Time Saving Tips for Distance Learning Instructors
January 9, 2006
Many distance learning instructors are concerned that putting their course materials online in myWPI and responding to student e-mails and discussion board postings significantly increases the amount of time they spend on the course. It’s true that the nature of online communications may mean that you spend more time communicating with your distance learning students than you do with your campus-based students, but there are several things you can do to save you time in a distance learning course.
- Make your course easy to navigate. Ease of navigation reduces student questions about the organization of your course materials. Label the buttons in the myWPI menu appropriately and delete ones that are not needed. Organize your content in folders for each lesson or each week of the class. Use a similar format from week to week or lesson to lesson so students will quickly learn what to expect and be able to keep track.
- Provide clear instructions to reduce the clarifying questions you receive from students. Start by writing a comprehensive syllabus that fully explains how the course works. Provide clear instructions for student activities and assignments.
- Develop an FAQ (frequently asked questions) document and post it in your course. This allows you to answer common questions once rather than repeating the information in private communications with individual students.
- Explain to your students what your schedule will be for providing feedback and responding to questions.
- Set aside a specific time each day that you will devote to the class.
- Effectively manage your e-mail to reduce the amount of time you spend sorting, searching, and responding.
- Save answers to common questions in a Word document or a text file and copy and paste them into e-mail replies to students.
- Wean students from using e-mail as their primary communication tool. Encourage them to post their questions in the discussion boards where other students may be able to provide some answers.
- Cut down on the time it takes to facilitate the discussion boards by assigning one or two students to facilitate the discussion each week. You may still want to pop into the discussions occasionally, but the burden for facilitating will not be on you.
- Locate relevant online resources that you can use in your course content. This saves you from having to create all of the content yourself.
Last modified: Jan 06, 2006, 12:13 EST