clockOne of the concerns I hear from faculty who teach online is that there seems to be a fair amount more work that goes into teaching an online course. Most of the work comes on the front end. Putting into written/audio/video format all of the things you might say in class, and planning and developing your course does take extra time. However, there are things you can do to save time elsewhere that can help even this out.

Here are 4 ways you can save time when Teaching an Online Course:

  1. Work in Groups
  2. Have  a Virtual Office
  3. Select/Limit Assignments
  4. Connect Your Course

WORK IN GROUPS

Group PuzzleGroup work in your online course is important for multiple reasons.  We’ve already touched on the importance of making your students take an active part in their learning experience and how course participation can be increased via group work.  Another benefit of course groups is that they can help you save time.

With a class full of 30 people you may find yourself grading 30 individual assignments multiple times.  Instead, try making some of those assignments group oriented and dividing your course into 5 groups.  You can reduce the amount of things you need to read as well as recruit your students to take part in the group assessment.


Virtual OfficeHAVE A VIRTUAL OFFICE

The name doesn’t matter, but a Virtual Office course Q&A forum services 4 purposes:

  1. Cuts down on the amount of e-mail in your inbox
  2. Gets your students in the habit of checking and using the LMS
  3. Keeps a record of questions and answers.
  4. Keeps you from having to answer a question more than once.

Let’s face it, we all “misplace” e-mail.  For some of us our inbox receives a hundred new messages or more each day.  Why not make life easier on you and your students by reserving course e-mails for those things of a personal or private nature.  You may have to use the first week of the course as a “training week” where you ensure you point your students to the Virtual Office for answers to course questions.  Make it a requirement in your syllabus, an expectation on your course expectations page and a question on your Syllabus quiz to ensure students know where to go.

When your students establish the habit of checking the course regularly, they will be more engaged and more successful.  When you answer questions via e-mail the only people that see that correspondence are you and the student.  Utilizing a discussion forum makes course Q&A visible to everyone in your course, saving you hours of time answering e-mails.


SELECT/LIMIT ASSIGNMENTS

Select your Assignment GraphicRemember the first time you taught?  Many of us when we first teach want to take on the world and show the students all the great things that they can do in the course.  Mid-way through the semester did you find yourself thinking that you committed to do too much?  Working with your online course can provide the same kind of feeling.

My suggestion is to carefully select your assignments so you are not weighing yourself down with extra grading, proofing and other activities.  Your students will appreciate 5 -10 well thought out assignments as opposed the 20 “let’s do everything!” activities in their course.  By being particular in what assignments you add to your course you save yourself on grading time, cut down on questions and answers and give your students a more focused learning experience.


CONNECT YOUR COURSE

Connect PuzzleWhen you travel somewhere for the first time, doesn’t it seem to take a little bit longer to get there than it does to return home?  Whether it is unfamiliar surroundings, difficulty reading the map or the GPS isn’t up to date, it can be frustratingly slow to travel to new places.

Think of your online course as that new destination for your students.  How would they describe their navigation experience?  Would they say that once they travel into your course that it is difficult to find their way back?  Would they say that the course links were easy to find and use?  Would they be frustrated trying to make it to their “destination”?

Connecting your course by organizing and clearly naming your navigation elements will save your students and ultimately you time when putting together your online course.

Below are steps you can take to connect your course and save time for you and your students:

  • Use Dividers and Subheaders to visually organize your course’s navigation menu.
  • Append the text (Click to Open) on titles for content folders, learning modules, lesson plans, web and course links.
  • Put directions in the content description that direct students to “click” the title to access the content.
  • Make the content item Blue if you want your students to click it
  • Chunk your course content as you would teach it in your face-to-face course.  For example: Put all Chapter content in chapter folder with different sub-folders for each chapter.
  • Place a Course Link at the bottom of a unit a study so that the student can navigate back to where they were before easily.
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