For those of you that are new to online teaching, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when preparing and scheduling the activities for your course. The most important of these is to maintain frequent and clear communication with your online students. Most online students have their education as one of several important priorities in their lives. Many students have both demanding engineering careers and growing families while they are simultaneously working to extend their engineering education. The more lead time they can have on scheduling homework, exams, and project work, the better they are able to integrate it into their schedules and the more successfully they can contribute to your class.
You are strongly encouraged to establish an online forum so that your students can communicate with the teaching staff as well as with each other. You choose what is appropriate or not appropriate for students to share online. Have the teaching staff monitor the forum on a regular basis to make sure that questions are getting answered in a timely fashion. The most frustrating thing for an online student is to pose a question or raise an issue with an instructor and then not receive a response for many days or even weeks. It is more challenging for online students to develop a community with other students and therefore they may want to interact more with the instructor than some of your on-campus students. Establishing an online forum can help them to develop a sense of community and make more efficient use of your time in responding to questions that may be common across multiple students.
You are also strongly encouraged to establish an online learning space for your online students. This is typically done using a Learning Management Systems such as Moodle. It is advantageous for the online students to have a single online location where they access all of the resources, activities, requirements, and schedule for your course. If you have not used some of the learning technologies available at NC State, you can get help from DELTA. An overview of some of these technologies is provided on the Using Instructional Technology page.
It is also valuable to provide specific times and opportunities for online students to communicate with you, similar to on-campus office hours. In many cases it can be most appropriate to provide these on an as needed basis, but setting a recurring time can help online students and you plan out the week in advance. Again, there are software tools available at NC State, such as Blackboard Collaborate, that can make setting up online office hours easy and productive.
The Engineering Online website acts as a student portal for online students. They use it to find information about our programs and courses, request enrollment into online classes, understand university procedures and requirements, and access the lecture videos and course notes. Engineering Online provides a general course catalog, a set of course information pages for each semester, and a set of course homepages for the current semester.
The course information pages provide students with more information than is provided by the typical course catalog description to aid the students in selecting the appropriate courses for their program of study. We obtain all of this information from you, the instructors.
The course homepage for each course provides a link to your syllabus, the lecture video catalog, the lecture notes list, and your course website. You may host your course website on any platform you choose, but we recommend that you use Moodle since that is the strategic learning management system supported at NC State and provides a similar online experience across our online courses.
When Engineering Online directs students to course materials, we direct them to our course homepages. From there, they should be able to access all of the pertinent materials for their course. We also recommend that you put a link to this course homepage on your course website. That way, students can easily find all of the resources for a course no matter where they happen to start.
You should be aware of how students view your online lectures via the Mediasite streaming server. For an example of what your course lectures will look like to online students, you can view lectures from our demonstration catalog.