One of the pitfalls of teaching online that instructors often experience is that they replace face-2-face teaching lectures with large quantities of online text. Screen after screen of text will only “lock” the student into a linear sequence of learning. While this will provide data to support their participation in your course, it is not providing interactivity, a vital component of a quality online course, and, can make it difficult to assess what a student has learned.
So, is it possible to turn any lecture into an interactive experience? Yes! To begin, take a second look at your objectives and cut out unnecessary material and focus on the most important content. This will allow you to create rich content that includes visuals, animations and other interactions to promote a quality online course experience for your students.
One way to create rich content would be to create “scenarios.” Scenarios immerse learners in situations that require them to apply newly acquired knowledge. You can base scenarios on common issues or problems related to your lecture content. To engage your students, you could include multiple-choice questions or group activities that engage students with the analysis of content and strategies for solutions. The goal of the scenario is to engage your students in the presentation.
Careful selection and use of graphics can also provide an enhanced experience. Since your students have different learning styles or combinations of learning styles, consider designing activities that address their modes of learning. In designing online courses, this can best be accomplished by utilizing multiple instructional strategies like those that support visual/nonverbal and auditory/verbal. These two learning styles focus more on listening, or the use of graphics or diagrams to represent information.
Another strategy would be to develop lectures/presentations that are smaller, or “chunked” for easy consumption. Smaller content offerings provide an optimal environment for periodic reflection.
No matter the strategy, including interactive opportunities will likely open up new ways to engage your students at a distance and maintain a high level of connectivity with your online students.