Ten best practices in online teaching from the standpoint of a student-teacher

Isabella Villas Boas recently completed a ten-week online courses and reflects on different practices and their application – including

Making sure that people know each other well so that they can become a true community of learners….  For some cultures more than for others, images are very important to aid communication. In the course I took, for example, I resented the fact that we couldn’t see people’s photos next to each of their posts. Some of us had posted pictures to accompany our introductory remarks inside a folder called “Week 1”, but they were uploaded as documents and difficult to retrieve on a daily basis. Ideally, the LMS should have a sidebar with the participants’ profiles so that they can be consulted easily throughout the course. Instructors might also place so much emphasis on having students introduce themselves that they, the instructors, forget to do the same.

The other nine


Developing Alternative Research Assignments with Students and Faculty

Kathleen DeLaurenti looks at different options available through technology which can change how writing assignments are completed. She refers to a Music of the Civil War class where they completed alternative research assignments. There wasn’t a central learning portal so they developed an online bibliography where students could collect links and get feedback and also used a wiki to support the writing.

For the Civil War assignment, I focused on helping the students get started using the technology, but also on how to evaluate websites. Website evaluation was a significant part of the Worlds of Music project as well, but I also played a greater role in meeting with the students. Each group was required to sign up for a 45 minute meeting with me to make sure they were comfortable with the technology, but also to talk about the research resources and strategies they would need for the assignment. In addition to introducing them to key resources in ethnomusicology, we talked about how to narrow their topics (one wiki page in one semester certainly wouldn’t represent all of the music of China!) and how to present this material in the context of a wiki. For example, using slideshows if they built image collections rather than cluttering up their webpage with so many images it was confusing to other readers.

In full


Why is research vital to e-learning?

akbacademic from the University of Derby technology blog in the UK  list a series of questions which will help reflect on why research is important and how it contributes to development. The list includes

  1. What’s the connection between innovation and dinosaurs?

  2. What links Kodak, Raleigh Bicycles and the Roman Empire?

  3. When is it time for you to retire?


In full


Is technology the new kid on the block?

via the Yildiz University Wired In or Out blog, a vimeo interview with Dr. Gary Motteram by the British Council Turkey.  Gary talks about the differences in his own experiences of teaching languages and the range of options available using recent technologies. The Wired In or Out blog covers the symposium with more posts to follow.

The interview

Pictures from the poster presentation session showing a range of different Turkish projects


Reflective Notes: International Online Collaboration in Project Work

educalogy blogs about recently participating in an online collaborative project to create an educational handbook with learners from Estonia, Norway and Finland. The project was completed entirely online using virtual classroom / meeting tools, shared online documents, wikis, facebook and other tools. the author writes about how the group dynamics developed and being able to participate in a joint presentation. The ability to participate in live sessions and the distribution of tasks are reviewed with mixed levels of participation as the project developed. There’s an interesting video embedded in the post from one of the presentations and their own presentation using Prezi.

mastery-oriented students in the group will always work for a good result and will all too often do literally all the work for a group’s presentation – as the social norm of not reporting the fellow student’s inactivity is still holding strong – which it should be. I think it is in the responsibility of the course designer and instructor to establish ways of monitoring and controlling a fairer distribution of work in academic collaborative learning groups

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Teaching Foreign Language

Halina Ostańkowicz-Bazan blogs from Poland about different approaches used to teach and learn online. She discusses active learning and how to encourage students to become more active rather than passive recipients of lectures. She describes how blended learning can provide opportunities for students to become more engaged and take advantage of new technologies and mentions the importance of learning meaningfully.

My experience tells that I ought to practice active learning principles to progress activities for my students that best mirror my particular communication style and the topics, forms of thinking, and strategies to the problems which are needed to understand and relate to the topics. This is how I work on creating my “active learners”.

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Two classes meet via Skype

Kerry Muste blogs about the Crazy Crazes project with gives South African students the opportunity to connect with students from around the world sharing their experiences via a wiki.

The project has resulted in a whole lot of learning not only for the students but also for me as I have never used a wiki. I have also learnt to use Youblisher to showcase the students’ work about our town and school and VoiceThread to allow the other classes to hear us singing the National anthem.

She describes the excitement of being able to connect with other students via Skype,

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Digital technologies in the operating theatre

Anna Waring discusses an ongoing study where they are looking at the use and impact of digital technologies for students learning to perform operations and experienced surgeons sharing knowledge about their experiences. She features laparoscopies:

The view that is picked up by the laparoscope is then magnified and projected onto screens around the operating table (see Figure). Surgeons can record the laparoscopic view, allowing them to replay the operation afterwards, for instance to reflect on how the operation went or to demonstrate to trainees and patients how a procedure is done. Edited versions of these recordings are sometimes disseminated through Youtube and other platforms, with running commentaries added to the visuals

She provides examples of how video can be used for investigating surgery, learning how to make decisions, learning gestures for operating safely on patients and the effect on the theatre as a learning space.

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Preparing e-learning online

Anne Fox reflects about the UnderstandIT project which has recently been completed in Europe. The project explored possibilities and spaces for elearning developers and designers to create eLearning by collaborating online – using a method known as ConCurrent Design. She provides a diagrams of the sessions plan.

The UnderstandIT project used the previously developed VITAE vocational training course to test out distributed CCeD with partners from Denmark, Norway Lithuania Italy, Germany and Portugal.

They have delivered a range of outcomes including an online tool for making a business plan and a proof of concept using ELGG

In full

StoryBook Adventure – Connecting Children from Portugal and South Africa Through Global Literacy

Denise Ortiz writes a brief blog post about the opportunity for 7th grade students at the Carlucci American International School of Lisbon to connect with students in Makahlule Village, South Africa.

We collected photos and gathered information on children in the village and then sent that over to Lisbon, where the children were learning how to write fiction

In full