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This module introduces a series of modules focused on strategies that instructors should consider when teaching in an online environment. This module is part of the Best Practices in Online Teaching Course created by Penn State University World Campus as a guide for faculty who are new to teaching in an online environment.

Introduction: know your medium!

Online teaching is an art…just like oil painting, writing, or any other art.

Artist Karl Leitzel at Work, Photo by Karl Leitzel, Penn State University, World Campus

Oil paint is a mixture of pigments and certain kinds of oils, such as walnut oil, poppy seed oil, or others. One basic but important rule when applying oil paints is “fat over lean,” which means you should use “oilier” paints for each extra layer to avoid cracking or peeling. Knowing the paint (the medium) helps you to master fine techniques in oil painting. **

Likewise, when teaching online, one fundamental feature of the medium, the Internet, is that teaching and learning is done at a distance. As a result, many teaching and communication strategies seemingly not necessary in a face-to-face setting will now need to be spelled out to avoid miscommunication or confusion. Therefore, when teaching online, you’ll need to know the characteristics of an online environment and attend to appropriate ways of communicating, interacting, motivating, and supporting your students. These elements in an online environment are certainly differently from those in a traditional face-to-face setting.

In this Section, we present strategic teaching steps:

  • Promote Active Learning
  • Model Effective Online Interaction
  • Monitor Student Progress and Encourage Lagging Students
  • Assess Messages in Online Discussion
  • Sustain Students’ Motivation
  • Provide Feedback and Support
  • Encourage Students to Regulate Their Own Learning
  • Understand the Impact of Multiculturalism
  • Deal with Conflicts Promptly
  • Use Evaluation Data
** The information about oil painting is referenced from: (External Link)

Is frequent instructor-initiated personal email the most important way to improve students’ sense of community and learning experience in general?

No. Results from Woods’ (2002) research study suggest that frequent delivery of personalized emails did not increase the amount of student participation in required class discussions; the study identified no significant differences between groups in perceived sense of community, satisfaction with learning experience, and personal relationship with the instructor.

Woods, R.H. (2002). How much communication is enough in online courses?--Exploring the relationship between frequency of instructor-initiated personal email and learners' perceptions of and participation in online learning. International Journal of Instructional Media, 29(4) , 377-394

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Would content-directed online courses with less focus on collaboration and discussion affect the quality of learners’ learning experience?

Yes. Even though learner-content interaction is described as the “defining characteristic of education” in Moore’s (1989) Three Types of Interaction, content-driven online courses based on didactic teaching styles can certainly be frustrating for online learners. Learner interaction, collaboration, and good communication are all important motivators for learners to gain optimal learning experience.

Moore, M.G. (1989). Three types of interaction. American Journal of Distance Education, 3(2) , pp.1-6

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Many Course Management Systems (CMSs) generate reports about students’ log-on activities and progress in the course. Would that be enough for me to assess students’ participation in online discussions?

No. Only assessing the quantity of messages posted online can lead to poor quality of online discussions.

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Will my participation in online discussion improve student engagement in the course discussions?

Yes. Instructors who participate in online discussions can promote students’ deeper involvement by answering questions, providing confirmation, critiques, encouragement, or additional resources.

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The dynamics of the online classroom can cause a shift in the role of the instructor. How would you characterize the role of the instructor in the online learning environment? List some of the characteristics of this role. How is this role different from the face-to-face environment? If you wish, post your comments to the discussion board for this page. You may wish to reference one or all of the following concepts as you consider the role of the instructor:

  • Teacher-centered vs. Learner-centered learning environment
  • Sage-on-the-stage vs. Facilitator-on-the-side
  • Activity-rich vs. Media-rich online courses
  • Online vs. Traditional face-to-face classroom
  • New social and learning dynamics

Questions & Answers

do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Best practices in online teaching. OpenStax CNX. Aug 28, 2007 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10453/1.2
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