Category: Content & Activities

Content & Activities

Content & Activities

  1. Content and activities logo Course offers access to a variety of engaging resources to present content, support learning and collaboration, and facilitate regular and substantive interaction with the instructor.
  2. Course provides activities for learners to develop higher-order thinking and problem solving skills, such as critical reflection and analysis.
  3. Course provides activities that emulate real world applications of the discipline, such as experiential learning, case studies, and problem-based activities.
  4. Where available, Open Educational Resources, free, or low cost materials are used.
  5. Course materials and resources include copyright and licensing status, clearly stating permission to share where applicable.
  6. Text content is available in an easily accessed format, preferably HTML. All text content is readable by assistive technology, including a PDF or any text contained in an image.
  7. A text equivalent for every non-text element is provided (“alt” tags, captions, transcripts, etc.), and audio description is provided for video-only content.
  8. Text, graphics, and images are understandable when viewed without color. Text should be used as a primary method for delivering information.
  9. Hyperlink text is descriptive and makes sense when out of context (avoid using “click here”).
OSCQR – Standard #37

OSCQR – Standard #37

Hyperlink text is descriptive and makes sense when out of context (avoid using “click here”).

Review These Explanations

Not all learners are using mice or other “clicking” devices to navigate the links displayed on your course pages. Also, “here” is irrelevant for learners using assistive devices, such as screen readers.

Screen readers provide learners with the ability to hear only the links that appear on a page. Should a learner come across a page with “click here” used for every link, there would be no context related to any implied action to take in the course, and the learner would need to read through the entire page each time to access a specific link.

Links need to clearly explain where they are taking users, and should be described by using concrete (or proper) nouns or action verbs. Concrete nouns refer to something you can see, smell, taste, hear or touch. For example, Instead of “click here” to indicate a link to the library, the hyperlink can be assigned directly to the word “library.”

Action verbs let your learners know that they are doing something that is part of their learning pathway in an online course. “Subscribe to the Harvard Business Review” provides more information and more clearly directs them to an action required, in place of “click here” to subscribe.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Use the name of the destination page as your link text.
  • Associate every link with an action you want learners to take, and then revise your link text to match those actions.
  • Consider mapping each course link to a learning objective, and use that language to guide learner actions through those links.
  • Usability studies show that users catch their eyes on the first two words of a link, so start your links with the most important words for learners to follow.

Explore Related Resources

This explanation provides more information on the value of using direct language for links to promote effective navigation.
The W3C QA Tips are short documents explaining useful bits of knowledge for Web developers or designers, hosted and produced by the Quality Assurance Interest Group at W3C. This tip explores alternatives for “click here.”

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OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #36

OSCQR – Standard #36

Text, graphics, and images are understandable when viewed without color. Text should be used as a primary method for delivering information.

Review These Explanations

Learners who have low vision or are color blind need high contrast between the text font and background in order to read. Using color as a highlight may not be readable by all learners, and they can miss out on key concepts if only color is used to make specific information stand out.

According to statistics:

  • 15% of the world’s population have some form of disability, which includes conditions that affect seeing, hearing, motor abilities and cognitive abilities.
  • About 4% of the population have low vision, whereas 0.6% are blind.
  • 7 to 12% of men have some form of color-vision deficiency (color blindness) (O’Connor, 2014).

In many cases, these conditions make it difficult to distinguish colors.

References:

O’Connor, C. (2014, October 22). Everything About Color Contrast And Why You Should Rethink It. Smashing Magazine.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestion

Explore Related Resources

This site from Portland Community College is an excellent resource that shows instructors how to make content in your classes accessible to all learners.
Hixon, E., Barczyk, C., Ralston-Berg, P., & Buckenmeyer, J. J. (2016). Online Course Quality: What do Nontraditional Students Value?. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 19(4), 1-12.
Massengale, L. L., & Vasquez III, E. E. (2016). Assessing Accessibility: How Accessible are Online Courses for Students with Disabilities?. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, 16(1), 69-79.
Raths, d. (2016). Your Course Accessibility Checklist. Campus Technology Magazine, 29(5), 24-26.

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OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #35

OSCQR – Standard #35

A text equivalent for every non-text element is provided (“alt” tags, captions, transcripts, etc.), and audio description is provided for video-only content.

Review These Explanations

Screen readers do not read images, which makes them inaccessible to learners with visual impairments who rely on those readers. If images are used, ALT (alternative) text, descriptive text needs to be provided.

For some images, alternative text is enough. If a complex photograph, chart, or diagram is displayed, visually impaired learners need more descriptive text, including a narrative that explains clearly what the image is and what it represents. In addition, audio descriptions should be provided for any video-only content.

As colleges and university need to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, those that use the Internet for course delivery must be prepared to delivery those courses through accessible means (Patrick, as quoted in Morris et all, 2016).

In compliance with accessibility guidelines, videos included in online courses need include closed captioning for learners that are hearing impaired. Captions are essential for hearing impaired learners, but are also useful for non-native English language learners who may have trouble understanding complex words.

References:

Morris, K. k., Frechette, C. f., Dukes III, L. l., Stowell, N. n., Topping, N. n., & Brodosi, D. B. (2016). Closed Captioning Matters: Examining the Value of Closed Captions for All Students. Journal of Postsecondary Education & Disability, 29(3), 231-238.
SUNY Electronic & Information Technology (EIT) Accessibility Committee Final Report and Recommendations MAY 2019
SUNY Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) Accessibility Policy
From Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Ask your publisher about accessibility of course materials before selecting your next textbook.
  • Check your course content accessibility with the WAVE checker online.
  • For a video of cell mitosis, where there is no narration, just a visual illustration of the process, an audio description is provided.

Explore Related Resources

This site from Portland Community College is an excellent resource that shows instructors how to make content in your classes accessible to all learners.
Hixon, E., Barczyk, C., Ralston-Berg, P., & Buckenmeyer, J. J. (2016). Online Course Quality: What do Nontraditional Students Value?. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 19(4), 1-12.
Massengale, L. L., & Vasquez III, E. E. (2016). Assessing Accessibility: How Accessible are Online Courses for Students with Disabilities?. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, 16(1), 69-79.
Raths, d. (2016). Your Course Accessibility Checklist. Campus Technology Magazine, 29(5), 24-26.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #34

OSCQR – Standard #34

Text content is available in an easily accessed format, preferably HTML. All text content is readable by assistive technology, including a PDF or any text contained in an image.

Review These Explanations

Online courses may provide access for a more flexible learning experience for many learners, but the delivery platforms may hinder online courses access for learners with visual impairment, who rely on screen readers to process text (Huss & Eastep, 2016).

Text content is easier for screen readers to process, assuming that it is available in HTML. Instead of displaying as visual content, screen readers convert course text to speech so that learners can listen to the course content. Screen readers insert pauses for periods, semi-colons, commas, question marks, exclamation points, and ends of paragraphs.

Providing content that is accessible is critical to keeping learners with visual disabilities on track. PDF documents are not always designed to be compatible with screen readers. Compatible PDF documents are structured and have a very specific reading order so that assistive devices can translate them effectively.

References:

Huss, J., & Eastep, S. (2016). Okay, Our Courses Are Online, But Are They ADA Compliant?. I.E.: Inquiry In Education, 8(2), 1-21.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

Explore Related Resources

Adobe is an industry leader in accessibility and supports the creation of outstanding web experiences by encouraging developers to produce rich, engaging content that is accessible to all.
Hixon, E., Barczyk, C., Ralston-Berg, P., & Buckenmeyer, J. J. (2016). Online Course Quality: What do Nontraditional Students Value? Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 19(4), 1-12.
Raths, d. (2016). Your Course Accessibility Checklist. Campus Technology Magazine, 29(5), 24-26.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #33

OSCQR – Standard #33

Course materials and resources include copyright and licensing status, clearly stating permission to share where applicable.

Review These Explanations

Instructors need to be aware of the copyright and licensing status on all materials used in their online courses. Copyright infringement happens when works are copied, performed, or distributed without the permission of the copyright holder, or when those actions are not allowed under federal exceptions of copyright law. Understanding copyright and licensing status will guide faculty to make the right choices when integrating resources into their online courses, and to cite those sources properly.

Copyright and fair use can be complicated, and faculty should check with campus librarians for guidance on where to locate the licensing status of all materials, and how to cite and state copyright permissions appropriately.

Resources and materials in the course should all be properly cited. In doing so, instructors and programs model good academic citizenship. This can guide learners to respect the intellectual property of other, and explore effective practices on publishing new materials.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Check with campus librarians on copyright and fair use policies, and post these in the course information documents area.
  • Have a campus librarian review your online course for copyright and licensing compliance issues.
  • Create a video on copyright and fair use guidelines by interviewing your campus copyright expert. Include this in your course information documents area.
  • Use a copyright and fair use check list and review your course when you are done developing it. Repeat this checklist review each time you teach the course.
  • Explore the possibilities of using a Creative Commons license on materials that you create and distribute in your course.

Explore Related Resources

These copyright and fair use tips can guide your practice as you design and develop your online courses.
The Center for Media & Social Impact at American University is an innovation incubator and research center that creates, studies, and showcases media for social impact.
This guide from California State University, Long Beach, is designed to help faculty understand their role as it relates Copyright and Fair Use, especially in regards to legal use of their teaching materials.
Creative Commons is a global nonprofit organization that enables sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge through the provision of free legal tools. This site explores answers to common questions.
A collection of resources for faculty and librarians to use together to promote copyright and fair use compliance.

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OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #32

OSCQR – Standard #32

Where available, Open Educational Resources, free, or low cost materials are used.

Review These Explanations

SUNY/SUNY Online is committed to using low cost instructional materials wherever possible in order to reduce the financial burden on learners. Open Educational Resources (OERs) are educational materials that are considered to be in the public domain, or have an open use license. This means that anyone can legally use and in some cases adapt and re-share these resources.

OERs are available to support a wide range of disciplines and can take the form of complete textbooks, lectures, assignments, labs, simulations, interactive modules, projects, exams, animations, videos, games, and other course support materials.

There are more than one billion distinct pieces of OER content available (McShane, 2017), so learning how to search and find appropriate resources is key. SUNY OER Services offers a ready-to-adopt course catalog, facilitates the seamless integration of openly licensed content into learning management systems, and assists SUNY faculty, librarians, and staff in the remixing of openly licensed content from various sources, and provides access to the offline (print) production of learning materials.

References:

Mcshane, M. Q. (2017). Open Educational Resources. Education Next, 17(1), 18-24.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Check with your campus librarian to see what OERs might fit best with your course curriculum.
  • Explore the MERLOT repository (https://www.merlot.org/merlot/index.htm) for learning material and interactive lessons to include in your course.
  • Explore related Open Educational Resources at OER Commons (https://www.oercommons.org/) to include in your course.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores methods and approaches to integrating OERs into your online course content to benefit learner success.

Open Educational Resources: A Significant Movement in Education
The global movement of utilizing Open Educational Resources (OER) to enhance or build course content is rapidly growing amongst educators (Hilton, Wiley, Stein & Johnson, 2010). Faculty are using OER to provide access to educational materials at little to no cost, allowing for up-to-date, relevant and accessible content to students. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Dreon, O., & Szczyrbak, G. (2017). Understanding Open Educational Resources. Online Classroom, 17(2), 3-7.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #31RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #31RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides activities that emulate real world applications of the discipline, such as experiential learning, case studies, and problem-based activities.

Review These Explanations

Relevance is central to adult learning. (Knowles, 1984). When the adult learner can apply a learning activity to practical value beyond the duration of the course, relevance is established between the stated learning objective, the learning activity, and the assessment of that activity.

Experiential learning, case studies, and problem-based activities are designed to immerse learners in real world scenarios, with the goal of having learners build on their existing knowledge and skills to analyze specific problems and find solutions. These activities engage learners by having them establish what they know and don’t know, work together to come up with real-world solutions, share those solutions, and review possible results.

According to Kolb (1984), experiential learning relies on four elements:

  • Experience;
  • Critical reflection;
  • Abstract conceptualization; and
  • Active experimentation in a new situation.

Through experience, online learners are led to make observations and reflections. From there, abstract concepts are explored through critical reflection, which learners can then actively test and evaluate. This process engages the learners in scaffolding what they already know, and creating new knowledge.

References:

Knowles, M. (1984). The Adult Learner: A Neglected Species (3rd Ed.). Houston: Gulf Publishing.

Kolb, D. A., (1984), Experiential Learning: Experience as a Source of Learning and Development, Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall.

Louis Deslauriers, Logan S McCarty, Kelly Miller, Kristina Callaghan, and Greg Kestin. 2019. Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116, 39, Pp. 19251–19257.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

Activities that are instructor-guided, or instructor facilitated, where the instructor interacts directly with online learners, and on a scheduled and predictable basis are how regular and substantive interactions  are expressed in an online course. The role of the instructor is active and involved (e.g., a consistent instructor presence is visible throughout the design of the course, and it is clear that the instructor is an attentive, engaged participant in course interactions. RSI can be designed into an online course by:

  • Designing activities where the instructor plays an active role.
  • Answering questions about an activity.
  • Provide guidance during, provide feedback, and evaluation after an activity that is instructor-facilitated.
  • Including optional synchronous interactions.
  • Providing instructor-created video content.
  • Practicum/studio/lab/hand’s-on experiences: An opportunity is provided to interact with the course preceptor, or instructor on goals of the practicum activity, and the opportunities for self-assessment and feedback are provided based on the practicum objectives/goals.

Direct interaction with the instructor around these types of course activities, such as guiding, asking questions, and providing feedback to deepen learning and understanding in an online discussion forum, for example, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling specific instructor-facilitated course discussions/interactions, question and answer, or help and feedback sessions (group or individual) course content and activities demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Instructor presence in these types of online course activities (real-world, hand’s on, problems, cases, experiences) helps learners to develop their own individual understanding of how to apply the course content in ways that are relevant and important beyond the course context.
  • Create scenario-based discussion forums for learners to interact in. Establish and assign roles for learners within those scenarios.
  • Use mini-cases as pre-lab work where learners can see what might go wrong before they are actually immersed in an online lab.
  • Have learners create and facilitate course related scenarios.
  • Have learners turn in reflective essays along with applied learning activities to measure critical thinking and reflection stages of the process.
  • Assign “offline” activities to learners, and have the learners “debrief” in the online environment.
  • Require foreign language learners to interact with native speakers (online) and summarize their experiences.
  • Have learners document their real-world experiences through digital storytelling tools.
  • Explore MERLOT for case studies that you can integrated into your course.

Resources

Expzore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explore methods and approaches that incorporate real-world applications and promote experiential and problem-based learning in online courses to benefit learner success.

Anchored Instruction
Anchored instruction is the process of presenting instruction in the context of an authentic environment with problems or issues which learners must resolve. The problems or issues which are presented to learners in the authentic environment are “anchors” which link learning of content and skills to authentic tasks and activities in which the learning must used. (Read more …)
Assign Collaborative Experiential Learning While Partnering With Clients
While there is sometimes resistance to group collaborations in online learning, (Smith et al., 2011, p 121) adding a collaborative experiential learning component can more deeply engage students AND provide them the opportunity to develop an array of competencies including “coordinating across time zones and geographic locations, developing computer skills, enhancing internet search skills, and interacting with individuals from diverse backgrounds” (Johnson, 2013, p 34). (Read more …)
Engage Adult Learners with Course-Long Role Play
Role playing in the context of educational simulations has been cited as a particularly engaging strategy for online courses (Ausburn, 2004; Bender, 2005; Cornelius, Gordon, and Ackland, 2011; Lytle, Lytle, and Brophy, 2006; and Serby, 2011). Such role playing when conducted for an extended time period (e.g., for the duration of an academic term) in the context of as realistic as possible tasks may be particularly engaging for adult learners (Ausburn, 2004 and Ausburn, 2004). (Read more …)
Problem-Based Learning
Problem-Based Learning is an instructional strategy in which students learn the subject matter of a course and the related skills by solving real-world problems and reflecting on their experiences of solving the problem/s. In Problem-Based Learning, students may be given a specific course-related problem to solve or they may be provided with a selection of related problems from which they can choose. (Read more …)
Use Online Debates to Enhance Classroom Engagement
A debate is a formal competition between two teams, usually with three members each, arguing a discussion statement known as “the moot”. Shaw (2012) believes that debates stimulate critical thinking and can be a highly effective way to actively engage students in research in the online classroom. Student-generated debate presentations can become a welcome change from the call and response format of the typical online discussion board interactions. (Read more …)
Use Pop Culture to Energize Online Discussions
Faculty want to get to know their students and they want to provide them with opportunities to get to know them and each other (Phillips 2008). So how can faculty foster increased student interaction and engagement with the material, with the faculty member, and with other students? (Read more …)
Using Mobile Apps to Facilitate Project-Based Learning
Project-based learning is a method of inquiry-based learning where students are required to develop an end product using their knowledge of a specific topic. In most cases, the product is directly applicable or usable in the real world. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Lee, S., Ngampornchai, A., Trail-Constant, T., Abril, A., & Srinivasan, S. (2016). Does a case-based online group project increase students’ satisfaction with interaction in online courses?. Active Learning In Higher Education, 17(3), 249-260.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #30RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #30RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides activities for learners to develop higher-order thinking and problem solving skills, such as critical reflection and analysis.

Review These Explanations

Cognitive presence is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001). Where the learner thinks critically, they go through the process of constructing knowledge, inquiring, exploring, and thinking.

Cognitive presence relies on critical thinking skills and active learning, as well helping learners to connect existing ideas and create new knowledge. This can be achieved by:

  • Contextualizing course content to help learners better understand key concepts.
  • Bringing in diverse resources to help learners.
  • Guiding learners to move from low-order to high-order thinking exercises.
  • Aligning course assignments and activities to measurable learning objectives

With measurable objectives guiding the pathway to higher-order thinking skills, Bloom’s Taxonomy can provide a framework for exploring different levels of thinking and associated skills and competencies, and help guide the development of appropriate course activities.

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a framework developed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, which classifies levels of learning into the following categories: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Each taxonomy highlights different categories of the human thought process, moving from lower-order through to higher-order thinking skills. The taxonomy was revised in the 1990s to use verbs instead of nouns for each level, as follows: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.

Within this framework, consider activities that allow learners to reflect individually and as a group about what they are learning, how they know they are learning, and what is helping and hindering their learning.

Create activities that provide opportunities for learners to be puzzled (the notion of adequate challenge and perplexity), giving them the opportunity to recognize problems and construct knowledge through collaboration and interaction (collaborative inquiry).

References:

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., Archer, W. (2001). Critical thinking, cognitive presence, and computer conferencing in distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, 15(1).

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationOnline courses can support regular and substantive interaction via activities and interactions with the instructor that guide learners to deepen their learning, by asking questions that require learners to dig deeper into their understanding of course content and concepts. And by designing course opportunities, activities, interactions, and communications to specifically target and assist learners to move from the basic levels of cognition, including concrete thinking, memorization and understanding (knowledge, comprehension, and application), to higher order thinking skills, including abstract, critical, metacognitive creative thinking, (analysis synthesis and evaluation). Direct interaction with the instructor within course activities, such as guiding or asking questions to deepen learning and understanding in an online discussion forum, for example, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling specific instructor-facilitated course discussions/interactions, question and answer, or help and feedback sessions (group or individual) designed to target the development of higher order thinking and problem-solving skills demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Student Cognition Toolbox.
  • Use Bloom’s in rubrics to guide students in higher-order thinking/problem- solving skills.
  • Provide opportunities for mentoring. Private between learner and instructor – individual feedback and engagement.
  • Deeper Learning Competencies
  • Create peer review groups to encourage learners to learn from each other, and help each other construct new knowledge.
  • Create a scenario based discussion forum, and assign roles to each learner. An example is determining who gets the only available bed in an ICU unit, with roles assigned as hospital administrator, doctor, patient, family member, case worker, etc.
  • Have learners present a proposed project or research topic to the class to solicit feedback that they can then integrate that feedback into their own work.
  • Create a simple weekly challenge to encourage creative thinking. For example, have learners share one related resource to the module topic, and share why it matters to them, and what value it brings to the course.

Examples

  • Include reflection as part of project  . Have learners reflect on the process they went through completing a project, and how that process impacted their learning.
  • Future self” journal entries. Learners imagine a ‘future self’ position/goal they are aiming for that relates to the discipline. Instructor asks students to select one or two key concepts from the week or module and write a journal entry in which they tell a story about how they envision putting the concepts into practice in a ‘future self’ scenario.
  • “Connect the Dots” video: Ask students to complete a module pre-test, then create a short video that:
    • Customizes module learning objective explanations/examples and critical thinking opportunities present in the module based on pre-test results.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explore methods and approaches to creating exercises that foster reflection and critical thinking into your online course content to benefit learner success.

Assign Six Word Memoirs for Reflection and Synthesis
Repurposing the six-word memoir format as an academic exercise has unlimited possibilities using mobile devices and the affordance of texting and social media. In online/blended courses, the six-word memoir may be implemented using a variety of repositories such as an LMS, a blog, social media space, etc. (Read more …)
Blogging as a Reflection Tool
UCF education professor Debbie Kirkley uses student blogs to fulfill the requirement of students to keep a journal throughout the semester to reflect on course projects and their experiences. (Read more …)
Using a Guided Approach to Support Critical Thinking in Online Discussions
Supporting college students to develop critical thinking skills is an overarching goal in higher education. Students with developed critical thinking skills have the ability to evaluate their own arguments as well as others, resolve conflicts, and generate well-reasoned resolutions to complex problems (Behar-Horenstein & Niu, 2011). Given that there is an exponential increase in the information and knowledge being generated, possessing critical thinking skills fulfills the goal of nurturing students to become responsible citizens in a complex society. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Bloom’s Quicksheets (PDF Reference Sheets)
The Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Quicksheets are a quick and easy summary of the six different taxonomic levels of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. They define the different taxonomic levels, provide the Digital Taxonomy Verbs with some possibilities for classroom use.
This interactive web-site is designed to collect published research about the CoI and discuss these publications with interested researchers and practitioners.
Sadafa, A. & Olesovab, L. Enhancing cognitive presence in online case discussions with questions based on the Practical Inquiry model. American Journal of Distance Education, Published online: 31 Jan 2017.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #29RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #29RSI Dashboard illustration

Course offers access to a variety of engaging resources to present content, support learning and collaboration, and facilitate regular and substantive interaction with the instructor.

Review These Explanations

Learners’ perceptions of their own learning may not be an accurate measure of how well they’re actually learning. For example, a recent study (Deslauriers, et al, 2019) found that while a lecture delivered by a charismatic personality can result in students reporting that they feel they learned more through a traditional lecture, they actually learned more by taking part in active-learning strategies. Active learning requires effort and can feel frustrating. That experience can be perceived as a negative learning experience and the effort misinterpreted as a sign of poor learning.

Learners benefit more from activities than from the simple passive presentation of content. External readings and activities, assignments, discussions, interactive web sites, online assessments (formative and summative) should all be connected clearly to mastering course concepts, and aligned with module, course, and program objectives. An online course that presents course content in an engaging and appropriate manner, that facilitates interaction, application, and collaboration around course concepts, and that provides authentic online assessments and opportunities for engaging feedback makes the course more engaging, interactive, and effective. Centering pedagogical decisions on the learner provides the learner with options for how they make their thinking and their learning visible in ways appropriate and effective in the online environment, and open to feedback from both the instructors and their peers in the course, which provides opportunities to deepen learning, and for more authentic ways to assess learning/mastery.

Learners engage in online learning activities more readily when relevance to the course content is clear to them. Resources should be contextualized, and opportunities for feedback should be included throughout the course (Chakraborty & Nafukho, 2014).

Learners need to know why they are required to read, review, discuss, or create materials in the course. When they know reasoning behind what they need to complete, they will be more engaged.

References:

Deslauriers, L., McCarty, L.S., Miller, K., Callaghan, K., and Kestin, G. (2019) Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116, 39, Pp. 19251–19257.

Chakraborty, M., & Nafukho, F. f. (2014). Strengthening student engagement: what do students want in online courses?. European Journal of Training & Development, 38(9), 782-802.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationOnline courses support regular and substantive interaction by offering a variety of types of engagement and interaction with the instructor in ways that are predictable and scheduled. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

Substantive interaction is defined as direct interaction between the learner and the instructor to engage learners in course teaching, learning, and assessment activities. This direct instruction from the instructor includes:

  • Assessing or providing feedback on a student’s coursework.
  • Providing information or responding to questions about the content of a course.
  • Facilitating a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency.
  • Other instructional activities approved by the institution’s or program’s accrediting agency.

Regular interaction means that the instructor interacts with online learners on a predictable and scheduled basis commensurate with the length of time and the amount of content in the course or competency.

RSI is consistent with the research and theory explained by the Community of Inquiry Framework (CoI), which comprises Social, Cognitive and Teaching presences. This standard aligns closely with the CoI definition of Teaching Presence, which, as defined, is “the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes.” (p.5, Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001).

Teaching Presence comprises 3 overarching categories of indicators

  • Facilitating Discourse
    • Identifying areas of agreement and disagreement.
    • Seeking to reach consensus and understanding.
    • Setting the climate for learning
    • Drawing in participants, prompting discussion/interaction.
    • Assessing the efficacy of the process.
  • Instructional Design and Organization
    • Setting the curriculum.
    • Designing methods.
    • Establishing time parameters.
    • Utilizing the medium effectively.
    • Establishing netiquette.
  • Direct Instruction
    • Presenting content and questions.
    • Focusing the discussion.
    • Summarizing the discussion.
    • Confirming understanding.
    • Diagnosing misperceptions.
    • Injecting knowledge from diverse sources.
    • Responding to technical concerns.

Online courses designed to support and facilitate high levels of teaching presence in both learners and instructors that engage learners in a variety of active, interactive, and authentic online learning activities support and facilitate RSI with the instructor. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about course activites, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on these topics demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

Examples

  • Team ‘teach back’ assignments. Create teams and assign (one team at a time) the task of teaching an important module concept (using a rubric) – in their format of choice. Perhaps this could be done one time per week or one time per module. The course Instructor would offer feedback to ensure information correctness. Teams would review feedback and edit as needed. The course Instructor would then share the final product with the entire class.
  • Team resource contributions. Create study teams. Give each team a blog. Team members would evaluate and submit 1-3 internet resources (websites, articles, etc) that add value (as defined in a rubric) to discussion topics and/or module topics. The Course Instructor would then comment/rate team resource contributions.
  • Provide opportunities for social annotation or collaborative bookmarking (e.g., use diigo, or Hypothes.is – to enable your learners to annotate, contribute and comment on additional resources), comment areas, and discussion forums (in text or media) associated with resources and other content.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explore methods and approaches to integrating engaging resources and activities into your online course content to benefit learner success.

Convert Course Materials into an Instructional Simulation Using Gaming Elements
In an online course, a frequent criticism is that PowerPoint’s are poorly designed and critical supporting information is often missing (with no presenter to fill in the blanks!) (Elder, 2009). On the other hand, instructional simulations combine multimedia elements (i.e. sound, images, video, etc) to represent (simulate) particular aspects of an actual situation (Hays, 2006). (Read more …)
Convert PowerPoint Presentations into Wiki Pages for Online Delivery
While PowerPoint presentations can be effective when used as a visual aid to support the messages presented face-to-face, they are typically not as effective when viewed in a fully online environment where the instructor is absent. It is difficult to include enough context to the slides without adding excessive text (Shank, 2012). (Read more …)
Use Academic Challenges and Experiential Missions to Provide Learner Choice and Engage Learners In Online Course Activities
Aligning learners’ instructional preferences with course activities and providing opportunities for learner choice are widely recognized as educational best practice, helping learners to engage with content and learn more effectively (Kern & State, 2009; Patall, Dent, Oyer, & Wynn, 2013; Patall, Cooper, & Wynn, 2010), and researchers and practitioners have started extending this instructional approach to online learning (Akdemir & Koszalka, 2008; Tonsing-Meyer, 2013). (Read more …)
Use Videos to Illustrate Complicated Conceptual Knowledge
Most academic disciplines include highly conceptual or abstract concepts that are difficult for learners to grasp. For instance, building a solid foundation of conceptual knowledge for learners is critical in engineering education (Streveler et al., 2008). An incomplete conceptual understanding hinders the development of central engineering competencies and expertise. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Dixson, M. d. (2012). Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction, Updated Edition. NACTA Journal, 56(2), 99-100.
Wyatt, J. L. (2014). Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction. Adult Learning, 25(2), 74-75.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

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