Seven Best Practices for eLearning Courses
#1: Be present at the course site.
#2: Share a set of clear and realistic expectations for communications.
- How students communicate with you
- What is your preferred method of communication
- How soon students will hear from Instructor
- When students can check the grade
- When the next module is available
- How much effort and time will be required on a weekly basis
#3: Help learners connect with one another.
#4: Stimulate and facilitate online discussion.
#5: Respond effectively to online conflict.
#6: Early in the term – have an informal assessment. Ask “How is the course going?”
#7: Have an orientation.
These are some comments I heard during a session with Bill Moore at the ATL Conference. As we move forward and make changes here at Centralia, these may be some ideas we want to keep in mind:
- In a learning community, we need each other.
- A teaching community is a learning system, and vice versa.
- A real community needs open minds.
- We have a past to acknowledge and honor – a future to plan.
And lastly, a warning, quoted by Bill from an old rock song:
- “Our ideas held no water, but we used them like a dam!”
Bill Moore organized this workshop featuring a new college in the system, where the placement system was yet to be designed. The beginning discussion centered around whether placement testing tools were helpful to students, because students, especially those placing at precollege levels, often come out of a placement testing experience discouraged, disbelieving, and/or resentful of their placement levels. Workshop participants were to work in three teams; each would design an option for a placement system where these would not so often occur. Mandatory placement with its pros and cons was not a major topic in any of the three teams, as nearly everyone agreed that students need to follow guidance information regarding their competency levels in order to start their educations at a level where they can maximize their potentials, and that guidance information should include testing scores. The use of just one tool for placement, however, was recognized by all to be too restrictive. The systems suggested by the workshop teams all contained the following points:
- a starting assessment, such as COMPASS or ACCUPLACER
- a follow-up assessment, such as an English placement essay option or a subject area math test
- an orientation to college course, which might include some of the assessments and could be a required elective
The workshop ideas will be incorporated into the state level college placement work Bill is spearheading.