ASPIRE is a quarterly magazine published by PCI in cooperation with the associations of the National Concrete Bridge Council. The editorial content focuses on the latest technology and key issues in the Concrete Bridge Industry.

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A P R O F E S S O R ' S P E R S P E C T I V E 38 | ASPIRE Summer 2017 There are many variations of online education, as evidenced by the many terms used in the industry. Online education is a broad term that is typically used by academia to reference the collection of resources (including people and software), and their online implementation, used to facilitate the transfer of knowledge via the internet. E-learning is used largely by industry to reference online learning for continuing education (such as licensure purposes) or for corporate training. These courses are usually geared for self-learning and even self-assessment. Distance learning, or distance education, is about geography—it focuses on the fact that instructors and students are separated by physical space. In addition to geography, instructors and learners can also be separated by time. When curricula are developed for learners to engage in education at a later time, the course is called asynchronous. An online course is done strictly online and involves no face-to-face meetings. But whether a course is delivered face- to-face or online, the goal is the same: the successful transfer of knowledge. Instructor facilitation, however, is very different online compared with a traditional course. Online education is not just videoing a chalk- or whiteboard lecture and posting it online for students to watch. Online, a lecture can't be adjusted on-the-fly when students look confused, as it can be in the classroom. An online course requires different s t r a t e g i e s a b o u t h o w t o e n g a g e students and provides opportunities for them to interact with each other and the instructor. In a classroom, I feed off the energy from students, which can be missing in the online environment. In a classroom, I can revive them if they are not paying attention—not so online. But there are clear advantages, as stated earlier, of online delivery. In the following sections, some best practices, tips, and things to consider when designing an online course are suggested. Best Practices for Online Course Organization • Have a clear entry point to the course (such as, "Start here") to get students on the right path. • Be clear about where students need to go next. • Make links open in a new window. • Put most recent items on the top of lists or folder items. • Provide a calendar of assignment due dates. Things for Instructors to Think About • Creating an online communication plan: how will you communicate, and will students need special hardware, software, or connections? Consider online chats, discussion boards, journals, and/or video conferences. • Cheating: how will you deter or prevent it? • Proctoring: will exams need to be proctored by the university's testing center, by you, or by an authorized person? • Generating the volume of content: does the university have guidelines to ensure that the course is consistent with the number of credit hours assigned to it? (In a traditional course, this is defined by the number of "contact hours" or hours spent in the classroom.) • Reusing content: when preparing instructional materials, be careful to avoid dating the materials, so that they can be easily reused in the future. An exception is when referring to a specific version of a code or specification—that should always be done. Learning Units A learning unit can be based on a topic or series of related topics. Creating learning units for online delivery is similar to the traditional approach. A suggested process for creating learning units is as follows: 1. Set goals and learning objectives for the course and individual topics. Objectives should describe outcomes A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO ONLINE EDUCATION by Dr. Michelle Rambo-Roddenberry, Florida A&M – Florida State University Comparison of a course delivered online with a course delivered by the traditional method from the perspectives of a professor and student. All Figures: Michelle Rambo- Roddenberry.

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