At this year’s Fall Convocation, I had the privilege of giving the presentation Making Peer Review Meaningful for Faculty. One exercise involved pairing instructors together to discuss areas of their online courses in which students either 1) did not find engaging or 2) missed grasping an important concept. While one partner spoke, the other practiced active listening skills by repeating the situation described, posing questions, and providing feedback. At first, the conversations between partners began as a few whispers.
With all learning technologies, software updates create learning opportunities for their users. To be effective instructors, we must seek out ways to stay up-to-date on the various innovations within the online classroom.
The Center for eLearning has taken the hassle out of the search process for you. We have partnered with Blackboard in offering online workshops fully paid for by the Center for eLearning. Through September 30th, these workshops are available to all TCC faculty. Whether you prefer a self-paced asynchronous experience or an instructor-facilitated session, there is a workshop for you.
Tidewater Community College joined the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) in January of 2015. By joining SARA, institutions agree to the Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education (Online Learning) written by the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC). By signing this agreement, institutions offer a good-faith acknowledgement that compliance is being pursued with the intent to meet all guidelines. Here is a little history behind the agreement.
As a fresh face in the Center for eLearning, I have the unique opportunity to look at our processes from an informed, but curious viewpoint. Over the past five months I have been immersed in Blackboard, TOP-ELITE, Quality Matters, Informal Reviews, and Instructor Mentoring. In a way, I feel a kindred spirit with those faculty who are curious about teaching online or who have just started the process of creating online courses – at times, we could feel like we are drowning in information…
But the life raft is within your grasp.
Have you considered the possibility of submitting your course for a peer review? Quality Matters reviews build upon the concept that quality is a process. Courses are not expected to be perfect but they can be improved with helpful recommendations provided by academic peers. Many of our colleagues who have offered a course for peer review have walked away with reassurance that they have designed one or more high-quality courses, and have been pleased by the recommendations resulting from the review(s). Recommendations for improvement can be challenging, but many of us come to recognize that the reviewers look at our course from the perspective of students and offer excellent insights on incremental quality enhancement.
Have you ever searched for best practices online? A simple query for “10 best teaching practices” alone generates 211,000,000+ results. Most blogs, websites, articles, and studies on the subject will report benefits of similar instructional strategies. While these lists are helpful, they are not always the tool-kits that provide the how-to information. Wouldn't it be great to “see” what that best practice actually looks like? I took one such “Best Practices” list and added the how to’s based on strategies I've either integrated into my own online courses or come across in other exemplary TCC online courses.
By Virginia Zillges, Dean of eLearning, Center for eLearning
While the term “flipped classroom” has become a popular learning environment in college teaching, the theories and instructional strategies behind the trend are what enable powerful student learning. The key behind the flipped classroom can most likely be contributed to student-centered, active learning strategies including cooperative and collaborative learning. There is plenty of evidence to support these approaches in the literature (Michael, 2006). Even if you teach in the online environment without face-to-face, you may yet integrate these effective strategies into your fully online course.
Center for eLearning Website Updates
In order to ease navigation, the Center for eLearning has recently updated the Faculty section of the eLearning website. You may navigate from the main page or hover your mouse on the top menu over Faculty.
In response to feedback from faculty, The Center for eLearning has recently revised our Faculty drop down menu for easier navigation http://www.tcc.edu/elearning/
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As instructors prepare for peer reviews I have the opportunity to look at online courses and offer insight. In a previous email I pondered the concept of “instruction,” recently I have wondered more about “good design.” Instructional designers and discipline specialists make great teams for designing quality online courses. Unfortunately, most of us at the college have been left to our own devises in terms of course design. My own course is not a great one, but what quality is there comes from listening to designers and struggling to put myself in the shoes of students. How do they interact with my course material? As someone who has been fascinated by history for very nearly 60 years it takes a great deal of cerebral contortion to view American history from a student perspective, but it is worth the effort.