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Positive Teaching: What is it and what does it mean for online learning?

Posted on January 14th, 2013 by

How can one define positive teaching? What is it, and what makes “positive teaching different from the opposite (which, I guess, would be “negative” teaching)?

One wdefinition of positive teaching may be, positive teaching is a set of teacher behaviors that helps set an atmosphere that is conducive to learning. The problem with this definition is that it is very broad, and leaves what exactly positive teaching is open to interpretation.

But maybe it should be. Teaching entails a broad array of behaviors, some of which may be constructive or destructive, depending upon the topic or the student. Perhaps it gets even more complicated when we talk about positive teaching in an online environment, where teaching methods may have to change considerably from the “traditional” teaching environment.

In the end, positive teaching can possibly be boiled down to a set of best practices that can be applied to the online classroom. Dr. J.V. Boettcher proposes this list of best practices for the online classroom that could be considered teacher behaviors falling under the “positive teaching” definition.

How would you define positive teaching? Do the behaviors identified by Dr. Boettcher typify positive teaching for the online classroom?


Tackling the Myths of Online Accessibility

Posted on October 19th, 2012 by

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) for equal access, communication and auxiliary aids, web accessibility for persons with disabilities is required for institutions that provide a service.    So what makes an online course accessible?  What is universal design?

Before we dive into this topic, we should first explain the difference between accessible and universal design.

Making a course accessible, simply means that it is designed to include the needs of people whose physical, mental, or environmental conditions limit their performance. Whereas a universally designed course is a broader, more comprehensive “design-for-all” approach to the development of learning around human diversity.  Universal Design recognizes the changing diversity of needs important to all types of people regardless of their varying age, ability, or condition, during an entire life.

If we universally design everything from the start we maximize usability across populations.

Let’s take a look at some top myths surrounding making an online course accessible.


The Pros & Cons of Synchronous Learning in an Asynchronous World

Posted on September 17th, 2012 by

Before we can start our discussion, we must start on some common ground. In this case some common understanding of the differences between Synchronous Learning and Asynchronous Learning.

  • —Synchronous learning refers to a group of people learning the same things at the same time in the same place.
  • —Asynchronous learning is a student-centered teaching method that uses online learning resources to facilitate information sharing outside the constraints of time and place among a network of people.

Bellevue University’s traditional classes are an example of synchronous learning, while our CyberActive model is asynchronous learning. Over the years we have delivered outstanding asynchronous classes but could the addition of synchronous learning elements improve our asynchronous learning environment?


Reinventing the Wheel: Open Source vs. Original Content

Posted on August 13th, 2012 by

Is open source content the wave of the future, or is it just another tool in the toolbox?

Universities across the country are starting to search for answers to this question. Some, like MIT, are embracing the concept to its fullest by sharing entire courses worth of videos, notes, presentation slides, and assessments. Outside forces like Khan’s Academy are growing in both popularity and impact. Many other universities and institutions are taking a “wait and see” approach, choosing not to engage the issue until they have a better understanding of where it leads.

Certainly, there are many pros and cons to the idea of making or using open source content. By producing and sharing work with the intention that others will copy or modify it, we promote quality and reduced cost education. By acquiring, altering, and using content created by others, we expand our resource base and gain access to potentially high quality product. In the eyes of some, this creates a scenario in which people everywhere could have access to a reasonably-priced, high quality learning experience.


What will the online classroom of the future look like?

Posted on July 19th, 2012 by

The rapid advance of technology, ubiquitous smart phones and other mobile devices, the popularity of social websites, and many other factors will likely change the online classroom of the future. In fact, we have seen online learning change from when it first appeared years ago, after the advent of the World Wide Web. It used to be that the online classroom was a repository for instructor lecture notes and reading assignments. Communication with faculty was often accomplished via email or telephone. There was little interaction between students and faculty, and between classmates. Interaction with the content was limited to reading the lecture notes, and the reading assignments and writing papers.

The web has evolved, and so have our expectations of how we should be using it to teach. The availability of new authoring tools and increasing knowledge of Flash and HTML, along with new ideas about how to use these applications has helped us to be able to create richer learning for students online. It is inevitable that new technology and new practices that evolve from our understanding of how to use the technology will continue to change the ways we learn online.


Moving Beyond Mobile Learning…

Posted on June 19th, 2012 by

Where you around when we began the space race? Did you know that NASA used the biggest, best, most sophisticated computers to design and launch the space program? Would it surprise you that the smart phone in your pocket has more computing power than all the computers that NASA used? There is a movement out there called iSchool, that is helping schools become more mobile.  So what do you think about this statement: “Educators need to start reaching out to this technological advance or will be left behind.”  Do you agree?  Or disagree?

Tomi Ahonen (most published author in the mobile industry who released his twelfth book in 2011 and ex-Nokia executive) calls Mobile the 7th Mass Media. He also says that mobile devices are the first personal mass media device, it is carried almost everywhere.  What do you think about this?


Cloud Computing Slides

Posted on May 16th, 2012 by

Thanks to everyone who attended our session today and contributed to our discussion on cloud computing.  A special thanks to Ron Woerner for his insight and assistance with the facilitation of the discussion.  As promised, here are the slides from today’s presentation, with the “bonus” content.  Enjoy!

May 2012 ETT Roundtable Slides

In the Cloud…a discussion on cloud computing

Posted on May 15th, 2012 by

The May roundtable discussion focuses on the topic of cloud-based applications.  Come out and join in the discussion of  the advantages that these applications have to offer and how they can enhance learning.

Ron Woerner, Professor and Director of CyberSecurity Studies, will share some of his favorite cloud-based applications and discuss how to safely and smartly use Cloud technologies in education.

How do you connect with your online students?

Posted on April 16th, 2012 by

The April roundtable discussion centers on connecting with online students.  Research has shown that students who have a personal connection to a teacher are more engaged in the course and achieve at higher levels academically.

Forming these types of relationships with students in a classroom is much different than trying to accomplish the same thing at a distance.  Face-to-face instructors are able to create an emotionally stimulating environment intuitively, whereas using technology reduces the capacity of the instructor to engage the audience and adjust their style of delivery as needed.

There are three common methods for instructors to connect with their students and create the academic relationships that will help them excel.  Communication, collaboration, and discussion are inherent parts of the teaching process.  These elements are common to both classroom and online environments, but they are not incorporated in the same way. (more…)

Social Media in the Classroom

Posted on March 20th, 2012 by

We are excited to start this discussion with all of you. Social Media over time has moved from being a way that “kids” communicated to a way for them to learn. This is a very powerful tool and there are many applications out on the web that you might already be using without knowing it.

We opened the discussion with a few online polls (using

Poll One “Do you personally use any social media?” We had 13 people respond:

  • 3+ – 10 people
  • 2 – 1 person
  • 1 – 0
  • 0 – 1 person

Poll  Two “Are you interested in using social media in class or official role?

  • Yes – 12 people
  • No – 1 person (more…)