While we all agree that the five-year-old unnarrated PowerPoint is a dangerous and ineffective piece of content in an online course, we would also all agree that we can’t redo each narrated piece of content each semester. How do we strike a balance between creating content that is fresh (more on that in a moment) and being able to reuse content that is valuable?
For teachers it makes them participate in the content, revisit the content they created in the past, and make it delivered in a “present” time for the students. For students it tells them that the teacher “was just here,” and that this stuff is happening now. It makes the content seem more relevant, and helps build a sense of community in the course.
By creating content that has elements of real time associated with it, instructors can generate a sense of presence and freshness that are often missing in online courses.
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Lastly, keep the flowers fresh.
A sense of time is created in discussion boards because they have only that week to complete the work and there is an understanding that the conversations happen in time. But often asynchronous discussions have wide gaps of time between student interactions. One way to bring time closer to the students is to allow them to subscribe to forum threads they are involved in. You can do this in most LMS solutions. Students get an email alerting them to activity in the thread they are active in and it brings them closer “in real time” to the events happening in the class. While this can be overwhelming in larger courses, in a class of 20 or 30 students it usually does not amount to an unreasonable amount of email notifications.
One of the most effective ways to bring timeliness to an online course is do a quick recap of previous week, as well as provide a preview of what is expected for the current week. Using screen capture software to go through the course and set expectations is a great way to not only share a bit of yourself with students, but it is a pre-emptive way to answer questions students commonly ask.
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