What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?
It is extremely important for the instructor to know the available technology so that he or she is able to utilize and enhance the learning environment by using what is available. It is also important for the instructor to know what technology is available for the learners so that assignments and projects can be catered around the availability. Prior to setting up the online classroom, the instructor must have first hand knowledge of the available technology as well as how to use the technology to maximize the learning environment. It is important for a new instructor to keep the technology tools to a minimum in the beginning so as not to become overwhelmed. “But it is vital that you only add tools only as you are ready. If a tip suggests a tool that is not available to you are not quite ready for, simply adapt the tip as makes sense to you and come back to it for further consideration the next time you are teaching the course” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).
Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?
Clear expectations are extremely important in any educational situation. I teach third grade and spend the first month of school going over the expectations so that my students eventually become natural in meeting the goals. Clear expectations are an essential success factor for both the instructor and the learner. The expectations for discussion posts and assignment deadlines should be provided to students prior to the first day of class as most students have access a day or two before the class begins. Due to the lack of face to face interaction, the instructor should make sure he or she provides answers to questions that may arise so that the students know exactly what is expected of them throughout the course. Organization and communication are key for both the success of the learner and the instructor.
What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?
The instructor should get to know the learners as soon as possible. He or she should reach out to them through email or phone calls prior to the start of the course. Once the course has started the instructor should begin getting to know each of the students and establishing expectations and communication while implementing a community of learners. Determining where each student is from as well as their background knowledge will help aid the instructor towards tweaking his or her delivery to meet their needs. While the online syllabus should consist of a framework of expectations, welcoming the students, as people who you are interested in getting to know and mentor, is vital. There is nothing worse than taking an online course in which you feel like you are not an important part of the learning environment.
Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.