Using Social Media to Support Online Teaching

Even if you haven’t been a social media maven in the past, the recent shift to online learning is pushing all of us to use social media to its fullest.  Social media can be a great resource to turn to to gather information and inspiration about online education. Here are some tips to help you use social media to support your online teaching!

Facebook groups are a great way to connect with educators and see how others have made the shift to online learning. Meeting other instructors who are enthusiastic about your subject matter can help you transition more seamlessly to online learning and see your course topic in a whole new light!  Some of these groups have covered topics as diverse as teaching studio art online, teaching theater online, and more. No matter your subject matter, you can find other educators sharing ideas on creatively switching their classes to brand new formats.

Are you tweeting yet?! If so, Twitter can be another great place to gather ideas from other educators and connect with instructors just as passionate about online learning as you are. Searching for popular online education hashtags such as #EdTech and #OnlineLearning is a useful way to find new educational technology suggestions and online learning ideas.

Lastly, you can connect to a vast repository of resources through the POD Network’s Google Group – a forum that instructional designers and online instructors use to discuss and share resources on a large variety of online learning topics. The POD Network is a great place to ask questions and collaborate with instructors who are curious about the same topics that you are!

Online Learning isn’t a challenge, it’s an opportunity! An opportunity to get innovative about your class, engage your students in new and creative ways, and forge connections with like-minded instructors across the world. Online learning reminds us that one of the most powerful aspects of online education, and the internet as a whole, is its ability to connect us – and your class can be a force in accomplishing this!

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

10 Advantages of Online Classes

The following is a guest post by Jaclyn Gulinello, an instructional design intern at Touro College. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

According to the OEDb (open education database), there are 10 advantages to taking online classes. As an instructional designer I could probably argue that there are more, but let’s start with 10 for now. Here is a list of the 10 advantages to taking an online class.

1.Variety of programs and courses:

Almost every college offers a variety of online courses for varying degrees. From career certificate programs, to doctoral programs, and everything in between. Higher education today offers more options to students than ever before.

2.Lower total costs:

In some cases, online programs can prove to be a more affordable option. Although tuition expenses may not always be lower, the other expenses associated with higher education might be. For instance, there are no commuting costs, and very often instructors might offer online text or learning materials so that students do not have to purchase textbooks.

3.More comfortable learning environment:

Have you ever seen images of students in an online class while in their pajamas? Well that’s often a highlight of learning online. As, someone who has taken online classes, I much prefer to take a 3-hour course from the comfort of my own couch rather than a hard, uncomfortable chair in a classroom. It’s also more comfortable when I can take a needed bathroom break, get up to stretch my legs, or even grab something to eat, whereas in a classroom environment, that may not be possible. The best part about it is that after a long day, and a long class, there’s not much of a commute from the couch to the bed.

4.Convenience and flexibility:

Most higher education students are juggling a work/life balance in addition to their academic responsibilities. The appeal of online learning for some is the fact that they have the flexibility to learn on their own time. For many online learners, earning a degree would not be possible if they did not have the option of online education. Most online learners appreciate the fact that they can log on after they put the kids to bed, or on weekends, or on the commute home. For many, flexibility is key.

5.More interaction and greater ability to concentrate:

While many might argue that online learning does not provide enough opportunity for student interaction, online learning actually invites in a variety of collaborative social opportunities. From my own personal experience, I’ve had more meaningful interaction through my online learning experience than I ever did in face to face classroom settings. I knew all of my classmates by name, we talked on several occasions, and provided support to one another when it was needed. Online learning provides a community atmosphere that adds a key social element into the learning experience.

6.Career advancement:

Online courses are accessible to anyone, especially those who are looking to switch careers, get a degree to advance their career, or to increase salary. Students can take courses while working, in-between jobs, and even while raising their families. Earning a degree while juggling other responsibilities can show prospective employers ambitiousness and the desire for continued professional development.

7.Continue in your profession

The advantage of taking online classes while you are working is that you do not have to choose between leaving your job and taking classes. You can continue to work your normal hours while simultaneously furthering your education. Many companies also offer education incentives, and some companies will even pay tuition costs.

8.Avoid commuting

Whether you live in a big city or a rural suburb, commuting can not only be frustrating, but costly. Many online students report saving money on gas, tolls, or public transportation when taking classes online. They also appreciate the time it saves them. As someone who has had to commute to class, it often took two hours out of my day in commuting as well as up to $30 per week in commuting costs.

9.Improve your technical skills

Even a basic online course requires the development of new computer skills. Taking online classes exposes the student to learning how to use different LMSs (learning management systems) to incorporate audio/video into assignments, sharing documents, and even to take some online training workshops.

10.The ability to attend class no matter the circumstances

This by far was one of the biggest appeals to online learning for me. If I wasn’t feeling well, I wasn’t forced to miss class and fall behind on assignments. I was still able to attend class from my bed and to stay on top of my work. In addition, this can be helpful for parents with sick children. If they are forced to stay home and take care of their sick children, they can still log on to class, and do not have to deal with the added stress of falling behind on their coursework.

If I were going to add an eleventh advantage, I would add one on behalf of the instructors teaching these online courses. While every single one of these advantages does also apply to the instructor, the most important advantage for instructors, in my opinion, is that teaching online classes forces the instructor to get creative with their instruction. An online course is most successful when instructors think outside the box when creating online assignments. This can be incredibly rewarding and fun for an instructor as well as the student. Both parties need to have the right attitude when going into online learning. In my experience, my passion for learning and my excitement for expanding my technology skills fueled my success in online education. As an instructor, or a student, your passion for education must be greater than your fears of technology. Whether you are a novice computer user or advanced, online learning is universal, and can be extremely advantageous to those who are willing to learn.

Author’s Bio: Jaclyn Gulinello is currently attending the graduate school of technology at Touro College, and is pursuing a degree in Educational Technology. While Jaclyn is currently on the corporate track, she also has a background in education and obtained a B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in speech communications. Jaclyn would like to apply her knowledge of teaching methods, creativity skills and her interest in emerging technologies to eventually become an instructional designer. She is currently working on various projects as an Instructional Design Intern at Touro College, and will go on to become an ID upon her graduation in June 2020 from the Touro Graduate School of Technology.

5 Tips for Delivering Assessments During Covid-19

The following is a guest post by Jaclyn Gulinello, an instructional design intern at Touro College. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

While assessments are an essential component of education – they’re not one size fits all! It’s important to deliver online exams that best suit the type of learning that took place for your students. In the online space, you have a wide variety of assessment techniques available. This assortment can enable you as an instructor to deliver the most efficient and effective exams to assess your students’ progress.  Here are 5 tips for delivering assessments in an online environment.

1.Prioritize Informal Assessments

Informal assessments are often used in the traditional classroom by a simple means of asking questions to students. With distance learning, informal assessments can occur just as simply in the form of online discussions boards, quizzes, essays, and asking questions through synchronous Zoom meetings. You can use many online learning tools for informal assessments that engage your students and check for understanding.

2. Use Turnitin for Written Assignments and Essays

Written assignments such as essays and research papers are a great method of determining student comprehension.  Turnitin is a plagiarism detection software system that helps to maintain academic integrity standards, so that you can ensure there is no misuse of information or plagiarism. Simply have your students submit their papers through the system, to take the guess work out of plagiarism!

3. Use Respondus Products for High Stakes Assessments

While it is recommended that high stakes tests are not administered at this time, we do understand that a midterm or a final exam will still need to be delivered. Respondus Lockdown Browser® is a customized browser that increases the security of test delivery while students access an exam. It prevents their ability to print, copy, go out on the web, or access other applications. Respondus Monitor enables use of a webcam and flags suspicious activity while a student is taking an exam.  When using these tools, it is important to administer a practice test using the browser before the actual exam. There are other products on the market that may also assist with test security.

4. Be Mindful of Timed Exams

Often times, faculty may end up providing students with timed exam to deter cheating. However, timed exams can potentially create unnecessary stress for students as their focus may be on speed rather than knowledge. Should you need to deliver a timed exam, it is best to consider providing students with the same time allotment as you would in your traditional classroom space.

5. Check in Frequently With Your Students

With all of us going through a tough time at the moment, it’s important for instructors to remain informed on students current situations as certain situation will directly impact their academic standing.  Student value the opportunity to interact and hear from you. Let your students know that they are not alone by sending an announcement, or email to check-in.

This transition to online learning has forced many of us to think differently about the way we teach. While we are all doing our best to adapt accordingly, it is important to keep in mind that many of us are stressed and/or facing difficult situations. Doing you best to keep students on track, while empathizing with the current state of the things will improve communication and sense of community among you and your students. 

Author’s Bio: Jaclyn Gulinello is currently attending the graduate school of technology at Touro College, and is pursuing a degree in Educational Technology. While Jaclyn is currently on the corporate track, she also has a background in education and obtained a B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in speech communications. Jaclyn would like to apply her knowledge of teaching methods, creativity skills and her interest in emerging technologies to eventually become an instructional designer. She is currently working on various projects as an Instructional Design Intern at Touro College, and will go on to become an ID upon her graduation in June 2020 from the Touro Graduate School of Technology.

Utilizing Technology to Stay Happy and Healthy: A Personal Account

The following is a guest post by Jaclyn Gulinello, an instructional design intern at Touro College. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

The Pandemic of 2020 is what they will call it. When we are older, we will tell our children and grandchildren the stories of long grocery lines, the great toilet paper shortage, the quarantine, and how we came together as a country, and even on a global scale to help each other get through a very difficult time. I hope that after this is all over, we have realized what is truly important to us, and can find some positivity in all the negative that has transpired.

It’s been over a month of quarantine for me as I sit to write this. Everyone else has been in their homes for about 2 weeks, but it’s been a lot longer for me as I’ve been struggling with illnesses since February. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, which is something I never had the time to do before. I was so busy with work, school, etc., that I simply could not even muster the energy at the end of the day to reflect on my life. Something I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to. I often felt overwhelmed, lost, and anxious. Again, something I’m sure many of you can relate to.

This time home has left me with much time for reflection and even prayer. What I’ve come to realize is that this is a time for healing for us all. Maybe this is exactly what we needed. Those of us who needed to spend more time with their families, or mend broken relationships, or even to spend more time with ourselves to cultivate self-growth.

Personally, this has been an eye-opening experience. I’ve felt the anxiety of the unknown, been sicker than I have in a very long time, and I’ve been forced to slow down. I’ve been forced to address my anxieties and deal with them in a healthy way. I’ve been forced to see my strength and to trust my body. I’ve been forced to put myself and my health first. I’ve also found something, or many things, to be grateful for every single day. Something that I had struggled with at times in the past. I’ve used this opportunity to speak with people in my life that I was too busy to talk to in the past, and to find ways to keep in touch through video chat and Facetime. I’ve learned patience, which is something I never thought I would ever be able to conquer.

Technology has become something I’m very grateful for during this quarantine. Technology has gotten a bad rap over the years, particularly in the realm of Education, but it is technology that is allowing many people to continue to work, and keeping people connected in this time of isolation. It’s allowing students like me to not only keep their jobs, but continue to attend classes so that I can earn my Graduate degree. It’s keeping people sane and connected in a way that wouldn’t have been possible in the past.

I’m sure that you are all familiar with Zoom by now and are using it to attend your classes online. If you’re like me, the thought of putting on makeup to look presentable at this point is just way too much effort. Well there’s a zoom hack that can help with that. It’s called “Touch up my Appearance” in your Zoom settings. Click on the link below to read more about how to use Zoom. There is also Google Chat that you can use to chat with family and friends, and if you’re tired of watching TV alone you can Netflix and chill with a friend through NetflixParty. It’s only available through Chrome so you will need that extension.

Another amazing thing happening with regards to technology right now is that many companies are offering free access to their sites and tools during the pandemic. Right now, you can go online and take a free exercise class, learn ballet, meditate, or attend a museum right from the comfort of your own home. The other night I joined a live webcam and watched the northern lights light up the night sky over Canada. Today, I sent my friend a link to a virtual Harry Potter escape room for her son. There are amazing resources that are available to students, parents, and educators right now, and you should be taking advantage of them. (Click below for a list of links to some of these resources.)

So, to conclude, while yes this is a scary time for everyone, you can still find the positive in the negative. Be that person. Work on yourself, meditate, pray, exercise, call that person you’ve been wanting to talk to and have coffee over video chat. Play that game with your kids and focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have right now. I’m sure you will find that you have more than you thought. At the very least what we need to have is hope. Hope that we will all get through this a little wiser, a little kinder, a little closer, and a little better than we were before.

Resources for Video Chat:

https://www.zoom.us/

https://meet.google.com/

https://houseparty.com/

https://www.netflixparty.com/

Free Apps and other Resources :

https://www.duolingo.com/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2020/03/18/these-historic-sites-attractions-are-offering-virtual-tours-during-coronavirus-pandemic/

https://www.metopera.org/

Free Apps for Kids:

https://elearningindustry.com/10-top-educational-apps-for-kids

Free Exercise Videos:

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/21/free-online-workouts-available-during-the-coronavirus-quarantine.html

Author’s Bio: Jaclyn Gulinello is currently attending the graduate school of technology at Touro College, and is pursuing a degree in Educational Technology. While Jaclyn is currently on the corporate track, she also has a background in education and obtained a B.A. in Early Childhood Education with a minor in speech communications. Jaclyn would like to apply her knowledge of teaching methods, creativity skills and her interest in emerging technologies to eventually become an instructional designer. She is currently working on various projects as an Instructional Design Intern at Touro College, and will go on to become an ID upon her graduation in June 2020 from the Touro Graduate School of Technology.

7 Tips for Going Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the closure of schools around the world, online learning has become the viable modality of maintaining instructional continuity through enabling students to continue learning outside of the confines of the in-person classroom. The following tips offer starting points for transitioning your classroom online.

1. Maintain Clear Communication – Especially in times of uncertainty, it is important to maintain consistent contact with your students. Let them know how they can get in touch with you, how often they can expect to receive course updates, and where they can go to find course info. A sample email or announcement may look like this- Sample Announcement

2. Make Your Course Engaging  – Online learning presents a vastly different learning environment than a physical classroom, and this presents an opportunity for you to get creative with your instruction. Digital technologies such as Padlet (a visual discussion board tool), Flipgrid (a pre-recorded video response tool), and Quizlet (a flashcard system with live team game settings) all have free options that can easily be incorporated into your online course.

Padlet
Flipgrid

3. Use New Technologies to Stay on Schedule – Now is a the time to brush up on those technical skills. As an instructor you have the opportunity to expand your reach to students by mastering new digital learning tools. Use Zoom to present content and share related information. Upload your course materials to the institution’s learning management system (LMS), such as Blackboard and Canvas, so that students can access them. Communicate with your students digitally through the use of  LMS features, such as Announcements or email. Use technology to stay in touch and on schedule during this critical time. Contact your local IT for support or assistance with gaining access and using these technologies.

4. Group Activities Promote a Sense of Community – Although your class may have shifted online, the social aspect of learning still remains vital to your student’s academic success. Use LMS and other technology tool features to encourage interaction among you and your students.

Examples include:

  • Discussion boards – be sure to be an active participant yourself, and encourage your students to post thoughtful and nuanced answers to other students responses.
  • Zoom- Zoom breakout rooms, which allow you to split your Zoom meeting into separate rooms, each with different participants.
  • The groups function in your LMS, which enables you to assign students to different groups to work on an assignment.
Image result for zoom break out rooms
Zoom Breakout Rooms

5. Be Flexible – Think objectively about the assignments you have planned for this semester, and decide which ones can most effectively be translated to online learning. If an assignment or assessment does not easily translate online, perhaps it should be replaced with an alternative. For example, an in-person test might be replaced with a semester long project or essay assignment. A live lecture might become a pre-recorded asynchronous lecture using a screencasting technology. Consider how learning can best be accomplished with the tools and resources available to you and your students.


6. Remain Positive and Supportive – You probably were not planning to teach online this semester, but that does not mean you won’t learn something new from this experience. Be open-minded and willingly to adapt to this new way of learning in a challenging time. Remain positive and supportive of your students and be sure to make time for you own self-care.

7. Ask for Support and Collaborate – Remember to ask for support when you need it. Your institution’s local IT, online education department is ready to support you during this time of need. Reach out to them, attend trainings, and be cognizant of your own wellness in making this transition to online. Also reach out and collaborate with your fellow faculty members, they are going through a similar situation and may be able to share insight about what they are doing to make this transition successful. 

Got any tips to share for faculty members transitioning classes online? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Lecture Breakers Podcast: 5 Ways to Help Students Succeed in Online Courses

In this episode of Lecture Breakers, a podcast devoted to helping educators teach in more engaging ways, Holly Owens (Assistant Director of Online Education at Touro College) shares 5 ways to help students succeed in online courses. Holly discusses course design strategies to increase student engagement and ways to leverage technology tools to improve learning.

Check out more episodes at the Lecture Breakers website!

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Why You Should Use Videos in Your E-learning Courses

The following is a guest post by Victor Blasco, an audiovisual designer and video marketing expert. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

If you are looking for ways to improve your e-learning courses, then you’ve surely thought about using videos.

As we move onward towards a more interconnected world, video content is a key piece in figuring out the digital landscape. Why, you ask? Well, it’s simple, really. Videos are more engaging than plain text and more dynamic than still images.

People studying online are looking to get the most information in the shortest amount of time, and there’s no better tool to accomplish that than educational video content. However, ask any skilled video production company about it, and they’ll tell you that outside some specialized platforms, it is rarely being used to its fullest potential.

In this piece, we are going to talk a bit about five major reasons why you want to start introducing effective video pieces into your e-learning courses (and how to make the most out of them.)

Let’s get started!

Storytelling as An Education Device

Ever since the first cave paintings, humans have been drawn to stories. There’s just something about witnessing a character go through a situation that speaks to us on a deeper level. But when it comes to using video to overcome online learning challenges, not just any old tale will do!

There are rules and limitations to these pieces, and you need to learn to work within their framework to have them work. While not comprehensive, these tips should set you on the right path when creating videos for your e-learning courses.

1) Likable Character

Let’s start by stating that “likable” isn’t the same as ordinary. Your students need more than ordinary to focus long enough to get the message you are trying to convey across. No, when I say likable, I mean easy to get along with, to form a strong connection to them, regardless of how short the piece actually is.

Generating empathy for a piece’s character helps viewers put themselves in the character’s shoes and better understand the examples and ideas being shown. So, try to avoid generic templates for your video’s protagonists and start with the right foot by establishing them strongly in the first act.

2) An Interesting Plot Point

Here’s is where your story gets exciting! Once you’ve introduced your character, it’s time for the story (and message) to evolve. Now, you don’t have to be dramatic, but please be interesting!

All it takes is a compelling problem, a memento of crisis, or a simple dilemma whose implications affect your character. Since your audience will already feel related to your character, they cannot remain indifferent to this problem. They’ll have an easier time getting invested.

Do it right, and those interesting plot points will spur curiosity and boost engagement in your video.

3) Finish strong with the Takeaway

Remember all those children’s stories that ended with a clear-cut moral lesson? It was an effective formula for thousands of years for a good reason!

The ending of your piece should sum up what your character, and thus your audience, learned from the story. It’s the third act of your video, in which you explain the goal of your video and lay down your lesson.

More Information in Less Time

Videos condense and convey information more efficiently than other media, leading to faster learning. Just look at the explainer video formula, for instance. They are the best examples of short pieces that provide a simple answer to a complex problem. And they work perfectly whether you’re trying to explain a complex concept or going over the steps of a process.

Longer videos tend to lose the attention span of your audience sooner or later, which is why you want to keep your videos as short as possible — condensing your most important messages within the first few minutes.

And whenever you’re going way over the 4-minute mark, remember to end with a summary of the main points you want the audience to walk away with.

Are you dealing with a very long course? Don’t panic! You can always separate it in short-format videos. This way, you can also improve the planning of your course by setting short-term goals.

Oh, and on the topic of attention…

Video Increases Message Retention

Video has many advantages over any of the traditional types of content, but this is one of the most powerful.

Videos give you the creative freedom to use a whole range of visual aids like simple animations, sound queues, charts… it’s your call! Creative use of visual aids will have your piece feel more engaging and fresher.

That said, this is also where it gets tricky. Keep your content well-structured and never lose focus on the objectives of the course. Use as many resources as you want, but be careful not to overdo it! Aids should always help your audience in their learning without becoming a distraction!

Your best pal to make sure you hit the sweet spot? Editing. We can’t stress enough how essential editing is for making your video look professional. A dynamic and clean editing style will make your video cohesive and adds to the learning experience, not detract from it.

Empathy and Emotional Resonance

“Feelings” is not a topic we usually consider when it comes to teaching, but you should never underestimate the role emotions play in our learning. Making an emotional connection with your audience is key, especially if you want your message to stick with them long after the content is over.

After all, it’s most likely that you’ll remember the teachers that made you feel something, as opposed to those that merely droned on.

Your educational videos will be more effective at engaging your audience if you get emotions into the mix. You can use imagery that causes a strong sense of familiarity in your viewers. Or you can highlight how your lessons can have a direct impact on your viewers’ everyday life.

Either way, you must remember that your audience will always react to content that makes them feel something. People remember feelings stronger than facts – Combine both, and you’ll have a powerful mix in your hands.

Accessibility and Availability are Key

In this day and age, you can stream high-quality videos on any computer, tablet, or smartphone from almost anywhere. This means that while using video, your audience will have access to your lessons from practically everywhere and at all times. Can you think of a more convenient and flexible way of teaching?

Accessibility will motivate your students to incorporate your courses into their daily routine. People even use the term “m-learning” (or mobile learning) when talking about learning using personal electronic devices. Being able to learn through a mobile device seems like a fantastic and utopian idea… and it’s real!

This also sets a couple of technical requirements for your video. First of all, it might be a good idea to include subtitles, since you never know the audio quality of the device used by your audience. Also, optimizing the technical aspects of your piece (resolution, file size) is also a great idea, as it makes it easier for your audience to download or stream.

In Short

If you’re looking for a way to boost engagement in your e-learning courses, then video is the answer. Audiences are drawn to well-structured audiovisual experiences, with professional editing and an effective way of communicating.

We all know that a bad or boring lesson can bring our hopes down and make us abandon that passion for learning about something altogether.

Video can give you an excellent medium to prevent that from ever happening!

Author’s Bio: Victor Blasco is an audiovisual designer, video marketing expert, and founder/CEO of the explainer video company Yum Yum Videos. Besides running the business, he’s a lifelong student of Chinese philosophy and a passionate geek for all things sci-fi.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

3 Tech Tools to Increase Participation in Virtual Discussions

Perhaps one of the most attractive features of online learning is its potential for more effectively engaging a diverse student population. But even though online learning environments can flatten many of the social hierarchies that create challenges for some students in face-to-face classrooms, creating engaging virtual environments where students can connect to fellow classmates and participate in meaningful discussions remains a challenge for many faculty. Discussion boards are a key means of encouraging peer interaction in an online class, but too often, discussion boards are often set up in a standard question/response format, and fail to bring students into engaging dialogue. In this blog post, I want to introduce you to some easy-to-use tech tools have the potential to solve this problem, by providing exciting and innovative ways for virtual discussion to take place and increasing student engagement. Read below to learn more about three tech tools that can be especially interesting for students: Padlet, Flipgrid, and Yellowdig.

  1. Padlet: Padlet is an exciting collaborative tool great for group work, projects, and discussions that’s free for educators and students. You can start by creating a simple visual board, and then students can easily add to the board in a variety of ways including video, images, screen recordings, audio recordings, links, and text. Asking a general guiding question and then leaving the response open-ended for the students can be a great way to stimulate discussions and allow students to respond creatively and in a variety of formats. What’s more, Padlet is easy to embed into a LMS page – simply click on the share button, copy the embed code, and paste it into your LMS page by opening the HTML editor (just look for the button that’s labeled with “<>.”)
  • 2. Flipgrid: Flipgrid is a great tool that enables instructors to create video discussion boards. Educators can kick off discussions with a short video outlining the discussion question, and then students can easily respond and debate with each other by recording their own short videos. The focus on a video format introduces a more personal feeling into the virtual classroom by enabling students to see and hear each other, as opposed to an entirely text-based discussion. Like Padlet, Flipgrid is free, and easy to link out to or embed.
  • 3. Finally, Yellowdig: Yellowdig is a discussion board tool that can be integrated with Canvas, Blackboard, and other learning managment systems. Yellowdig includes social media features, such as the ability for learners and instructors to @mention each other in comments and posts, hyperlink articles, share videos, like posts, bookmark comments, and #hashtag content. Yellowdig also has a gamification feature, which can automatically track users’ points by monitoring how much they interact with the discussion. The points feature can encourage learners to engage with the discussion and interact beyond minimum requirements. By adding in these new features, Yellowdig is easy to use and engaging for both instructors and students, and can be a step up from the standard LMS discussion boards.

Online discussions are crucial to online learning, and the digital nature of these discussion means that instructors can test out innovative technologies that support student engagement within the context of a totally online space. Padlet, Flipgrid, and Yellowdig are three tech tools that can encourage engaging peer interaction and creative responses. However, the most important means of creating a welcoming and interesting environment for students will always be creative teaching and genuine care for students. By continuing to look for ways to foster human connection in digital spaces, online classes can be the incredible learning experience that they have the potential to be!

Author’s Bio: Chana Goldberg is currently the Presidential Fellow of Online Education at Touro College. She enjoys reading, exploring New York City, and researching education-related topics.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

7 Not-So-Common Reasons Why I Love Teaching Online

The following is a guest post by Holly Owens, Assistant Director of Instructional Design with Online Education at Touro College and University System. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

This post was originally published on the Touro College Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Blog, a blog dedicated to exploring best practices in higher education. You can find a link to it here.

Listen to “Seven Not-So-Common Reasons Why I Love Teaching Online”

Recently I was reading Aaron Johnson’s book, Excellent Online Teaching: Effective Strategies for a Successful Semester Online, and began reflecting on all the planning and time that goes into creating an online course. I have been teaching online since 2012 and hadn’t yet thought about why I do it. Of course, I love teaching, but why do I love teaching online? Yes, sitting at home in my pajamas with a cup of hot cocoa and saving on gas are pluses, but the reality of online courses, as anyone who has built or taught one knows, is that it takes an immense amount of time and multiple iterations to develop a really “good” online course.

Here are 7 not-so-common reasons why I loving teaching online:

Reason 1: I Like to Fail- Failure is not a feeling that everyone is comfortable with – I’m certainly not most of the time – but just as in a face-to-face classroom, some of your online lessons will fail. These failures become teachable and reflective moments for you as the educator. Admit to yourself and your students that the lesson, or module, did not go as you planned and try to do better the next time. Honestly, it all works out in the end, and your students will see you as human.

Reason 2: Growth as an Educator-Online teaching has taught me a thing, or two, about who I am as an educator. It has pushed me to be a better educator in the sense that I want to create a safe, diverse, and welcoming environment for all students: a place for all of us to learn and grow without the stigma surrounding failure.

Reason 3: It is Fun-I know what you are thinking-Did she really say it’s fun, and mention earlier it takes a lot of time to plan for online? Well, yes, I did say it is fun to teach online, and I mean it. Once you get past all the stages of planning, designing, modifying, and deploying the course, you find that you and your students actually can have fun and learn at the same time (Yes, really!).

Example from my course: The use of Zoom breakout rooms has really afforded the opportunity in my online synchronous course to have students do virtual group work. I put them in breakout rooms (a feature of Zoom) and assign each group a task to tackle. They then share their findings later with the other students. The beauty of this tool is I have the ability to jump in and out of the breakout rooms and check on students, which is the same thing I would be doing if I was deploying this activity in a face-to-face course.

Reason 4: I Want to Change Perceptions About Online Learning-I am sure you have heard some of the common misconceptions about teaching online, such as “online learning is inferior to that of face-to-face instruction,” or, “students do not learn as much in an online setting as they do in a classroom.” These misconceptions come from a place of misunderstandingfor those who have never genuinely experienced learning in an online setting, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. Online teaching and learning opens up a world of endless possibilities where you can reach students from all walks of life and change their lives!

Reason 5: It Is Personable-Online students are really unique and have an extensive amount of life experience. Many choose online courses because they want to learn, and otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do so. I find that by the end of the semester, my students and I have really developed a friendly little community of trust and respect for one another. The semester eventually ends, but former students will often reach out to me to say hi, or to tell me that they landed their dream job, and as an educator this is particularly rewarding.

Reason 6: It Just Keeps Getting Better-With technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual and augmented realities (AR & VR) making their way into the education world, the possibilities of what you can do in an online setting are growing exponentially. Can you imagine having students perform a mock surgery together using augmented reality and submit their work for review and critique? So many exciting things can happen in a virtual setting, especially when you support it with the use of technology.

Reason 7: Pushing My Creative Limits- Remember what I said above about liking to fail? Well, out of these failures, I have created the most engaging and creative learning experiences online. I ask myself, can technology help here? What can I do differently? How can I get my students to understand this content and apply it to their lives? Online teaching has pushed me outside of my comfort zone and allowed me to create some genuinely magical modules and this is why I love teaching online.

Author’s Bio: Holly Owens is the Assistant Director of Instructional Design with Online Education at Touro College and University System. You can find her on LinkedIn here.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Seven Reasons Why Online Courses Are the Future of Education

The following is a guest post by Richard Van Hooijdonk, a futurist and international keynote speaker. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us

  1. Online learning offers convenience and flexibility
  2. High-quality student-tutor interactions
  3. Studying online is affordable for many people
  4. All age groups benefit from online learning
  5. More students can be enrolled
  6. There’s a vast amount of online learning resources
  7. Web-based learning will grow in popularity

High quality education can make all the difference in people’s lives. It helps individuals escape poverty, earn a promotion, or find better paid jobs. But getting a university degree or a training certificate often costs a lot of money, and strict class schedules clash with work shifts, preventing people from enrolling in educational programs. Fortunately, online courses are providing a viable alternative for millions of people. And as a part of the thriving e-learning industry that will grow to $325 billion by 2025, they’re no longer a fringe idea. Instead, online courses are becoming increasingly popular, and there are many reasons why they’re the future of education

Online learning offers convenience and flexibility

Flexibility is one of the key reasons behind the growing demand for web-based learning. According to survey results published by the university ranking website Best Colleges, 59% of students who enroll in online education programs have children and 50% of them are employed. They highly value the opportunity to study when they can, as lectures are typically archived for later reference, making compulsory campus attendance a thing of the past. Also, they can work faster or slower on course material, depending on their current needs and understanding of the subject matter.

High-quality student-tutor interactions

Another advantage of online education is improved communication between students and tutors. A study by California State University in San Bernardino found that although people who study online absorb knowledge equally well as those who go to class, they’re more active in discussions and enjoy a better interaction with instructors. Technologies such as video conferencing and VOIP calls make it easy to communicate with people across the world. Online students also benefit from more frequent assessments, with professors able to spot knowledge gaps faster and provide suggestions on how to move forward.

Studying online is affordable for many people

Students also find that studying online is often much cheaper than attending traditional universities. There are no commuting expenses nor visa fees for international students, and accommodation costs are avoided, too. Some universities also offer reduced tuition fees for web-based learning. As a result of these advantages, people have to take on less student loan debt and won’t spend many years after graduation paying it off. And online programs allow students to work full-time, so they can earn money and a degree at the same time.

All age groups benefit from online learning

And far from serving only university students and adults, online courses are well suited for all age groups. Sure, undergraduate and postgraduate online degree programs might be some of the most popular ones, but digital learning is beneficial even at the kindergarten and elementary school level. Children can benefit from online learning programs that are more efficient than home-schooling. This can be of great help for parents who are looking for ways to help their loved ones explore additional topics beyond regular school content.

More students can be enrolled

Apart from serving all age groups, online courses can also take on more students than traditional educational institutions. There are no physical constraints such as classroom size, although tutors might still want to limit the number of students if they plan on providing one-on-one instructions or grading open-ended questions. Otherwise, the fact that most lessons are automatically delivered and students learn using their computers means that there’s almost no upper enrolment limit. The software reduces teachers’ workload and they can spend more time devising better and more engaging content.

There’s a vast amount of online learning resources

And apart from the course materials provided by professors, students can also explore a huge amount of online educational resources such as e-books, video and audio files, studies, databases, and much more. Valuable content is easily available and students can always find up-to-date information. And multimedia content is more engaging and better suited for today’s students than printed books. Also, by looking for content online, students will improve their digital research skills that are crucial for today’s job market.

Web-based learning will grow in popularity

Whether it’s about earning a bachelor’s degree or upskilling at work, online courses help people achieve their educational and career goals. Web-based learning ensures that even people with full-time jobs or disabilities can attend a course. And this can make all the difference in one’s life, as education remains an effective way to get a better salary and escape poverty. Online courses are thus likely to evolve and gain popularity as the underlying technology and the quality of instructions keep improving.

Author’s Bio: Trendwatcher, futurist and international keynote speaker Richard van Hooijdonk takes you to an inspiring future that will dramatically change the way we live, work and do business. His inspiration sessions have been attended by over 420,000 people. Richard is a regular guest at radio and television programs. With his international research team, he investigates tech trends like robotics, drone technology, autonomous transport systems, Internet of Things, virtual reality, biotech, nanotech, neurotech, blockchain, 3D and 4D printing and of course augmented and virtual reality and their impact on various industries. Findings are published weekly in the form of compelling articles, e-books and white papers.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.