Bring your expertise front and center

Bring your expertise front and center

In online learning a student must be motivated. He or she needs to have good organizational skills and good time-management. This is true of you too.

When you determine an assessment is needed in order to measure how well a student is grasping the module content, how do you create it?

If you have a method that works well for you, please share it via the Teaching Tips comment section. If, however, you are more like me—a bit flustered and trying very hard to keep all the balls in the air—let go.

Let go of some of the how. How will the student generate the video? How will the student submit his or her paper? Focus on the what and the why. Grab your list of learning objectives and analyze course learning experiences and assessments to determine if they support students progressing toward course outcomes.

If you teach a lower-level course or the materials your students are learning mandate specific methods the ‘how’ truly matters. But when you get stuck on the process of how a student will do something while crafting your assessment  ask yourself, “does the process matter?”


When a student is submitting a paper, you may have criteria like ‘meets APA Style.’ You don’t have to specify whether they turn in a Google Doc, a Word doc, or a PDF, etc. Unless you specifically wish to have a PDF because it opens up in Blackboard or a Google doc because you find it easier to grade—due to the comment and notification settings—you might let the student choose the tool that works best for them. You may want to provide a list; ‘for your paper submit a 3-to-5-page document using APA Style 6th edition; your submission may be a PDF, Word docx, or link to a shared Google Doc with comment permissions turned on.’ Be nice, provide a link to a great APA resource. Or, if you think ahead, require your students to get their own copy!

When your assignment calls for the student to submit a 3-to-5-minute video, don’t walk them through exactly how to make a YouTube or Kaltura video, there are plenty of resources to link to. Instead focus on your lecture materials, share why elements are important to you and your discipline. Guide students into and through discovery of the course content. Encourage and help them build an understanding of the subject matter. See if you can light a fire under them for the topic! You are building the next set of biologists, mathematicians and teachers.

Use your strengths

The best use of your time is to focus on what you bring to the discussion. Share your experiences, your expertise and your strengths with these bright minds. In a Faculty Focus article, Hathcock emphasizes “the presence of an instructor provides a sense of leadership and security for the students, a central point person that guides them in the learning experience. In an online class, one has to be conscious to create this presence.1 So, make significant learning experiences that resonate with your discipline.

Consider how you will engage the student and how what they create will demonstrate that they know and can apply the course content. Spend your time making sure objectives, learning activities and assessments align within your course and are all designed to help the student grow.

Additional resources


(1) Hathcock, Danielle. Essential Elements of an Effective Online Learning Experience. Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning. N.p., 05 Sept. 2012. Web. 04 May 2017.

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