Online Course Activities
Making Your Online Composition Course Engaging and Interactive Through UDL
"Being There" in an Online Course: Building Presence
In teaching, we communicate not only course content, but also the processes of learning. In order to do this, we must build effective communication between instructors and students. Here, there are three major types of presence in an online course:
- Cognitive Presence: engaging with the course content and information. In course design, this is where Backward Planning your course design and UDL considerations in your online materials are crucial.
- Instructional Presence: the way an instructor builds rapport with students through presentation of material, feedback on assignments, and back-and-forth conversations.
- Social Presence: The interpersonal connections that take place between all course participants, particularly for student-to-student interactions.
UDL and the Online Composition Course
In many ways, Universal Design for Learning is ideal for online courses. With it's focus on providing multiple means of presentation and engagement, following UDL helps you ensure that each student has the means to access a coherent guide to your materials and has effective assignments to reinforce key concepts.
However, consideration of UDL principles and application to your writing course are two very different things. A writing composition course has specific challenges when it comes to online teaching — it demands that students engage in focused, complex writing tasks without the face-to-face conversational feedback of a traditional classroom. This provides a significant challenge to student motivation, particularly for students who may not feel comfortable writing in academic genres.
To help better engage your students, I'll be posting suggestions for online activities to keep your students interested an engaged in the course. This is meant as a complement to the Classroom Management and Inspiring Creativity topics, adapting many of the same concepts to the specific challenges of online teaching.
- Introductory Discussions: Encouraging back-and-forth conversations in an online setting.
- Advice from Seventeen Online Teachers from Inside Higher Ed.
- How to Be a Better Online Teacher Advice Guide from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Guide to Teaching Online Courses by the National Education Association
Academic Research and Analysis
- "Getting the Mix Right Again: An updated and theoretical rationale for interaction" by Terry Anderson.