How do you rejuvenate your online class for a new offering?

It’s easy to get bored with teaching the same course semester after semester – even if that class follows best practice and is a roaring success. But you don’t have to do an entire redesign on your class to give it some pizzaz! Here are some tips for making small changes that could make a big difference in your (and your students’) enthusiasm.

1. Get rid of the discussion boards – use a blog instead. Blackboard has blogs that are a welcome change from the old fashioned discussion board. You can grade each student blog easily – however, the stats aren’t contained in the Performance Dashboard. It’s easy to shift your assessment values so that you are grading quality of the initial posting and level to which the posting encouraged responses.

2. Replace traditional assignments that require writing with new assignments that require creation of infographics, a cartoon or a video. Using media – especially new and trending tools – with your students can be a real hit with the class, and can let you see the potential and learning for your students in a whole new way. Many students enjoy these tools because they can use them in other phases of their lives. Ultimately, they are glad they learned to use them. One of the best outcomes I had when I replaced a traditional blog with a cartoon and an explanation was that one of my very writing hesitant students said (and others agreed) that the cartoon had been a great pre-writing tool. As a result of making the cartoon, the writing flowed more easily.

3. Add a student led “study session” component. We often allow students to self organize – but give this a little more structure. Set a weekly time for a chat – provide some points and require students to sign up to host one or two of these chat sessions. This is a lot of fun. It lets you see very easily where student confusion is occurring – and where success comes from. Also – it gives the students a leadership role in the class which enhances ownership of learning. In my own classes we use a hashtag on twitter for this activity – and it works well.

These small changes – which will require very little re-writing of the class – can make a big difference in your enthusiasm and in your students’ learning. I hope you’ll try some of these out and let me know how they worked for you.

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