery.

The use of technology is the vehicle or delivery system and there are pedagogical dimensions that
need to be designed into this system to ensure it will be an effective learning environment. 2

“For on-line learning to become part of mainstream practice, it needs to sit comfortably with teachers
and students and it needs to be easily achieved and maintained. 3

This teachers‟ guide to on-line learning delivery provides an introduction to the on-line learning
environment and explains the changed roles for both teachers and students. It then follows a practical
workbook format, stepping through the stages of course delivery and encouraging reflection on the
objectives and issues to be addressed at various stages.

As you move through each section of this workbook, identify your priorities and the learners priorities,
then consider how the on-line objectives and challenges can be addressed. Examples and ideas are
provided to stimulate your thinking and you are encouraged to record your own learning, ideas you
may want to try or feedback from experiences with on-line delivery.

There is no substitute for good teaching practice and the aim of this guide is to assist you to apply the
sound teaching practice you have developed through face to face delivery in an on-line environment.


 MY PERSPECTIVE: (Thoughts, Feelings, Ideas, Objections, Actions, etc)

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            Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide



                    2. Teaching & Learning Practices
                    Is on-line learning the transfer of traditional teaching practices in a
                    new environment?


Certainly there are many examples of on-line learning environments that are simply repositories
for course content. Whilst this might be a more convenient way for learners to access information
the full potential of new technologies are not being utilised to create an enhanced learning
environment.

Does this mean traditional teaching practices are not valid for on-line delivery?
The underlying approach to learning in traditional teaching needs to move from presenting fixed
content in a linear and sequential way to a greater emphasis on assisting learners to actively
construct knowledge for themselves. Traditionally learning activities have been separated into
discrete tasks that are often removed from a real life context and undertaken without reference to
future application of the learning. Contemporary learning theory supports designing learning
activities in a context of practice and facilitating communication and collaboration amongst
learners as part of the knowledge construction process.

Tables 1 & 2 present elements of a traditional and contemporary approach to teaching and allow
a comparision of how content, activities and implementation are treated differently. 4


 Table1 Conventional Teaching

            CONTENT                       ACTIVITIES                   IMPLEMENTATION
             Fixed                        Fragmented                    Teacher as expert
             Linear                      Lack of content                Individual learning
           Structured                      Abstracted                  Discrete assessment

 Table 2 Contemporary Teaching

            CONTENT                       ACTIVITIES                    IMPLEMENTATION
            Flexible                   Global & anchored                 Teacher as coach
       Outcomes oriented                Contextualised                 Collaborative learning
         Unstructured                      Authentic                  Integrated assessment
 Many of you are familiar with these changes in teaching practice as you have explored various
 strategies to encourage deeper learning in your own face to face classes.
 Table 3 provides an outline of the components of teaching and learning settings. 5
 As you progress through this workbook it may be useful to consider how each of these can be
 addressed on-line.
 Table 3
      COMPONENTS                                            DESCRIPTION
  General                    Enrolling, reading the syllabus, reading course material
  Lectures                   Attending lectures and presentations
  Group Discussions          Participating in group discussions and seminar style sessions
  Learning Events            Field trips, practical activities, guest lectures
  Communication              Private communication between instructors and classmates
  Self-study                 Supervised practica, unsupervised reading, small assignments
  Individual Projects        Major course assignments
  Group Projects             Course assignment completed collaboratively
  Testing                    Assessment activities

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             Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide

 The focus of this guide is on introducing teachers to the delivery of courses completely on-line
 however blended learning environments, combining both face to face and on-line delivery, are
 increasingly being viewed as a learning solution with the best of both worlds.



3. Introducing the On-line Environment
Having established that the on-line environment requires a
contemporary approach to teaching what does this mean for both
learners and teachers?


A significant change in the roles of both learner and teacher is a reality that must be embraced for
a truly effective on-line learning environment. This means accepting and managing change in
your own teaching practice but also understanding and assisting learners to accept and manage
the changes in their learning processes. This may be easier said than done.

So what do learners have to adjust to?
On-line environments allow access to more open forms of content without rigid structures and rely
on learners taking more responsibility for their learning. This can be a negative experience for
learners if they are not expecting this type of environment, have never experienced it before and
are ill-equipped to manage it. Consider the challenges many learners face in moving from the
secondary school environment to a university setting and all the support structures that are put in
place to help them handle the transition.

On-line learners must find their own way through a range of content presentation that can be
confusing and overly time consuming if they are unsupported in this. On-line learners will be
expected to be active in communicating and collaborating with other learners. They will be
exposed to more authentic learning settings, challenging a classroom mentality and requiring
participation in a variety of learning strategies such as problem-based, project-based and case-
based learning. This means they will need a variety of generic skills such as information literacy,
task management and the ability to work with others. Importantly learners will be in charge of their
own learning, a liberating but also frightening prospect for many.

It makes sense to anticipate resistance from some learners (and some teachers) to engaging with
this form of learning. This resistance can be used positively by on-line teachers if they continually
reflect on the new expectations, demands and social dynamics resulting from this medium.
Having to address resistance can reveal further insights into the dynamics of on-line learning and
ultimately lead to higher quality learning. 6

How has the teachers’ role changed?
With the learner as the most active person in the learning environment the on-line teacher takes
on the role of guide or coach, providing learners with access to a variety of independent learning
experiences. Designing engaging learning activities becomes a crucial part of teaching on-line, as
is providing suitable resources to support learners as they undertake the learning tasks. The on-
line teacher is not solely focused on delivering a set curriculum but rather on what learners can
do after finishing the course and how this learning can be used in the future. Therefore
assessment strategies are likely to be broader and more flexible to ensure learners can
demonstrate their competence in a more authentic setting.

These role changes may be evident in your face to face teaching to some degree already.
However it is an adjustment losing the face to face contact with learners and effectively
translating the face to face teacher‟s physical presence into an appropriate on-line presence.




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               Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide

To help ease the transition from face to face to on-line courses, teachers should both take an on-
line course themselves and surf the pages of other courses. As you look at specific on-line
environments think about your emotional and intellectual responses to these sites. Analyse the
layout, design elements and content. Try to define the aspects of design that capture and focus
attention. 7

It is important to force ourselves into unknown territory before asking our students to dive in. Alley
and Jansak suggest that the teacher must do precisely what each learner must do and teach
himself by drawing inferences and extending from the known to the unknown. The quality of the
inferences and extensions can be positively influenced by the solidity of the principles and quality
of the illustrations used as guides. 8

It is important to recognise the role of the on-line teacher is multi-faceted, combining elements of
teacher, chairman, host, faciliator and community organiser. 9

Does on-line teaching require a completely different skill set than face to face teaching?
Certainly there are unique characteristics of moderating on-line and the loss of many ordinary
conventions and rituals of small group communication has been noted. 10
As you progress through this workbook and explore how the on-line moderator can foster the
creation of community you will be introduced to various facilitation skills appropriate to on-line
delivery. You will also be reminded of the foundations upon which excellence in teaching (whether
on-line or face to face) is built.

“ If teaching staff bring compassion, empathy and open-mindedness to their course design, then
teaching and learning can gain enormous rewards from the advances in technology as the online
environment supports the expression of human values.” 11

O‟Reilly encourages a view of teaching as supporting the learner as a whole person, and echoing
support from educational administrators such as Ramsden (1998).

“ An effective university will encourage its academics to consider their teaching as a means by
which they can make student learning possible …. this demands accurate assessment of their
performance as professionals who can „shape the experiences‟ of their students and take their part
by seeing that experience through the learner‟s eyes.”12




MY PERSPECTIVE: (Thoughts, Feelings, Ideas, Objections, Actions, etc)

Where do my current teaching practices sit on the continuum of conventional and
contempory teaching practices?

What do the changed roles for teachers and learners mean for me?


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    Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide


4. Motivating Learners

What are my priorities when starting a face to         What are the learners’ priorities on day one ?
face course?

- clear learning objectives / outcomes                 - is this what I expected?

- motivating learners                                  - is this relevant for me?

- clarifying expectations                              - what do I have to do in this course?

- building cooperative relationships                   - who will I be interacting with?

- engaging learners with content                       - can I handle this learning process?

-                                                      -

-                                                      -

ON-LINE OBJECTIVES:

A key principle of learning proposed by Alley and Jansak is:
“Student motivation is a strong determinant of the outcomes and success of learning.”
You would have encountered this powerful principle in your teaching practice to date and have
developed some strategies to facilitate learner motivation.

Is the approach different for online teaching?
A learner centred view asks learners to take responsibility for their learning and this approach
requires the teacher to assume added responsibility for motivation.

“ Good design evokes positive tension in order to motivate learning and recognises that being
unhappy is one of the most distracting obstacles to learning. The inclusion of rewards (in the
form of praise or simply feedback) and features (such as assessments, evidence and
testimonials) that can convince a student that the learning a class requires is necessary, valuable,
purposeful and possible will motivate that student to learn.”13

For learners to effectively take responsibility for their learning they need to understand the
competencies they are expected to acquire and the related competencies they currently lack. It is
important to help learners understand what constitutes successful learning in the class; the base
of prior learning they have; their distance from the course goals; and how effective their efforts to
acquire the target competencies are. 14

It is also vital that learners see a connection between the course competencies and their own
personal needs / goals. On-line activities need to be interesting and relevant to the life
experiences, vested interests and ambitions of learners. 15 The link between on-line activities,
course competencies and future employment practices may need to be emphasised for learners.

In the report „Online Teaching: Tools & Projects‟ it is argued that motivation can be acquired by
impressing on learners how the course is increasing their learning, what it is adding to their
intellectual armoury, how the course ties together and by making the course enjoyable. 16



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            Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide

A strong emphasis from prospective students on personalised learning support suggests students
may have unrealistic expectations concerning the support they will receive from lecturers and
tutors. 17 Calder notes that orientation, organisation and practical issues around writing essays
and taking notes are of most concern to prospective students so it will be important to address any
perceived needs.

Support systems are essential for learners to engage in the processes of learning and should be
developed in response to needs. Experience in on-line delivery suggests that learners first need
„learning how to learn‟ skills in order to be effective on-line learners. In the following table
McLoughlan and Marshall illustrate strong and weak demonstrations of learning to learn skills.18

Table 4
 SKILL                              STRONG DEMONSTRATION                 WEAK DEMONSTRATION
 Articulation                       Able to articulate misconceptions    Does not think about the learning
                                    and reflect/identify areas in need   process but simply follows
                                    of remediation                       instructions
 Self - regulation                  Capacity to plan and study           Lacks skill in planning and goal
                                    independently and formulate          setting
                                    goals, adjust time to meet task
                                    demands
 A repertoire of learning           Chooses and uses appropriate         Is unaware of the range of
 strategies                         learning strategies, notetaking,     possible strategies that can be
                                    self-testing, and                    used, expects to understand by
                                    revision/application of ideas        simply reading material
 Self – evaluation skills           Self tests and monitors own          Finds evaluation stressful, cannot
                                    understanding, searches for ways     self monitor understanding
                                    to improve and revise                effectively or plan for assessment
                                    understanding


On-line teachers need to support learners is developing these skills. This means engaging the
learner at his or her current level of understanding and providing support until it is no longer
required by the learner. This support, termed scaffolding, can take many forms with the goal of
reducing task complexity for learners and assisting them to engage in activity that they would not
be able to manage without assistance.

The on-line teacher can create a learning environment that provides advice, support and guidance
to learners in a number of ways. The course design is a critical factor. It can provide space for
learners to post their work and share it with others, forums for learner discussions, a wide range of
resources to meet varying learner needs, learning tasks that are authentic and flexible to match
learner interests, and progressive self tests. These elements can help learners determine their fit
with the course and identify their ongoing needs. Even the presentation of the course material on-
line is a delicate balance between support and autonomy for learners. It is desirable that learners
are free to explore the content in whatever way and order they choose however some learners will
require a more structured learning environment and presentation of material than others.
Scaffolding or learner support can also be achieved through prompt and timely feedback to
learners, anticipating possible area of difficulty and / or responding to specific issues for individual
learners. Resources that assist learners with technical skills (such as searching the internet) or
learning skills (such as goal setting and planning) can also be provided to scaffold learners.

The importance of creating a friendly, social environment for learning should not be
underestimated. 19 Aim to create an environment where creativity, critical thinking and respect for
fellow learners is valued and communicated. An on-line teacher at Kapiolani Community College,
Hawaii, comments on the difficulties in creating a learning community even in a face to face
setting. She argues it is no more difficult to do this on-line provided we understand what a learner
wants from the community experience.


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                Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide

The following are her suggestions on what learners are looking for:

“A feeling of self-affirmation. They want to get the feeling that they have indeed mastered the
material and that they are doing ok.
A feeling of belonging. They want to know that others share their confusion and that they aren‟t
alone.
A feeling of hope and inspiration. They want to know that if they put in the effort they can learn
this stuff.
A feeling of reassurance and accomplishment. They want to know that they have made some
progress on their learning.
A way of making their independent study time easier. They want answers to their questions. They
want to find out about resources.”20

ON-LINE CHALLENGES:
On-line learning is a new experience for most students. This brings the challenges of managing the
rollercoaster ride of emotions that can accompany adjustment to an unfamiliar environment. This
new learning environment requires learners to be self-directed, utilise independent learning skills
and take responsibility for their own learning – something they may not have experienced before
and may be uncertain how to handle. Frustration for on-line learners can come from many sources
including technical issues around skill level and equipment performance and the isolation of
learning at a distance. Working predominantly asynchronously learners may feel no one is paying
attention to their progress or experiences and there is no one to support them.

ON-LINE EXAMPLES:
The Study Skills Help Site developed by Carolyn Hopper provides help with learning skills:
http://wwwmtsu.edu/~studskl

Webquest is an inquiry-oriented learning model that creates student engagement:
http://edweb.sdsu.edu/webquest/webquest.html

Project EASI provides guidance for development of on-line materials for individuals with
disabilities:
http://www.rit.edu/~easi



ON-LINE IDEAS:

 Send welcoming messages at the beginning of the course (keep the tone personal and friendly)
 Include photographs next to learner messages to help build relationships
 Continue to encourage learner participation with messages throughout the course
 Provide prompt feedback and positive reinforcement on learners inputs
 Reward positive contributions from learners
 Consider an initial class meeting to orient and introduce learners to each other
 Provider learners with a schedule of activities, assignments etc for each week
 Build strong feedback mechanisms, other than assessments into your course
 Include a course structure map outlining competencies, self assessments and formative
  assessments
 Provide time management assistance through a time to complete chart outlining the average
  time various course activities require
 Have learners do a time management self evaluation to help them understand their level of
  time management expertise.




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                Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide


MY PERSPECTIVE: (Thoughts, Feelings, Ideas, Objections, Actions, etc)

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                     5. Learner / Content Interaction

    How do you make content available to learners?    What am I learning and how?

    - cater for different learning styles             - is this the way I like to learn?

    - link content to real world situations           - is this knowledge useful for me?

    - manage varying levels of knowledge, skill       - is this learning process a good match
    and experience                                    for my abilities and experience?

    -                                                 -

    -                                                 -

 ON-LINE OBJECTIVES:

 That learning happens in the brain of the student and not necessarily “on the web” or in a face to
 face class is emphasised by Alley & Jansak. The view that new knowledge is constructed on a
 foundation of prior knowledge and that this knowledge, once interlinked and referenced to the
 prior knowledge, forms a foundation of new prior knowledge sees the learner as actively
 constructing knowledge. Higher order learning involves learners constructing links between and
 among bits of new knowledge through analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Good instructional
 design therefore does not „overfeed‟ the learner by providing all the „answers‟. The learner is
 prompted to exert creative effort to acquire new knowledge by making these cognitive links. 21

 How do you ensure learners will access the on-line content effectively?
 The site and its contents must be:
  Understandable
  Interesting
  Sensibly organised
  Consistent
  Easily navigated
  United in look and feel, 22


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               Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide

Good instructional design lets a learner shape the course to suit his/her learning preferences.
However the best design achieves a balance between opportunities to utilise preferred learning
styles and the requirement to experience and gain competence in other learning styles. 23
Helping learners to identify and understand their preferred learning styles can help them be more
effective learners. Learning style inventories where learners self assess their preferences can be a
valuable tool to increase their understanding of their own learning processes. This can help them
interpret past and present learning experiences more intelligently and meaningfully.

Remembering that learning is experiential means your course design will involve learners in
undertaking activity. What they see and read on the course site is important but learning is more
closely linked to what they will do in your course. Thus the value of a series of learning tasks that
allows learners to demonstrate new competencies and gain feedback on their progress.

Learning Activities Checklist

Here are some questions you can use to review the learning activities developed for your course.
 Do the learning activities relate to the learning goals or outcomes?
 Do I have a variety of learning activities that can be done on or off the computer?
 Are my instructions for each activity clear?
 Have I included examples or suggestions to direct students how to complete the activities or
   assignments?
 Have I included instructions on how to submit assignments, including assignment format?
 Have I told students when and how they will receive feedback? 24

Encourage students to remain active in class through weekly informal writing in discussion forums.
Electronic discussions can help students learn the value of writing drafts, reworking their
arguments and backing up their ideas with evidence before turning them into essays. Online
discussions can be used as a resource for graded essays. 25

Discussion forums can provide an opportunity to learn how to lead an intellectual discussion.
Learners can set the agenda and they can learn how to pose good questions to elicit further
response.26 Asynchronous discussion forums give listeners more time to develop their response to
issues and ideas. This slower paced discussion can encourage participation from learners who
may not have the confidence to contribute in a face to face situation or who feel more comfortable
in presenting their thoughts in writing.

As learners interact with course content they may or may not identify any conflict between the new
knowledge and their prior knowledge. The very real possibility of inaccurate prior knowledge
should be addressed in a non-threatening way that allows learners to confront their misconceptions
and explore how these have occurred.27

Questions are a powerful way to initiate discussion and create opportunities for learning. Questions
can open students eyes to alternatives, erroneous assumptions and eventualities they have not
considered. Questions can challenge students to develop a deeper understanding of their own
knowledge. The following questions are examples of different kinds of questions that can be used
to guide student thinking about course content:

   Description – What did you see? What happened? What is the difference between…?
   Reflection – What was interesting? What was surprising?
   Analogy – What else does this remind you of? What else does it look like?
   Common Purpose – What is the purpose of? What is the usual function of?
   Procedures – How was this done? What is the normal next step?
   Possibilities – What else could? How could we? If we didn‟t have? What if?
   Theorising – Why is it that way? What is the reason for it?
   Generalisation – What is the same about…and…? What principle is operating here?
   Definition – What does … mean? Define the word…?


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                   Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide


   Prediction – What will happen next? What will you see? What will be the effect?
   Justification – How can you tell? What evidence led you to?28

Teachers need to ensure the discussion forums complement the rest of the course activities.
Select topics and time the discussion of these to enhance learners experience with course content.
Plan the forum activities around the assessment task dates so there is not competition for learners
time but rather an incentive for learners to interact and share knowledge.

Allowing adequate time for reflection is vital to maximise higher order thinking and learning. Course
design can prompt reflection by requiring the learner to pause to summarise, evaluate, take
inventory and construct broader connections. You can include reflection in your learning activities
by using language that directs learners to reflect on their learning however consider how you will
recognise the reflection they undertake and show it has value. Consider dividing course content
into manageable chunks to increase the likelihood that learners will have the energy and mental
focus left for reflection. You can also model reflection by sharing the results of your reflections on
an aspect of the course.29

ON-LINE CHALLENGES:
Will learners see the relevance of this learning for them? Can they connect the learning activities to
their life experiences? Are learners overwhelmed by the course content – amount, complexity,
presentation? Are the learning activities clearly explained?

There is a danger in flooding the on-line learner with information. Whilst the internet is a medium
well suited for the construction of knowledge from a vast array of information it can be an
overwhelming environment if learners are not supported.

The reliance on written instructions (or prepared audio/video) increases the chance of
misinterpretation of directions, so attention to clarity of communication is vital. Supporting
documents such as assessment keys or examples of previous work can be effective in confirming
complex assessment requirements.

Learners may also feel isolated in interpreting course requirements so establishing clear
communication channels to the teacher is important. Also communication with other learners can
be facilitated by the teacher through assigning learning buddies or a discussion topic around
establishing what the requirements are.

Learners with limited computer skills can struggle initially however feedback from on-line classes
suggests that if the teacher provides ample one to one attention and easy to read high quality
instructions then technology becomes secondary to course content.30

ON-LINE EXAMPLES:

The World Lecture Hall is a worldwide database of online courses at the college level:
http://www.utexas.edu/world/lecture/index.html

The Problem Based Learning Initiative is a group of teachers and researchers involved in PBL and
active in faculty educational development:
http://www.pbli.org/core.htm




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               Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide


ON-LINE IDEAS:
 Offer instructional materials in a variety of formats
 Use a print friendly on-line text format like pdf for long or complex documents
 Give learners guidance on what to focus on while accessing on-line resources and so provide
  structure to their information gathering activities.
 Ensure you have copyright permission for on-line resources where required
 Point learners to the specific parts of external web sites that are relevant – learners can be
  easily distracted by less relevant material
 Assign learners to review and reorganise material presented to date – helps them view their
  evolving discussions as a data resource
 Some replies to learner questions regarding content can be posted to all learners to anticipate
  common needs
 Be careful about permanently incorporating learners work as resources for subsequent learners
  – this may rob them of the stretch and struggle of constructing knowledge for themselves
 Provide a survey of common misconceptions in the form of a fun facts list
 Ask learners to revisit discussion threads and post reflective comments
 Have learners reflect on group processes and their role within the group


 MY PERSPECTIVE: (Thoughts, Feelings, Ideas, Objections, Actions, etc)

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                 Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide



6. Learner / Teacher Interaction

 Are all learners getting the attention they need?     Is the teacher helping me learn?

 - encouraging learner questions /                     - what do I need to know?
 exploration

 - strategies to address individual needs              - what don’t I know that I need to?

 - keeping track of learner progress                   - can I get the help I need and when I
                                                       need it?

 -                                                     -

 -                                                     -

ON-LINE OBJECTIVES:
Fulfilling the role of educational facilitator means the on-line teacher should focus discussions on
crucial points, asking questions and probing learners‟ responses to encourage deeper thinking.
Weaving together the often disparate concepts, so typical of the medium, is one of the most prized
skills of educational computer conferencing. Feenburg (1989) describes weaving comment as:

 “supplying a unifying overview, interpreting the discussion by drawing its various strands together
in a momentary synthesis that can serve as a starting point for the next round of debate. Weaving
comments allow online groups to achieve a sense of accomplishment and direction.”32

Some specific aspects of the intellectual role of the on-line teacher are noted as being able to set
and communicate the intellectual climate of the course and model the qualities of a scholar. They
must be able to support, mould and direct discussion and effectively critique student work. They
should be able to design a variety of educational experiences for learners.33

Just as you have applied these roles in a face to face setting and have seen learners take on some
of these tasks, the on-line environment can facilitate these roles for learners too. When engaged in
authentic and collaborative learning tasks, learners can be encouraged to share in performing some
of these roles, particularly when the medium removes the physical presence dynamics of group
communication.

The asynchronous format of the discussion forum gives teachers more time to respond thoughtfully
to learners ideas than is usual in a face to face setting. Teachers can monitor learners
understanding of the subject material and better understand learners interests in various topics
through reading discussion postings. This can help teachers make adjustments throughout the
course to best address learner needs.

To calm the fears of many anxious learners the instructor plays a vital role as both a mentor and
humaniser:
“As a mentor, the instructor acts as a resource, directing students to solutions by providing insight
on where to go, who to contact and how to solve problems in general (Pritchard, 1998). By drawing
out personal commitment, participant interaction and enthusiasm, the instructor is seen as a
humaniser working to personalise what is often feared to be an impersonal experience.”34




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               Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide

One factor that strongly affects the amount of learner interaction and participation is the level of
teacher involvement. Regularly posting messages in the discussion forum or providing comments
to learners via email can increase learner involvement and participation. So a cardinal rule of good
on-line teaching is that the instructor must participate a lot to get students to do likewise.35

The teacher assumes the roles of a faciliatator, resource provider, research librarian, rather than
an expert dispensing knowledge to the student. The teacher that incorporates conversation to
extend, justify or clarify is emphasising the collaborative construction of meaning and so
encouraging students to critically examine and evaluate the answers they make to the questions
posed. 36

The following excerpts from an on-line course moderated by Dr Richard Farson, cited by Mason,
provide a good example of effective moderating skills. Farson clearly states the workshop
objectives and his expectations for learners on how to approach the discussion.

“ It is the goal of this workshop to engage a group of you in a discussion of the paradoxes of
organisational life, using your own experiences, your own management cases, if you will, to
illustrate these paradoxes and absurdities. …..we are going to try to approach paradoxes
somewhat differently. We are going to resist the immediate temptation to resolve them in
ordinary, rational, linear ways and instead just let them wash over us for awhile, see if we can
become more comfortable using a kind of paradoxical logic to understand management and
human affairs…”37

Farson then further refines the aims and clarifies his expectations in light of the contributions of the
learners. As the discussion progresses he introduces a new perspective through a statement for
the group to ponder. However learners are not left on their own to decipher this as he introduces
the idea in a context, with his personal opinion and with questions to stimulate a response from
learners. Halfway through the discussion Farson reviews the original objectives and also the
process the discussion is taking to achieve these objectives. Farson draws out the insights in and
enhances these, mirroring back to the student the essence of what they were trying to say. In
concluding the discussion he draws learners back to reflect on their opening comments and to
highlight how their perspective on these may have changed. Mason describes Farson‟s most
powerful teaching „technique‟ as that of modelling the concepts in practice. This was clearly
recognised by one participant:

“Dick, you are really wonderful! You are defining Zen management, and you are exemplifying it at
the same time”.

Another student comment sums up the overriding impact that an enthusiastic and committed
moderator, passionate about the subject material can have on the learning experience.

“…I did not appreciate the depth of your skill as a moderator, nor the extent of your wisdom as a
Zen master. It is generous of you to let us all see what a powerful mind and collection of skills you
have. These attributes have always been working in the background, I realise; how wonderful that
you have removed your cloak of invisible leadership and put yourself online!”38

ON-LINE CHALLENGES:
On-line learners need to know what to expect from the teacher in relation to feedback and
response processes and time. The potential isolation of the environment needs to be managed
with prompt and timely feedback to learners. As teachers take on more on-line students this can be
come a time consuming process.

On-line teachers also need to be comfortable with communicating in writing and be conscious of
how language may be misinterpreted, either in tone and/or meaning.



                                                Page 13 of 24
               Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide

Realistically assessing the amount of content that can be effectively delivered in an on-line course
is another challenge. Presenting content at a distance is usually more time consuming than
presenting the same content face to face. Also the interactive nature of learning tasks may require
more time from learners than you first anticipate.

ON-LINE EXAMPLES:

Best Educational E Practices Newsletter – Sep 2001, New Year New Ideas: A Sampler for E-
structors:
http://www.spjc.edu/eagle/beep/beep12.htm

Elements of Effective E-Teaching and E-Learning:
http://www.spjc.edu/eagle/BEEP/BEEP4.htm


ON-LINE IDEAS:

 A regular announcement to learners reviewing up coming activities for the week, reminders and
  response to learner concerns
 Ask learners to email you regularly with updates on their progress
 Post your picture to a personal page that gives your learners insight into your world
 Consider pairing learners who may be more likely to experience difficulties in the course due to
  a lack of various skills or experience with faculty who can mentor them via email




MY PERSPECTIVE: (Thoughts, Feelings, Ideas, Objections, Actions, etc)












                                              Page 14 of 24
            Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide



                         7. Learner / Learner Interaction


 Is collaborative learning happening?                Is working with other learners helpful?

 - effective group formation and functioning         - is this group working?

 - evidence of higher order learning                 - am I learning from others ideas?

 - keeping track of group progress                   - is it worth the effort?

 -                                                   -

 -                                                   -


ON-LINE OBJECTIVES:
The view that learning is a collaborative activity and is inherently a social dialogical process in
which learners benefit most from being part of knowledge building communities both in class and
outside it, reinforces the importance of learners interacting together. Communication, learning
and activity are considered to be intimately linked. Expertise is developed dynamically through
continuing participation in the community‟s discourse, rather than simply through the individual‟s
possession of a knowledge base and a set of problem solving skills.

“A learning context that includes global, online learning activities enables teachers and students
to see themselves as part of a larger learning community that does not end at the walls of the
classroom.”39

Thus the teacher becomes a learner as well as an expert.

Your face to face teaching experience has likely confirmed some of the value and challenges of
incorporating cooperative and collaborative learning in your courses. Just as your face to face
teaching may have consisted of a mix of social and private learning activities it is desirable to
provide this mix for learners in the on-line environment. On-line courses can promote more active
learning question and answer sessions and discussions that will enhance critical thinking and
higher order reasoning. Alley and Jansak suggest designing learning activities that are genuinely
collaborative where a joint product is produced rather than cooperative where learners break the
task into isolated pieces they can tackle independently.40

The discussion forum provides learners with a space of their own where they can share their
thinking with each other and comment on each others ideas. This window into the thinking
processes of their peers has been appreciated by learners who have valued the willingness of
peers to provide helpful feedback and the openness and honesty of web-based conferencing.
Forums can also be an opportunity to find common interests with other learners and interact with
a wider group of learners.41

Experience shows that students spontaneously turn to peers as resources of support in
computer-based problem solving, rather than turning to on-line help facilities. It is argued that
collaborative discourse, organised and evolving over time, gives rise to shared understandings
among members of a learning community. Rich conversations encourage students to see
complex issues and problems from a variety of viewpoints.


                                             Page 15 of 24
             Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide

Successful on-line conversations are goal related, blending the goals of the course with the
intentional goals of the students in constructing knowledge and solving problems collaboratively.
From a student‟s perspective an on-line group:

“was successful because the teacher was successful in setting a good cooperative tone of
inquiry for the class, the personalities who participated maintained that tone and we had
something worthwhile to discuss.” 42

Other activities to increase learner interaction should also be considered such as role plays,
debates, games, peer review, shared knowledge space for learner contributions and response
to „expert‟ opinion.

ON-LINE CHALLENGES:
The lack of adequate leadership has been identified as one of the contributing factors for
discussions where the learning objectives are not being met. As discussed previously the on-
line teacher has a vital role in facilitating this learner centred environment. However sometimes
inexperienced on-line teachers rely too much on the technology and may not provide enough
structure and direction for learner discussions.

One of the challenges in on-line discussions is effectively encouraging participation by learners
who may not feel comfortable with the technology or the community of learners they are being
asked to interact with. Some learners may prefer to act as „lurkers‟ where they read postings but
are not posting contributions themselves. This passive way of using the discussion forum is
understandable particularly for those not yet confident to make a posting. Wild (1999) suggests
that lurking behaviour in professional development communities can also be a preferred way to
apprentice oneself to the culture of a community with some lurkers eventually choosing to make
postings on a regular or occasional basis. 43

Participation in on-line discussion does not necessarily involve collaborative learning. Many
students (and staff) new to the on-line environment may not know how to conduct a productive
discussion. The requirements of the course have already been communicated but the on-line
teacher still needs to prepare learners for the discussion activities. The objectives of the
discussion, timetable, procedural rules, technical advice all need to be communicated to
learners. Even if orderly discussion happens this may not be collaborative. Teachers need to
consider appropriate structure (group size & type, scheduling, outcomes), relevance of material
(authentic activity), incentives to participate (grading, access to experts) and support for
learners (non-threatening ways to ask questions).44

Potential problems with group-based project work that need to be managed include maintaining
course cohesion and momentum, motivating and structuring collaboration and communication,
organising and executing self and inter-group evaluation, relating group activities and product
outcomes to the course materials and objectives.

ON-LINE EXAMPLES:
The LearnScope Virtual Learning Community is an online professional development space for
education and training practitioners interested in the application of new technologies for
learning: http://www.learnscope.anta.gov.au/LearnScope/home.asp

The Science Learning Network provides access to collaborative science projects:
http://www.sln.org

EDUCAUSE is one of many associations and organisations concerned with on-line education:
http://www.educause.edu

The Educational Object Exchange site is a resource for sharing resources:
http://www.eoe.org

                                             Page 16 of 24
               Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide

 This is a web site devoted to world's best practice in online collaborative learning in higher
 education:
 http://musgrave.cqu.edu.au/clp/clpsite/index.htm

 A treasure chest of free games, free e-mail games, free puzzles, free tips for facilitators, free tips
 for instructional designers, free articles and handouts, and links to our favorite websites:
 http://www.thiagi.com/

 Learners Together ezine (on-line magazine)
 http://ipdweb.np.edu.sg/lt/mar02/home.htm




MY PERSPECTIVE: (Thoughts, Feelings, Ideas, Objections, Actions, etc)
 ON-LINE IDEAS:
  Use the discussion forum or presentation space to prompt social learning that is more
   collaborative through debates, comparisons, reviews, mergings, refinements rather than
   expressive such as posting, presenting, explaining, commenting, describing, performing,
   selecting.
  Assign learners roles within groups that make their private learning an essential part of the
   group‟s work.
  Make sure learners are told who has access to read their postings.
  Develop assessment requirements to encourage participation in group activities and
   discussion however make the assessment weighting appropriate to the amount of work
   involved for learners.




                                                    Page 17 of 24
            Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide


 8. Assessment

 How do I effectively assess the learning?           How do I meet the requirements?

 - How can competence be demonstrated?               - what are the tasks involved?

 - Methods appropriate for each learner              - What are the standards expected?

 - Does this indicate how the learning can be        - Is this within a manageable time frame?
 used in the future?

 -                                                   - what feedback will I get?

 -                                                   - is it worth the effort?

ON-LINE OBJECTIVES:
One aspect of on-line teaching that can generate concern for teachers and learners is
assessment of learner competency. How can learner understanding and participation be
effectively assessed? Ironically assessment can be conducted more effectively on-line than in a
traditional classroom due to the ease of creating on-line tests and other forms of assessment.45
Assessment activities should relate to the learning objectives and outcomes established at the
beginning of the course. Learners need to know what constitutes a successful outcome. Specific
outcomes, accomplishments, learner characteristics and attitudes should be described as clearly
as possible in the course introduction and/or instructions for assignments.46

Assessment activities include activities within the course that provide the teacher with information
on how well the learners have learned course content and/or achieved learning objectives. In the
case of formative assessment, teachers identify the content or skill areas learners still need to
work on. Although assessment of learner knowledge and competencies is typically associated
with assigning grades, informal or supplementary assessment activities can also provide
feedback to the teacher on what areas need to be focused on.

The following questions may be useful in reviewing the assessment activities you have
developed:
 Do the assessment activities relate to the learning goals or outcomes for the course?
 Are the instructions for each assignment or exam clear?
 Have examples or suggestions been included to direct learners on how to complete
   the assessment?
 Have instructions on how to submit assessments been included?
 Have learners been told when and how they will receive feedback? 47

Angelo and Cross (1993) make some suggestions on using assessment techniques successfully:
1. If an assessment technique does not appeal to your intuition and professional
   judgement as a teacher, don’t use it.
2. Don’t make assessment into a self-inflicted chore or burden. Start small. Select one
   assessment activity to address a learning goal that you feel already works fairly well.
   Build on the feedback you get from students.
3. Don’t ask your students to use any assessment technique you haven’t previously
   tried on yourself.48




                                             Page 18 of 24
               Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide

Muirhead (2001) states that if educators are serious about promoting self directed learning,
then their assessment philosophy should reinforce the importance of giving learners
opportunities to influence assessment. He argues that a holistic emphasis on assessment
challenges teachers to become more flexible in their instructional plans and to consider
alternative methods of assessment.49

ON-LINE CHALLENGES:
In the task of evaluating on-line learner responses it can be a challenge to develop dialogues
with learners that foster personal and professional growth. Just as in face to face teaching,
the language of assessment must be caring and honest while providing constructive
feedback that helps the learner have a clear picture of their academic work. Carefully crafted
language is important as the on-line learner is without visual cues. A diversity of feedback
comments that address both the quality of performance and also the motivational aspects for
the learner is recommended.

On-line testing creates a dilemma in confirming that the learner enrolled completed the
assessment activities.

Learners expect personal and informative feedback on their discussion comments and
assessment tasks. This can be very time consuming for large classes with high participation
rates. There can be a tendency for written comments to appear more formal than the verbal
exchanges in face to face teaching. Therefore choice of language and careful composition of
responses becomes vital.

ON-LINE EXAMPLES:

For information on detecting and preventing plagiarism in on-line courses visit :
The Instructors Guide to Internet Plagiarism
http://www.plagiarized.com/workshop.shtml

The Educational Testing Service is a good site to research issues concerning student
assessment:
http://www.ets.org

Test.com provides access to a large collection of on-line tests:
http://www.test.com



ON-LINE IDEAS:
 Consider a combination of assessment measures – some on-line and some face to face
  (if appropriate).
 Provide trial on-line assessment activities if learner anxiety is high due to unfamiliar
  assessment methods.
 Provide an outline of assessment criteria so learners understand the assessment
  process.




                                            Page 19 of 24
             Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide


MY PERSPECTIVE: (Thoughts, Feelings, Ideas, Objections, Actions, etc)














                          9. Course Evaluation


 Were the course objectives achieved?              Was that course worthwhile?

 - What learning activities worked well and        - did I learn what I expected / wanted to?
 why?

 - What learning activities didn’t work well       - What was good or bad about the
 and why?                                          course?

 - What were the results for learners?             - Would I recommend this course to
                                                   others?

 - Learner perceptions and feedback                - Overall was it worth the effort?

 -                                                 -

ON-LINE OBJECTIVES:
Learner observations are valuable for gaining a good perspective on the total educational
experience. Telephone calls and email messages to individual learners can provide informal
feedback useful for making course changes. Asking learners open-ended questions about their
views of the quality of their learning experience can provide new insights for teachers.50

Areas for feedback you may find useful to include in course evaluation processes are:
 Student comfort with the delivery method – use of technology (familiarity, concerns, problems,
   positive aspects, attitude to technology)
 Class formats - clarity and organisation of course content, activities
 Relevance of learning activities
 Class atmosphere – conduciveness to learning




                                           Page 20 of 24
              Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide


   Effectiveness of teacher input – quality and quantity of teacher interaction
   Quality and quantity of interaction between learners
   Appropriateness of assignments – degree of difficulty, time required, feedback time
   Tests – frequency, relevancy, sufficient review, difficulty, feedback
   Course workload
   Support services – facilitator, technology

The teacher also needs to consider whether the evaluation process is going to be conducted
throughout the course or just at the end. Is the evaluation intended to provide immediate
feedback on course elements that can be adjusted or is it designed as overall review where
change can only be implemented for future courses? There is also a choice between
collecting qualitative or quantitative data, or both. For qualitative data collection methods such
as participant observation, nonparticipant observation, content analysis and interviews could
all be valuable.51


ON-LINE CHALLENGES:
Quantitative methods pose some challenges as small numbers in many on-line courses defy
statistical analysis. Quantitative survey response rates are also typically low and may not
reflect the full range of views on a course. Fresh insights and perspective can be sacrificed
with forced response questionnaires and the effort in collecting such data and interpreting it
can actually discourage the implementation of evaluation measures.

Qualitative data is typically more subjective and difficult to tabulate into neat categories. It is
less affected by small class size and can provide a wider range and depth of information. This
method is more flexible and dynamic and is not limited to pre-conceived topics.



ON-LINE EXAMPLES:

An evaluation form template is available at:
http://www.gmcc.ab.ca/nw/hcs/webct/form.html

The Searle Center for Teaching Excellence at NWU is one of many teaching effectiveness
centers in the USA:
http://president.scfte.nwu.edu

EdNA Online is a service that aims to support and promote the benefits of the Internet for
learning, education and training in Australia.
http://www.edna.edu.au/highered.html

National Education Association - Online Teaching and Learning Resources:
http://www.nea.org/he/abouthe/techip.html

Online Teaching in an Online World – Survey results on use of the internet in teaching and
learning:
http://www.courseshare.com/reports.php




                                             Page 21 of 24
                Taking Face to Face Teaching On-line – A Teachers Guide

 ON-LINE IDEAS:
  Check out and adapt existing questionnaires – no need to reinvent the wheel
  Sequence your questions for best effect – ask for suggestions for improvement before
   asking for what is good
  Place open ended questions after quick answer ones to build in thinking time
  Assure anonymity for summative evaluations
  Adapt to the student in degree of formality and pace of communication
  Use evaluation as a method for understanding teaching and learning
  Try to get both positive and negative feedback.
  Allow for more time than you think you will need to carry out and respond to the assessment
  Make sure to close the loop. Let students know what you learn from their feedback and how
   you and they can use that information to improve learning.
  Don‟t use an assessment technique to ask for student feedback if you are not willing to
   consider changing how you teach that section of the course or if you are not prepared to
   deal with the sort of feedback you may receive.

MY PERSPECTIVE: (Thoughts, Feelings, Ideas, Objections, Actions, etc)














                        10. Moving into the On-line World
 Research studies have reported that the most important factor affecting the successful
 implementation of learning technologies in teaching practice is the instructor‟s perception that
 using the technologies will add value to their practice and that the value gained is worth the time,
 effort and difficulties encountered during the implementation process.52

 This teachers guide is intended as a resource to assist you to determine your perceptions of
 teaching in an on-line environment.

 In the on-line world teachers must consistently affirm the independence and autonomy of their
 learners by enabling them to freely pursue authentic learning objectives. Yet the idea of
 independence does not mean being totally separate or isolated from other learners and teachers.
 Rather a balanced perspective would highlight giving learners the power to assume greater
 responsibility for their educational experiences while actively working with the teacher and other
 students.53

 Excellence in on-line teaching would appear to be fundamentally no different from excellence in
 other forms of teaching: enthusiasm and involvement; intellectual perception and insight; ability to
 model an understanding of the subject matter.


                                              Page 22 of 24
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