Tips for Using LATTE
LATTE offers instructors the opportunity to address multiple learning styles and ensure that your students are keeping up with your course.
In order to get the most out of such online resources, the first step is to learn about what is possible and how you think you might take advantage of features like asynchronous class communication with forums, electronic submission of assignments, and practice quizzes to allow students to prepare for the exam at their own pace, among others.
To take full advantage of these features, you may need to make some adjustments to your way of leading a class, which will in turn make the online teaching/learning experience a positive one both for you and your students. Some of these changes are minor; some of them may take a little time to become second nature.
Some of your peers have made successful transitions, and they often credit the success to a few techniques:
- applying reflective listening techniques into online environments (e.g., paraphrasing responses in discussion threads, leading questions that prompt others to respond directly to a student's post)
- peer reviewing projects - particularly when some initial ground rules are set - helps instill a sense of an authentic audience and can often lead to valuable feedback
- posting a prompt in the forum to help focus the next class's in-class discussion, often leading to lively online and in-class discussions
- significant and clear directions that define class expectations in the online environment
- carefully controlled pace of content (hiding material after a certain period of time, making quizzes available/unavailable, requiring completion of one unit before going on to the next, etc.)
The material on this page includes some specific and non-specific tips for using LATTE activities effectively in your class.
Setting class expectations happens online as well as in the first few meetings in the classroom. A couple of clear principles and rules can help set the tone and direction for online interactions.
- Set rules to create a friendly environment. Take immediate action to curb unkind or untoward communication.
- Provide feedback as frequently as possible. Feedback in exceptional courses is generally characterized by timeliness, though perhaps delivered in a variety of ways (discussion board responses, personal email, in-class verbal encouragement, as well as the traditional, formal comments on student and group papers and projects, etc.).
- Define the purpose or objective of each discussion. This will help members stay on a specific topic.
- If you have a scheduled chat event use the course News & Announcements forum to remind the class of the Chat time.
- Encourage reflective thinking and ongoing discussions by avoiding questions that lead to "right" and "wrong" answers.
- For traditional campus courses, consider making online discussions in forums a part of the student's grade. Rather than as a supplement, you might consider offering forum posts as a substitute for traditional class participation grade, by making a certain number and quality/depth of postings each week a class requirement. For completely online courses, clearly specify the participation requirements in the syllabus.
- Reply to student postings and prompt your students to go deeper than mere opinions or surface answers. Have students support their arguments with facts and supportive data when available.
- Promote continuity by answering email promptly, asking open-ended questions in bulletin board discussions, and posting to discussions frequently.
- Organize your content into clear units (e.g., "Week 2: Consecutive Waw in Poetry" or "Topic 4: SPSS Data Querying Techniques"), particularly if you can use these units to guide the flow, direction of the class.
- Bring the physical world into the virtual one. Use graphics, sound bytes and digital video to create a sense of "place" and to appeal to the diverse learning styles of your students's.
- Prepare your discussion posts offline, and then paste them online.
- Post PDFs, not MS-Word or MS-Powerpoint files; Microsoft products have historically had inconsistencies between versions.
- Plan out your course before the semester begins, defining how and where students should go to keep on top of the course.
- Organize your forum discussion threads
- Show the course calendar block to help your students keep track of upcoming assignments, projects.
- Remind your students, if it's applicable, that Brandeis is on Eastern time (GMT - 05:00)
Research in online instruction reminds us that the following characteristics must be present in learning environment for programs to be successful:
- adequate motivation
- opportunities for learners to collaborate and interact
- a variety of delivery methods
- user-friendly technology
- active and participative instructors