Standard 1: Current Effective Practices for online Teaching that support student success
The instructor knows and understands current effective practices for online teaching that support student success, and can apply that knowledge to the design and implementation of his/her course.
The instructor can cogently discuss barriers to and support of student success within the online environment.
The syllabus and/or course materials include explicit policies and procedures, such as a communication policy, that address and support regular and effective contact;
The instructor incorporates tools and/or strategies to assess student readiness.
Reflection When considering the importance of standard 1, my thoughts immediately go to my own experiences in classes where I was either bored, frustrated or felt that there wasn't much of a chance to succeed. In the instance where I might have felt bored, it might've been that the instructor wasn't using current, effective practices, but rather relying on some worn out methodology that was either outdated or that dolled out work. In the instance where I felt frustrated or overwhelmed, I might have felt hesitant to speak up and express the challenges I was having because the message might have been that if I didn't get it, I was the problem. And if I felt frustrated, there might have been a short window before I completely checked out, losing interest and considering dropping. This image of a grumpy cat to the right is the response that I don't want to elicit from my students. I don't want any of my students to struggle with these kinds of situations.
Many of my students, I know, come to my class with many different anxieties, especially when the class only meets for 8 weeks, or when it's their first time taking an online course. This is why some of the first points of communication are so critical, and why it's essential that I use current, effective practices that set students up for success. Millennials, I find, take notice when I utilize methods of technology that ease their anxiety and equally impress them. Artifacts
When my students first arrive at the class Blackboard/Canvas site, they will find both words and videos to greet them. Through the video, which I designed using QuickTime Player, my iMac with a built in camera, and YouTube tools, I try to welcome the students, explain the goals of the class and emphasize the first week tasks. In this example, I've also included closed captioning text, and I am sitting in a sound room at one of the colleges I teach at, devoted to making instructional videos.
When my students first land at the Blackboard site, they enter on the Week 1 announcements page. This intro. letter has gone through many versions, as I have realized how crucial it is to provide students with this material right away. In my letter I point out a number of different resources, including support resources for ESL students, for students with disabilities, and a general student success resource link. I also try to emphasize the big picture of how the class functions, how to contact me, and I also try to encourage them and put them at ease. Click on the introduction letter button below to see my letter.
The first week of the semester, I also clearly point out the attendance policy, which is unique to a traditional face to face course. I want to prevent the potential student who drops in once every two or three weeks and hold them accountable. I also point out how they can earn full credit on the weekly writing forums, which we start on right away. The rubric I share with them was self-created and it is included with every writing forum assignment.
In addition to pointing out the policies in the LMS learning module, I provide the students with an accessible syllabus. One of the first week asssignments is to read the syllabus and to ask questions about it in the writing forum. I provide this document via a scrolling reader tool called Scribd and by way of a PDF. I also include the syllabus inside the navigation pane on the Home page (shown below), as this is a resource that I want the students to access quickly.
I know that some of my students will be brand new to the world of online learning, so I think it's important for everyone to do a self assessment the first week of class to self-determine if they are aware of the implicit challenges and/or if they should proceed with the course. I set up an assignment that allows me to see the results of this online readiness quiz, which is designed by Saddleback College. I also include the video shown below which lays out some of the key strategies to be successful in an online class. You'll notice that the video, created by OEI, includes closed captioning and signing, and it shows students who are giving their insights.
Apart from the student success resources I create, I try to take advantage of the resources that the state and college make available to my students. Saddleback College offers online students help with their papers. I include a link to this resource on my navigational pane and plays this up the first week of class. The college also has a pretty slick looking student support page that I direct the students to. Finally, for students who want even greater support and guidance, I recommend the tools made available by the Online Educational Initiative, which is a state level grant that comes from the Chancellor's office.