How ready are you for online learning
February 27, 2019 |
Online classes are in growing demand from college students. They allow students to do their coursework on their schedules and they allow professors new ways to engage with students. The flexibility of online classes also comes with its challenges. The main one being - getting set up.
Online Learning Pathways is a department under Instructional Services tasked with ensuring that students and professors have the support they need to get started with their online classes. At the beginning of each semester it is the busiest section of the San Diego Community College District website with more than 50,000 pageviews in just one month.
Students can get help setting up for their online courses through the online student orientation, which offers information on what to expect and how to navigate the Blackboard portal that supports online classes.
Faculty has the more daunting task of organizing the class in Blackboard before the semester even begins. This could entail developing welcome videos or instructional videos that meet all accessibility standards with captioning and a written transcript. It may sound like a lot of work at the beginning, but once it’s done these materials can be used for many semesters to come. Instructions are available under the faculty training section of the SDCCD Online Learning Pathways website and a 24-hour help desk can be reached at 866-271-8794.
The SDCCD also offers an Online Faculty Certification program. The program is designed to teach faculty how to teach online, how to develop their instructional design, and other good practices of online teaching.
In Summer 2019 the district will move away from Blackboard and begin using Canvas, a Learning Management System that is endorsed by the state Chancellor’s office and has a large Canvas Community (Canvas Commons) where faculty may share ideas and even request that a feature be added to Canvas.
Kats Gustafson, Ed.D., Dean of Online & Distributed Learning said Canvas has many advantages. “There are many more tools in Canvas for teaching that are easy to use and adapt in courses. Canvas also has built-in learning analytics so faculty may track the progress of their students.”
Gustafson believes the next technology that could make its way to the classroom is Artificial Intelligence. “I believe that eventually Artificial Intelligence will be used to give students more options to choose from within the course. For example, if a student seems to take a long time reading an assignment, AI might notice and ask the student if he/she would like the assignment read to them instead. Or, if a student didn’t do well on a quiz question, AI would tell the student to check out a quick link to a short video to explain a concept using both audio and visual presentations. The student would then be taken back to the quiz question (a different one would show up) that may ask the same question in a different way.”