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An Instructor’s Accountability and the Online Course

Procrastination. Looks familiar? You certainly can feel it if you cannot see it. It is certainly a daily occurrence in most people’s life.  In higher education, procrastination is rampant among both faculty and students.  Most are hard and exceptional workers, but if you ask them if they procrastinate, they will answer like most everyone else. In teaching, procrastination is both bad for the instructor and the students taking the course.

One frequent habit I see instructors do is putting off big tasks until the very last minute, stressing out over it, and finally doing it with varying degrees of success.  For online course development, this is common, and many instructors get into the habit of developing their course as the semester progresses.  Maybe they have the first few weeks done, and the rest of the weeks are in the works as the semester progresses.  This can make online course development stressful and less enjoyable because the instructor is constantly modifying content and having to juggle grading and answering students’ questions. I have seen many instances of this model.

In an effort to help with your online course development, here are a few tips:

  • Chunk large work into small pieces and set deadlines for each chunk. You don’t need to chunk out everything right away, just a few items/tasks to get started. Add new tasks as you move along. You will be surprised by how much you can get done in a short amount of time.
  • Use a project management application. This will help with the chunking process. My suggestion is Trello because it is free and easy to use. Watch the video promotion to get an idea of what you can do with Trello.

  • Do not multitask while you work. I’m guilty of this all the time. That doesn’t mean you can’t listen to music (if that is how you work), but if you are doing two or more tasks at the same time, you are allocating your attention in many direction, and we only have so much we can spare. That can lead to a greater frequency of mistakes.
    • One example of this from my own person life is driving. For long distances, I tend to fall asleep. I always though it was due to the astigmatism in my eye, but that was only part of the story. If music is playing, I tend to split my attention to music and driving. Having to allocate a lot of brainpower to concentrate on driving is taxing on my body, so I tend to fall doze off. The point is to give you one example of what can happen when you multitask, and I am sure there are many situations you can point to demonstrate this as well.
  • Make an accountability chart as a way to keep track of your progress. Create a document, add a table, and split the table into two sections. Label one section tasks and the other time. You can split the time in one-hour increments, 90 minutes increments, or whatever you decide is appropriate. Each hour, you would write down all the tasks you have accomplished. That way you can see what you have done and if it is enough.

Accountability Chart

Tasks

Time

  • Transfer files from Flash drive and between computers.
  • Added learning objectives to a few weeks.
  • Uploaded three videos to Blackboard.
  • Tweaked syllabus.

9:00-10:00

  • E-mailed Kelsey and James and asked them to look through the themes on WooThemes website.
  • Worked on blog post.

10:00-11:00

  • Take breaks after intense work. After 90 or so minutes of hard work, take a 10-15 minute break. Rest your brain and then move on to your next task/project.

What strategies do you use when developing your online course? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

One Response to “An Instructor’s Accountability and the Online Course”

  1. My to-do list is really similar to your Accountability Chart. I can’t function without it – I’ll forget vital tasks otherwise.

    I tend to enjoy watching videos and reading articles about being organized more than I actually like organizing and planning, but I’m trying to get better! I really like Lorie Marrero’s videos on YouTube about organization. One of my strategies is: If I’m not sure where to start in planning or organizing for a specific project, I watch one of her videos (I try to find one that’s as related as possible) for inspiration. She has more than 100 on youtube.com/clutterdiet.

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