Instructional Technology Newsletter 16

Why You Should Take “Best Practices for Teaching Online”

Krissy Egan

September 2015

Starting next week, faculty will have the opportunity to take the “Best Practices for Teaching Online” course with George Guba and Beverly Riddell.  I think most faculty members would genuinely like to improve their online teaching knowledge and expand their Blackboard skill-set, but often decline such opportunities for one common reason:  time, or lack thereof. Since I took this course last year and found it worth my time, I’d like to explain how I benefitted from the course and why you might too.

“Best Practices for Teaching Online,” or BPTO, is an online course taught by George Guba and Beverly Riddell offered to Mary Baldwin faculty at no charge.  The six week course requires roughly two hours of work a week and teaches both technical skills and online pedagogical theory.  Participants read about best practices in online teaching, post on the discussion board, engage their classmates and instructors, and even do assignments.  The latter can range from writing a simple journal entry, to recording a short video, or creating a test.  The course is ideal for anyone who uses Blackboard and wants to learn more about the tools that are available and best practices for teaching online.

Learning how to use Blackboard to its full capacity can be a slow process because every new tool or technique takes time to grasp.  One of my greatest takeaways from BPTO is that by learning about various techniques, I have discovered that many do not require a giant learning curve.  In the first two weeks of classes this semester, I have already used two tools that I have never used before: I made a video introduction of myself and a narrated video of my computer screen to show students where materials are in my course.  Video has been on my “to learn” list for years, but after taking BPTO, I accomplished this quickly and easily.  Because I tried these methods in class, I knew what they were, that I wanted to use them, and that they were not very complicated.  I simply retrieved the “how to” directions from the OIT website to refresh my memory when I was ready to create my videos.

Like many Mary Baldwin faculty members, prior to BPTO I had never taken an online course.  With on- campus classes, I draw from my educational experience all the time to mold the way I teach.  I simply do not have this pool of knowledge when it comes to online teaching, and the medium is, without question, different.  This lack of experience makes it difficult to make big decisions about course design.  For example, when George Guba put forth his Blackboard course template containing a module structure, I could not fully comprehend it.  However, after experiencing the module design of the BPTO course, I understood the template and could make an educated decision about whether it was right for my courses or not.  In this way, the course helped me solidify what I like about my online courses and what I want to change.

Above all, I found that experiencing an online course from the student perspective granted far more useful knowledge to me as teacher than reading about it.  If you want to relate to your online students, then I highly recommend taking the time to be a student again.  You might find, as I did, that it is a very enjoyable and valuable experience.


About the Committee:

The Instructional Technology Committee at Mary Baldwin University is a faculty committee made up of representatives from the faculty and the Instructional Technology staff at Mary Baldwin. The Current Committee is:

Pam Bailey
Carol Creager
Doris Dodson
Krissy Egan, Chair
Kari Frenz
George Guba
Ben Herz
Chandra Mason
Reid Oechslin
Beverly Riddell
Laura van Assendelft

The charter of the committee is to:

  • Provide a forum for input to the Instructional Technology staff on the relative value of technological improvements from a pedagogical perspective.
  • Be a champion and example for technology enhanced teaching within their schools
  • Try out new technologies that seem promising
  • Develop and share best practices & rubrics for technology enhanced teaching
  • Recommend equipment and management for mixed use (instructional and non-instructional) space
  • This committee meets as necessary.