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Engaging the Next 10%
Confirm Essential Materials

Engage Students Early & Confirm Students' Preparation

 - Ask Questions about Essential Course Materials

Ask questions near the beginning of an online course about the essential course materials;  questions that require every individual student to check and confirm that he/she has easy access to each of those materials.  

From Doug Eder - email to Steve Gilbert, Sept. 21, 2009: 

"In my experience, one of the most disconcerting experiences is not having a visible, live audience. F2F professors at least can see the students in their classrooms and, if they talk about a textbook, they can watch students reaching for it. 
On-the-wire teaching is like radio, and unless there is a call-in equivalent, such as a chat line, there is no feedback. In ham radio, we have interactive communication, but in [most] commercial radio, feedback is basically 
absent. So the professor is not only blind but, also, deaf. Therefore, when telling a joke, waiting for students to get out materials, having them solve a problem at their desk---there are no visual cues. Therefore, for the synchronous portion of an on-line course, professors have little horizon on which to orient activities or timing.

"Accordingly, I have found it advisable ---necessary--- to: 
(a) get ALL the students' course materials nearby, 
(b) advise the students to get their fingers on the keyboard, and 
(c) ask some easy, content questions that REQUIRE a response. 
"Do you have all five case studies?" NOT, "Do you have all the case studies?" The students don't know what "all" means? 
Similarly, "What picture do YOU have on p. 16 of your textbook?" The picture may be one for starting a discussion right then...but maybe a student has the wrong text.

"Every single item that the students should have available should arise in a
question that requires a response. Questions like these make the students
respond, so interactive communication is established early. That is, students
must engage. Furthermore, there is a general check on the materials. Finally,
the professor is communicating care and concern: 'I'm making sure that you have
what you need to have in order to do well in this course.'"

Douglas J. Eder, Ph.D., Emeritus,  Southern Ill. Univ. - Edwardsville

Related Resources
Based on extensive experience teaching online and helping faculty do so too, Eder has many recommendations for those
colleagues who are facing this challenge for the first time - including the adaptation and use of Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs) in online courses.

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To participate, or for more information, contact Sally Gilbert
301 270 8312