Category Archives: Online Course Facilitation

Sharon Guan

Designing an Instructor-Agnostic Course with a Sense of Instructor Presence

If you think the title of this blog is too complicated to understand, you can use an analogy, such as eating candy without a sweet taste, or drinking water to booze up, or anything that sounds oxymoronic, self-contradictory, and illogical.

If instructor-agnostic means removing the trace of any specific instructor, how could you create a sense of instructor presence in the same course? And why would you want to do it? Have you ever seen a course like that?

Before answering these questions, let me share a personal story with you. Two weeks ago, I received news that my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Devastated by the phone call from her primary care physician’s office, which offered nothing but a quick read of the final diagnose, I struggled to find out anything about breast cancer—the causes, the symptoms, the types, the treatment, the chance of spreading. Yet none of the information on the Internet could put me at ease or  tell me how to deal with this life-threatening illness. I was overwhelmed by feelings of fear and helplessness until I received the phone call from Beth, a nurse from the pathology department of the hospital.

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Erin Kasprzak

Give the Students What They Want

Getting good feedback from students can be a challenge. Gone are the days where someone from the academic department came into your class and distributed paper course evaluations to every student. Response rates for online course evaluations are abysmal, and the students who respond usually represent the extremes—they either tend to be really happy with the course or decidedly unhappy. So what to do?

Recently the college I support conducted two focus groups for our online students. I didn’t facilitate the focus groups; I have to give credit here to our great online operations team and the researchers who support the college Teaching, Learning and Assessment committee. In these focus groups, our adult students were asked “If you had the opportunity to design your ideal online course experience, what are the features you would include?”

So what did they tell us?

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