Monday, June 22, 2015

Reading and Online Students

Stack of books topped by pair of eyeglasses
As I prepare for summer term, I think about the amount of reading I expect of my online students.

In addition to the chapters, articles, websites required of my online students and their in-class counterparts, I ask my online students to read much, much more. Directions and announcements that would have been spoken in-class, are written. My instruction and redirection which may have taken the form of short presentations or lectures are converted to text. Small and large group discussions must be followed in print.

It is no wonder that online students don't remember the details I think are so clear in my syllabus or cannot always locate the date an assignment is due.

I've developed some strategies over the years to help students make their way through the mountain (or sometimes chaotic forest) of reading I ask them to do.

  • I encourage students to learn how to use the text-to-speech tools on their computer. Some find it helpful to read along as their computer reads to them.
  • I begin each module with a "module at a glance" that is formatted the same way each time. It contains a picture (emblematic of the week's topic) and headings "Read/Investigate," "Think/Write," "Discuss," and "Do."
  • I repeat key elements of the syllabus in the weekly modules as they're needed.
  • I make audio/video recordings of some of my announcements.
  • I give open text / open internet quizzes about course documents and how to navigate the course (and me).
I would love to learn what others do. If you have strategies to help students with the reading demands of online learning, please comment below.

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