Online Education II: Recommendations for instructors

The use of technology in Education opens an enormous window for innovation in teaching and learning practices. ICT are invaluable tools to foster and support European Values of diversity and inclusion, and to further promote life-long learning.

In the context of Higher Education, a well-designed and communicated syllabus, a consistent strategy for interaction and community building,  and a thoughtful planning of assessment and feedback are essential for successful Online Learning. Therefore, proper preparation and/or training is needed for teaching staff.

Curriculum Design and Content Delivery

Developing an effective and workable balance of synchronous and asynchronous approaches, and keeping students engaged are key in Online Education. Following are some quick tips to guide you in the making of your online course:

  1. Use the learning outcomes as the starting point for the design of your course. 
  2. Break the learning into small(er) pieces (attention spans for screen times are limited!) Recommendation: content pieces / activities should last between 20-40 min. maximum.
  3. Be very selective with the materials and resources to ensure they fit well to Online Learning
  4. Give clear guidance to students (including goals, expectations, weekly structure, well-defined activities, timing, and use of resources and materials)
  5. Make sure students receive guidelines for the correct use of the technology they’ll be using
  6. Control workload, both for student and instructor
  7. Make sure that both synchronous and asynchronous deliveries include tactics for student interaction and social learning
  8. Ensure all activities are well integrated and have a clear follow-up (such as discussion of readings, related assignment, etc.)
  9. Synchronous activities need to be supported by asynchronous resources to ensure learning of all students and to compensate for potential connectivity issues
  10. Synchronous activities can serve as asynchronous tasks’ follow-up as a way to start a discussion, answer questions, etc.

Interaction and Community Building

Interaction and community building strategies are essential to create the sense of belonging that will keep students engaged and increase participation. Here are some key points to take into account when developing your strategy for interaction and community building:

  1. Start group and individual interactions as soon as possible to establish a more personal connection and generate a sense of belonging 
  2. Include collaboration activities and workgroups in the curriculum to maximise social interaction and learning
  3. Set up a virtual space for informal communication among students 
  4. Curate interaction and communication among students consistently to provide incentives/encouragement when needed
  5. Be available for your students for personalised tutoring and support on an on-going basis (and make sure they know when and how to reach you)
  6. Assess your interaction and community building strategy consistently to ensure its adequacy to the students and guarantee students’ engagement

Student Assessment and Feedback

Testing students’ progress and effectiveness of learning activities on an on-going basis is fundamental to ensure learning. Here are some quick tips to help you plan your assessment and feedback strategy:

  1. Start personal interaction as soon as possible and consistently to check students’ pace and progress (this will also be valuable feedback about your course)
  2. Provide personal feedback consistently to ensure students’ adaptation and learning
  3. Utilise formative assessment to provide on-going feedback and to improve both learning and teaching
  4. Provide opportunities for self and peer-assessment (clear instructions needs to be given to students to provide constructive feedback)
  5. Provide assessment rubrics to students at the beginning of each task in order to guide them
  6. Use LMS’s data (if accessible to you) to check students’ engagement and work pace
  7. Consistently evaluate your Assessment and Feedback strategy to ensure adequacy and guarantee students’ learning

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