Open Thread Wednesday: Teaching Online

This semester marks a first for me in teaching: a fully online course. While every course I teach is hybrid to a greater or lesser extent, I’ve always relied on in-class discussions and activities as an anchor. The course is a graduate seminar on Information Culture, so it definitely lends itself to meta-reflection on the very nature of doing this type of work online. It’s also synchronous, so we’ll be using video chat (Adeline just suggested lots of possible systems, I’ll be using GoToMeeting) to keep some of the immediacy of the classroom online. It’s my first time teaching the course, so I have no “physical” version in mind to compare it to, which has actually been helpful as I’ve been thinking about every assignment as virtual-first.

I’ve taken heed of the warnings in Doug Ward’s post on the perils of teaching online to some extent, and thus I’m teaching using the university-supported Sakai supplemented with outside technology rather than rolling my own system. It’s easy to sort out problems with my class BuddyPress sites in hybrid courses, where I can walk through log-ins during class time, but the online-only format doesn’t offer the same opportunities. While lots of us at ProfHacker love innovating with technology, there’s also a lot to be said for reliability when it comes to online classes.

A few years ago Jason blogged his first summer of online teaching with some great advice on handling preparation. I’ll also be sharing my tips and setbacks throughout the semester, but first I wanted to ask ProfHacker readers:

How do you prepare differently for an online course than a traditional classroom? What are your techniques for creating an engaging dynamic online? Share your tips and tools in the comments!

[CC BY 2.0 Photo by Flickr User Nerovivo]

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