How do I choose technology tools?
How do I keep my courses up-to-date?
What are the keys to success?
Distance Learning Tools
Use the best tools for the job. Sometimes it's a simple word processor, other times it's a specialty package.
You can find an endless array of tools for developing distance learning courses. There's no single way to get started. Some people prefer to start small and use their word processor for web page development. Others prefer a package specifically designed for web page development such as Adobe's Dreamweaver . Many schools are using packages such as Blackboard and WebCT for course building. The web provides lots of utilities and helpers that will make your life easier. For example, Web Monkey contains lots of shareware programs and JAVA scripts to download.
- Identify guidelines for document submission and posting
- Think about internal vs external document sharing
- Student access issues
- Student technique support (drivers, caching problems)
Libraries are increasingly viewed as a place to learn about community employment opportunities, acquire job hunting skills, and prepare for new jobs or the GED.
Read Employment Search Support and think about how you could develop an online opportunity related to employment and education for your patrons. Explore some examples of online resources for this type of experience at The Career Information Page, Job and Career Center, and Job & Career Services.
Think about the issues in managing this type of online environment.
Updating Your Materials
As we prepare distance learning course material and share information over the Internet, we create more and web pages and, frequently, multiple web sites, perhaps on numerous web servers. As creators of this material, in most cases, we also take on the responsibility to maintain and update these web sites and web pages.
This tip is a reminder to fulfill this responsibility and recommends a procedure for doing it. The following systematic process will allow you to revisit each site and each page at least annually.
- Create a monthly review calendar. The calendar should list each web site that contains pages you have created and for which you are responsible. Hint: If you are starting on the fly, and have multiple sites, created by semester, for example, feel free to reassign sites among months to even the work load across months.
- Each web site review should begin with the question: Is this site still needed? Follow this with the question: Are each of the pages in this site needed? If the answer for web page, or web site, is NO, remove it. Hint: You may want to create a file or a disk to which you transfer removed files for a period of time. Be sure to review this file regularly, also. Don't forget that you probably have one copy of the page on the web server and another copy in your own computer as well.
- The second step of your review of each web site might be to review the layout, the hierarchy, and organization of the pages in the site. Was it well organized from the beginning? Does it need some work? Perhaps you need to add a site redesign to your "To Do" list. If only a few changes need to be made, do it as part of the review and do not postpone it.
- Each site then should be reviewed page by page. This review should look for bad links, outdated images and grammatical and usage errors. Also check that any new policies that have been implemented by your organization are reflected in each of your pages. Consider adding "page redesign" to your "To Do" list, also, for major problems found.
- Revised pages should each be rechecked. Don't forget to provide "courtesy information" on each page: an email reply link to you, and the date of most recent update. This makes your information useful to readers, and, provides a feedback link from your reader - a benefit to each of you.
Keys to Success
The Real World
You’ll have students who…
- “don’t get it”
- have personal problems
- are “needy”
- finish everything early
- have trouble finishing anything
- have technology problems
- do great and never ask questions
- won’t read unless they “have to”
- will read every link to every link
- print out EVERYTHING
- will read and respond to every forum message
- won’t read unless they “have to”
- hate online learning and will never take another online course
- love online learning and will take everything that’s offered
Be yourself. Don’t try to “become” an online instructor. There are MANY ways to teach online.
Adapt materials. Explore ways to transfer your best teaching strategies into the online environment.
Think different. Make each course interesting and unique.
Revise. Constantly look for ways to improve and enhance the course.
Remain calm. Don’t overreact to email or forum messages.
Stay flexible. Go with the flow. Adjust the schedule as needed.
Complete “up front”. Be ready at the beginning of the semester.
Build in “ongoing aspects”. Send periodic updates, ongoing interaction, dynamic gradebook.
Listen. Constantly gather feedback and update as needed.