Recent Posts

Common Course Design Questions: See What Your Peers Think

On June 26, thirteen SPS faculty members who will be designing courses for Winter 2018 began the Course Design Workshop, a two-week workshop about creating online learning environments, using the Quality Matters Standards, and designing an accessible course.  Throughout the workshop, nearly all of the workshop participants enthusiastically engaged in discussions of effective online course design and instruction. The participants brought their many and varied experiences as educators to the discussions. The following is a summary of the major themes and insights and questions that emerged. How do you help students understand the main ideas in your course? Organizing content


Professional Development Opportunities for Online Instructors

Introduction You may be a seasoned online instructor or new to teaching online. Either way, you’re looking for a professional development opportunity: something to refresh your skills or spark new ideas, a way to connect with your peers, or a way to distinguish yourself in your practice. Here are 8 professional development ideas, ranging from free activities you could start tomorrow through more considered options that require a significant investment of time and resources. 1. Join an academic community at Northwestern. Northwestern has many different academic communities and fellowship programs that you may consider participating in, either from a distance


Vetting Web Tools for Accessibility

Recently, Instructional Technologist William Guth has written about Web 2.0 Selection Criteria, which help online learning faculty and staff select the best web tools for their course. One of those criteria is making sure that the tool is accessible. But how can you find out? Given the vast variety of tools available, it’s a tough question to answer. But there are a few things you can do to make sure that a web tool has some degree of accessibility for students. What does accessibility mean? In this instance, accessibility means making sure that a tool can be accessed and interacted


USB Mic Comparison

Would you agree that bad audio can ruin a good video, presentation, or recording? Most certainly. A few months back, we identified tools for recording interview audio on the go. Today, we’ll listen to and compare five USB microphones, illustrate their uses in online instruction, and identify a few principles that will help us get the best results. Why can’t I use a headset microphone? For web conference purposes, a headset microphone will suffice, but not for much else. Reason being? Bit Depth and Sample Rate. Combined, Bit Depth and Sample Rate are the principles at play when digitally capturing


Best Practices for Synchronous Sessions

Introduction You’ve built engagement into every corner of your online course. You’ve got ways for students to interact with you, the instructor, through video and audio, assignment feedback, and discussion posts. Students interact with each other in large group discussions and small group projects. Don’t stop there! Even with a robust engagement strategy in place, some students in online programs may still feel disconnected from their instructors. One way to combat this is through the use of synchronous sessions. I know what you’re thinking. How will working students have the time to join a sync session every week? It is