Managing Student Expectations
Whether your course is stand alone or you are actively instructing your Web-based students during the course, you'll want to have strategies in mind for how to manage student expectations. Adult learners do not like surprises, so it is important to make the course parameters and purpose clear before they even have an opportunity to register.
Your course description and goals and objectives should be clear and visible for students to view. Provide students with an outline of the material, any reading list, and an approximation of the number of hours it will take to complete the course. A description of the technologies you will be using and a list of any special software students will need should also be included in the course information.
Make clear what your level of involvement will be as they progress through the course. This may range from no involvement or only answering questions related to the material to being an active instructor throughout the course.
If you will be acting as an instructor while they take the course, make sure students know acceptable ways of getting a hold of you.
- Do you want them to have your home and work phone numbers?
- What hours are you available to the students? If you don't want calls before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM, make sure this is clear.
- Will you have consistent hours every day/every other day or are you available anytime?
Much of your correspondence with students will probably be through email. Students will expect a fast response from you unless you make clear when and how you will respond to them. If there is a certain time each day you will respond to messages, make sure they know this up front. Also, notify students of your availability on weekends. If they send you a message Friday at 5:00 PM, when can they expect an answer from you? Will they have to wait until Monday?
Let students know exactly what they will need to do in order to obtain their continuing education credits. You may be requiring them to do more in an online environment than you would in a face-to-face course. If they are required to complete an exercise and submit it to you or are having their progress tracked by some software, inform students up front. Also, inform them of any deadlines for completing the material.
In the Evidence-Based
Medicine for the Medical Librarian online course
- all students are required to turn in all exercises in order to receive their MLA CE certificate
- students are also asked to actively communicate via the listserv while the course is in session
- students have a seven week period to read through 4 Modules of material, complete 3 reviews and 4 exercises, the last being a review of the entire EBM process
- instructors provide the students with a course calendar of suggested dates for completing the exercises, however students have the flexibility to complete exercises on their own schedule as long as everything is received by the course deadline
- instructors also understand that many times students cannot complete course material by the deadline and often offer a short extension to those who request extra time