I teach a course on developing/facilitating online classes and have a question I wanted to pose based on one of our class discussion topics. For those who teach online, how have you found ways to save time on various teaching tasks so you can spend this instead on engaging and connecting with students?
This topic has come up in a couple of blogs before (see Canvas Tips to Save Teachers Time and Time-Saving Tips: Stop Repeating Yourself (CanvasLIVE Session)), but it would be great to see what else folks have come up with!
My hope is to hear if there are Canvas tools, outside apps, or general teaching techniques you have found which could help others. Here are a couple I have used with success:
I look forward to learning what others have found to be beneficial to their teaching . . . thanks in advance!
ericwerth, we have our course developers sign a contract that specifies exactly when the course is supposed to be complete by and payment is attached to that date. firstname.lastname@example.org has a process built for our course developers to walk them through what to develop and in what order. We tend to schedule 3-6 months depending on the developer. Some of them need more time and some of them will get right to work and crank out a course quickly.
Great information email@example.com! I'm just curious but are your course developers normally the instructors who teaches a particular course face-to-face? Do the course developers have training in course development prior to working with you guys or is this done along the ways as they work through the process you mentioned firstname.lastname@example.org developed?
ericwerth, for the most part, the residential instructors develop the online course. We do hire course developers who don't teach our residential courses as well. The developers haven't had training in the past and that is where email@example.com gives them steps and walks them through the process. We are getting ready to launch more training for our faculty this coming academic year.
These are some of the things I use most to help myself or other instructors I consult to maximize time for meaningful student contact.
Treat course development as an ongoing process. Take the negatives you experience teaching online and transform them into improvements.
Rachel, this is fantastic! And I can affirm a big yes yes yes to using the quizzes for auto-grading; in my case, it is how students record work completion, which is what the course is all about -- microassignments that they complete, with points piling up in the Gradebook, and I don't have to do anything. I call them "Declarations," and I wish I could change the name of the Canvas area to be "Declarations" (that was something I could do in D2L). Yes, they are quizzes... but not really. 🙂
Great thoughts firstname.lastname@example.org! You make an interesting point about instructor participation in discussions. I know that there are different thoughts about if and how much faculty should participate in DQs. Some believe that faculty feedback to students in discussions shows presence, while others that when an instructor replies the becomes a student-faculty focused interaction by changing the dynamic.
I have gone only to replying to students' posts if there is a question posted no one answers to prod folks on, if the discussion clearly stalls, or if something incorrect is written that no one catches and that takes the discussion in an ineffective direction. These rarely happens. So students know that I do read their posts, I provide specific feedback to these posts and their replies within SpeedGrader each week.
Thanks for the ideas!
Thanks Eric. I believe there is research that supports that "intermittent" interaction idea, but I got the idea from being a student--over decades. haha. I noticed it myself and then experimented during my teaching. If the instructor is always interacting, it tends to become the focus. (Speaking as a teacher, it can be tough to have restraint and not micro-manage discussions when you are in feedback mode, so it needs to be intentionally minimal to get authentic interactions from student-to-student.) If the instructor is completely absent, as you said, things can get off track or some discussions can go unanswered and stall. That sweet spot is just the right amount of interaction.
I noticed in under-grad and grad school that just about when I forgot the instructor was reading through everything, there would be a small comment that made me sit up and think, "Oh wow, she really is following all of this."
My most recent session of a class on creating/facilitating an online course just concluded. I asked participants to contribute ideas to a Google Doc on ways to save time either developing or teaching an online course. Most everyone in the class is someone who has taught for a while F2F and are moving material to a blended or online format.
I thought I would post a copy of the table that was created through this assignment in case anyone finds the suggestions useful. Some of these are similar to ideas found in this thread already, but it is always interesting to see what others come up with when given an opportunity to research and collaborate!