With the Design and Development phase of the course complete, the Delivery phase commences. The instructor now executes the instructional plan, actively instructing the course, monitoring progress and discussions, assessing work, and communicating with learners. During this phase the learning environment is further analyzed, to observe learner use and interaction and to check the accessibility and efficacy of the design. Information and feedback collected during this phase can be used to further revise and enhance the course.
Communication between the instructor and learners, both at a course and individual level, is essential in an online course to establish presence and to develop a sense of community. The instructor's role is to convey information and news about the course schedule, assignments and content and provide encouragement and feedback to learners.
Learners at a distance face unique challenges, including their geographic location and studying independently. Feelings of detachment, loneliness, and a lack of engagement are key factors contributing to underperformance and dropping out. To some degree this can be addressed through group work and discussions, but establishing a connection between the learner and instructor is important as well, especially since the online learner and instructor are not likely to meet in person.
Start with a welcoming message posted in the Announcement area of mycourselink/D2L, but also connect on an individual level. In courses with smaller numbers, write an individualized email, in larger courses, post in the discussion board.
To help build your connection with the learners in your course, be available and encourage them to ask questions. Let learners know when and how they can connect with you, and how quickly they can expect a response. Be open to connecting through multiple methods.
This interaction benefits individual learners by allowing them to discuss and clarify content, assignments, and their individual progress. The instructor receives insight about how the course is progressing for individuals and the class as a whole, and has an opportunity to identify difficult areas or topics that may require more attention.
Discussions, both asynchronous (non-real-time) and synchronous (real-time), are useful for engaging the learner in the course content and topics. When facilitating a discussion, model good response practices; any postings or contributions should be an example for learners to follow. Promote inclusive and considerate practices. For example, if posting a video or audio response, include a transcript, or if posting resources, include a selection of alternative ways to access the content.
Use the Announcement feature in mycourselink/D2L to communicate regularly with the entire class. Post a welcome message, prompt learners to begin readings or assignments, and remind learners about important dates or changes. This small interaction can help learners who have difficulties planning, to schedule their time appropriately. These types of regular posting can also keep learners engaged with the course and be a helpful reminder of course activities.
When communicating with learners, be consistent in your use of language. Ensure you are using the terminology and naming structures established in mycourselink/D2L, use topics and terms that have been defined in the course, and define any new terms you may use. Avoid the use of jargon that the learner may not fully comprehend.
Learners bring a diverse range of experiences, cultures, beliefs, and perspectives to the learning environment. Consider an individual's uniqueness and be thoughtful and sensitive when selecting resources, designing content and assignments, and communicating with learners.
- “Building Community in Online Courses”
- “Increasing Instructor Presence in Online Courses”
- “Enhancing Student Engagement in Online Courses”
- “6 Ways to Use Videos for Learning and Engagement”
- “Synchronous Online Classes: 10 Tips for Engagement”
- “Role Playing in Online Education: A Teaching Tool to Enhance Student Engagement and Sustained Learning”
Feedback is the contact between the instructor and a learner in relation to the progress towards the learning outcomes, reflections on assignments and activity performance, and is intended to be supportive of progress and improvement.
Everyone makes mistakes; use your feedback to guide your learner's progress. Offering insightful comments or thought provoking questions can help reframe a learner's thought process and help them navigate to a successful completion. Vague, unclear or highly critical comments can negatively affect the learning. Instead, use constructive criticism and helpful feedback to avoid creating confusion, discouragement, and disengagement.
Connect often with your learners and give frequent feedback on assignments, activities, and discussions. This gives them an update on their progress within the course and can help them build their learning strategy and work towards the learning outcomes.
Both peer and instructor feedback can be beneficial in correcting misconceptions, clarifying tasks and assignments, and building knowledge, but in order to be useful it must be provided in a timely manner. Some tools in mycourselink/D2L can also provide automated feedback so that users can instantaneously assess their performance and understanding.