Online Instruction Types: O'Connor

Using Internet Effectively for Different Types of Courses A practical guide from almost 10 years of online course development and instruction Summer 2006 By Eileen O’Connor, Ph.D. Empire State College – State University of New York [email protected]


Ways to use online courses & the web in education and communication; an overview by O'Connor in 2006 (to Moscow State University via a virtual conference)

Transcript of Online Instruction Types: O'Connor

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Using Internet Effectively for Different Types of Courses

A practical guide from almost 10 years of online course development and instruction –

Summer 2006

By Eileen O’Connor, Ph.D. Empire State College – State University of New York

[email protected]

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Summary of Presentation

• The author presents her experiences with online course development and implementation, addressing a variety of approaches and considering the merits in light of a course’s objectives and student population. Her presentation will include a discussion of and links to: online discussions for encouraging student ownership and collaboration; companion websites for improving local community and school relations; and, email-supported online tutorials for skill building

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Agenda & Considerations • Introduction / welcome• As you listen to this presentation, ask yourself:

– what has been your experience with online teaching to date? – can the prompting questions (included in the presentation) help

you think about ways these technologies might support your work?• The presentation will:

– begin with an overview of communication technologies in the classroom

– address three areas that demonstrate selected uses of technology; you should consider if these areas might possibly apply to your work

– close with some general notes on online development. • Many links are provided within this presentation so that

you can visit these web sites later. • Hopefully we can continue to communicate and share

ideas long after the conference ends. Thank you for attending this presentation.

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Using Internet and courseware for teaching, instruction, and communication

• Internet and e-technologies can allow virtually any form of communication and interaction– and, remember that the young are very attuned to technology– as you can see too, it is the way the world will work in the future

• Internet & online courses can extend your geographic and temporal reach

• In this presentation and discussion, we will consider only a few of many possible examples

• Experiment to learn what you can do: – Think beyond ways you are communicating presently– Consider what technology avenues are open to you . . . but keep

on exploring new avenues as well.

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To start you thinking: in what ways could Internet & online courses support your

objectives?• What areas require

procedural instructions, background information, lists and libraries?

• How are you trying to build a learning community among your students? Do you think such a community can improve learning? (this is a critical epistemological / philosophical question)

• Where would you like to have more visibility to a community outside the school?

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Overview of approaches considered

Procedural / skill building

Community / Dissemination

Collaboration within a course

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Considerations with use of Internet for instruction and/or for procedural information

• Examples will follow on next slides• A portion of most instructional environments includes

procedures, lists, and resource links. Use Internet to preserve this information for more than one course or use.

• Organize these long-term website carefully: – Consider the overall design & the ways that users will navigate

the web site– Use searches and indexes when possible to make information

easier to find– Realize that users are not pleased with changes to the web site,

so consider at least your front page carefully when you begin – Develop page numbering & referencing conventions that will

work in print as well as online.

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Design considerations for this largely procedural web site used to teach computer skills

• Since technology skill building was the primary objective, the relationship within the course was between the teacher (the master) and the individual student (the apprentice). This was not a collaborative relationship.

• All instructions were created by the teacher online in advance of the course. Careful attention to instructional design was followed.

• During the course itself, the instructor sent reminders weekly to these 100% online students; a homework assignment was due each week.

• Although students could be “creative” with their technology assignments, they had to meet the course objectives and demonstrate certain competencies in use of the technology (PowerPoint & others)

• More than 1,000 teachers have taken these courses; they have been well received.

• Please visit: - (request password)

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Navigation within this “procedural” web site

• Multiple ways to access the course content

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Establishing objectives within each module; the method of instruction

• Well written instructional objectives are critical if you want to minimize questions to the instructor and stress for the student, particularly when you are evaluating specific skills.

• Since this course was primarily to build computer skills, the objectives were technology-related

• The course demonstrated the skills-to-be-acquired by using creative teacher examples from a variety of teaching scenarios

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Providing directions for the technology lessons within each module

• To guide students through steps at their computer, you must be very careful with the instructions written.

• Proving images and step-by-step instructions, and downloadable examples can be very helpful.

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Examples important to teachers were used

• In each course, examples from a variety of content areas were shown to encourage creative thinking about the technology

• To the right is an image of ways an elementary school teacher could use PowerPoint to teach about shapes

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Examples important to teachers were used

• In each course, examples encouraged creative uses of the technology

• In the example to the right, you can see how images, timelines, maps, and directions were used as a way to illustrate PowerPoint features and as a way to suggest teaching social studies

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Providing animated (audio-visual) instruction – supporting different types of learners

• Since there are different learning styles, providing audio-visual animations can help the learner understand directions

• (creating these animations is time consuming and requires specific skills – these animations were made in Flash)

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Locating information during the course and providing ways for use after the course ends

• A search link brought readers to an interactive index that allowed them to find information about technology outside of the tutorial itself.

• A coding system was used so that the materials and the search index could be printed and used as a book after the course ended.

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Applications to your situation – procedural / skill-building

• What are your information or instructional needs that can be served with a well-designed website (password protected, if necessary) that can be used repetitively, easily, and over long periods of time?

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Advantages of using online discussion boards in courses

• Can encourage student participation at times convenient to them– less student fatigue and improved participation

• Preserves a record of instruction and interactions– facilitates course evaluation and research

• Allows for greater student participation– all “voices” can be heard even when a student is quiet

in the classroom or has a different native language than most of the class.

The relationships within this environment: teacher-student & student-student

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Building collaboration within a course

• Determine what types of assignments can serve for these discussions; can they be: – A reading? A project? A group project?

• Consider your educational & instructional philosophy:– Articulate communication and writing expectations for discussion

groups: • allow informal language if you want honesty and often better quality

work than you might expect; you may want different standards for formal papers

– Consider allowing the posting of all works, even before review: • Pros: Encourages better work; supports collegial development • Cons: Some student postings may not be good; you need a

disclaimer & a way to address errors in a tactful manner

• Determine how much presence you want as an instructor– Recommended that “some” presence should always be

asserted; discussion boards with no faculty presence at all can become problematic.

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Online discussions with students can support many objectives – consider these areas:

• Students can: – discuss / debate readings, postings, news articles – post and discuss original works and projects – reflect on common experiences– (an example of a discussion where students chose

their own topics is shown on a later slide)

• Suggestions: – Encourage the use of good subject headings; no one

wants to open a file if it is not relevant to their interests.

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As an instructor you make “authority” decisions that influence communication within the course

Students & teacher


Students as an unedited


Teacher as primary voice?

What voices prevail?

When respectful, informal conversation is allowed

student commentary may be more thoughtful and honest

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An example of procedural considerations within a discussion board

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Online discussion with students – an example of building a collaboration within a course

• Objectives of this course: – To build a collaborative of teachers who will generate their own

understanding of teaching and learning through: • examination of their own learning experiences • readings and study • observations in school districts; discussion of observations.

• Types of students in this course: – In this program, the students are adults from non-teaching

disciplines that are making a career change into teaching. • Ways that students are considered within this course

– Respect of the student and student ownership of his / her work is critical

– Students must be active participants in developing their own understanding (constructivism)

– In many parts of the course, students choose their own topics with approval and guidance from the instructor.

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Another course where students selected discussion topics

• These future teachers in math and science chose the topics that they discussed online.

• These students were asked to consider supports and impediments to technology in schools in choosing topics.

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Applications to your situation – collaboration through discussion boards

• Where could you use a discussion to encourage student ownership and genuine participation? What parameters do you want to establish to ensure quality participation?

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Establishing relationships outside the course, classroom or institution

• Areas for communication and dissemination to a larger community

• Ways to herald the work of students – Students will work more diligently if they know there is

a possible public forum – Students can take ownership of the website

development and website standard setting – as part of their assignment

– Some authoring software allows you to easily incorporate student work as a design element (example shown on a later slide)

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Establishing relationships outside the classroom – example of an urban community

• This website (shown on the next few slides) was designed initially as a way to engage classroom teachers in uses of technology – Many school events were photographed and posted

daily – Images were used largely because of the elementary

school audience – Web authoring software (FrontPage by Microsoft) was

used to allow easy update of content and the link structure.

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Establishing relationships outside the classroom – design / navigation considerations

• The design should be somewhat stable – a viewer should be able to return and navigate in approximately the same way– Consider the opening page quite seriously; get as

much critical information on this page as possible – without being too “wordy”

– Find a metaphor or image if possible or simply use a large list of links

– Create a site map & multiple ways of navigation if possible

– (see the next few slides)• Secure permissions for use of individual

identities and names, particularly with minors

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Establishing relationships outside the classroom – student work / multiple navigation


• More student themes –

• The opening page highlights main activities

• Site map provides

alternative navigation

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The background was created by student artists within the elementary school

This raindrop pattern & the umbrella were created by a sixth grade


Original backgrounds can be easily created in Microsoft Front Page

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Consider the information for the homepage – a page of logically-organized links is useful

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Consider the information for the homepage – is a metaphor or visual image possible?

• However, good metaphors can be very difficult to create

• Often, lists of links (as on the previous slide) are easier with new web sites

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Website can alert parents, other institutions and community to internal events -- example

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Establishing relationships outside the classroom – proven interest

• People return – to see the school / to see their children

• This site is still being viewed although no entries have been made in three years (see the site statistics to the right).

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Establishing relationships outside the classroom – proven interest

• The image to the right shows some of the pages still being visited, three years after any entries have been made.

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Applications to your situation – community building / community informing

• What information or activities would you want to broadcast a larger audience? How could you use a web audience as a way of encouraging better learning?

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Considerations when developing an online course (or part of a course)

• Follow appropriate design considerations . . . as with any teaching

• Define your objectives for the online or Internet portion; do you want: – To deliver information and procedures? – To develop a collaborative community among the

course participants during the course timeframe? – To inform individuals or institutions outside the

school, heralding student work in the process?

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Technology considerations when developing an online course (or part of a course)

• Although the design should be based upon the relationships you want to build and your educational philosophy, consider these tech tips to get you started: – use trial and error at the start; it is easy to change after you see

the effectiveness; read books too – but don’t be afraid to try; this is still a new medium of expressing and the technologies available are changing too

– don’t expect that you will be an expert with the technology – it is OK for things to go wrong; have non-technology backup plans

– you do not have to be perfect in front of your students ; have your students help you – they will appreciate the opportunity

– think outside the box, you can do things you have not done before

– consider the support that is reasonably available to you; you can work in a quick development mode (such as PowerPoint) to allow you to test what you want to do.

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Example uses of Internet in instructional support

• A web site of student projects with technology -- ; domain name and server supported by the instructor (approximately $150 per year (USA dollars))

• Community website –• Opening to an information website with a visual

metaphor – • Online, primarily skill-building course with email

communication: (please request password)

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Disclaimer – Ways of Working

• The work you have seen was created by Dr. Eileen O’Connor to serve her university students in teacher education and to serve professional clients (school districts) – The work with web sites was created by O’Connor

and, although reasonably well designed, does not represent the caliber of work possible with the help of technical support staff.

• These materials are shown as a demonstration of ways to work and represent a constantly emerging understanding of O’Connor in website design for instruction, collaboration, and communication purposes

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References to Supportive Studies• Bransford, J..D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. (eds) (1999). How

People Learn:  Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. National Academy Press.

• Brownlee, J., Purdie, N. and Boulton-Lewis, G. (2001). Changing epistemological beliefs in pre-service teacher education students. Teaching in Higher Education 6(2):247-268.

• Chickering, A. & Ehrmann, S. C. (1996). Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever. AAHE Bulletin, October, pp. 3-6.

• Coppola, B. (2006). Balancing Theory, Practice, and Technology in a Graduate Teacher Education Class. Proceedings from Opening Gates in Teacher Education (Mofet Institute).

• Kuriloff, P. (2005). Breaking the Barriers of Time and Space: More Effective Teaching Using e-Pedagogy. Innovate 2 (1). Retrieved January 30, 2006, from

• Lee, J. A. & Busch, P. E. (2005). Factors Related to Instructors’ Willingness to Participate in Distance Education. The Journal of Educational Research, November/December 2005 [Vol. 99 (No. 2)]

• McCombs, B. L. & Vakili, D. (2005) A Learner-Centered Framework for E-Learning, Volume 107, Number 8, pp. 1582 – 1600. Retrieved: 2/19/2006 from Teachers College Record.

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References to Supportive Studies

• Palloff, R. M. and Pratt, K. (1999). Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace: Effective Strategies for the Online Classroom (1st edition). Jossey-Bass.

• Plourde, L. (2002). Elementary Science Education: The Influence of Student Teaching – Where It All Begins. Education, 123(3). 253-245.

• Reeves, T., Herrington, J. & Oliver, R. (2002). Authentic activities and online learning. Retrieved March 5, 2006.

• Rodgers, C. (2002). Defining Reflection: Another Look at John Dewey and Reflective Thinking; Volume 104 Number 4, 2002, p. 842-866. Retrieved : 8/5/2004 from Teachers College Record

• Seamon, M. (2001). Changing Instructional Practices through Technology Training. The Book Report, 1, 44-48.

• Seeman, E. (2005). Reforming Teacher Education Programs. [Interview with Education World.] Retrieved March 2, 2006. .

• Zhao, Y., Pugh, K., Sheldon, S., Byers, J. (2002). Conditions for Classroom Technology Innovations. Teachers College Record. 104, 482-515.