In terms of tools that have taught me the most in online classes (including this one!), I would say that narrated lectures, the opportunity to have peer-to-peer interactions, and independent reading were the most effective ways that I was engaged. I did like the use of quizzes and other content like this, but as a “Millenial” (and ugh, do I ever hate labels like that!), I find myself trying to “clock” the game in the shortest amount of time possible, instead of focusing on what lessons I should be learning from the exercise.
With the narrated lectures, as Sharon and Karen were saying, I can definitely see the advantage of keeping these shorter from a student standpoint (even if more total powerpoints were needed in order to encompass the material). It is actually quite challenging to find a fifteen minute block of time just to sit still and watch a lecture, so I imagine anything longer would be even more difficult for students to manage. However, it is amazing how much more engaging having a narrated powerpoint is over just reading a flat text file.
The peer-to-peer tools are excellent – I’ve learned a lot from our discussion board forum using the experiences of other instructors in the class. I prefer discussion board to the blog format, because it feels like you can see the interaction between different thread topics more easily…as clunky as the discussion board is when people get very active posting, it seems like it has more “flow” and interaction than the (reasonably) static blog format.
Reading, I think, has a similar purpose to on-campus classes. Allowing students to explore material on their own at their own pace seems like an effective learning tool. I guess the main thing here is that I need to check the material regularly to make sure nothing more relevant (or more readable) has come out for the topics of the course.
Anyway, that’s my two cents on what I found the most engaging tools in this course. As to how I will engage students? I’m hoping narrated lectures, using multimedia for labs, and “high-grading” for more interesting assigned literature will “hook” them into the subject of Whales and Whaling.