Eric Kunnen\’s GRCC Blog

ETOM – Spring 2007 Business Meeting
March 23, 2007, 3:17 pm
Filed under: Conferences


Notes from the ETOM Spring 2007 Conference

March 23, 2007 – Muskegon Community College

palloff grcc team pratt and palloff

Effective Online Course Development
– Dr. Rena Palloff
– Dr. Keith Pratt

The online classroom is a potentially powerful teaching and learning arena in which new practices and new relationships can make significant contribution to learning. In order to successfully agitate the power of this medium in education, faculty must be trained not only to use technology, but also to shift the ways in which they organize and deliver material. This shift can maximize the potential for learners to take charge of their own learning process and can facilitate the development of a sense of community among the learners. This session focuses on what constitutes best practices in the online classroom to best archive learning outcomes. Participant will leave the session with new ideas for facilitation of online courses.

Teaching in the Virtual Classroom – Fielding University Graduate Program
– A graduate program and certificate course.
– Offer cohort discounts from college.The Elements of a High Quality Course or Program:

  1. Effective Virtual Student
  2. Effective Online Facilitator
  3. Effective Course Design
  4. Effective Student Support

* The focus can’t be just on the online facilitator.
** Focus should be on community and community building.

1 – Effective Virtual Student

  • Access to Technology
  • Open
  • Communicates effectively in TEXT
  • Critical Thinker
  • Reflective
  • Flexible

2 – Effective Online Facilitator

  • Open
  • Honest
  • Responsive
  • Respectful
  • Flexible
  • Empowering
  • Present

3 – Effective Course Design

  • Fits with curriculum
  • Learner focused
  • Accessible
  • Relevant content
  • Collaborative
  • Interactive
  • Small group size
  • Cohesive
  • Addresses learning styles and culture

4 – Effective Student Support

  • Individual support and training
  • Learner centered
  • Offers advising, library services, registration, book store, and records

What Online Learners Want!

  • Clear instructions about course expectations and for completing assignments
  • A high level of instructor interaction
  • A reasonable load in terms of the amount of reading, posting, and email required
  • Reassurance that the ideas they are posting are on track
  • Prompt, unambiguous feedback
  • An orientation to the technology in use
  • tech support

Instructional Techniques to Support Online Learners

  • Use only technology that serves the learning objectives
  • Keep it simple
  • Web pages designed with one screen of text and graphics
  • Limited use of audio and video
  • Judicious use of synchronous media
  • Use of introductions, profiles, and bios
  • Use of ice breaker activities at the beginning
  • Use of experience-based exercises and activities
  • Use of social areas in the course
  • Post guidelines for communication, including etiquette
  • Model good communication
  • Followup with non-participants
  • Post clear expectations about posting requirements, timelines, and assignments
  • Ask open-ended questions to simulate discussion and encourage reflection
  • Include case studies, small group work, jigsaw activities, simulations, and rotated facilitation to stimulate critical thinking
  • Vary course activities to address multiple learning styles, to keep things interesting, and to vary the approach to the topic
  • Include the Internet as a teaching tool and resource.

Best Practices in Online Teaching

  • Understand who our students are
  • Understand how our students learn
  • Be aware of the issues that affect their lives and how they bring these to an online classroom
  • Understand what they need and provide support
  • Assist them in becoming reflective practitioners
  • Find a way to involve them in course design and assessment
  • Respect their rights as learners and their role in the learning process
  • Develop courses and programs with an eye toward quality improvement

Questions to Consider in the Creation of Online Courses

  • Who are my students?
  • What do I want to accomplish thorough this course? What is the course content?
  • Is this a course that will successfully transfer to the online environment?
  • What guidelines, rules, roles, and norms need to be established for course completion?
  • How do I want to organize the course site? How much flexibility will I have in doing so?
  • How do I plan to deliver course material? What will be expected of students in the learning process? Will I offer a combination of online and face-to-face options?
  • How will I assess student performance in this course?
  • How will I address attendance requirements?
  • How comfortable do I feel as an instructor with the inclusion of collaborative learning assignments, personal interaction, the concept of promoting knowledge in learners, and giving control of the learning process to the learners?
  • How do I define learning and what do I want to see as the learning outcomes for this class?


  • Have learners post any assignments and encourage feedback to one another on their work.
  • Set up a well-organized course site that includes a place for learners to socialize.
  • Include an area where learners can reflect on what it is like to learn online. We call this “Electronic Reflections.”
  • Encourage learners to bring real-life examples into the online classroom. The more relevant the material is to their lives, the more likely they are to integrate it.
  • Don’t lecture!!! An online lecture just becomes another article that learners are required to read.
  • Stay present!!! Let your learners know you are there by commenting on their posts and asking additional questions for them to consider.
  • Become comfortable enough with the technology to be able to answer learner questions about its use and assist them when they run into difficulty.
  • Act as a Learning Facilitator rather than an instructor.
  • Most of all, have fun and open yourself to learning as much from your learners as they will learn from one another and from you!

To Enable Best Practices!

  • The balance of power needs to change
  • The function of the content needs to change
  • The role of the instructor needs to change
  • The responsibility for learning needs to change
  • The purpose and process of evaluation needs to change

Aligning Course Design and Assessment
– Dr. Rena Palloff
– Dr. Keith Pratt

Aligning course activities and desired outcomes with assessment of student performance is a difficult task. How can an instructor really know if students have met course objectives or have achieved content area competencies if tests and quizzes are not the main means of assessment? This session will explore concepts of course designed and assessment with the goal of linking the tow. Participants will leave with increased understanding regarding the design and use of rubrics and authentic assessments that really measure achievement and learning.

Learning Pyramid- Average Retention Rate (National Training Laboratories – Maryland Student Service Alliance)

  • Lecture – 5%
  • Reading – 10%
  • Audio-Visual – 20%
  • Demonstration – 30%
  • Discussion Group – 50%
  • Practice by Doing – 75%
  • Teach Others/Immediate Use of Learning – 90%

Assessment Basics

  • Design learner-centered assessments that include self reflection
  • Design and include grading rubrics for the assessment of contributions to the discussion as well as for assignments, projects, and the collaboration itself
  • Include collaborative assessments through public posting of papers along with comments from student to student
  • Encourage students to develop skills in providing feedback by providing guidelines to good feedback and by modeling what is expected
  • Use assessment techniques that fit the context and align with learning objectives
  • Design assessments that are clear, easy to understand, and that are likely to work in the online environment
  • Ask for and incorporate student input into how assessment should be conducted

Angelo and Cross (1993) note that effective classroom assessment should be:

  1. Learner-centered
  2. Teacher-directed
  3. Mutually beneficial
  4. Formative
  5. Context-specific
  6. Ongoing
  7. Firmly rooted in good practice

Assessment in Online Courses (Morgan and O’Reilly, 1999)

  • A clear rationale and consistent pedagogical approach
  • Explicit values, aims, criteria, and standards
  • Authentic and holistic tasks
  • A facilitative degree of structure
  • Sufficient and timely formative assessment
  • Awareness of the learning context and perceptions

Designing Courses that Align with Assessment

  • Provide clear guidelines and objectives
  • Tasks and assignments should be relevant not only to the subject matter, but to students lives as well
  • Students should understand what is expected of them
  • Assessment should be in alignment with the course as a whole and not to be seen as a separate and cumbersome task

* When the activities and assessment techniques are in alignment, instructors and students alike are more satisfied with the outcome of the learning process.

Ways to Measure Knowledge Acquisition

  1. Use good questioning techniques to review text and other reading material.
  2. Rubrics
  3. Self-assessments
  4. Peer Assessments
  5. Authentic Assessments

Questioning Techniques

  • Use open-ended questions that encourage students to talk to one another about what they’ve read
  • Use questions that encourage further research outside of assigned reading
  • Use questions that encourage application of material read, such as case students, scenarios, etc.
  • As the instructor, do not respond to every post. Strategically jump in to link or extend learner discussion
  • Do assess learner contributions to discussions!


  • Should support self-assessment, self-monitoring, and instructor assessment
  • Should be based on Bloom’s taxonomy and criteria for each level of response assessed should be clear
  • Define the performance levels for each gradable activity element
  • Provide students with a concrete way of evaluating their own performance as well as the performance of the members of their team in collaborative activity

Basic Discussion Rubric

  1. Summary Level Posts = C
  2. Analytic Level Posts = B
  3. Synthesis Level Posts = A (ie. You made me think!)


  • Depending on the level of learners, criteria can be instructor-developed, peer developed, or independently developed
  • Word best with some guiding questions
  • Can be used effectively for individual activities as well as overall performance in the course

Peer Assessments

  • After collaborative activity, can be used to debrief
  • Can be in the form of a private email to the instructor including both self-assessment and assessment of all other members of the group and team
  • Can include suggested grades or simply in a narrative form

Authentic Assessments

  • Generally take the form of a application activities such as simulation, role playing or use of case studies.
  • Portfolios can illustrate ongoing knowledge acquisition and application
  • Effectively demonstrate not only acquisition of knowledge but ability to apply that knowledge in professional or other settings
  • Effectively assessed through the use of rubrics

Summary Points to Remember about Assessment and Evaluation of Online Courses and Collaborative Work

  1. Collaborative work should be assessed collaboratively.
  2. Instructors need to provide clear guidelines for assessment.
  3. The use of rubrics helps to make the assessment task easier and more objective.
  4. Students need to understand what is expected of them in the assessment function.
  5. Consider engaging students in the assessment function
  6. When assessment aligns with learning objectives and course activities, the task of assessment become less cumbersome and student satisfaction with the learning process increases.

Final Thoughts

Assessment and assessment criteria need to be clear and easy to understand, should align with the instructional approaches used in the course, the context in which the course occurs, and the competencies to be assessed. When the activities and assessment techniques are in alignment, instructors and students alike are more satisfied with the outcome of the learning process.


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