Online Teaching -- that's how it's done?


Online Teaching - my first pure online course

I started teaching in 2001, 15 years ago, and I am happy that I expanded my teaching skills this year to "pure online courses". In Germany, I did most of the time synchronous face-to-face courses . I also taught in blended courses where two third of the time was asynchronous but still I met the students at some point (2001- 2011). In Sweden, most of the courses I taught were traditional courses (2012-2015). Now, being in the United States, I taught my very first pure online course in Spring 2016, "Learning with the Internet" that focused on collaboration with technologies. The textbooks were: Meaningful Learning by Howland, Jonassen, & Marra (2003 and 2012 editions) and my book of Digital Didactical Designs (2016, Routledge).

Teaching and facilitating pure online courses mostly in asynchronous sessions is very different from traditional courses. The syllabus, the assignments, the rubrics for assessing the assignments, etc. needs to be explicitly written and needs to be very clear .  Even clearer than in traditional courses - because the entire or most of the communication is in written formats. Written formats make it sometimes difficult to ask questions, to understand question and to reply to questions because of the context - is there an overlapping context, what context can the person who asks expect that the other person knows, the person who answer? So, what does a person have to make explicit and what not? That leads either to long emails or short ones that the answering person doesn't understand. And then, there are many emails just to clarifying what the asking person want to asks or the answering person wants to answer. I just wanted to give an example. Asynchronous online courses face challenges - traditional courses face other challenges.

I look at my courses from the philosophy of #DesignThinking. I have an idea, I do it, I learned a lot about what works, and what not, and I will revise the not-working part for the next time. That however can mean that the 'working part' could be not working next time because of different students with different expertise and expectations. Let's see. I offer the course next semester again, this year in Fall 2016 - and let you know whether my assumptions and changes improved the course.

There is always something that can be improved :)