While it may seem that by placing your course on the Web, you are minimizing the importance of you as the instructor, you actually become more important. It is your responsibilitity to design a learning environment where students can meet the course objectives without your constant presence "in front of the class". Without good design, students may not appreciate or understand the content. Consider how much of what students need to learn is content, and how much of your course learning is based on creative thinking and dialogue with you and other students. How will you engage students with the course topic?
In general most face-to-face continuing education courses are extremely interactive. Because many of your learners are practicing librarians, the students often learn from each other as well as from you throughout the course. Discussion may be as beneficial as the material you present. You may break students into groups to complete an activity or take time to discuss a tough issue. Developing strategies for offering a collegial environment on the Web will make your course more enriching for the participants.
In addition to interpersonal interactions, consider ways that students will interact with the course material. Self-assessments or interactive multimedia types of exercises may provide students with the immediate feedback they need to know if they understand a concept without adding additional work for the instructor(s).
Assessing Student Learning Outcomes, an ACRL three week online seminar, is designed so that
- students work through course material independently
- each week there is a real-time online chat scheduled with instructors
- students can also schedule additional one-on-one chat time with instructors or other students
- a threaded listserv is available for course related discussions
- students create an assessment as part of the course
- instructors provide students with individual feedback on the assessment
Interactive strategies and suggestions
- set clear expectations about how you interact with students throughout the course
- create methods for student - student interactions (e.g. listserv, threaded discussion forum, etc.) (see Communication)
- create a safe environment for sharing ideas
- pose discussion questions for students to answer at targeted places in the course
- create essay style exercises for students to submit to you and provide them with individualized feedback
- ask students to work together on an assignment (this is often difficult for distance students so reserve this only for projects where group work will really enhance the learning experience)
- create review or self-assessments throughout the course
- "check-in" with students at specific points during the course to make sure they are understanding the material
- Consider how you will handle student incivility issues.
- Limit student enrollment to approximately 10 students per instructor the first time you teach the course, work your way up if you find you can handle a greater workload