Teaching online can be a scary transition for traditional lecturers and instructors. Many fear that an online student’s engagement and retention of information will not measure up to their on-campus peers. Luckily, WSU’s Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) provides quite a few tools to ensure that your online students receive the high-quality education you are used to providing in a classroom. Below, I’ve listed some of the traditional learning strategies that you would find in a university classroom and their Blackboard or online counterparts.
Lecture –> Blackboard Collaborate, Talking Head Videos:
When designing a course, my greatest fear is that it will feel too mechanical. Luckily, in order to ensure that you get some face time with your students, Blackboard provides a tool that allows you to meet students face-to-face through its online platform. Collaborate allows you to meet with one student at a time, or schedule a time for the entire class to meet together. This tool is great for hosting online office hours. If you want to give your students the opportunity to watch a lecture at anytime, you may also come to the Instructional Design office, and we will help you record professional-quality videos for your courses. It’s important to remind students that they are taking a course from a human being, not a computer. Collaborate and Talking Head videos allow you to do this.
PowerPoint –> Brainshark
If your lecture courses rely heavily on PowerPoint, we have a tool that will help you deliver a similar classroom model online. Brainshark is an online tool we use at Wichita State that allows instructors to record timed lectures that coincide with a PowerPoint. This way, students can receive the information with their eyes and their ears, improving retention!
Group Work –> Blackboard Groups, Wikis, and Collaborate
In order to improve student engagement and create a classroom community, instructors often ask students to work together in groups. This sense of community does not need to be lost in an online environment. Blackboard provides tools to help students communicate with one another. Blackboard Groups creates an area exclusive to assigned group members where they can communicate with one another and share ideas without interrupting other members of the class. Group Wikis, like a Wikipedia page online, allows students to make changes to a document as a group. Collaborate, as I mentioned earlier, is also a helpful tool for students to meet with one another face-to-face.
This only scratches the surface of the tools available to online instructors. If these tools sound unfamiliar or you need some more training, feel free to visit the Instructional Design and Technology office any time! We’d love to help.