As students, when considering taking an online course, we examine all the technologies that we will need and that are available. As an instructor, we must do the same. Knowing the basics or essentials of technology and the technologies that will be used in your classes is imperative. According to Boettcher and Conrad (2010), when designing a first course, one should keep it simple and design around using he essential tools of the course. Once you have those down, you can expand your technologies.
Some of the basics are being able to upload documents, setting up discussion boards, using the gradebook, assigning students to groups, and learning to use the course management system (Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai, etc.) for your institution. If you are unsure of the CMS, ask your institution if they have online programs, workshops or tutorials so you may learn to use it properly (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010).
Several basic used are: email, announcements, audio/video lectures, blogs, and more.
Of the core learning principles, “Learners bring their own personalized and customizable knowledge, skills, and attitudes to the experience” (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010). Communication is key, especially in an online environment where there is little to no face to face interaction between students and instructor. If the information is given in a clear and concise manner, then there will be little room for ambiguity and miscommunication. “Clear and unambiguous guidelines about what is expected of learners and what they should expect from an instructor make a significant contribution to ensuring understanding and satisfaction in an online course’ (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010).
Clarifying how this will work or not work will help to create a trusting learning environment. Other considerations that need to be taken into account when setting up an online learning environment are international time zones, cultures, and ELL students. The first issue can be worked around through the use of email, especially if the “office” hours do not coincide with decent contact times. The instructor and the student can work out their communications.
Other cultures may observe different holidays than the US and this will need to be taken into consideration. The third item on the list is English Language learners. Their grammar and syntax may not be perfect however, we can all learn from one another. Hopefully, they will ask for help if/when needed.
Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.