Saturday, December 22, 2007

When It's All Said and Done...

The Fall 2007 semester has come to an end, and with it my section of ENG 111 Online.

I'm happy to report that all the online students' portfolios I submitted passed!

(For more information on my department's portfolio process, check out this link. Keep in mind that the portfolio process for online classes is a little different.)

Looking back, there are only a few changes I would make to the online class:

1.) Use a screen capture lecture with audio to better help students understand the layout of the course and my expectations, which I AM doing right now as I'm developing my section of ENG 112 Online.

2.) Post more on the Discussion Board during the week. Every day I checked the Discussion Board, but I didn't post but maybe once or twice on each thread b/c I really wanted students to rely on each other for the discussion, not me. However, I noticed that when I did post students did seem more engaged and the discussion really went to the next level.

3.) Create a screen capture of how to use a wiki so students better understand what the is purpose of the wiki and to teach them how to use a wiki. I DID add this to my screen capture on the course expectations for ENG 112, so I'm excited to see how students respond to wikis this semester.

4.) Figure out how peer review online could be more meaningful. The majority of the students didn't like peer review if it meant posting a paragraph to the Discussion Board or using Word's Comment feature. I'm very open to ideas on how to get students (online and f2f!) engaged in peer review.

Besides those 4 things, I'm really happy with how the class went. Once I got a feel for online teaching, I really enjoyed it and got a lot out of the experience. I plan to teach more online courses in the future.

The one piece of advice that I can give future online teachers is: DON'T do it because you think it's going to be easy. Grading essays online takes a lot more time than grading them in person. I had to keep reminding myself that I couldn't really use the codes I do on f2f students' essays and I had to better explain what I meant in each comment b/c I couldn't "talk through my ideas" in a classroom setting, like I do when I give my f2f students back their rough drafts and final drafts. So, be ready for longer grading sessions. It's important to take the time and provide very specific, detailed comments, so online students can understand exactly what you mean and learn from the comments without any verbal explanation. It's strange, but once I got used to it, I liked it. It taught me a lot about my teaching style and helped me articulate more clearly what I feel is essential to academic writing.

I'm excited to teach ENG 112 online. 112 is the research writing part of the composition program here at BGSU. We spend a lot of time teaching what are credible academic sources, how to find those sources, and how to synthesize sources in order to create intelligent academic writing. As I've been creating the Blackboard shell for 112 Online, I've been realizing that 112 is perfect for online courses! I've been creating assignments that allow students to make more use of online medias. I feel confident doing this b/c by now students have a grasp on argumentative writing, so now I can focus more on finding sources online and doing activities that encourage students to think about those sources and how technology influences/contributes to those sources.

I promise share some of my ideas once I iron the out after the semester begins.

During the interim, have a great holiday season!