What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?
Instructors in the online environment have to get the familiar with the technology that is going to be used during the online course because before the launching of the course they have to configure the learning environment with the content and the tools that learners will be using. Digital technology tools help learners achieve the learning goals in the online environment (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010) because they facilitate communication among students and with the instructor, and because they also allow instructors to include resources in different formats such as multimedia, games, and simulations; therefore the importance for instructors and learners to get familiar with the technology.
Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?
Because as mentioned by Boettcher and Conrad (2010), “clear and unambiguous guidelines about what is expected of learners and what they can expect from an instructor make a significant contribution to ensuring understanding and satisfaction” (p.83). Additionally, because of the distance and different time zones characteristic in the online environment, it is important that learners know clearly how to communicate with the instructors, understand the course syllabus, the schedule of assignments, and procedures in case technology fails.
What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?
- Create an initial to introduce yourself but try to avoid posting your entire CV because only showing academic information create distance with the students (Laureate Producer, 2010). Instead add some personal information to facilitate the connection with the students.
- Add in the initial post a video, a voice message, or images to show openness and encourage students to share some personal information too. This is going to establish stronger connections among the learning community and thus will be more likely to participate and stay motivated.
- Encourage learners to ask questions, even the ones that might seem obvious. Post your contact details so learners know how to reach you.
- Create an icebreaker activity at the beginning to encourage learners get to know each other.
In summary, the first two weeks of the course are critical to set the stage for the online course. This defines future interactions in the course and how learners perceive the learning environment. I have learned that making a presence, not only as an academic, but as a human who is there to guide learners for a successful experience is of high significance to create a welcoming learning environment where learners feel open and are willing to participate without feeling isolated or threaten by the technologies or the online learning experience. Particularly having a welcoming message with some form of multimedia element (voice message, video, or image) is a good strategy I will be using to set the online learning experience with a positive start.
Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities [Video file]. Retrieved from Walden Library databases.