Web courses feature Web-based instruction and interaction. Students engage with their instructor and fellow students through the class Web site, moving through the materials as a cohort and completing the course requirements within one term.
Hybrid courses combine mandatory face-to-face instruction with Web-based interaction and activities. Students are required to attend scheduled workshops and participate in the online activities. Students move through the materials as a cohort and must complete the course requirements within one term.
Self-Paced courses provide a flexible format where students move through assigned course materials at their own pace. Workshops and Web-based activities occur in many of these courses and students can check the course syllabus for more information about their specific course.
We are currently accepting proposals to develop Web and hybrid courses. You should complete a course development approval form, which must be signed by your department chair and the assistant dean for academic programs in the College of General Studies.
Once approved, you will need:
• Basic computer skills
• A willingness to adapt your teaching style to the Web environment.
• Availability to participate in the development and course design process with an assigned instructional designer/technologist
• Time to fully develop and create your entire course prior to the start of term
Students will do many of the same things they do in a traditional classroom - read texts, take notes, answer questions, write papers, and have discussions. They may also do field observations, watch videos or use computer software. The difference is that most, if not all, interaction takes place in the Web environment. You may expect students to log on regularly and participate in all required activities.
Any current Pitt student may register for an online course. They may be working from Pitt’s campus, their home, or their office. Many may be working adults, but you will find traditional undergraduates students in your course as well.
Some activities you might consider using are:
• Discussion boards (asynchronous)
• Chat sessions (synchronous)
• Assignments feature
• Virtual classroom or group pages
• PowerPoint presentations
• Blogs, etc.
It is important to gather and/or locate various resources, such as media, Web sites, readings, images, etc. As you plan your course, be prepared to include technology requirements, such as a high-speed connection, iTunes download, special configurations, etc. Also, consider carefully how you evaluate students, as working in this environment may require the design of new assessment methods.
Designing Web-based Courses
Since students do not have non-verbal cues or the ability to ask questions while in the physical classroom, you must write clearly, anticipate and address questions, and pay special attention to the “ tone” of your writing.
Web courses are generally more learner-centered and often require more active participation by students. Without the structure of weekly classes, students are generally expected to take a more active role in their own learning. The instructor really does move from their role as the “ sage on the stage” to the “ guide on the side.”
We recommend that your course be complete by the start of term. This gives students the sense of your course as a whole, which is more important in the Web environment. It also allows you to participate fully with the students during the course rather then trying to plan and design later units.
You will find there are many options and resources available in a Web-based environment to provide a rich learning experience for your students. For example, you can send your students on an archaeological dig or a tour of a world-class museum. It is important to consider the new resources now be available to you and your students.
About Course Development
In the Web environment, it is best to think about the development of your course as a transformation of what you normally do, rather than a re-creation. You will find that you must “rethink” your learning activities and objectives within the context of the Web environment—including added resources and limitations.
Once you have completed the course approval form, including obtaining all necessary signatures, the CGS Online program coordinator will schedule an initial meeting with the two of you and your assigned instructional designer/technologist. This meeting will establish a timeline, benchmarks for completion, and expectations for the development. You will then meet regularly with your ID/T and work towards the transformation of your face-to-face course into a Web-based one. Once the development is complete, the College of General Studies will review the course prior to the first offering. Along with your ID/T, many other resources will be available to you, including the CGS Online demonstration course, Sloan Consortium online workshops, an interactivity rubric, as well as the direction and support of the CGS Online program coordinator.
Typically the College of General Studies allows a full year for a course development, which includes the completion and approval of the course approval form and the final course review at the end of the development. However, the time necessary will vary by faculty member and their academic discipline.
Most faculty members find their Web courses are much more student-centered, offering the community of learners many opportunities to interact and collaborate among each other. Faculty also find that they are no longer limited to a specific block of time on a certain day of the week, which provides for more flexibility in the design of assignments, discussion, and projects.
You will post a discussion question; as each student logs on, he will both answer your question and respond to other students answers. Since students log on at different times, discussions take longer, normally about two weeks. This gives each student the opportunity to contribute three or four times in a round robin fashion. Rather than through e-mail, you and your students will read, communicate, interact with each other in a shared working environment.
The CIDDE Testing Center is available to provide testing opportunities for students on campus, as well as proctoring services and off-campus testing sites. However, we encourage online faculty to consider new ways they may wish to assess the students, especially in terms of postings to discussion boards, long-term projects, essays, and student use of innovative tools, such as blogs and wikis.
The College of General Studies requires all faculty teaching courses in our extended education programs to request OMET evaluations and this expectation stands for all CGS Online instructors as well.
Faculty members with issues pertaining to their Blackboard course shell should contact the staff in the Faculty Instructional Development Lab (FIDL) at Alumni Hall, B-23 or the CGS Online program coordinator at 412-624-7314.
Security and Privacy
All CGS Online courses are developed and taught using CourseWeb, Pitt’s implementation of the Blackboard Course Management System. Blackboard is a closed and password-protected network and all activities, discussions, and assignments are only available to students enrolled in your course. Please note, College of General Studies staff, the FIDL technical support personnel, and CSSD Help Desk administrators may have access to your Blackboard.
To use journal articles, photographs, cartoons, images, or software in your Web course, permission must be acquired. The CGS Online program coordinator will be able to assist you with needs related to copyrighted materials.