Category: Regular & Substantive Interaction

OSCQR – Standard #41RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #41RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides activities intended to build a sense of class community, support open communication, promote regular and substantive interaction, and establish trust (e.g., ice-breaking activities, Course Bulletin Board, planned Office Hours, and dedicated discussion forums).

Review These Explanations

Building a sense of community mitigates the solitude and isolation reported by online learners (Bibeau, 2001). Courses that promote class community help learning occur “in a social context” (Dewey) and mitigate the perception of a correspondence course.

Activities that build class community early on in the course typically fall into three categories:

  • Social activities which focus on self-expression.
  • Cognitive activities which focus on academic and professional goals.
  • “Getting Started” activities which familiarize learners with course materials and technology.

Each of these types of activities foster social presence, promote learner engagement and open up avenues for communication.

Social presence involves affective expression, open communication, and group cohesion. Each of these factors promote learner engagement in an online course (Annand, 2011). Affective expression manifests through the sense of belonging that learners feel after getting to know each other and form impressions in an online course. Open communication enables learners to feel comfortable participating in online conversations, and interacting with other learners. Group cohesion comes into play when learners feel comfortable disagreeing and challenging each other, and respecting opposing views while collaborating on course work (Rourke, et al., 1999).

Look for answers to these questions when developing these types of community activities:

  • Is the activity non-threatening?
  • Is it learner focused (social)?
  • It is content focused (cognitive)?
  • Does it require learners to read and respond to each other?
  • Does it encourage learners to find something in common with other learners?
  • Does it require learners to be reflective?

References:

Bibeau, S. (2001). Social Presence, Isolation, and Connectedness in Online Teaching and Learning: From the Literature to Real Life. The Journal of Instruction Delivery Systems, 15, 35-39.

Croft, N., Dalton, A. & Grant, M., (2010) Overcoming Isolation in Distance Learning: Building a Learning Community through Time and Space, Journal for Education in the Built Environment, 5:1, 27-64.

Annand, D. (2011). Social Presence within the Community of Inquiry Framework. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), 12(5).

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York: Collier Books.

Rourke, L., Anderson, T. Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (1999). Assessing social presence in asynchronous, text-based computer conferencing. Journal of Distance Education, 14(3), 51-70.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustration Online courses support regular and substantive interaction by building trust, and a strong sense of online class community. While online class community and trust can be cultivated and built with the instructor and between learners in an online course in various ways, the online instructor sets the tone and gets the course off to a good start by designing online course activities and spaces that are intended to build and grow a sense of class community among all course participants, establishing expectations for open communications, and specific activities and opportunities aimed at building trust. The course is designed intentionally with clear expectations and designated areas for specific activities, interactions, and communications, and their intended purposes are clear, including who is meant to use them, and how and when they are to be used. Expectations on how the instructor will interact, guide, and provide feedback are made clear, as well as those expectations for interaction between learners. The design of the course and the instructor, as a member of the online class community, building online community and trust through regular, substantive, scheduled and predictable course facilitation, community interaction, engagement, and open communications. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor, and others in the course, can help the learner develop a sense of class community and trust, which further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on course topics, or to provide clarification, help, or feedback demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

Examples

  • Example Ice-Breaking activities.
  • Create an Ask the Professor discussion forum, associated with course modules, topics, activities to promote direct access to the instructor.
  • Create an Ask a Question discussion forum, associated with course modules, topics, activities to provide a dedicated consistent area in the course for learners to ask questions and get clarifications and help.
  • Create a course Hallway discussion forum, a course Bulletin Board, Coffee Shop, Class Community area, or virtual meeting/chat space where learners (and the instructor) can meet informally to chat about course-related (or other) topics. This establishes a metaphorical community space “outside” the “classroom,” where learners can “stop you in the hallway” to chat (asynchronous, or synchronous).
  • Create a scheduled weekly informal Open House forum (asynchronous, or synchronous) for learners to stop by for extra help, questions, or clarifications, or just to chat.
  • Create way for learners to sign up for scheduled more formal “Office Hours” with you for extra help, questions, or clarifications, or just to chat.
  • Create an instructor profile that models the information you would like your learners to share in order to represent themselves in the course.
    • Ask learners to update and add details to their profile pages in the LMS, and be sure that you do the same.
    • Have learners create an avatar that represents them in some way, (their likes/dislikes hobbies, or interests.)

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 supporting social presence and creating a welcoming learning environment to support learner success in online courses.

Use Digital Posters for Online Community Introductions
A sense of community within a course can increase student engagement, persistence, and performance (Rovai, 2002; Vesely, Bloom, & Sherlock, 2007). In asynchronous teaching, creating community can be challenging. Instructors can facilitate a sense of community by providing ways for students to introduce themselves to each other (Woods & Ebersole, 2003). (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Jones, P., Naugle, K., & Kolloff, M. (2008). Teacher presence: Using introductory videos in hybrid and online courses. Learning Solutions.
McIntyre, C. (2004). Shared Online and Face-to-Face Pedagogies: Crossing the Brick-and-Click Divide. Educational Technology, 44(1), 61-63.
Russo, T. C., & Campbell, S. W. (2004). Perceptions of mediated presence in an asynchronous online course: Interplay of communication behaviors and medium. Distance Education, 25(2), 215 – 232.
Widmeyer, W. N. & Loy, J. W. (1988). When you’re hot, you’re hot! Warm-cold effects in first impressions of persons and teaching effectiveness. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(1), 118-121.

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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 #40RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #40RSI Dashboard illustration

Learners have an opportunity to get to know the instructor.

Review These Explanations

Social presence is the ability of learners to project their personal characteristics into the community of inquiry, thereby presenting themselves as ‘real people.’ (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001).

Social presence relies on establishing a welcoming online learning space, as well as acknowledging each individual learner as a valued member of the learning community.

When learners understand the background of their instructor, the “distance” between instructor/learners is mitigated. The tone and approach of the instructor in regard to self-introduction will serve as a model for learners. It is important that learners feel the instructor is easily accessible, and willing to communicate consistently throughout the course.

Instructors who share personal narratives make a lasting impression on online learners (Aragon, 2003). These personal narratives humanize the instructor, and provide credibility and history to support instructor expertise.

References:

Aragon, S. R. (2003). Creating Social Presence in Online Environments. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, (100), 57-68.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustration In well-designed online courses, this standard can support regular and substantive interaction by building trust, and a strong sense of online class community. Getting to know instructor (as well as the other classmates) is a first step in building trust and an online class community where learners are prepared and ready to learn. Instructors set this tone and climate at the start of an online course by initially connecting with the learners and providing opportunities for course participants to engage and interact on a social and human level. By allowing learners to have the opportunity to get to know the instructor in ways that are comfortable and appropriate for their discipline and personality, instructors can engage and model behaviors and interactions that will lead to a strong sense of online class community and trust among all course participants. Introduction, ice-breaking activities and discussions that include some appropriate interactions and self disclosures can be effectively designed to support the goals of this standard and RSI. For example, instructors can share their own personal academic and professional journey as it relates to the course topic. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor can help the learner learn more about the instructor and their expectations, and demonstrates aspects of instructor role, identity, discipline, and the profession establishing community and trust, which further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on course topics, or to provide clarification, help, or feedback demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

Examples

  • Create an instructor profile/contact, content, images/photos, announcements, instructions for activities with personal “voice” to establish the instructor’s social presence and credibility in the course.
    • Create an “All About Me” instructor welcome page with links to your professional highlights and personal interests.
  • Example Ice-Breaking activities.
  • Provide an instructor introductory video (with captioning and accompanying script for ADA compliance) is a wonderful way for learners to get to know the instructor. Create short, informal videos (with captions);

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 creating pathways where learners have opportunities to get to know the instructor in online courses.

Increasing Participation and Engagement in Student Introduction Posts Through Narrative
It can be difficult for students to connect with each other and with instructors in web-based courses. A number of strategies, design-decisions, and activities can be used to alleviate this issue (Vonderwell, 2003). One commonly used activity is the introduction post – the digital correlate of the in-class introduction. (Read more …)
Reach More Students with Targeted Office Hours
One of the biggest challenges instructors face with large class sizes is connecting with students individually. Often students will make use of office hours for that personal connection, but there are only so many hours in the day and teaching online adds another layer of complexity. (Read more …)
Welcome Messages
A welcome message to students before the course begins is an important step in establishing your online persona (Bellafiore, 2007; Gibson and Blackwell, 2005; Mensch and Ali, 2007; and Phillips, 2011). The purpose of this communication is to welcome the students, establish a comfortable class environment, introduce the class syllabus, schedule, protocols, and to/or establish a weekly routine. (Read more …)
Post an introduction video to welcome students to your course.
Creating social presence in an online course starts with the instructor. When students are provided the opportunity to get to know the instructor prior to the start of the class through a welcome video message, they are able to put a face with a name (Aragon, 2003), are more likely to participate in class (McLellan, 1999), and tend to enjoy the online learning experience more (Aragon, 2003). Though an introduction video is only the starting place for social presence, it provides students with a preview to more effective social presence strategies such as collaborative learning and course facilitation (Oyarzun, Barreto, & Conklin, 2018). (Read more…)

Explore Related Resources

Hong, W. (2008). 8 Ways to Increase Social Presence in Online Teaching. Online Classroom, 1-5.
Hong, W. (February 2010) Retrieved from 8 Ways to Increase Social Presence in Online Teaching. Faculty Focus.
Orlando, J. (2015). Methods for Welcoming Students to Your Course. Online Classroom, 15(5), 7-8.
Ryman, S., Burrell, L., Hardham, G., Richardson, B., & Ross, J. (2009). Creating and Sustaining Online Learning Communities: Designing for Transformative Learning. International Journal of Pedagogies & Learning, 5(3), 32-45.
Online Teacher Identity – Warner School of Education,  University of Rochester.

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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 #39RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #39RSI Dashboard illustration

Expectations for all course interactions (instructor to student, student to student, student to instructor) are clearly stated and modeled in all course interaction/communication channels.

Review These Explanations

Expectations for assignments, class participation, proctoring, due dates, group work, collaboration, and attendance requirements should be clearly articulated and easy to find and understand. Adult learners expect and benefit from understanding the parameters and rationale of the learning activities in a course up front.

Outlining clear expectations for timing and frequency of interactions, activities, and assignments, as well as what type of standards should be upheld when working on particular activities, helps learners to be successful and reduces frustration caused by ambiguity. For blended courses, provide clear guidelines for synchronous (in-class) and asynchronous (online) participation.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationThis standard is the spirit of RSI. In well-designed online courses, expectations and strategies for regular and substantive instructor-student interactions are clearly stated and modeled in all course interaction/communication channels. The course information, overview, and syllabus materials set the expectations for the course interactions and communications, and make explicit who, what, how, when, where, and how often course interactions will take place. These expectations will provide details on how the online class community will function as a group and individually. Learner questions are anticipated by the instructor and addressed in Course Expectations documentation, discussion forums designed for these purposes, asynchronous activities (or synchronous options) for additional help and questions, and to create and support a common understanding across all course participants. Specific Instructor Communication Plans can be included in Course Expectations, or Course Information/Syllabus materials:

As your instructor, I plan to interact and engage with each of you on a regular basis throughout the course to support your learning by providing direct instruction via online lectures or overviews of various topics, responding to your questions, grading or providing feedback on your submitted coursework, posting weekly announcements, and engaging in the course discussion areas regarding academic course content whenever appropriate.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Clearly outline the expectations for course interactions, collaborations, assignments, activities, and discussion participation, for example, the timing and number of contributions.
    • Provide information on timing and frequency of contributions, models/examples are provided, roles are explained, expectations for community standards are explained.
  • Provide detailed information on how learner participation will be assessed, evaluated/graded.
    • Include instructions about any specific expectations if any, e.g., spelling and grammar expectations.
    • Specify and give examples of how learners should title their discussion posts. Discussion post subject lines give learners an opportunity to practice summarizing and clear communication, skills that are important in the professional world. It also helps other learners find their posts more easily because the content is summarized in the subject line.
  • Things to consider in revising your syllabus for an online course.
  • Instructor sets course expectations and tone, and provides models for the student, e.g., preferred pronouns/names and prefixes of address, formality of writing, expectations in writing communications, formality and informality in interactions, and tolerances and expectations.
  • Reference netiquette info and model respect in discussions.

Rubrics

Examples

  • Example Course Information/Syllabus statement: “As your instructor, I plan to interact and engage with each of you on a regular basis throughout the course to support your learning by providing direct instruction via online lectures or overviews of various topics, responding to your questions, grading or providing feedback on your submitted coursework, posting weekly announcements, and engaging in the course discussion areas regarding academic course content whenever appropriate.”
  • Example Course Information/Syllabus materials.
  • Example Course Expectations.

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 establishing clear expectations in online discussions to benefit learner success.

Setting Discussion Expectations
Selecting an effective discussion topic is important, but does not guarantee an interactive, fruitful discussion. It is crucial for instructor to set the stage and establish clear expectations for how learners should participate in the discussion. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Kelly, R. (2012). Managing Controversy in the Online Classroom. Online Classroom, 12(3), 2-3.

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 #38RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #38RSI Dashboard illustration

Regular and substantive instructor-to-student expectations, and predictable/scheduled interactions and feedback, are present, appropriate for the course length and structure, and are easy to find.

Review These Explanations

By setting learner expectations upfront, instructors avoid having a lot of questions asked in course Ask a Question discussion areas, or via email, thus improving course management efficiency, and reducing time spent on extra tasks. Learners will also experience less frustration if they know what to expect.

Establishing expectations, including instructor/learner and learner/learner interaction is important for keeping learners on track and for prioritizing responsibilities to help manage instructor and learner workload (Ladyshwesky, 2013).

Detailed interaction guidelines should be posted in the Course Information/Syllabus materials. These guidelines define course interaction protocol and set expectations on the frequency, response time, and quality of interactions expected from both instructors and learners.

References:

Ladyshewsky, R. (2013). Instructor Presence in Online Courses and Student Satisfaction. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, 7(1), 1-23.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationThis standard is the letter of RSI. In well-designed online courses, expectations and strategies for regular and substantive instructor-student interactions are described in the syllabus, present in the course design, appropriate for the course length and structure, and are easy to find. For example, the course will provide information on expectations for:

  • Timely and individualized feedback on learner work.
  • Instructor-facilitated online discussions, or chat.
  • Regularly scheduled review/help sessions, tutorials, or office hours; mid-course, or end of course student feedback surveys/polls.
  • Individualized emails or other instructor-initiated individual or group communications.
  • Weekly announcements (impromptu, or scheduled/automated) covering aspects of the course, or providing guidance, encouragement, feedback, etc.

Online courses can support RSI by including communication plans for regular, predictable, and substantive instructor-to-learner interaction, and clearly stated expectations for timely and regular feedback from the instructor. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about course content, expectations, seeking help, and feedback, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on course topics, or to provide or to provide clarification, help, or feedback demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions/Resources

  • Create a “What You Can Expect from Me” video and include it in the course Welcome and Getting Started activities. Let learners know early in the course what they can expect from you, and what you expect from them.
  • Let learners know if you will be traveling, or unavailable at any time during the term.
  • Let learners know exactly how long it will take for you to grade, or to provide feedback on their work, including work that has been submitted late.
  • Notify learners if there will be any delay in feedback, including assignments and grades.
  • Acknowledge any delayed feedback you give. You would want the same from your learners!
  • Create an early assignment in the course to give learners the opportunity to practice using the course communication tools, trouble shoot problems, and create a reliable communication loop.
    • Ask students to respond in an assignment to confirm that learners have seen feedback, announcement, or instruction.
  • See SUNY Online RSI Resources.
  • Synchronous Interaction.
  • Asynchronous Interaction & Content Presentation.

Teaching Presence & Interaction

  • Use Weekly Announcements/Email/Messages (impromptu, or scheduled/automated)  to summarize assignments/interactions, explain assignments, and provide reminders/encouragements.
  • Send periodic class and individual check-in communications via email or course messages.
  • Send a midterm encouragement of some kind via email, video, or announcement, for the class and/or individual.
  • Provide an initial communications plan with contact information and preferred methods for course communications,
    • Provide details regarding how, when, and where instructors will provide extra help, answer questions, respond to emails, and provide feedback on assignments
    • Provide details regarding Virtual Office hours (schedule, calendar, how to book a time).
  • Document and communicate expectations regarding instructor response time, for communications, feedback, return assignments/assessments, questions, grades.
  • Provide feedback, class / individual, video, email, audio.
  • Design and engage in instructor-facilitated discussions and interactions on course concepts, content, activities, assignments, etc.
  • Design and guide interactions and collaborations between learners.

Built in to the Course Template/Design

  • Provide a Course Calendar/Schedule – that lists e.g., synchronous or asynchronous office hours, extra help sessions.
  • Provide Expectations for contact, feedback, and interaction are clear and findable.
  • Create an Ask the Professor discussion forum, associated with course modules, topics, activities.
  • Create an Ask a Question discussion forum, associated with course modules, topics, activities.
  • Produce/provide videos/audio content presentations/lectures with facilitated online discussion for interaction on course concepts with the instructor.
  • Develop and facilitate substantive online course content discussions: demonstrated by percentage of the grade.
  • Design and facilitate course activities, assignments, and assessments with instructor interaction, feedback, summaries/discussion. and or videos/audio.
  • Collect learner feedback for improvements in design/interaction in course for improvements, (not course evaluation). 

Explore Related Resources

It is widely recognized that good teaching includes instructor-student feedback, and in online courses, feedback takes a variety of forms, including both synchronous and asynchronous interactions. To understand better the types and frequency of instructor-student feedback interactions, this case study used document analysis to examine feedback in an online course over a full semester.

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

  • Support and Promote Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access.
  • 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.

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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 #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.

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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 #19RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #19RSI Dashboard illustration

Instructions are provided and well written.

Review These Explanations

A learner’s academic engagement and success depend on many things. In an online course one element of importance is how well a learner understands what they are supposed to do, when, and how, so that they can meet the expectations and objectives of the activity, and get feedback to improve their understanding and learning, make progress, and complete the course successfully. This standard is intended to ensure that all course instructions are clear, findable, consistent, well written, free of ambiguity or error. Online course instructions are the voice of the instructor and set the tone for course interactions.

Clear instructions help learners to function in the online environment without having to repeatedly ask for clarification. Instructions can be communicated in many different forms in an online course, including orientations, introductions, announcements, guidelines, examples, and rubrics, etc.

Instructions contextualize course content, interaction, activity, and assessment by guiding learners through course materials, activities, interactions and assessments. Well written instructions address what, where, how and when learners need to do, why they need to do it, how it relates to course, module, or program objectives, how they will be assessed, and when they can expect feedback.

Instructions provide learners with the necessary guidance and confidence to successfully complete specific tasks, activities, assignments, interactions, or assessments in the course.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSIRSI Dashboard illustration

Online course instructions can support regular and substantive interaction by providing specific explanations, instructions, and details on how, when, where, and by whom course tasks, assignments, interactions, and assessments will take place. Learner questions can be anticipated in the course instructions by including examples, models, rubrics and associated information, such as how to ask for help, get questions answered, and how and when feedback can be expected. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about course instructions, 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

  • Provide instructions for all assignments, activities, tasks.
  • Review your instructions taking the perspective of the learner. If there are steps to follow, go through each one to be sure they are easy to follow.
  • Create short screen-casted videos (or audio files) that ‘walk learners through’ assignment details and/or showcase exemplary example submissions.
  • Provide a forum or anonymous place to ask questions about course assignments, and make sure that course participants know how and where  to find and engage in this area of the course for this purpose.
  • Create an open discussion forum and link to it from within assignment or activity instructions for learners to connect and communicate any questions or issues they may encounter.
  • Hold “Office hours” (synchronous or asynchronous) devoted to answering questions on upcoming assignments with follow up announcements and/or “FAQs” for all learners on common assignment-related questions and clarifications.
  • Create and automate course announcements reiterating/reinforcing course instructions where appropriate.
  • Include links to troubleshooting or help resources.
  • Write instructions across all assignments using consistent language, format, and fonts for ease of use.
    • Position instructions in consistent locations throughout the course.
    • Use consistent naming conventions for assignments, activities, tasks and provide contextual titles as advanced organizers to convey a summary of the content.
    • Consider how instructions tie back to learning objectives and use consistent language that refers back to those objectives.
  • Provide an estimate of how long the assignment is estimated to complete.
  • When appropriate, provide a link to a rubric, or information on how a learner will be evaluated.
  • When appropriate, provide examples or models of exemplary assignments.

Explore Related Resources

Lorenzetti, J. P. (2008). 14 Ways Faculty Can Improve Online Student Retention. Recruitment & Retention in Higher Education, 22(12), 6-7.

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 #10RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #10RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides contact information for instructor, department, and program.

Review These Explanations

In addition to providing this information in the syllabus, including a contact information page in the course information documents opens opportunities for learners to contact and interact with course instructors, as well as department and program administrators. Be sure that there is a printable version of this information for learners to have on hand in case they are unable to access the online class and need to get in touch.

Interaction guidelines can be included along with contact information, and should indicate when and how the instructor prefers to be contacted. When posting department and program information, include hours of operation (if appropriate), and contact options if learners need to access to department or program resources outside of those hours.

Opening avenues for communication, and providing easy access to those channels supports learner-instructor interaction, and facilitates engaging in supportive contact and interaction, a key component of social presence. (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000).

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSIRSI Dashboard illustration

This standard can support regular and substantive interaction compliance by providing contact information and information to clarify expectations, roles, and communication plans and channels, all of which are essential aspects of a well-designed online course. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about these topics, 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

  • Share expectations for contact including your your preferred, or required modes of contact.
  • Provide information on regular office hours, how/where to ask questions, or get extra help, where to go for advisement, how to contact or access any department or program information or resources, etc.
    • Share information about any required or optional online “office hours.”
    • Mention the specific purposes of specific areas in the course for asking questions.
  • If a student contacts you in a way or at a time that is not expected, or your preference, direct them to your preferred modes of contact.
  • Support and Promote Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Access.
  • Be explicit about how you would like them to address you, and what information they may need to include in certain communications to make sure you know who they are and what course (or institutions) they may be from.
    • Provide information on preferred ways of being addressed, including, for example, preferred pronouns, by first name, or preferred name, name prefixes, e.g., Dr., Mrs., etc., and ask learners how they would like to be addressed.
  • Make sure your students know specifically what to expect in terms of your response time.
  • Create a digital business card with your contact information and share it out via course announcements.
  • Model the use of the features in your LMS for contact information, such as profiles.
  • Include instructor, department, and program contact information in your syllabus and course information areas.
  • Develop a Key Contacts list and link to it from the course home page, making it easy for learners to access, download, and print as they enter the learning space.
  • Consider including an informal video introduction to the department and program staff, so that learners have a better idea of who they are reaching out to, and include that in the contact information area.
  • Remember to update your contact information if you are traveling to another time zone, or your availability changes in any way during the delivery of your course.
  • Recommend that learners print out Contact Information, so they have access to the information offline.
    • If you are using a syllabus quiz, or scavenger hunt orientation activity, be sure to include finding and printing out the Contact Information provided in that activity!

Explore Related Resources

If you’d like to better understand the “rules of the road” for online teaching and learning, 10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education is the perfect guidebook. Explore Chapter 2: Practice Proactive Course Management Strategies for related tips.
Aragon, S. R. (2003), Creating social presence in online environments. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2003: 57–68.

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 #9RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #9RSI Dashboard illustration

Course objectives/outcomes are clearly defined, measurable, and aligned to learning activities and assessments.

Review These Explanations

Learning objectives and outcomes are essentially milestones on the learning pathway – milestones that learners need to achieve in order to succeed. Course objectives should express some level of mastery that learners will need to demonstrate as a result of participating fully in the course. Learners need to understand how what they are learning, and what they are required to demonstrate, are connect to the course outcomes.

All course content, learning activities, interactions and assessments should be in alignment with these objectives/outcomes. These relationships should be clearly explained in order to provide relevance of learning to the learners (Knowles, 1984). Objectives should address what learners need to know when they complete the module, course, or program, and aligned activities and assessments should showcase how learners have achieved those objectives.

Keep in mind that well written learning objectives are made up of four parts – the identity of the learner, the skill that you want the learner to demonstrate, the conditions under the learner will demonstrate that skill, and the criteria in place to measure mastery of that skill.

Overall course objectives should be clearly communicated via the syllabus and course information documents, and module objectives should be introduced at the beginning of every module.

References:

Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSIRSI Dashboard illustration

Online course objectives detail the course goals and expected learning outcomes for learners in the online course. This standard can support regular and substantive interaction by providing learners with opportunities to establish and discuss the relevance of the studied materials to their academic, professional, and personal lives. Giving learners the opportunity to interact with the instructor to discuss their reasons for taking the course, prior knowledge of course discipline/content, and expectations for the course are all good strategies that can be accomplished in the design and activities of the course. For example in an ice breaking discussion. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about these topics as the course begins, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated introductory discussion demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

Examples

  • Use verbs that are actionable and measurable in writing objectives/outcomes. Test each objective/outcome by detailing out exactly how you are measuring it, and how you will know learners have met set criteria.
  • Create a course or module map to share with your learners that details how each objective falls in sequence in the course, along with the activities and assignments that measure associated knowledge and/or mastery.
  • Use the 2nd person (you/your) tense in communicating the objectives, instead of a generic “learners will learn”. This personalizes the statement for your learners.
  • Reiterate the association and alignment of learning objectives by listing any associated objectives in the activity or assignment instructions.

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

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores the purpose and benefits of breaking down course objectives to the modular level, and provides an example of scaffolding learning across modules.

Relate Course Goals into Modular Measurable Learning Objectives
Creating clear and measurable objectives is key to developing purposeful and systematic instruction. One of the strategies instructors used is to relate course goals into one or more measurable learning objectives for each unit/module/week of your course. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

This site explores the “why” and “how” of assessment.
This poster from Fractus Learning lists each level along with a variety of associated action verbs you can use to guide the development of learning objectives.
This tools generates learning objectives based on a variety of set variables, with room to enter new values. Originally designed for academia, this tool is a fun way to generate new objectives!
McCracken, J., Cho, S., Sharif, A., Wilson, B., & Miller, J.. (2012). Principled Assessment Strategy Design for Online Courses and Programs. Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 10(1), 107-119.

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.