This section includes a collection of links by topic targeted to faculty, instructors, K-12 educators, and instructional designers looking for ideas, inspiration and/or skill development specific to online or blended learning and instruction. The resources are carefully selected; I’ve included only those that I refer to consistently, are of high-quality and support knowledge and skill development.
Resources [links] are organized by topic—categorized by specific skill set or knowledge area. Resources within each topic category are identified by type with an icon that describes its format.
I. Skills for Teaching Online [Introductory]
1. Shifting from a face-to-face setting to an online classroom requires not only a different skill set, by a different mindset. Trent University’s site Teachonline.ca includes excellent information on online and blended teaching skills for the novice and experienced instructor. This article, A New Pedagogy is Emerging…and Online Learning is a Key Contributing Factor is good starting point for instructors moving from face-to-face to the online classroom.
2. The most comprehensive resource for teaching online [in my opinion] is the COFA series, Learning to Teach Online produced with University of New South Wales (UNSW). The program features a series of videos [maximum of six minutes each] available on Youtube. The primary objective of the program is for viewers to gain an understanding of successful online teaching pedagogies. One of the twenty-five videos in the series is Planning your Online Class which explores the key elements educators need to consider when planning an online or blended class.
3. Teaching presence in the online environment occurs when students feel that the instructor is ‘there’. Though online presence sounds vague, it’s instrumental in supporting meaningful learning. This Slideshare Understanding Teaching Presence Online provides an overview of how to establish presence and outlines why it’s essential.
4. Thanks to University of Minnesota State Colleges for this excellent mini-course on how to teach online, Getting Started Online. Open to anyone—this resource is applicable to novice and experienced educators.
5. Creating Active Learning exercises can be a challenge for online instructors, yet this page, Online Teaching Activity Index from Illinois Online Network lists several excellent ideas.
II. Personalized Instructor Feedback and Interactions with Online Students
The level of instructor involvement [or not] in online learning environments is a controversial topic in the education sector. With automated grading programs and LMS platforms that provide automated, yet ‘personalized’ feedback based on student response scores, log-on and key stroke patterns, a growing camp of educators are convinced that learning is not comprised in the absence of an instructor—and is even improved with programmed feedback. Intuitively, I disagree. I see the need for personal interaction and support from an experienced and interested educator. In this section I’ve included a collection of resources that support the premise that interaction and feedback are critical to student success.
1. This literature review paper explores far more than instructor feedback and interaction in online learning spaces, yet it is worthy to include here given it addresses current research concerned with online learning effectiveness in terms of learners’ interactions with their instructors and classmates. The specifics can be found on pages five through eighteen: Learning Effectiveness Online: What the Research Tells Us, Swan, K (2003).
2. Giving feedback and interacting with students in the online classroom is no less important in the virtual realm than in face-to-face; yet doing so requires instructors to be strategic and purposeful in their communication with students, and requires a different perspective. This three-minute clip, Interact with Students featuring the program chair from Penn State World Campus, summarizes how and why faculty involvement with students online differs from, and is just as crucial as in face-to-face classrooms.
3. I wrote a blog post, ‘Speaking’ to Students with Audio Feedback in Online Courses about providing feedback to online students using audio feedback for student assignments in place of written feedback. The idea came from a communications professor that I follow on Twitter who had great success with this method; her students loved it. Apparently so do many other students [and instructors] based upon the feedback and reaction from readers. The post explains how-to give audio feedback and what tools to use. The comments within the post are also helpful.
4. This web article provides three solid strategies for communicating with online students, as a class and individually. Though not specific to skill development for educators, there is helpful information here including how to use a rubric for structuring feedback for students: How to Provide Fair and Effective Feedback in Asynchronous Courses, Gruenbaum, E. (2010).
III. Using Rubrics for Effective Instruction and Course Design
1. Chico University created this site for instructors and designers of online courses with the concept of the Rubric for Online Instruction (ROI). It includes excellent tools for educators wanting to evaluate their own online courses and can be used for course redesign. Though it is geared to faculty teaching within a higher education setting, it can be adapted to other environments.
The Rubric for Online Instruction (ROI) is a tool that can be used to create or evaluate the design of a fully online or blended course. The rubric is designed to answer the question, “What does high-quality online instruction look like?”
2. University of West Georgia created a webpage specific to rubrics and included resources about online instruction for faculty including the Five Star Rubric for Online Instruction.
3. This Slideshare presentation, Rubrics for College – The Easy Steps Way, provides a good overview of rubrics that instructors can create for students—tools that provide clarity and guidelines for student assignments and assessments. The presentation covers the why, and the how of rubric implementation applicable to face-to-face and online environments. More resources specific to student rubrics to follow.
IV. Blended Teaching and Learning [Introductory]
1. The Clayton Christensen Institute gives an overview of the blended model for K-12 and higher education on its site in a section dedicated to defining Blended Learning. The pages include links to several research reports on Blended Learning specific to K-12.
2. This resource, the mother-of-all resources on blended learning from EDUCAUSE and created by University of Central Florida, is a comprehensive tool that provides links to numerous research reports on blended learning outcomes as well as how-to tools for educators wanting to implement their own blended learning programs. The Blended Learning Toolkit: Improving Student Performance and Retention also includes the Blended Learning Toolkit, a how-to resource provided by the University of Central Florida, is an open educational resource licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike license.
Also the University of Central Florida offers an open, online The BlendKit Course periodically, and provides open resources: “a set of subject matter neutral, open educational resources related to blended learning available for self-study or for group use. Periodically, these materials will also be used as the basis for a facilitated open, online course”. To learn more check out the 7 minute narrated overview of BlendKit2014
3. Purdue University, another school recently implementing blended courses across campus, hosts a web page designed for its faculty; it still offers helpful insights for educators from any institution.