Publisher content presents faculty with a variety of media-rich choices for the rapid development of courses in the online or face-to-face environment, yet there are effective practices that instructors can utilize to further ensure the success of their students. The purpose of this article is to present some best practices that play a critical role in the management of publisher content.
1. Best Practice: Choose content that aligns to course objectives
Start out by carefully seeking out publisher content that best aligns with the objectives of your course.
2. Best Practice: "Drill down" in publisher content
Some publisher content is extensive, and not all of the provided digital assets need to be integrated or used in your course. In fact, some publishers create five times the amount of content needed for a 16-week class, and it’s not uncommon for publishers to provide faculty members with test banks containing more than 5,000 test questions. Much like selecting the chapters from a textbook, instructors' role in this critical step is to select which resources to use. It is important at this juncture to use only the material needed, and to select content and activities that will diversify learning for students.
3. Best Practice: Add interactivity
Once a course has been "beefed up" with rich publisher content, it is helpful for instructors to create opportunities that will provide both student-to-student interaction and student-to-instructor engagement.
4. Best Practice: Provide knowledge checks for learners along the way
Publisher content provides a wealth of assessment activities for faculty members to use in courses. For this reason, it is helpful to select both formative and summative assessment measures that may be integrated frequently and strategically throughout the course content.
5. Best Practice: Provide ample feedback
Instructors can benefit from selecting key junctures in courses where students may ask questions, receive feedback and stay on track.
6. Best Practice: Be present
Since students often choose to take courses because they are seeking a specific faculty member's expertise to enrich their learning experience, instructors' presence is valuable. Some important ways to "be present" for students include participation in discussion forums, answering students’ blog posts, replying to comments, giving feedback, sending out emails, and posting announcements.
7. Best Practice: Frustrate Cheating Potential
A publisher may provide question pools containing thousands of questions. This volume of questions can be valuable, since there is a risk that questions from a publisher pool may be compromised (shared with friends, posted on the internet). Question pools should be large enough to allow for rotation of use across semesters. Rotating answers in randomized question blocks helsp prevent students from predicting specific exam question choices.
8. Best Practice: Make the end goal clear
Students need to know what they need to do in order to succeed in a course. Using the built-in LMS Calendar or a course schedule is a good way to keep learners informed of what is due, and what is coming in the future.
9. Best Practice: Don’t forsake the basics
Despite the availability of pre-built content, the course is still the faculty member's domain. Instructors have a number of communication and interactivity tools at their disposal that make courses come to life. Students appreciate frequent, intentional use of the following tools:
- Welcome Message
- Office Hours
- Contact Information
- Weekly Announcements
Implementing these simple, effective measures is likely to increase students' level of satisfaction in completing a course. Faculty members who would like assistance in the application of any of these best practices can contact the SHSU Online course development team at http://distance.shsu.edu/home/our-staff.html.