Making Online Courses Interesting
When students take an online course, they don’t have the benefit of meeting with the instructor, or even other students, in person. Because of this disconnect, it’s easy to see how students can feel left behind or alienated. Would you like some ideas on how to help motivate online learners?
After several semesters of teaching online classes, I’ve had the opportunity to try varying techniques to see what works and what doesn’t. One thing that I’ve found that works well for me is posting a weekly announcement that I call “Tech Notes”. The content of the tech note usually doesn’t relate to the topic of the week; instead, it refers them to other information or links on items students may find interesting or useful. For example, one post I make at the beginning of the semester deals with the future of glass technology; it’s a short video clip produced by Corning. This is what the post looks like:
Have you wondered what the future may look like? For most of us, either our parents or grandparents can remember what life was like before computers and cell phones, tablets and laptops. Things like Google and the Internet weren’t even dreams.
Corning, a company most of us think of when we think of kitchen glassware like baking dishes, is advancing the future of glass technologies. Watch this interesting video to learn more about what they’re doing, and how it will impact the future of technology.
There are several other things that can be done to motivate online learners. I like to post a picture of myself so my online students can see what I look like, and I also do a small post about my hobbies and interests so I don’t seem so remote. In addition to having weekly discussion topics, students are required to respond to at least one other student’s post, to help foster discussion. I like to provide extra feedback to online students, since there isn’t that face-to-face connection like with in-person classes. From what I can tell, it’s paying off – here’s a quote from one student from last semester:
Thank you so much for the online class. I’ve taken online classes before, and none of them have provided as much feedback as yours. It was very helpful and I loved the Tech Notes. Thanks!
I really enjoy my online classes and learn a lot from my students. Hopefully these suggestions will be helpful, as they do seem to work well for me.