Like many faculty members, you may enjoy the time flexibility and time-shifting that can occur when teaching online, but there are definitely time considerations. Teaching online carries with it time adjustments that you should recognize and factor in to your professional (and sometimes personal) life.
Connecting and communicating with students online takes time. Discussion forums will extend and strengthen the social interaction that occurs naturally in a face to face class. Students who were otherwise shy, or at least not participative in the live discussion in a f2f class, will often come out of their shells and spend a great deal of time participating in the online discussion. Students who tend to dominate live discussions will still participate in the online discussion, but others will have a chance to respond because the discussion is asynchronous and extended over time.
However, these benefits come at a price. Time requirements need to be carefully considered for both students and faculty. Managing time is critical in order to prevent students from leaving because of lack of interaction and to make sure faculty do not over-or under-do the time on task in an online course. Over-doing it could result in faculty burnout and under-doing it could result in lower student retention. A balance needs to be found that will work for everyone involved.
Janie Sullivan, an educator from Arizona with nearly twenty years experience teaching in higher education, provided the following Time Management Tips for Online Teachers
Web Learning Curve
Part of your time management process will be the learning curve in the use of the Blackboard learning management system or other online website you use, such as a wiki. Not only do you need to know how to use these sites, but you must be prepared for upgrades and new releases of the software, something which always seems to add challenges.
Take the Focus off the Technology
Just as you need to learn how to use Blackboard, your students will also require some time. Here are some strategies that you can use to help the students right away, saving time and taking the focus off the technology and putting it on the content.
- Structure the course carefully
- Use the discussion forums extensively
- Do not overload the students the first two weeks
- Publish the course schedule in several places in the CMS
- Let the students help each other