Mastering Navigation in Online Degree Programs to Earn Extra Cash
When last we conferred, we were discussing applying for teaching basic courses online. We talked about how to do a search for online programs and how to communicate with the recruitment personnel, how to prepare for going through the training required and how to make the best use of our assigned mentor who will be with us through the first few courses we teach. Online degree programs require specific skills in giving feedback, so that is wherewith we shall proceed.
In order to give solid feedback, you must develop empathy for your students. You must be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Often the silent, withdrawn student needs the most help. You can of course, ask the withdrawn student a direct question, but sometimes it is best to ask their opinion of what another has said. You might say, "John, Mary says it is effective description to make the verbs carry descriptive qualities instead of using adjectives all the time. What do you think about what she said?" You could give examples such as Hemingway said the killers slithered through the door instead of saying they had a menacing look as they came through the door. You could point out that neutral words like is and are do not conjure images and feelings. An example is "the snake was under the stairs". Change to "the snake rattled under the stairs." So, giving an example is a form of feedback. You might also share an experience. Tell how when you were in high school the teacher said you could spot a preposition because a preposition was anything a rabbit could do to a stump. It could run around it, jump over it, crawl under it, sit on it, etc. You can also praise the student for trying to come up with an answer. Show an honest interest in the student's responses and this will connect rapport with learning.
Assisting Students in Mastering Navigation Will Increase Rapport in Online Degree Programs
As you use the platform provided by your school, you will become adept at helping the student understand what is available to them. They will learn to navigate to solve their own problems. First have them confirm that they have read all introductory remarks and that they understand them . They should tell you if they do not understand something. But remember that theoretical understanding is not applied understanding and so just because they say they have read all the introductory remarks, it does not mean they have a practical understanding of the navigation.
I suggest starting with the Announcements. This section is the first domain that is visible when the classroom is active. The announcements are your way of communicating to the student. You will map out goals and expectations here. You will state changes in policy here. You will indicate emergencies here. They should develop the habit of reading your announcements every day, or every time they are online.
Another way you will communicate with the student is in Ask the Professor. If the student posts questions here, they should get an answer in 24-48 hrs. Remember that feedback is paramount, so be sure to get back to the student pronto. If the student has an idea he wants to share with the class, he can use Problems and Solutions. The discovery then becomes public and all the students profit by the discovery.
Email is the Royal Road to Private Conversations in Online Degree Programs
Although email may be public and sometimes you will want it to be public, it is possible to elect privacy on email and then the other students cannot see what you are discussing with the student. If the student wishes to share sensitive information, then email is the place they can do it and feel secure. Email is also a good way for the instructor to communicate with the entire class if you as instructor have an urgent question. This sort of email may require a direct answer.
Another way you as instructor can communicate with the student is to keep them abreast of their class standing. Their grades are calculated for you and are placed in a display to which the student has access. They can find out their score on weekly assignments and quizzes and their cumulative grade. This way as instructor you will have a basis for initiating conversations about their grades by pointing to the display.
There are tutoring programs available in case the student falls behind. It does not matter if the student is working toward a psychology degree online, and online degree in accounting, or a law degree online, the foundation courses all come with tutoring available. There is a program for counseling if the student is depressed. There is a program to bring the student up to speed on using the APA system of documentation. And in order to be aware of plagiarism and its many pitfalls, there is a tutoring program that will take them through "turnitin.com" which will give them a statistical picture of their work and show them if they have relied too much on undocumented use of outside material.
When the student gets tired and wants a reprieve, there is the Student Lounge. Here they can kick back and have a virtual cup of coffee and share experiences of the course and related items like traveling and shopping. Here, students often bond in relationships that follow them throughout their program.
There is a function which keeps the student on track for assignments every week. A lecture is given (in text format) and some applications are supplied. The student is given an assignment and she is expected to complete the assignment by due date, otherwise face penalties. There are also quizzes. This addresses grammar and the basic skills of writing. Most of the student's grades come from their writing of essays. Writing grammatically correct essays that use good sentence structure and which support a clear thesis--this is the goal that the instructor should help the student to achieve.
One of the most beneficial aspects of online teaching is the scalability of the online teaching schedule. Alert, aggressive online adjunct instructors with the right search strategy for finding and identifying online degree programs that offer the accredited online bachelor degree and accredited online master's degree can add or subtract online college courses at will. Of course, there is some level of analysis that must be employed when deciding it is time to decline offered online college classes. Further, it is important to be very aware of the demands of a particular accredited online college degree program when accepting additional college courses to teach. Ultimately, online adjunct jobs give an academic teaching on an adjunct basis the actual ability to exercise a large measure of control over the income from teaching online courses and over the entire online teaching schedule.