When teaching an e-course, teaching staff members need to perform different roles. To ease the workload of teaching staff members, an educational technology specialist, instructional designer or another support specialist may take care of the following technical activities:
- sharing information about logging in to the learning environment and the course;
- giving explanations on the hardware and software needed for taking part in the course;
- instructing on the navigation in the learning environment and the use of the tools of the learning environment;
- support in the case of technical problems;
- making necessary modifications in the learning environment during the course.
It is a good idea to create a separate forum for technical problems related to the course, where learners could ask for help, and to assign a person who answers the questions in this forum and helps to solve the problems.
One of the success factors of web-based learning is creating a friendly, encouraging and supportive environment and a feeling of a close-knit learning group (a learning community). This is supported by the following activities:
- introducing yourself in the forum of the course;
- introducing the course and its organisers, greeting learners in the forum;
- asking learners to introduce themselves to others in the forum;
- at the beginning of each new topic or period, giving the learners information about the current stage and near future of the course, encouraging and motivating the learners;
- encouraging learners to communicate actively;
- responding quickly to learners’ messages, so that learners do not feel that they have been left alone in the learning environment.
The next important step for the teaching staff is monitoring the learners’ activities, guiding them, giving feedback and grading. The teacher:
- organises synchronous (chatroom, online seminar) or asynchronous (forum) discussions;
- moderates discussions by adding remarks, comments or questions;
- summarises discussions;
- gives learners feedback on participating in discussions;
- facilitates the learners’ sharing of experiences, teaching one another, mutually commenting and giving feedback on each other’s homework;
- ensures the course is progressing smoothly and as planned;
- manages the learning process – sends the learners messages about the progress of the learning process, about the submission of assignments and students’ progress, reminders;
- helps to solve the learners’ problems related to the organisation of studies;
- recommends learners to share useful resources;
- gives recommendations for independent work with the learning materials, participating in group work and discussions and completing assignments;
- monitors how the learners do their assignments, offering help and support, if needed;
- presents the points or grades given for assignments to learners;
- explains or elaborates on the learner’s answers (why an answer was right or wrong, so that learners could use this feedback for learning from their mistakes and improve their performance);
- guides the learners by helping questions and remarks and sends additional information to learners, if needed;
- asks the learners for feedback and recommendations on the content of the course, using the learning environment and the activities of the teachers and tutors to improve the course in the future
Schedule specific periods for dealing with the course and do not leave the learners alone. Make sure to read all forum posts and reply to them. On the participants’ page (the block People), you can see who has visited the course and when.
If learners in your course are expected to submit assignments, review them as soon as possible after the submission deadline. Assignments submitted in the forum can be graded directly in the forum – open the corresponding post in the forum and select the suitable grade from the drop-down menu below the post. The learner can see the grade in his/her gradebook and also below the post in the forum. To add a comment to the assignment, reply to the learner’s message.
To grade assignments submitted through the assignment tool, open the corresponding assignment and click on View/grade all submissions to see the table of all submissions or on Grading to grade submissions one by one. The learner will see the grade and the comment in his/her gradebook.
In the learning journal, you will see the entries of all students on one page. There is a drop-down menu after each entry for selecting the grade and a text box for adding the comment. If you need to change the grade or the comment during the course, you can do it in the same place. You can add the new comment below the previous one or delete the previous comment (provided that the learner has already seen it). Only the most recently selected and saved grade will be included in the gradebook.
If your course has tests which also include essay-type questions, you need to grade them manually. To do that, open the test. You will see the number of attempts made by the learners (e.g. Test attempts: 12) – click on this link. On the attempts page, you can also review and grade all other types of questions, if necessary, but you have to do it here for essay-type questions (there is a link Needs grading in the table). If you have opened the answer, click on the link Make comment or override grade. Insert the grade (points) and save – It will be added to the initial test result.
Check whether the gradebook shows exactly what you intended.