Chapter 10 offered some good suggestions about getting students ready for an online class. Though I have never taught an online course, I have taught using the blended format, and agree that it is essential that students fully understand what they are facing before they begin. Spelling out equipment and software requirements, possibly coming up with an assignment that requires students to demonstrate their competence in their use makes a lot of sense. I also liked their suggestion about devising a test to see if students would be able to access the type of audio or video files to be used in the course. Even though it sounds a bit juvenile, clearly stating the computer skills that are required is good advice.
I plan on having an FAQ page, as well as clearly guiding students to tech support should they run into difficulties on the way. I also plan on using an online readiness quiz, and possibly even offer a student orientation.
The authors ended the chapter stressing the importance of establishing a presence and rapport in the classroom, while exuding enthusiasm and letting students know they are not alone in their online learning environment. It is easy to see how students might feel lost or alienated if they do not feel that their instructor is present and reachable.
Nielsen’s research and Richtel’s article, both discussed how students use technology. I found it interesting that even though students are sending as many as 30,000 texts a month (can you believe that?) in between FaceBook, YouTube and video gaming, that they are not really tech wizards. They are masters at multitasking, texting, listening to music and talking on the phone, all at the same time. They prefer simple, traditional and straightforward web pages that are easy to scan and that have pictures (so they don't have to read). A kind of depressing fact is that, giving young people a computer can actually hurt school performance, since much of the time they spend online is on Social Networking, games and entertainment, rather than completing homework. Oh well.