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Getting ESL online with course management systems

Best Practices:

  1. Know your goals:
    *Why are you using a CMS?
    *What do you hope students get out of using a CMS?
  2. Know your learners:
    * What do they know about the learning goals?
    * What do they know about technology?
    * Why are they in your course?
    * If it is a distance course, are they there for the right reason?
  3. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN!!!!
    * What tools do you want to use?
    * How do you want students to navigate through your course?
  4. Make sure the technology does not get in the way of the learning.
    * Know your tools - sign up for workshops at your school, befriend the technology trainers, and get a good reference book! Don't ask students to do things you don't know how to do yourself.
    * Take into account the typing proficiency of your students.
    * Create or use clear how-to guides with plenty of pictures and simple text.
    * For instances where a CMS is just a support for a Face-to-face course, provide alternatives for the technology-timid.
    * Support different learning styles (use images, video, audio, opportunities to interact, etc.)
  5. Create an Active Learning Environment.
    * Set learning goals or specific assignments for the CMS.
    * Use the Discussion Board to encourage interaction.
    * Use information gaps - have students post information they have that other students need.
    * Showcase - have students present projects and assignments to others.
    * Provide clear ways for students to get in touch with teachers and ask questions (e-mail, on-line office hours, discussion board about course questions, phone, etc.).
    * Give marks for on-line attendance and participation.
  6. Focus Attention
    * Use the CMS to highlight important information.
    * Create a task checklist for students to download.
    * Post updated and highlighted schedule or syllabus.
    * Avoid information overload.
  7. Connect Knowledge
    * Post links to related topics.
    * Incorporate multimedia.
    * Post pre-tests.
  8. Provide Timely Feedback
    * Use on-line grade book so students can check grades.
    * Show that you value and assess on-line discussions and interactions. Participate regularly in on-line discussions - students won't care if they don't think you do!
  9. Support and Scaffold
    * Use WebQuests to guide on-line information gathering.
    * Post examples of student work.
    * Post assessment rubrics.
    * Host on-line office hours in a chat environment for distance students or students with busy schedules.
    * Set up groups so students can work together (with group guidelines).
  10. Consider the 3-click rule

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last updated 3/13/2007