Online and Hybrid Teaching Presence: Create Engaging Instructor Content
In the traditional classroom, communicating is more direct and obvious than it is in an online course. There are plenty of opportunities to pick up on non-verbal cues, add impromptu anecdotes, draw analogies or answer on the spot questions. In an online environment, teaching takes a new form where communication takes on a more intentional and planned format. While there will still be some room for live (synchronous) or back and forth (asynchronous) discussions, much of your role as the instructor will be to guide your learners through the content and activities via mini-lectures, assignment feedback, and news announcements. The next few sections will provide strategies and best practices for effectively implementing your teaching presence into your online or hybrid course.
Curated vs. Created
Before discussing the different strategies, technology tools, and resources. Let's differentiate between the two types of content that will subsequently make up most of your course content.
Curated content is the process of gathering information relevant to the topic. This most commonly looks like provided textbooks, relevant news articles, scholarly studies, links to websites, interactive labs, podcasts, videos, or other multimedia. Depending on the course or subject area, your curated content will most likely make up the largest percentage of the online content you post.
Created content is the process of creating something new and original. These materials are created by considering the information you would typically present as part of a lecture or conversation with your students face to face and converting it to engaging web-based content. Creation of new materials is one of the best ways an instructor can infuse their knowledge, expertise, and teaching style into an online course. This allows you the opportunity to give context, draw analogies, anticipate and address questions about concepts, re-direct, provide feedback, or disperse new information in your own words.
Why is instructor created content so important? Why not just load materials for students to view?
This is the best way to infuse your voice and knowledge into the course. Simply relying on having students intake curated content can create some issues. First, it is less engaging and less personal. Second, the act of teaching is the process of providing context, guidance, and feedback. The materials you choose are certainly part of a solid course foundation, but your voice is the glue that holds it all together!
What does instructor created content look like?
There are many options for generating your own dynamic and engaging content. You can use video, audio, text, or a combination of these methods to create your message to your students. The next section will break down the different options, best practices and technologies to plan and create your own content.
How often should I provide instructor created lecture content? And how long should it be?
At least one or more instructor mini-lectures per module or per topic is a good rule of thumb. Instructor lecture may occur more or less often depending on the nature of the course you are teaching. For example, if you are teaching an independent study, your approach to lectures would be very different than if you were teaching a course of 30 or more students. You might think about providing an introduction, content driven mini-lectures, and a summary lecture for each module or each week.
What is the best digital format for delivering my lectures?
Generally, using a variety of methods throughout the course is a good idea. The fact that you are providing instructor generated content for every module or week is the constant, but the way that you deliver is up to you! If you want to explain a process or graph, you may want to do a screencast video or text lecture. Alternatively, if you are sharing a welcome message you may want to record a video of yourself on camera, this method of delivery is known as a talking head. There are many options which we will discuss more in depth in the Lecture Options section.
If my online lectures are shorter than my face to face lectures, does this retract from the quality of the course? Are my courses equitable?
Yes! An online course, if designed well, can be equitable and of high quality. The format in which you deliver and facilitate the content and learning will change, but you can still ensure your students are meeting learning objectives. If you are used to lecturing for an hour about a topic and don't want your online students to miss out on anything, you will need to sit down and evaluate your face to face lecture content. Ask yourself pointed questions about what content is critical to help students meet objectives. What information could be provided through curation of multimedia or reading materials instead? What is best conveyed in writing vs. audio or video? Course planning will help you to determine format, length, and topics to address.
Definition: A talking head lecture is a video of a speaker talking to the camera. This may also be accompanied with slides.
Purpose: Build instructor presence, trust, credibility, and convey empathy to students.
Use Case: Introduction videos, module summaries or sharing a personal anecdote. A brief and minimally scripted conversational approach is best.
Tech. Tools: Mediasite Desktop Recorder (MDR)
Definition: A recorded video of a computer screen accompanied with audio voice over or talking head.
Purpose: There are many possibilities for this method. Record and demonstrate whatever is on the computer screen.
Use Case: Create informational mini-presentations about course topics. Record PPT lecture slides while you expound on the information or visuals presented. Or, demonstrate how to navigate a website or a process.
Tech. Tools: Mediasite Desktop Recorder (MDR)
Click image above to view example.
Definition: Use a screencast tool to record yourself drawing on a tablet in one note with a stylus while recording audio of your voice explanation. This style has been popularized in recent years by the popular Khan Academy.
Purpose: It is generally used for math equations, processes or diagrams. There are many possibilities for using this method.
Use Case: For example, if you were teaching the migration patterns of birds you might show an image of a map and us a drawing tool to mark up the map with arrows to demonstrate patterns of migration.
Tech. Tools: Mediasite Desktop Recorder (MDR) and One Note
Definition: A text lecture is a lecture that relies on a varied combination of written word, images and/or embedded multi-media to communicate ideas.
Purpose: Text lectures may vary in their layout or look and feel depending on the template used. They may be text only or they might include multimedia.
Use Case: This method is best used for step-by-step guides, and information that is best conveyed as text. Other ideas for text lecture include: Introduction or summary of a module, supplemental material, and/or introduction of an activity.
Tech. Tools: Word document, PDF, HTML pages, PowerPoint with a script in the "notes" section
Definition: A digital audio recording of a person's voice.
Purpose: Record voice with little to no visuals. This allows students to easily intake information on the go from their mobile device.
Use Case: Great for sharing brief 1:1 or whole group feedback on student assignments. Create and post class announcements. Provide your expertise on topical content related to the course.
Tech. Tools: Mediasite Desktop Recorder (MDR) - Record one slide and voice. Post as a url link into course.
Click below to listen!
QUICK TIPS FOR CREATING CONTENT
What are some general best practices?
Keep lectures brief and topical. 5-10 minutes (videos) 5-10 minutes of reading (text lecture)
Use images and graphics to explain concepts
Use conversational language
Anticipate student questions
Provide guided thinking questions to help students focus on important concepts
Tie concepts together when possible
Give context to concepts
Share anecdotes from when possible
Use high contrast colors like dark grey and white
Accessibility - Use the Headings options for text lectures, captioning for videos, and provide a script for podcasts
What are some general pitfalls to avoid?
Use bullets to draw attention to key points
Avoid Power Point presentations with no contextual information provided in the notes or with an audio voice over. Talk to your slides!
Color schemes that are bright or not high contrast
Avoid serif fonts like Times New Roman, in digital viewing Serif fonts like Ariel are better for viewing
Types of lecture content
- Introduction to the course
- Introduction to the professor
- Module introductions (weekly introductions)
- New information
- Connect the dots (Context and analogies)
- Weekly or Course Summary
- Problem Solving
Recorded Lecture Options
- Text Lecture
- Talking Head
Burch, Barbara. "Video Length in Online Courses: What Research Says." Quality Matters, www.qualitymatters.org/qa-resources/resource-center/articles-resources/r.... Accessed 31 May 2018.
"The State of Video in Education 2015." Quality Matters, Kaltura, site.kaltura.com/rs/984-SDM-859/images/The_State_of_Video_in_Education_2015_a_Kaltura_Report.pdf. Accessed 5 June 2018.
Moore, E. (2013, January 17). Adapting PowerPoint Lectures for Online Delivery: Best Practices. In Faculty Focus: Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications. Retrieved May 20, 2018, from https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/adapting-powerpoi...