Welcome to the world of teaching and learning at a distance through the University of Idaho. These faculty pages are designed to answer questions you might have about our mission, philosophy, and services offered. If you don’t find an answer here, we encourage you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So what does Distance Education do?
The Division of Distance and Extended Education (DEE) at the University of Idaho helps faculty to design and create web-based classes in the BbLearn course management system, and we offer training and workshops for the Blackboard Learn LMS 9.1 (a.k.a. BbLearn) and various Web-based technologies. Though we are also responsible for Summer Session and Dual Credit, this page will focus on our efforts in creating and supporting distance education programs and classes.
With the advent of intuitive interfaces, cloud-based applications, and the increased functionality of our new Blackboard Learn LMS, we’ve come a long way from the “throw up some notes, put up some multiple choice questions, and let it ride” approach to teaching online. Our goal is to create quality, innovative, and student-centered courses and programs that take full advantage of the resources offered by both web-based and university-supported technologies.
Am I cut out for teaching online?
Probably . . .
. . . while some of what you do in the face-to-face classroom will readily translate to the online environment, there are some significant differences of which you should be aware.
Generally, your success in teaching online will depend upon your willingness to learn some new technologies, rethink your pedagogical methods, and to commit to frequent online interaction with your students.
Of course, the most obvious difference between face-to-face and online education is that online classes depend upon technology. There’s no sugar-coating this: if you want to teach well online, you’ll need to gain a solid working knowledge of the technologies we support (for instance, BbLearn) and web-based ones. But don’t panic. DEE provides both classroom and online training and support for these technologies, and most of them will be at least somewhat familiar if you use email, read websites, watch Youtube, or have a Facebook account. While it helps if you enjoy working with technology, you don’t need to be a raving technophile to create and teach an excellent online class.
You’ll need to rethink your pedagogy . . .
. . . the lecture-centered structure that can work so well in face-to-face classes doesn’t always in online classes, and we encourage instructors to move to a more student-centered model, one based upon learning activities, authentic assessments, and collaborative student engagement with the instructor and their colleagues . We can also show you how to create learning opportunities that allow students to practice and develop skills in using forward thinking technologies. DEE is happy to help you reinvent your courses for online delivery. We think of online course development as a highly collaborative enterprise, and strongly encourage faculty to attend our workshops, faculty presentations, and to contact us to set up an appointment and get started on the path toward teaching online.
Finally, but most importantly, to teach well online you must interact frequently with your students. This interaction should not be limited to responding to student questions and grading assignments promptly—it should be built into course design, so instructors actively engage in class discussions, assessment, and helping students achieve course learning objectives. For this reason, the classes we design with faculty typically require at least one instructor or TA for every 30 students. Teaching well online takes as much time, if not more, than teaching in a more traditional setting.
So, to sum up our philosophy and goals in one long, unwieldy sentence: DEE is committed to offering quality, innovative, and student-centered courses and programs in which students and instructors participate in highly interactive and engaging learning activities that leverage web-based technologies to achieve program and university learning objectives. If you’re interested in distance education at the University of Idaho, contact us at email@example.com. We look forward working with you.