Online Learning

Pre-pandemic, online learning as a mainstream activity was already trending upwards. In 2016 in the United States alone, 31% of university-level students took at least one online course, which represents an increase of 5.6% from the previous year (Seaman, Allen, & Seaman, 2016). Additionally, the fourth Quality Matters report in 2019, The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE), reported a 31% increase of Chief Online Officers at university and college campuses compared to their previous survey, CHLOE 3, indicating the growing need for online technical support across college and university campuses. 

The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the growth in online learning, with at least 80% of institutions adapting to full online courses or emergency remote learning (ERL) by fall 2020 (Garret, Simunich, Legon, and Fredericksen, 2021). A major reason, however, for designing and facilitating online courses is their demonstrated efficacy: according to a meta-analysis conducted by U.S. Department of Education (2011), students performed better in online courses than in face-to-face courses and performed best in blended courses. For our own students, then, we can capitalize on these better student outcomes to maximize our students’ success and ameliorate pandemic-related barriers both inside and outside of the classroom. 

As part of a cross-departmental initiative, the Teaching Support team in CTRL and E-Learning Support in the University Library work towards equipping you with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to teach in online and hybrid classrooms. 

Building Your Online Course

There is a lot to think about when designing a course for the online or hybrid modality. Below you will find a few resources to get started and frame your approach to online course design. 

Build

“I want to build my online course.”

  • For insight into the main components of an online course, check out the Online Course Evaluation Checklist. 
  • CTRL recommends that you reach out to the embedded instructional designer in your department for further guidance on subject-specific course design. 
  • Review the Learning Support Services’ Best Practices. 

Teach

“I want to implement something new or innovate my teaching.”

  • Community of Inquiry Framework. Engaging in an online space can be daunting for both instructor and student. This resource can be a great aide to building and facilitating critical engagement in your course.
  • CTRL offers one-on-one teaching consultations, and our instructional designers are prepared to walk you through planning your online course as well as implementing new practices. To schedule a consultation, follow this link. 

Canvas

“How do I … in Canvas?”

  • Check out Learning Support Services’ Canvas page 
  • For any other Canvas related inquiries, please email canvas@american.edu. 

Improving Accessibility

Intentional focus on the accessibility of your online course is a key component of universal design for learning, not just another bare minimum compliance policy. Although accessibility to course content increases when it is transferred online, barriers can still arise for students of all abilities (physical, mental, and behavioral) if we do not make informed choices. Additionally, even “students who do not have disabilities often need or want the same kinds of support as accessibility laws require for students who do have them” (Bozarth, 2015, as cited in Nilson and Goodson, 2017, p. 166). To ensure accessibility in your online course, we recommend starting here: 

Workshops & Courses

To teach conventional online or hybrid classes at AU, we highly recommend that faculty successfully complete the CTRL course. Specialized programs (such as the Washington College of Law and the PMBA Program) and vendor-partnered degrees receive separate trainings. To view recordings of previous CTRL workshops on online learning, please click this link. Below, you will find a further list of current AU and CTRL-specific offerings. 

  • Eagle Online Excellence Online Course Design Certificate Program: This newly launched course is a professional development program offered in two cohorts during the fall and spring. Including a pre-training micro-course, the program is designed for those who would like to learn more about online course design and how it connects with the EOE process. To register, follow this link. 
  • Eagle Online Excellence Request a Review for a formal design review of your online course with Ashley Roccamo or Luis Alvarado. 
  • CTRL’s Online Instructor CourseThe introductory course builds a foundation for online content delivery. This course is for faculty who have not yet taught an online or hybrid course, but intend to in the near future. This five-week course focuses on pedagogy, syllabi, course design, and effective use of educational technology. A certificate as proof of participation will be distributed upon successful completion of the course. For more information, please contact CTRL. 

 

497

Professors Are Certified to Teach Online

You were a great team and I’m genuinely looking forward to teaching this course online and continuing to develop my course. I’ve got a lot to learn but you’ve gotten me off the ground with it and I’m thankful!

Faculty ParticipantFall 2018 Introductory Course

This class is absolutely outstanding. I learned so much and I’m actually a bit sad the class is over. Thank you for a wonderful experience that I will think back on often as I develop my first online or hybrid course.

Faculty ParticipantSpring 2017 Introductory Course

I was just about to start my new online course and had been a year since I took the original online training course… I appreciated the opportunity t brush up on some online tools and it helped with my confidence starting the new course.

Faculty ParticipantMay 2016 Just-in-Time Course

Having done previous trainings, I enjoyed returning to this space where instructors (who are truly fabulous!) interacted with many of us who already have experience in working with a range of web tools for our content delivery. Being with colleagues who teach very different courses and varied sizes of classroom audiences made for interesting conversations across the board.

Faculty ParticipantWinter 2016 Advanced Training Course

References

Garrett, R., & Legon, R., & Fredericksen, E. E. (2020). CHLOE 4: Navigating the Mainstream, The Changing Landscape of Online Education. 2020. Retrieved from the Quality Matters website: qualitymatters.org/qa-resources/resource-center/articles-resources/CHLOE-project 

Garrett, R., Simunich, B., Legon, R., & Fredericksen, E. E. (2021). CHLOE 6: Online Learning Leaders Adapt for a Post-Pandemic World, The Changing Landscape of Online Education, 2021. Retrieved from the Quality Matters website: qualitymatters.org/qa-resources/resource-center/articles resources/CHLOE-project 

Nilson, L. B., & Goodson, L.A. (2017). Online Teaching at Its Best: Merging Instructional Design with Teaching and Learning Research. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. 

Seaman, J. E., Allen, I. E., and Seaman, J. (2016). Grade increase: Tracking distance education in the United States. Wellesley, MA: Babson Survey Research Group. 

U.S. Department of Education (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Washington, D.C.