Third International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology
Mary L. Meiners, San Diego Miramar College, CA, USA

Presentation (ppt)


Tools of emerging technologies simultaneously challenge us and bring new opportunities. Some criticize and resist new technology while others leap at the opportunity to explore the possibilities. As a result some may become so enamored of the tools they let the tools drive the pedagogy instead of pedagogy driving the tools. The ability to teach courses entirely online is one of many recent advancements and presents us with numerous issues such as design, development, infrastructure, assessment, delivery, quality control and student support to resolve.

This paper will focus on challenges faced in converting highly interactive classroom courses to fully online courses, describe some of the strategies involved in the design, development, and the implementation of an exemplary course that is based upon learning theory principles. Factors that contribute to student retention and success will also be included.

The California Community Colleges in 2004 published a set of guidelines specifically defining distance education and addressed quality standards, instructor contact, course approval process, enrollment, tutoring and access for students with disabilities. In addition the San Diego Community College developed a document outlining the features of a good online course. Information from both documents will be shared with the participants.

One important difference between a face to face class and the online class other than the obvious is the necessity of the online course to be totally complete before the class begins. That means all assignments, lecture notes (learning modules) and assessments must be complete; there is no night before prep for a lecture or writing the test the night before. It must be done by the first day of class. Preparing a class for online forces the instructor to carefully think about the desired student learning outcomes and the methods of assessment.

Converting lectures for online can take advantage of numerous resources on the Internet and truly enhance the course. Assignments can remain individual or group projects. Examples from the following courses will be used to illustrate methods employed: Introductory Psychology, Abnormal, Psychology of Women and Marriage and the Family.

Online student discussions are asynchronous but as such permit students to carefully think through their contribution to the discussion topic and consequently discuss topics in greater depth. Naturally shy and quiet students find their voice and often participate frequently in online discussion boards. Other modes of interaction discussed include: email and a chat room with other students anywhere in the world any time of the day.

Just as in the classroom assessment may be addressed in a number of ways. Strategies for addressing the various issues will be discussed. Methods and techniques used to create a successful online course that is rigorous and students find to be fun and interesting will be incorporated. Student evaluation surveys have been quite positive.

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