Faculty Discuss Online Teaching – Pt. 1

Early Considerations for Online Courses

“Seek out people, in your field especially, and ask them ‘What was it like to develop the course, and what was it like to teach the course?’ Those are two very different things.”
– Sue Freeman, College of Engineering

When designing an online course, practical advice from those with experience can be invaluable. In these short videos, Northeastern faculty walk you through aspects of the courses they built and describe things they learned while teaching them.

The Online Landscape

Online courses do require more up-front preparation compared to the on-ground classroom. But they also have some opportunities for connecting with your students that most on-ground courses do not.  This means the course experience need not feel “distant” and can even create a strong sense of connection between faculty and students.

These faculty discovered some simple practices to generate the experience of “social presence” for themselves and their students in an online class.

“In a classroom with 25 students, you’re going to have 7 or 8 who might not feel like saying a word. With discussion boards, I’m reading their work every week and it gives me a greater sense of what’s inside of them.”
– Peter Fraunholz, History


Explicit Course Objectives

The shift from “covering content” to cultivating skills changes what the classroom is for and is especially important in the online environment.

These faculty describe how making their course objectives explicit focuses and energizes their teaching, as well as their students’ process for learning.

“I switched to action verbs where I’m saying you will be writing, you will be submitting, you will be doing–so they knew why they were doing what they were doing.”
– Laurie Edwards, English


Purposeful Organization

Organization is important in any teaching context, but especially so online. Effective online courses make the “big picture” clear to students ahead of time, as well as establish and stick to routines across the course.

These faculty explain how they keep both the content and the interactions in their online courses organized and easily accessible for their students.

“I’m very consistent about what they can expect. This is where course operations take place, this is where you’re responding weekly to each other… After a while, you realize less is actually more.”
– Laurie Edwards, English

Learn more in Faculty Discuss Online Teaching – Part 2 and Part 3