10 Ways to Help (Online) Learners Succeed

Decorative: The word "Success" with students sitting in the letters, reading, using a laptop, etc.


10 Ways to Help Online Learners Succeed (pdf) lists "ten specific things which we can do as instructors ... to improve the learning outcomes from students studying online".

See also

1. "Give worked examples and explain their working."

  • "Students need to know how to approach a particular task and what the logic of that approach looks like."
  • "Give examples and explanations."

2. "Recognize that the class will have different skill levels."

  • "Suggest activities that fit the skill level – e.g. for those new to this work, for those with some experience, for those very familiar with this work."

3. "Set problems which do not have simple and yes/no solutions."

  • "[G]ive clues to the way in which the problem should be approached."

4. "Allow learners to control the speed at which things are delivered to them."

  • "[D]on’t present all the content in one big chunk."
  • "Let them open sections when they are ready ... [and] choose the sequence in which they study the course (this is their course)."

5. Vary the level of guidance and instruction provided.

  • "Move from high levels of guidance and instruction (making sure they have the skill and ideas scaffolding to work on) to lower levels of guidance."
  • Move to "more student-directed work over the duration of the course."

6. "Make sure you have more than one mode of delivery."

  • Consider "video + text or audio + text or audio + graphic animation."

7. Tell students why and what to look for.

  • "[A]sking students to look up material and reference is helpful (and a skill they need to develop)."
  • But. "it is also helpful to tell them why and what to look for (especially for college students and year 1 and 2 undergraduates)."

8. "Provide the study notes they need to be able to do more, faster."

  • "Provide concept maps, rules of thumb, insight notes and other resources that pull together the key ideas and skills in each section of the course."

9. In assessment, "show the student what they did right and explain what they did wrong."

  • "Marking ... provid[es] instruction – it’s called 'teaching through the script.'"
  • Give clear, actionable feedback "as to what kind of understanding/thinking errors they made and what they need to work on."

10. "In discussion forums ..., focus on the patterns of dialogue and their links to the course material.

  • "[D]o less of 'good point…' and 'you are on the right track' and more of 'what is emerging in this conversation is an understanding of X but this conversation also needs to integrate these two concepts (B and C) into this understanding so that you get the comprehensive picture of ....'"
  • "You don’t need to comment on each individual student posting, but you do need to challenge, coach and guide for a better conversation."
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