The Four Cs of Online Education

36302079_sA school’s role is complex and constantly developing. What began as means through which to teach a trade evolved into a forum through which to impart knowledge. Today’s classrooms go beyond these original objectives and are intended to “prepare all students to be active participants in our exciting global community” (Kolk 2011). This new classroom goal is often summarized in “The Four Cs” – Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. A successful teacher will be sure to incorporate these themes into his lessons and classroom design.

However, the Four Cs play a slightly different role in an online course. Not only will students who nurture these skills be equipped to tackle today’s changing society, students who use these strategies in online courses are likely to succeed in a positive, stress-free environment. Check out the tips below to learn how to integrate the Four Cs into your online classroom.

Communication: Both the instructor and students play a significant role in effectively communicating in an online course. Instructors should be careful to create an intuitive course structure, write clear instructions, and effectively communicate their expectations. Students should pay special attention to the syllabus, all announcements, and discussion boards (Johnson 2015).

Commitment: An online course is often more work than a traditional one, not less. Therefore, due to the coupling of hours of school work with unstructured time in which to complete it, online students need to be very self-disciplined and organized in order to do well. Before a course begins, it is wise for students to allocate a proper amount of time each week in which to complete all readings and assignments as well as set aside a fixed location in which to do all schoolwork. Click here to learn more about what it takes to be an online student.

Community: Once again, both the instructors and students contribute to creating a strong sense of community in an online class. Instructors should portray themselves as a personable individual (instead of just a name on a screen) and interact with students personally, as opposed to only sending out mass messages. Students can form a virtual community through interacting with their peers via discussion boards and seeking each other out when they need help with an assignment. These relationships remove feelings of isolation and can dramatically increase a student’s performance in an online course.

Collaboration: The goal of education is not to walk out with a degree; it is to walk out with an education. A crucial component of the learning process to is to interact with learned thoughts and ideas and apply the sometimes intangible concepts. Collaboration is important in an online classroom because it facilitates this aspect of learning. Online students should work with their classmates to hone their critical thinking and analysis as well as to engage in active learning through teaching the information and receiving feedback.

How do you integrate the Four Cs into your online classroom?


The 21st Century Classroom – Where the 3 Rs Meet the 4Cs! by Melinda Kolk on

Four Cs of Success in the Online Classroom by Ronald Johnson and Katherine Riddle on

Understand the Commitment Involved with Online Education on

Why are Assessments Important in an Online Course?

Assessments are an important aspect of any course. They allow students to interact with information that they learn, enable instructors to check students’ progress, and simply keep the class on track. In online environments, assessments play a crucial role due to the nature of the setup and the need to promote active learning.

In this video, Dr. Melissa Kaulbach of Faculty eCommons and Dr. Jeri Nowakowski examine how to best utilize assessments in an online course. They provide tips in moving beyond quizzes and essays and demonstrate how an assessment can cause a student to engage in learning and fully comprehend the subject at hand. In addition, they outline how creative, thought-out assessments can benefit the instructor and assist in creating a collaborative learning community.

To learn more about how effective assessments can change an online course, check out Dr. Melissa Kaulbach’s video below:

Source: Ed Tech Du Jour

4 Crucial Components of Any Online Course [INFOGRAPHIC]

Designing an online course can seem daunting. For some it is a new mode of teaching and there is always new technology to consider. In order to simplify the process, below are four crucial components to consider when creating a course.

1. Structure – An online course must have an intuitive and clear structure. Students need to be we aware of course expectations and understand how to navigate in the Learning Management System (LMS).

2. Content Delivery – With numerous methods of delivery available in an online setting, it is important to carefully select appropriate tools for each lesson. Learn how and when to effectively use different tools and apply them as necessary.

3. Break Down Barriers – Do not let physical distance interfere with student interaction. Assign students to collaborate and complete a creative assessment.

4. Ensure Functionality – When designing an online course, keep in mind different technical and aesthetic aspects that come into play. Be sure that all links are active and that material is easily accessible to students.

Check out this infographic from E-Learning Infographics to discover tips and take these concepts into reality.



Learner Interactivity in a Synchronous Classroom

In this interesting presentation, Claudia Dornbusch of demonstrates how to promote learner interactivity in a synchronous classroom. Topics include maximizing visual and whiteboard potential, chat and breakout sessions, and polls and audio discussions.

While these suggestions are intended for employee training sessions, the concepts can be implemented in higher level higher education as well.


E-learning: How to deliver an engaging Virtual Classroom presentation by Claudia Dornbusch


Blended Learning: A Benefit for Teachers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Studies often point to the many benefits of online or blended learning for students. But what about the benefits for teachers?

The following infographic from outlines a number of ways that teachers benefit from the blended learning experience. This new form of education not only conveniences teachers and their busy schedules, but it provides the medium through which they can educate at higher standards. Furthermore, as personalized instruction increases in their classrooms, teachers’ networks and earning potential can grow as well.

Check out this infographic to discover how blended learning can truly be a win-win situation.




Which Factors Contribute Most to Student Satisfaction in Online Education Settings?


What is the best way to design online courses so as to maximize student satisfaction?

A Predictive Study of Student Satisfaction in Online Education Programs investigated 5 factors of online courses to ascertain which ones are the strongest predictors of student satisfaction in online settings.

The article was published in The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning and conducted by Yu-Chun Kuo, Andrew E. Walker, Brian R. Belland, and Kerstin E. E. Schroder.

In this study, researchers distributed an online survey to 291 students enrolled in any of 11 summer-session online courses, of which 111 students responded. Most students were between 26-35 years old.

Researchers found that the strongest predictor of student satisfaction was learner-content interaction, defined as the process through which learners reflect and elaborate on the course material.

How can professors increase learner-content interaction? The researchers suggest:

Inclusion of tasks that involve collaboration and searching online resources may help enhance learners’ interaction with content. For instance, problem-based learning would encourage online learners to apply their information search skills to resolve authentic problems, which in turn increases learners’ interaction with the content as well as their problem solving skills (An & Reigeluth, 2008).

In other words, the more that students are encouraged to think about the material and process it in different ways, the more they will value and appreciate the course.

Two other factors found to be significant predictors of student satisfaction were learner-instructor interaction and internet self-efficacy (an individual’s confidence in his ability to carry out internet related tasks). Professors can increase the former by incorporating flexibility into the course setup. Universities can support the latter by proving internet training to students prior to their enrollment in online courses.

Factors found to have a negligible effect on student satisfaction were learner-learner interaction (communication among peers regarding the course material) and self-regulated learning (motivation and learning strategies that students use to achieve their educational goals). That said, the researchers did indicate that these factors may in fact be quite significant for student satisfaction, even though this particular study did not show it.

Which factors do you think contribute most to student satisfaction in online courses? Share your thoughts with us and let us know how you intend to increase student satisfaction in your online courses.