Four Tips for Effective Teaching Online or On The Ground

The March 2017 issue of The Teaching Professor contains a wonderful article, “Four Ways to Teach More Effectively.”  And though it doesn’t address online teaching and learning specifically, all four of the methods highlighted here are essential (I believe) to quality online education.

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First and foremost:  pay close attention to the design of your course and think bigger than “content.”  What do you want students to know and be able to do at the end of the course?  Everything you do in every class should support this.

And of course, design requires an understanding of the delivery medium you will use:  on the ground?  hybrid?  flipped?  online?  Each of these demands different design considerations.

Second: think about the future.  What do you want students to know and be able to do five years after having taken the course?  This is especially effective in General Education courses–the kinds of courses that many students take only because they are requirements.

What’s the “so what?” of your course?

I first encountered this question as a serious guideline for effective education about a year and a half ago, and it has changed–in ways big and subtle–all of my classes and how I teach.

Third: pose problems that cannot be answered.  How can we help students practice handling the sorts of problems that will fill their lives, personal and professional?  The kinds of problems that cannot be solved?

Fourth: expect students to talk and write and collaborate.  Even when students tackle the challenging, seemingly unsolvable problems mentioned above, how can they move forward?   And how can we structure activities to help them develop these skills as they work toward what we want them to know and be able to do at the end of the course, and beyond?

I recommend you check out The Teaching Professor for this and other useful articles.

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