A benefit of online education is that we have the power of the internet harnessed as a built in, added bonus to help our mission in educating our students. Tom March illustrates the simple point of not having to redesign the wheel by examining the vast amount of information that is available on the internet for our students to use.
March posits that there are three tools that teachers need to equip themselves with to be successful teachers. They are:
Creation of a learning environment
Students need to have a space that they can call their own. The "virtual" classroom should be a place where the students can recognize that education is based on sound pedagogy. This requires trust of the instructor having the best view as "the guide" of the educational experience.
Another key to successful on line education is that there has to be an easy was to create web based assignments for the students to turn in. Some students might have some phobias built up over technology, creating a roadblock in the informational highway.
Finally, any fears of technology must be dealt with, to insure that the message is getting delivered in a timely manner.
Shaping Web-based activities
Tools like Blackboard or WebCT can help facilitate both assessment and support inquiries on the subject matter. Having objective criteria will help evaluate students and give the student a guideline for what is expected in the class.
Students gain increased flexibility in taking tests or turning assignments in. Gone are the days of slipping the assignment under the professor's door or trusting the department secretary with your work.
Now you have a digital copy and receipt of work as your proof of submitted work. This online feature makes it easy on the teacher to keep track of the work for all of their students. We can use a combination of these systems, with READ 180 to allow teachers to assess learning in multiple ways.
Hands-on facilitation of students in the learning process
Any teacher is a guide for his or her students, helping them navigate a difficult road. Students will feel the pressure of the material and the potential paralyzing action behind the freedom that online classes give.
By being an active guide, when students feel inquisitive, or confused, the teacher will have the rapport built to allow students to open up about problems that they are facing or questions that they might have.