23 Things About Online Teaching/Learning

23 ThiImagengs About Online Teaching/Learning

(photo taken by Mark, downloaded from FLICKR http://www.flickr.com/photos/markbrady/2302808692/, creative commons:  attribution)

As part of our class on “Technology Tools”, we were asked to develop a list of 23 things we think online teachers should learn.  This is a concept, “23 Things” that began with Helen Blowers, a librarian/technologist.  See a blog post (http://plcmcl2-things.blogspot.com/) about it for more details.

Here is my list:

General Ideas
1. Learn what online teaching and learning is all about.  If you don’t know much about it, learn before you dive head first into it.  The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan is a great place to start, and offers other resource links as well.

2. Take a look at social networking and understand how it can impact online learning and teaching.  Wikipedia’s article on Social Networking Service would be a good place to begin.

3. Develop an understanding of how to organize your online course in an effective way.  Connecticut Community College offers a good document that contains excellent ideas for this.

4. See how students are teaching teachers by looking at a YouTube video on the impact technology can have on both students and teachers.

5. Explore some of the proven best practices in teaching online and become familiar with these practices.  As you begin down the road of online teaching, you would be best served if you do things right from the beginning.  The University of Central Florida is a leader in online teaching and offers amazing information in the area of Instructional Best Practices using Technology.

6. As you explore the ideas and processes of online teaching and learning, consider staying current with scholarship in this area.  The Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT)is an open-access, peer-reviewed online publication that will help you look at effective use of technology.

Tech Tools
7. Wikis are websites that are collaboratively developed and can be great tools for have students work together on any number of class projects and assignments.  Also great for building student learning community by building student webpages.  Explore wikis at Wikispaces.

8. Blogs are an excellent way to allow students (anyone really) to record their thoughts and opinions and other information in an online journal type format.  Blogs can be an excellent addition to classes.  You can begin to blog yourself (for free) at WordPress or Edublogs.

9. Prezi is a web-based presentation application that takes sharing information to a whole new level.  Add enticement to your toolbox by exploring the use of something other than powerpoint for sharing information.  Check out Prezi.com today.

10. Twitter:  A real-time network that allows you and others to stay in touch.  For educators, it is a great way to share announcements with your class, engage them in real-time conversations, and to have them follow other subject/course related content.  Visit Twitter.com and give it a try.

11. RSS Feeds:  If you’ve never tried RSS feeds, you should give it a try.  RSS stands for Rich Site Summary and is a particular format for delivering changing web content on a regular basis.  Learn a bit more about RSS feeds at the Wikipedia entry on RSS feeds and then explore “How to Use RSS Feeds?”.

12. FLICKR:  One of the most popular photo sharing websites.  FLICKR is an entire online community centering around the sharing of photos.  Explore FLICKR and learn about tagging, groups and how to abide by creative commons copyright laws.  Then begin accessing beautiful photos for  your presentations and courses.

13. Diigo:  is a new social bookmarking website that allows you to set up an account and keep your bookmarks synced and shared socially.  It also allows you to tag webpages and track them.  A great feature for classes to establish a group to allow students to post bookmarks to the group and are therefore shared by everyone in the group.  A great tool for sharing bookmarks.  Check out DIIGO and give it a try in your next class.

14. YouTube:  A leading service of video sharing that can be a great resource for accessing instructional materials.

15. Dropbox:  Today, there are so many great ways to store items but to also share them. Now, you and your students or your students and your students can readily share files in real-time.  A great tool for small groups.  Try Dropbox today.

16.  Polling:  A great way to engage with your online students is to use polls (either web-based or text-based).  Allowing for your audiences to respond in real time adds a great layer of interaction.  Poll Everywhere is worth exploring and trying out.

17. Surveys:  Using surveys in your teaching is a great way to see what your students are thinking about specific topics or allows you to find out how they’ve done in a learning module.  There are many uses for surveys in teaching online.  Many Learning Management Systems have a built-in survey tool.  A web-based tool you can examine is Survey Monkey.

18.   Online Slide sharing is another great tech tool.  Allows you to post and share presentations and documents and videos with students.  Slideshare is one great way to do this and worth checking out.

19.   Today’s Meet allows you to connect to your students or participants and engage them in your delivery of content.

20.   Online Assessment tools can be an excellent resource to create your own educational games and quizzes.  Explore Quia to see how you can add some interactivity to your assessments.

21.   Google Docs is a great online resource that allows users to work on word processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in a collaborative manner.  You and your students can share documents and work on them at the same time.  Really lots of potential uses for group works and projects.  Learn more about Google Docs at the Google for Educators site.

22. Jing is a super tech tool that is free and allows you to capture your screen via images and video presentations.  Really an excellent way to create short presentations to share with your students.  Try JING today.

23. Facebook can also be a useful tool to enhance your online teaching experience.  Check out the “Facebook in the Classroom. Seriously” online post about ideas for its use.  There are some great links within the article as well.


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Surveying is great!

One of the tasks we were given during the Technology Tools course was to either create an assessment for use in a course or to create a survey.  I chose to create a survey using surveymonkey.  I had never used Survey Monkey before, although I had use the survey tool within Blackboard and Vovici (the survey tool our university uses). 


It was rather easy to create the survey.  The survey is sort of a “pre-class” survey.  The idea is to have it available when the class goes live and have students complete the survey the first week. The survey would give them practice at completing such a survey (which I use each week as a module reflection type data collection) and give me some insight into where they are in their thinking about the course.

The URL is: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZQHFF8J

I intend to use this in class this summer and will use “surveys’ to serve as reflections for each module.


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Join Me….my “choice” of an extra tool to post


A friend shared this great web-based tool with me that she uses when teaching.  “Join.me” is a web-based service that allows you to share your screen with anyone.  You simply start it, share a link with anyone/everyone and they join you seeing your broadcasted screen.  It has audio capabilities and allows you to share your screen, files, demonstrations, etc.  There is a free version that is fairly basic and a “pro” version that is very sophisticated. The “pro” version costs $149.00 a year.

I believe this would be great for doing simple sharing of your screen to teach a lesson or demonstrate something quickly and without launching the LMS (assuming you have a collaboration tool like Bb Collaborate).  I would like to try this tool for class purposes to see how I can assist students with technology at a distance. I believe there is great promise there.


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Teaching with Prezi


I wanted to give PREZI a try (again!). I had attempted to create a presentation once before and didn’t get very far. I chose to use this tool for the Teach Back assignment so that I could learn another way of creating content.

My Prezi is about “What is a MOOC?” and includes facts about MOOCs, current information (NPR had a segment just this afternoon that highlighted some MOOCs) and a multi-media (YouTube video) on the real benefits of a MOOC.

I do have a better outlook for Prezi now than last year. I see where it will add to my toolbox of presentation tools and add some variety to my classes and presentations.  I believe it will enhance my instructional methodologies and allow me to present information effectively and concisely.   I like that it adds a nice dose of movement and changes to your presentation. It’s not as linear as a powerpoint presentation.

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On My Own! Creating Content for Me to Use

I chose to create a video introduction to my course I’ll teach this summer.  The idea is that my students can meet me, learn about the course, and experience some “home-made” content.  I used iMovie (apple software found on all MACs) for the capture and editing of the video and then “shared” via Youtube. The process was easy, although the editing did take some time.  You can access the video by clicking here.

Course Introduction Video


The video will be posted in the Blackboard LMS and students will be instructed to view the video first thing.  The course will be taught in American Sign Language and includes Deaf students as well. I did the video in ASL and later provided a voice-over interpretation you those of you who are “sign-impaired”. For the course, the video will not include the voiceover.

I like to use videos in my courses as often as possible. Videos make most sense because of the ASL usage. I intend to make short (up to 5 minutes) videos for use with the different modules of the course to provide an introduction to the various topics at hand.

I believe that the ability to create content (short lectures, multi-media presentations, videos, animated stories, etc.) will really enhance my course and add variety to how modules are delivered.

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Ready, Set, Go!: Using Ready-made Content


I’m a big advocate for not re-inventing the wheel!  When it comes to instructional content, that adage certainly applies.  If you are able to find content that is already available (either for free or for a costs) and that fits within what you are going to teach, why not use it?  Ready-made content can enhance my instructional goals by allowing me to save time that may have been dedicated to creating content and use that time to focus on delivery or engaging students in reflections and follow-through after instructional moments.

As an example, I located a video (via Youtube) that addresses introductory concepts of court interpreting. It would fit perfectly in early sessions of a graduate course I teach.  I would use the video to kick-off a module on the foundations of court interpreting and follow-up with an engaged discussion board assignment.  The use of ready-made content also adds to your instructional delivery toolbox.  If you vary the format of the content (video, audio, image, etc.) you can add a sense of “newness” to your course.


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Can you see me (or hear me) now? Real-time, Synchronous Communication


For synchronous communication, there are many options.  As an instructor, I can use a chat tool within our LMS, I can use a tool such as Elluminate (now Collaborate) to hold class sessions or host a group meeting or hold virtual office hours.  Any of these would add to the interactivity of a course.  I think each would have its place. 

For example, to enable students to “chat” with me in real time, I could use a chat program that stands alone outside of of the LMS to allow students to reach me without needing to go into the course.  I use iChat but also use Meebo which allows me to sign into to multiple chat accounts and manage them through one platform.

To bring a group together for teaching, a group conferencing tool such as Collaborate would work well.  This tool could also be used to host small-group meetings or office hours.  This type of synchronous tool could also allow for students to teach or present projects to the class.

For our class, I chose to participate in a Moodle Chat session with the instructor and another student.  I selected this option because I am not that familiar with Moodle and had never used its chat feature. There really wasn’t much of a learning curve (both because the tool is very simple and because I do “chat” often). It was very easy to use and quite simple. There were not a lot of bells and whistles, although you could “beep” each other which sent a text message to the person and loud audible BEEEEEP. We all agreed that would be great for multi-taskers who may be chatting along with several other activities at the same time.

For a short video explaining how to use Moodle Chat, see this video.

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