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Distance Studies / Online Teaching / Blended Learning
What is Distance Studies
Distance studies occurs when learners are separated from the instructor and classmates, whether across the hall or across the province. Unlike the courses of the past that depended entirely on written communication through the mail, today's distance courses may include multimedia materials and often take advantage of the Web-based communication technologies. Western's distance studies modes will let you pursue university studies if you cannot attend regular classes.
Distance Studies at Western
The Instructional Designer in the Teaching Support Centre is responsible for coordinating the development of new distance courses at Western in conjunction with Departmental Chairs. Every year, Western adds new courses to the Distance Studies Calendar, and reviews and revises current courses to ensure that the curriculum is (a) based on current research and trends within the discipline, and (b) rooted in best practice and is pedagogically sound. If you have an idea for a new distance course and would like to suggest the development of the materials, you would want to arrange a meeting with your Departmental Chair.
The Instructional Designer, at the request of a Department Chair or an individual Faculty Member is available to conduct a program evaluation of a course or a set of courses based on established criteria, or based on the needs of the Department or Instructor. The results of this evaluation can make recommendations on areas such as new curriculum development, alternative assessment techniques, and innovative teaching strategies.
This ongoing review of distance courses at Western is an important part of ensuring that all of our offerings meet The high standards of The University of Western Ontario and each of our individual departments. We strive to ensure that our distance learning opportunities are both positive learning and teaching experiences for our students and faculty.
If you are currently teaching online and want to improve the experience for yourself or your learners, you would benefit from peer consultation (a comprehensive review of your teaching and materials in an online course). At the end of this consultation, you will receive confidential feedback and suggestions based on specific evaluation criteria, rooted in best practice. For more information, to review evaluation criteria, or to arrange a peer consultation, contact the Instructional Designer in the Teaching Support Centre.
Professional Development Workshops for Distance Studies Faculty
The Teaching Support Centre offers workshops which highlight the essential knowledge and skills required for teaching a course via OWL through Distance Studies at Western. For more information on these services, and on technology for teaching in general, please see "Technology for Teaching" on the TSC website.
Resources for Teaching Online
Tips for a Successful Online Term
- Use Antivirus Software -- Antivirus software packages are available from a variety of vendors and they are worth the investment. Major vendors keep their virus identification files up to date, and some packages will automatically install the updates on a regular basis so that your software remains current.
- Update Your Software -- Windows users should run the update at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ to fix critical security issues. Mac users should run the "Software Updater" on a regular basis.
- Back-Up Once A Week -- Consider purchasing an external hard drive, CD burner, or USB key to back-up your files once a week. If you back-up regularly, you'll only lose a few days work if your computer crashes.
- Email -- Remember to check your UWO email on a regular basis for important notices. If you forward your UWO email to another email address, be aware that if your alternate Inbox is full - you will not receive your UWO email. UWO email accounts typically offer 10mb and can be checked easily at http://mail.uwo.ca
- Spyware and Malware -- Be aware that Peer-to-Peer (P2P) software may introduce spyware and malware to your computer. Besides the obvious copyright violations that can occur with audio/video sharing, you may be sharing personal information such as your email password or bank account information. More information about protecting your home computer and electronic identity can be found at http://security.uwo.ca/
- If you require assistance, please contact the ITS HelpDesk at 519-661-3800 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The HelpDesk will be offering extended hours in September, please see http://www.uwo.ca/its/ for more details. You can also visit the ITS HelpDesk on the 2nd floor of the Natural Sciences Centre.
Resources for Successful Online Teaching
- Tips for Successful Online Teaching in Traditional Universities
This article written by Dianne Conrad of the University of New Brunswick Library divides instructional roles in to teaching, managing and supporting functions.
- Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever
Based on the AAHE's 'Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education," this article applies Chickering and Gamson's fifty years of research to the challenges faced (and overcome) by online instructors.
- Teaching Goals Inventory (TGI) (self-scorable version)
TGI is a self-assessment tool that aids instructors in becoming more aware of what they want to accomplish in individual courses. It also helps faculty locate Classroom Assessment Techniques they can adapt and use to assess how well they are achieving their teaching and learning goals.
- Nine Principles of Good Practice for Assessing Student Learning
From the AAHE Assessment Forum, this article describes nine principles and offers advice and guidance for designing assessment strategies and approaches. This is useful for both the online and face-to-face instruction.
- Guide to Teaching in a Wireless Environment Wireless: A New Teaching Tool
From the University of Ottawa, Centre for University Teaching