Beauty is everywhere and in every moment, if we pay attention. I saw this beautiful sunrise driving by Eureka, Nevada on Highway 50, the loneliest road in America, during the tail of my one-week road trip vacation. Similarly, good teaching practices are flourishing in OSU online courses as we discover from our talks with Ecampus instructors. To inspire you to expand your teaching toolkit, here are some ready to use online teaching tips from the book “Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning” by James Lang.
Online Teaching Tips
Weekly reading journals
Frequent quizzing such as quizlet practices or weekly quizzes
Pretesting with immediate grading and immediate feedback including exposure of content teaching;
Role play: how might a person in a different role approach the problem?
Asking students to predict what will be covered in next week’s lesson/reading, etc..
Open or close each class session with small opportunities for students to retrieve older knowledge, to practice skills developed earlier in the course, or to apply old knowledge or skills to new contexts.
Weekly mini review session applying that week’s content to some new question or problem.
Stagger deadlines and quiz dates to ensure that students benefit from the power of spaced learning.
Solicit the prior knowledge of your students at the beginning of the term or individual lesson (such as private journaling or public introductory discussion)
Ask students to create concept maps that answer questions or solve problems; use concept maps multiple times throughout the semester with different organizational principles.
As much as possible, offer examples or cases from everyday or common experience but also – and more importantly – give students the opportunity to provide such examples on their own.
Before the semester begins, brainstorm a comprehensive list of cognitive skills your students will need to develop to succeed in your course. (Identify Learning outcomes)
Prioritize them; decide which ones students will need to develop most immediately and which ones can emerge only after they have developed some basic skills.
Review your course schedule and decide where you can make space for small practice sessions in key skills prior to your major assessments; mark those sessions on the syllabus schedule.
Prior to any major assessment, ensure that students have had multiple opportunities to practice the skills they will need to do well, from creating slides or writing paragraphs to answering multiple-choice questions.
For online homework or readings, create spaces for students to self-explain while they work;
When students are demonstrating their homework, create a regular schedule of opportunities or requirements for them to self-explain their process.
Use Peer Instruction: students provide an answer, pause and explain it to their peers, and then revise their answers.
In all forms of self-explanation, push students to tie their knowledge of information, principles, theories and formula to the specific task they are completing.
Spend time to get to know your students; learn about their lives and their interests, creating a positive social atmosphere in the virtual class space.
Open each lesson by eliciting student emotions: give them something to wonder about, tell them a story, present them with a shocking fact or statistic. Capture their attention and prepare their brains for learning.
Consider how practitioners in your field, or the skills you are teaching them, help make a positive difference in the world; remind them continually about the possibilities that their learning can do the same, from the opening of the course.
Keep the overarching purpose of any lesson/ learning activity in view while students are working. Make it clear why they are doing this activity.
Show enthusiasm for your discipline, for individual texts or problems or units, and for your hope that they will find them as fascinating as you do.
Provide early success opportunities through assignment sequencing or assessment design;
Consider offering some reward for effort or improvement in the course (heavier weighting of your assessment toward the latter half or through a portion of the grade set aside for that purpose)
Provide examples of initial failures or setbacks in your own intellectual journey or in those of famous or recognizable figures in your field to demonstrate that such failures can be overcome.
Give feedback to students in growth language; convey the message that hey are capable of improvement, and offer specific instructions on how to achieve the improvement.
Ask top students to write letters to future students about how they succeeded in the course; select and pass along the ones that highlight the power of effort and perseverance.
Include a “Tips for Success in this course” section on your syllabus, and refer to it throughout the semester.
Commit to reading at least one new book on teaching and learning every year.
Subscribe to an e-mail list from Faculty Focus or Chronicle of Higher Education
Create a personal learning network on Twitter.
Attend a conference on Teaching and Learning in higher education (the Teaching Professor or the Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching)
Attend events on campus sponsored by Center for Teaching and Learning.