Some advice for your first online math class

Nov 21, 2007 by

If you are planning for your first online class, and haven’t put one in your college schedule of classes yet, consider this advice…

I find it tremendously valuable to be teaching both a traditional and an online version of the same course. Even better, my traditional course does the same online homework assignments as the online course, so they can share the message boards. This results in a cross-pollination of help between the traditional and online students on the message boards and they learn a lot from each other. Plus, the online students tend to be on the Internet more, so they are quicker to answer questions than I am. The traditional students will pipe up with “advice” that I have given them in class, and so the online students benefit too.

When I cover something in class… an extra example, or a clarification of an idea, it reminds me that the online students should get the same examples or clarification. Another benefit for me is that I only have to check one set of message boards instead of two, which frees up a little more time to make video lessons and activities for the online class.

So… if you haven’t planned for Fall yet, consider doing an online and a traditional of the same course… I would actually recommend this strategy over doing a hybrid as your “first try.” Hybrids can be difficult to manage, they can either be the best of both worlds, or the worst… depending on the students and your management of them.

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  1. Sheila Pisa

    Hi Maria,

    I am so excited because in the spring I will be teaching two web-enhanced elementary algebras (which I’ve done for a number of years) and my first online section. I will be giving them exactly the same homework assignments. I have never done the discussion board with the web-enhanced students, though, so I think it might be a good thing to start.

    In your traditional classes, do you base a percentage of students’ grades on their posts? I have tried to encourage students to use the discussion board, but usually no one does. I picked up some good tips at AMATYC on using online journals and things for the online students and counting that as participation. I already give my web-enhanced students points for participation by lecture activities and by attending lab. I’m afraid to give too high a percentage in a class for participation. I was wondering what you use to motivate your traditional students.


  2. Maria H. Andersen

    I have tried several methods, but what worked the best for me for the web enhanced students is when they can earn up to 5 points extra credit on each test for posts on the message boards.

    1 post generally = 1 point as long as it is a meaningful question or answer. They can only receive 5 points.

    This was a hard change for me because I don’t like to give extra credit, but if you just make the test slightly harder, it will all come out in the wash.


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