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Faculty Resources

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Online Presence

How should an online instructor exist in a course?

As an online instructor, you might play multiple roles in managing your course throughout each week. At times you might find yourself facilitating a discussion, answering questions about the technology, instructing on materials, grading, or coordinating a schedule.

In the video below provided by The State University of New York, a cast of experienced online instructors and instructional designers share their insights on instructor presence and overall successful delivery of a course. You’ll notice that a lot of them emphasize similar strategies.

The key in designing successful online learning in terms of teacher-student interaction is to create an environment in which the students INTERACT with the teacher online, rather than save all questions/comments/thoughts for email or trying to find the faculty on campus. This final video dives deeper into the ideas behind that type of interaction.

Effective communication can end up being the difference between a student feeling disoriented and confused and a student knowing what exactly is expected of them each week. In a face-to-face class, we typically get to explain logistics as asides to the the day’s lecture or lesson. In an online course, a lot of that explanation of logistics has to occur as text via emails, announcements, and thoughtful instructions in the actual course materials.


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Hungry for more?

Please check out our website for more details about course and support services, or you can enroll in one of our professional development on our Canvas Course Catalogue. For any other questions please contact onlinepd@vcu.edu

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Accessibility in E-Learning

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a division of the US Department of Education, 19% of undergraduate and 12% of graduate students reported having a disability during the 2015-2016 academic year. This means that at VCU over 5,000 students could report having a disability. Making course content accessible levels the playing field so all students have an equal chance. 
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Canvas Course Navigation

Course navigation is crucial to instilling confidence in your students as they orient themselves in the new world of your course and curriculum. Your students should experience a navigation that is intuitive and free of clutter. This resource will offer suggestions that may help alleviate some of the "noise" found in canvas.
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Group Work

Getting students to collaborate and work with each other allows for them to construct new knowledge, an important concept in online education. We offer insights into best practices associated with collaborative work and how to integrate it alongside you online class.
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Concurrent Teaching v. HyFlex Instruction

There are many different ways to engage students using your video conferencing software, and this resources aims to assist you in understanding the differences between concurrent teaching and hyflex instruction.
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Digital Teaching Tools

This page provides a list of recommended tools for teaching online or in the blended learning environment. Tools listed here are organized by ease of use as well as whether or not they are University supported tools.
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Giving Feedback Online

Giving student in an online environment helps to keep students engaged in the class and allows for the instructor to communicate with the student on their work in a non-judgmental manner. Learning how to efficiently offer feedback to student will allow for a stronger online environment and an overall better learning experience.
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Live Session Lesson Plan

Teaching in a synchronous environment can be a daunting task for any instructor, this resource offers a template for a lesson plan which will aid in the preparation for teaching in a challenging environment. The live session lesson plan aims to engage the learners and take away some of the fear of having to lead a class using video conferencing technology.
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“Low Tech” Methods of Online Instruction

The digital divide is a real issue at educational institutions, and instructors should be prepared to offer different modalities to students so they be successful in the online classroom. This resource aims to introduce the digital divide and provide some examples how to alleviate strain on students.
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Managing the Discussion Board

Discussion in the online environment is a concrete manner through which your students co-construct new knowledge. In order for it to be engaging and not exhausting we have a few recommendations which will help you navigate the online discussion board.
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Teaching First Generation College Students

College can be an extremely stressful time for many students, and one major contributing factor of stress to college students lives revolves around the financing of their educations. This resource offers ways faculty and staff can assist in reducing some of the costs of college life, and help in reducing a little pressure associated with college life.
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Online Presence

In a face-to-face classroom you do not need to worry about your presence in the classroom, as you physically see the students in the classroom and they get a sense for your personality and teaching style. However, in an online environment instructors need to work a little bit harder to establish a connection with the learner, which will lead to a better learning experience.
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Online Teaching Pedagogy

Research demonstrates that online teaching methodology varies drastically from face-to-face instruction. This page was created to provide you with information and support on best practices in online instruction as well as some information on learning theories in online education.
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Turnitin

Plagiarism is a real concern with any class, but there is a way to prevent cheating through SafeAssign. Utilizing Canvas you can embed SafeAssign to help encourage students to only use original work.
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Synchronous Learning in Zoom

Moving from a face-to-face classroom to one based on video conferencing software can be stressful for both instructor and student. This resources aims to relieve some of the tension by providing resources and insights to the world of synchronous learning through Zoom.
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Using Rubrics

In online environments communication between instructor and students is incredibly important, an effective way to maintain a level of transparency when it comes to grading is utilizing a rubric with course assignments. Rubrics can take some time to create and use, but once you have established your assignment expectations it allows for an ease of communication about it, which in the long run creates a less stressful learning experience. This resources offers different rubric methods and considerations when contemplating the creation of your rubric.
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VCU Course Evaluation

In order to improve online learning, and integrate new types of learning activities, it is important to evaluate previous courses design. This resource provides information on how to we at the ALT Lab/VCU Online evaluate online courses for quality.
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Welcome Videos

As an online educator, it is extremely important to make connections to your students. A simple and fun way to accomplish this is through the creation of a welcome video at the beginning of the course. A welcome video allows students to break down assumptions made about you as a professor and acknowledges you care about the learning relationship. This resource illustrates the power of welcome video and helps you prepare for the creation of your own.
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What is Flipgrid? How Do I Use It?

There are many great tools to help you facilitate a dynamic classroom which places the student at the center of the knowledge. One such tool is called Flipgrid; it allows students and professors to hold conversations through videos virtually, which is a great way to create an interactive online class.
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What is Voice Thread? How do I Use It?

VoiceThread is an impressive tool faculty members use to enhance student engagement and online presence. It takes time to master, but once you become proficient at knowing how to use this online tool you can create, share, and comment on images, Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, videos, audio files, documents, and PDFs, using microphone, webcam, text, phone, and audio-file upload.

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