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Course Presentation Tools



Text as a Web Page

Text on a web page has the advantage that students can copy the materials and make their own notes: in addition, they have more time to reflect on what you’ve said.

Avoid creating documents that are tediously formed, or that appear as overly long blocks of text when viewed on a web page.

Web Page Lecture Tips:

  • Strive for a style midway between casual speech and formal writing
  • Chunk your writing into short paragraphs with space between them.
  • Use headings, italics, colors, and other indicators to allow the eye to quickly take in the gist of the presentation.
  • Graphics can be interspersed as well, or presented via links

PowerPoint Slide Shows

Remember that in face-to-face classroom, the students have you to observe, but online the slides themselves must carry the entire presentation. Therefore, design, images, and graphics are essential to the success of such presentations.

Don’t try to directly replicate long PowerPoint presentations that are mainly bulleted text.

If slides are primarily of this type, consider converting them into short text paragraphs with bulleted items. This web page format can replace your slides.

Narrated Slides and Audio or Videotaped Lectures

  • Use a casual narration with lots of color in the voice
  • Audio might be used to replace a short lecture or a guest lecture.
  • Audio can serve as a personalized introduction to the course or to the instructor.
  • When offering audio and video, you should take into consideration students’ disabilities.
  • Prepare a text transcript or summary of audio or video presentations for the benefit of those who have sight or hearing disabilities.


Types of Discussions

  • Small group
  • Guided discussions
  • Question-and-answer sessions as adjuncts to lectures
  • Lab
  • Exams
  • Seminar models in which instructor presentation and discussion are often combined

Discussion Considerations

In planning these activities, you’ll need to decide which can best be carried out in an asynchronous forum and which in real-time, synchronous mode.

If students are logging in from multiple time zones or are primarily working adults, the synchronous mode will allow too little flexibility in scheduling.

To prepare for your use of asynchronous discussion opportunities, you should first decide on how you want to use discussion in relation to your presentations and assignment elements in the course.

Decide whether discussion topics will closely follow the questions you raise in the lectures and other presentations, or whether the topics will provide opportunities to introduce additional materials and further applications of ideas you’ve presented.

Discussions that are coordinated with assignments must be scheduled to allow enough time for reflection and response.

If assignments are presented in the online classroom and students are asked to comment on them, guidelines and procedures must be set up in advance to make sure that the discussion is structured and focused.

Even though this activity may be asynchronous, you will probably not want to allow unlimited time for participation, especially if one of your goals is giving students feedback that they can apply to their subsequent assignments.

You will have to decide who will lead discussions—you, the instructor, or a student appointed for the purpose each week?
What guidelines will use for student-facilitated discussions?

Discussion Examples

  • What about a seminar type of discussion?

  • Create a segmented lecture or dialogue. Create some initial or topic question to pose, or short mini lectures followed by a series of questions. After allowing an interval of time to permit students to respond to open-ended questions, proceed to ask some open-ended question.

  • Create an online student lounge area—a specific area set aside for casual talk among students.

  • Another use of discussion forum is to ask students to offer possible solutions to problems. Discussions then consist of analysis of these solutions, with the instructor contributing comments as well.

  • "Post problems and assist your classmates in solving challenges related to this week’s assignments."

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

A FAQ page can be created to serve as review material.

Posting an FAQ page can eliminate some of the chit-chat and elementary questions are time consuming for the instructor to answer.


Web Research

  • Open-ended activities
    • Instructors typically propose web searches in which students are told to go find information on a particular topic
    • It’s important to give students some guidelines for evaluating and searching out web resources
  • Guided activities
    • Give students a list of pre-evaluated sites to use for research.
    • This is similar to distributing a bibliography for research papers.
    • You might want to consult with a librarian for a list of sources.

Library Research

  • This works well if the library supplies full-text online


  • Though fieldwork is done outside of the online class, results may be presented online, and a discussion and evaluation may also be accomplished online.
  • Carefully schedule the before-and-after activities that will take place online.
  • Any pre-requisites should be stated in your course description.
  • If a proctor or supervisor’s report is required for fieldwork, the should clearly be indicated.


After you’ve surveyed the resources, you can make some choices about the types of assessment you’ll use.

If testing, which types of questions do you create and whether a specific test will be used for self-assessment and review, or for a grade.

Some Assessment Techniques:

  1. The test should be lengthy enough that it isn’t easy for students to look up information and still complete the test on time
  2. A good proportion of questions should related directly to inclasss discussions.
  3. Make sure you have at least two other methods of evaluation, such as essays and discussion participation.
  4. You can even include one real-time online “debriefing” that can serve as a basis of comparison with the student’s other work.
  5. Portfolio

The key is to plan an adequate variety of activities from which students can assemble portfolios of their work.

Assessment Tips:

  • Save all lectures notes, quizzes, or announcement, in some word-processed format, so that you’ll be able to reuse or revise it for a future course.
  • Give yourself enough time to experiment with different ways of organizing the material.
  • Know the limitations of Blackboard Vista.
  • Try your course from a student’s perspective
  • Develop a schedule for preparation and delivery of materials.

Synchronous Chat

The entire conversation takes place in real time. Blackboard Vista allows you to save the chat transcript so that it can be read after the actual event.

Adequate preparation and forethought are essential to success. The timing of chats is an important factor in planning. You might indicate to students that you’ll be surveying them to find the most convenient times for all. Or you may set up two or more chat times and require that each student sign up for a particular time so that you can control the number participating in each session. You need to decide all of this ahead of time.

To get the most out of chat, students must be given adequate preparation by announcing the topic ahead of time and publicizing the rules for the conduct of the chat.

A Web page “tour” can be incorporated if the “tour” is planned well in advance. An example of planning would be having all URLs for pages to visit setup in a document ahead of time so that it is easy to cut-and-paste into the chat room.

Textbooks and Coursepacks

A textbook may provide the most efficient most easily procured source material for the course.

A coursepack can make sense when the students are best served by having a hard-copy reference.

Content on this page adapted from:
Ko, S & Rossen. S (2001). Teaching Online: A Practical Guide. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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