Time Management Strategies for Online Courses
Various studies have shown that it can take anywhere from one-and-a-half to two times as long to administer an online course as it does a traditional campus-based course.But how is this possible? Everything is done electronically.Students and instructor can log in to their courses anytime during the day or night without the need for physically entering a classroom.
The Online Interaction Difference
Even though it seems that online instruction should take less time to administer, it is important to remember the types of interaction methods used online and how these interaction methods differ from traditional courses.Traditional classroom interactions are almost exclusively oral,with the instructor at the front of the room and responding to student questions. Interactions in the online classroom are primarily text-based, with students and instructor interacting with each other using asynchronous discussion forums and email.The typing of text takes considerably longer than responding orally so that even the answer to the simplest of questions that would take seconds in the traditional classroom may take a matter of minutes or even hours to answer online as the writer:
- Formulates the response;
- Types the response;
- Posts the response to the appropriate discussion forum or e-mailbox.
In addition, the traditional campus-based class has well-defined time boundaries of typically one to three hours per class session, limiting both the number of students that can speak and the amount of information that can be discussed during a single class session. Whereas the typical response in the traditional classroom will be limited to a few spoken words or sentences, the typical response in an online course can be several written paragraphs in length since students have the time to compose a response, edit and format the response,reflect on the response, and then post the response to the appropriate forum. Online students are unhindered by the boundaries of time and place as they log in to their courses whenever and wherever is convenient.
Asynchronous Classroom Tasks
Because of this 24 hour online, asynchronous classroom,instructors can easily become overwhelmed at the number of tasks required to properly manage a course, tasks that can include such things as:
- responding to student emails,
- answering discussion postings,
- administration of exams,
- grading student projects,
- updating the grade book,
- solving technical issues,
- and a myriad other issues that tend to crop up during a typical semester.
Time Saving Techniques
Assembled here are several time saving techniques that instructors of online courses can use to properly manage this multitude of tasks that are involved in the administration of an online course. These techniques and tips are broken down into the following areas:
- Course development;
- Student orientation to the online classroom;
- Discussion boards;
- Course management;
- Other assessment methods.
Also sprinkled throughout this module are links to websites containing supplemental material related to the above content areas that may be useful to those using a course management system such as WebCT, Blackboard, eLearning, or Moodle. It is hoped that by following the information in this module that instructors can not only use their time more efficiently but also offer a more enhanced learning experience for their students.