UH Hilo Distance Learning

Distance Learning Pedagogy and Strategies

On this page:

Course Guiding Principles and Organization

Plan and Organize Your Course First.

Would you want to take a trip without planning, knowing your destination or itinerary, or having the right resources for that trip? Planning and using the right tools and resources are the keys to a successful online course.

  • Start by thinking about these three questions:

    • What should students know and be able to do at the end of the course?
    • How with the students demonstrate what they have learned?
    • What type of day-to-day activities, materials, and resources will lead students to the desired results?

    This is referred to as "backward design," a method of course design that starts at the end -- which are the Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). The concept is credited to Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe who first introduced it in 1981.

Key Takeaways

  • Plan and Organize Your Course First.
  • Use the Right Tools.
  • Develop Your Course with Quality and
    Best Practices in Mind.
  • Plan for an Accessible and Legal Course.

“Backward Design Process” by PotentiallyCoherent is licensed under Creative Commons.

  1. Start at the end with your SLOs. Again, your have to know your destination first before you begin. What are desired outcomes for your learners? What should they be able to do? By focusing on the end results first, you can help your students see the importance of what they are learning and make your activities more meaningful.
    - You can find your departentʻs SLOs in the course catalog.

  2. Design activities that will enable your students to demonstrate their proficiency in the achievement of SLOs. Rather than just planning activities and assessments and hoping that the student will have learned what was desired, think about what assessments and activities will prove the students have met the desired goals and objectives. Also, by doing this you will find that itʻs easier to plan your content as well as developing grading rubrics and directions for each activity to make sure that the activity truly does assess the goal you were trying to achieve.

  3. Now you can plan your learning experiences & instruction by week or module. This is where youʻll be defining your Module Learning Outcomes for your day-to-day activities by using steps one and two but on a smaller scale. Ask yourself, "What activities will equip students with the needed knowledge and skills? What will need to be taught and coached, and how should it best be taught, in light of the module-level learning outcomes?”

Use the Right Tools.

Using the same travel planning analogy, you canʻt plan a trip without having the proper tools. Itʻs better if you plan and plot out your course before you actually begin designing and developing your course.

Develop Your Course with Quality and Best Practices in Mind.

Once youʻve got a basic plan youʻre ready to start thinking about other essentials for the journey. This is where guides can come in handy to smooth the way and give you helpful insights.

When creating an online course, best practices are to design and develop for equity and inclusivity, as well as to follow copyright guidelines to keep you and the university safe from violations. Access the Faculty Resources for Accessibility and Copyright webpage for:

Delivering Lectures

Synchronous (Live) Sessions

If you are doing synchronous, real-time live lectures you can deliver them using Zoom or Google Meet. You can involve students during your online lectures through two-way video, audio and chat. However, donʻt rely primarily on synchronous content but use it to supplement your asynchronous content as this is the “best practice.”

Key Takeaways

  • Synchronous sessions should
    not be mandatory.
  • Schedule lesson at consistent times.
  • Record your lectures to be
    watched at a later time.
  • Setup and test your mic and
    camera before your sessions.

Asynchronous (Recorded) Sessions

Alternatively, you can record your lectures on your computer using capturing software called Screencast-O-Matic. There are several options for recording: your voice, with or without a webcam or your computer screen (which could be limited to a PowerPoint presentation, other software programs, or content from a web browser). After you stop recording, you can make minor edits (to start and stop points).

Key takeaways

  • Recorded sessions should be
    value-added.

Communicating with Students

Keep in Constant Communication

Keeping in touch with students is vital during any changes to your class(es). Let students know about changes in schedules, assignments, procedures, and broader course expectations. Early and frequent communication can ease student anxiety, and save you dealing with individual questions. Keep these principles in mind:

Key Takeaways

  • Communicate early and often.
  • Set expectations.
  • Manage your communications load.

Running Lab Activities

Virtual Lab Suggestions

One of the biggest challenges of teaching during a campus closure is sustaining the lab components of classes. Since many labs require specific equipment, they are hard to reproduce outside of that physical space. Here are some considerations as you plan to address lab activities:

Key takeaways

  • Take part of the lab online.
  • Investigate virtual labs.
  • Provide raw data for analysis.
  • Explore alternate software access.
  • Increase interaction in other ways.

Fostering Communication and Collaboration among Students

Fostering Communication

Fostering communication among students is important because it allows you to reproduce any collaboration you build into your course, and maintains a sense of community that can help keep students motivated to participate and learn. It helps if you already had some sort of student-to-student online activity (for example, in Laulimaʻs Discussions and Private Messages or Forums tools) since students will be more comfortable with both the process and the tool. Consider these suggestions when planning activities:

Key Takeaways

  • Use asynchronous tools
    when possible.
  • Link to clear goals and outcomes.
  • Build in simple accountability.
  • Balance newness and need.

Collecting assignments

Keep it Simple and Consistent

Collecting assignments during a campus closure is fairly straightforward, since many instructors already collect work electronically. The main challenge during a campus disruption is whether students have access to computers, as anyone needing a campus computer lab may be unable to access necessary technologies. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Key Takeaways

  • Require only common software.
  • Avoid emailed attachments.
  • State expectations, but
    be ready to allow extensions.
  • Require specific filenames.

Assessing student learning

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Tests and Quizzes

UH Exams in Distance Courses - Flowchart

The flowchart below highlights options and alternatives to administering traditional face to face exams.

Key takeaways

  • Assess if an exam is necessary.
  • Change your exam format.
  • Modify your exam parameters.

Online Exams

Possible Redesigning Your Exam (Alternatives)

Helpful Resources - Tests and Quizzes - Assess Student Learning - Help your students be successful by linking to these helpful guides on tips for success and managing test anxiety.

UH Exams in Distance Courses Flow Chart, Should you put your exam online? Question: Have you achieved your learning outcomes without the exam?If yes, eliminate the exam and re-weight previous assignments. If no. Second question, Can you redesign your exam in a different format? If yes, consider the following alternative formats. Cumulative written paper. Reflection paper. Portfolio. Recorded student presentation. If no, create your exam online and, Consider focusing on question types like essay and short answer. Use the Tests & Quizzes tool to randomize question order and order of multiple choice responses. Make the exam available for a shorter window of time. Set a time limit on the exam attempt, being mindful of students with accommodations. Otherwise, reconsider redesigning your exam in a different format.

ʻThis work, "UH Exams in Distance Courses," is a derivative of "So...You Need to Put Your Exam Online" by @Giulia Forsythe (2020), used under CC BY. "UH Exams in Distance Courses" is licensed under CC BY by Patrick A. Smith.ʻ Original work: https://twitter.com/giuliaforsythe/status/1239371142206496770

Distance Learning Delivery Alternatives

Training Resources

These online, on-demand, self-paced, self-guided programs can help you complete your development in stages at your own pace:

Still need assistance?

If you have tried the links above, and still cannʻt find what you're looking for, email the UH Hilo Distance Learning Team at uhhilodl@hawaii.edu

Updated 11/02/22