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Essentials for Effective Online Courses in K-12

Essentials for Effective Online Courses in K-12

Quality Matters, a nonprofit that aims to improve the quality of online education in both the higher education and K-12 sphere, has produced a guide for K-12 schools to follow when creating and offering online courses.

How Can Online Education Reflect High Quality Teaching?

"When you walk into a classroom, you have an instinctual feel for the quality of teaching and learning happening there, along with standards and expectations that have developed over decades. How can we do the same for online education? " asks WeAreTeachers.com.

Quality Matter's rubric aims to help strengthen online courses that might otherwise be ineffective busy work through several recommendations that administrators and educators should familiarize themselves with.

Courses Must Be Designed with Objectives in Mind

First, the rubric insists that online courses should be developed and implemented with clear expectations and targeted learning objectives in mind.

The rubric brings up one of the major challenges to effectively implementing technology in the classroom: focusing on the content versus the technology itself.

"...the purpose of an online course shouldn’t be simply to do an online course but to engage in ideas that will challenge and engage students. The technology is in the background, the course material in front," the article said.

Assessments and Course Materials Must Encourage Engagement

Many online courses fall into the trap of relying simply on quizzes or written assignments as the only forms of assessments. The rubric recommends teachers divert from that traditional model to work with students' many different learning styles.

"Virtual presentations, digital collages and video are just some of the ways to leverage technology in doing online assessments," the article said.

On that same note, it is easy for teachers to not bring in outside reading or projects other than what is available from within the platform used for the online course.

"It’s the digital equivalent of not straying outside the textbook. Be adaptable when thinking about course materials, as long as they are deeply connected to what you are teaching."

Coursework Must Prompt Students to Collaborate; Teachers Must Provide a Strong Support System

Since students are learning from behind a screen without traditional human interaction, encouraging student and teacher collaboration is essential for an online course's success.

Online courses should be filled with vibrant conversation (in-class discussion forums or even private social networking groups (like Edmodo, Schoology or Facebook groups), hands-on projects (captured on video) and student collaboration (via tools like Google Docs that allow them to work together in real time). And participation should be required so that no student falls through the cracks.

Meaningful relationships between student and teacher are possible in online courses and even essential, so providing communication and support on the educator's end is crucial.

Read the full story here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

10/09/2015

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