We hosted our second fully online VIU community of practice session discussing best practices for facilitating online learning on October 21st. This was another great session with a number of faculty returning from the first session as well as some new arrivals. All are welcome in these sessions, they are informal chances to discuss the challenges, wins, best practices, and questions we face as faculty sporting online learning. Since these are held online they are easily accessed from your desk or home office.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

We again covered a lot of ground in the one hour session, below find a quick recap of the major themes:

  • Multi-access learning needs are growing across all of our campuses. This involves supporting both face-to-face and students at a distance, using audio recordings from classes, video conferencing, online synchronous tools, or personal-portals via Collaborate or Skype. These are new activities on campus and more research is needed into best practices and the required supports.
    • We noted that remote students may feel and appreciate being connected although we do not feel they are connected or we are providing the best experience. For some students this may be the only way they are currently able to access VIU.
    • If one is teaching as a sessional this can be an additional challenge as being added late as the instructor to the course limits our ability to react to these needs.
    • Furthermore, it can be a challenge to schedule synchronous courses with students where no specific class time has been defined in advance
  • An alternative is to use discussion forums or other discourse driven educational technologies. Many online programs rely on these, some entirely with no synchronous interaction built in at all.
    • Participants shared some best practices for running discussion forums
      • Where needed it may be possible to apply penalties for oversharing, or too many posts, for those extra keen students.
      • Some debate around assigning participation marks to discussions
      • When should the instructor participate?
        • Some concern that the instructor can silence the group, so must post strategically
        • Instructor participation can be designated to a certain day of the week so expectations are clear to students
        • We had quite a bit of debate about instructor presence online, how much is too much or not enough, finding balance
          • A different kind of ‘being there’ in online environments
      • Some use smaller group discussion in advance to give students a chance to further develop their thinking before posting
        • All depends on what you are looking for them to do, what are your intended learning outcomes?
      • All desired for better rubrics for assessing discussion posts and reflections
        • The group will be seeking example to share at the next meeting (or reply to this post with thoughts)
        • Some shared success with using the audio feedback tool
  • Started to talk about creative assignments
    • ePortfolios, video projects, and how best to support?

Our next session is coming up on November 25th from 12pm-1pm.  Please consider joining the discussion! Click here to sign-up.