TRANSITION FROM CLASSROOM TO EASYCAMPUS: 5 TIPS

The number one frustration encountered by traditional teachers when faced with an Learning Management System (LMS) is surprising: it’s not the learning of new technologies or the translation of materials from paper to digital formats. Learning new skills can be frustrating, but a more pressing concern sounds something like this:
Everything I know of value is locked in my head. My value as a teacher is not the books I pass out or the tests I grade. It’s what I say to my students, what they ask in response, and how I respond to them in turn…
If this is you, read on for some practical suggestions.


TIP 1: MAKE FRIENDS WITH FORUMS

The discussion forum, message board, or bulletin board as it’s sometimes called, is the area of an LMS most like a classroom. These internet discussions are certainly not unique to an LMS but they hold a lot of potential for learning when used in this environment.

Simply put, a discussion forum allows you to hold conversations with your students in the form of posts, or messages. A set of posts on a particular topic is called a thread. So, for example, you can create a discussion forum called Introductions and ask everyone to introduce themselves to each other. Each student creates a “topic” for themselves and all the responses form a thread for that introduction.

In a learning environment, a forum is an easy way for a teacher accustomed to a classroom to give a teaching and elicit responses as an assignment. The environment should be friendly but controlled. You might be surprised to find out you learn more about your students than you ever did in the classroom, especially in the way they interact with each other.


For help on forums inside EasyCampus, view this video: Work with Forums


TIP 2: BECOME A BLOGGER

You may have heard the axiom “Writers write” and the same can certainly be said of educators: “Teachers teach.” If you feel as if your LMS simply doesn’t give you the scope to teach the way you do in a classroom, you might want to familiarize yourself with the notion of a blog.
Quickly defined, a blog, or web log, is where you can regularly enter commentaries, descriptions of events, news items, or just about anything it occurs to you to say. Students can respond with comments.

In an LMS, a teacher’s blog should be fun, friendly, and informative. In general, it’s not a place for assignments or important class teaching, but due to the elastic nature of online learning systems, it can be re-purposed: for example, you can have a classroom blog as an assignment, with each student able to blog independently.

For help on blogs inside EasyCampus, read this guide: Work with Blogs


TIP 3: THE HOMEWORK HELPER

“The dog ate it,” or “I forgot what it was, so I couldn’t do it” are very familiar excuses to every teacher in every classroom. Even if you use no other feature of an LMS, the Homework or Assignment dropbox is one you should consider using to augment your classroom.

Briefly, you enter the assignment and provide a means for students to either enter their responses right on the screen or upload a file in response. You can grade these assignments online and even make comments. This is a huge timesaver for everyone (not to mention a stopper for all those excuses).

When creating assignments, try not to make too many assumptions about students’ technical expertise. Offer a few ways to respond, for example, “Upload your answer in a text file, a Word document, or an Excel spreadsheet. If you don’t know how to do any of these, email me your response at (email address).

For help on assignments inside EasyCampus, view this video: Work with Assignments


TIP 4: VARIATIONS ON VIDEOS

If your background is in stand-up seminars, workshops, or motivational lectures, it’s easy to see how useful a video could be as you transfer your existing material to an LMS.

Is it possible for you to have a video made of your actual workshop? If so, this is ideal: the virtual student feels like a member of the class and may even have his or her questions answered by an actual participant. An email or message block added to the course page ensures that if such questions aren’t answered, you can respond directly.

If it isn’t possible to do this, consider making a video of just you as if there were a class. While less perfect a simulation, this approach allows you to speak instead of writing and can be accompanied by downloadable workshop materials such as a PowerPoint presentation converted to Flash or a PDF workbook.

See the other sections of this decision maker for more information about these options.


TIP 5: THE SENSIBLE SURVEY

Finally, a great way to overcome misgivings about the effectiveness of online learning is to go straight to the source: your students. By and large, students prefer these systems for a variety of reasons: easily accessible, engages them on platforms where they are comfortable (you might not use online discussion forums, but you can bet most of your students do!), freedom of expression for shy students, the list goes on.

A survey, or questionnaire, is essentially a tool for asking students questions and gathering answers. The survey can be anonymous to help ensure people feel free to answer honestly. It can elicit just one response or can be open to many responses.

Your survey should be sensible in that it shouldn’t overreach itself (don’t ask questions that really aren’t related to the course or that you don’t need to know), shouldn’t frame its questions in a way likely to elicit a desired response, shouldn’t be too lengthy or worded in a confusing way.

For help on surveys inside EasyCampus, read this guide: Questionnaires

Everything I know of value is locked in my head. My value as a teacher is not the books I pass out or the tests I grade. It’s what I say to my students, what they ask in response, and how I respond to them in turn…