eCoaching Tip 42 Seven Strategy Checklist for Your Summer Course

April 25 2007  Summer Tip #1

 E-Coaching Tip 42 Seven Strategy Checklist for Your Summer Course

Summer courses always feel a bit rushed and compressed.  There seems to be little time to just wonder and reflect on what the content means to your learners and how well your learners are taking it all in.

Here is a checklist of strategies that work well to slow down the feeling of being rushed, and the need to cover everything in a textbook or syllabus.  Authentic and satisfying learning can happen in the summer by using just one or two of these strategies.

Seven Strategy Checklist for Your Summer Course

Here are seven tips from faculty who have been teaching online from a resource developed at West Virginia University http://oit.wvu.edu/itrc/faculty/tips/.

How might you use these tips? One strategy is to give yourself a quick review and see how many of these strategies you are currently using in your course.  Notice that most of these strategies involve enhancing the communication and dialogue in the course community.

For example, Tip Number 5,  “Success is in the details” suggests that it is almost impossible to be too explicit or too clear about expectations. This advice has been surfacing very frequently — often as a result of feedback from students. Being very clear and explicit will likely be the focus of more research as we learn more about online learning design and practices.

Here are the tips with a few comments and observations about each of these tips.

  1. Role-playing exercises engage students. This tip reminds us that experiences that require students to be active, creative and “doing” are more effective than the passive activities of reading and listening. For example, this tip might also translate into using case studies and “what if” scenarios. This tip also means placing students in context and giving them choices and decisions to make.
  2. Peer review of work provides authentic audience and valuable feedback. This tip reminds us to use learners to review other learners’ work. This helps learners to get to know each other, and to know their learning goals and can also reduce assessment time for you.  The fact that you save time is a great by-product of this effective learning strategy!
  3. Assigned discussion questions focuses a discussion and requires student participation. This tip encourages focused and required participation in discussion forums.As a reminder, the forum or discussion space is the online equivalent of class discussion, only with the added benefit of time for reading and reflection before responding.
  4. Frequent quizzes and short answer essays keep students engaged and reduce procrastination.It is easy to forget how effective frequent quizzes are for the basic facts and core principles that are the foundation of evaluative and creative learning.   Course management systems of all types make it easy for you to use these tools, once they are developed.
  5. Success is in the details. As noted above, this means providing lots of directions  and being very clear and explicit about expectations. This is part of your teaching presence and also a way of students hearing your voice and benefitting from your expertise.
  6. Using student partners or small teams. This strategy encourages teamwork and networking while enabling students to customize more of the learning to their own interests and needs.
  7. Be sure to control pace of the course. This can mean closing units after the allotted time, making quizzes available/unavailable, and gentle, but firm reminders about completing task assignments on schedule and in sync with the course community. This is particularly important in short, intensive summer terms or eight-week terms.

Here is a final thought as we wrap up our review of these strategies.

Learning research suggests that learning activities that require students to be active and doing are essential for lasting learning.  This means that when given a choice between “covering material” and coaching students in active experiences, that coaching students may be the better choice.  Of course there are always exceptions, depending on course goals and designs.

Selected References

Instructional Technology Resource Center (ITRC) of Office of Information Technology at West Virginia University (2008) Best Practices and Tips for Teaching Online http://oit.wvu.edu/itrc/files/faculty/teachingonlinetips.pdf.

Note: These E-coaching tips were initially developed for faculty in the School of Leadership & Professional Advancement at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. This library of tips has been organized and updated through 2016  in the second edition of the  book, The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips coauthored with Rita Marie Conrad. Judith can be reached judith followed by designingforlearning.org.