Scaling Up - Meeting the Challenges of Teaching a Large Online Class

Concurrent Session 5

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This interactive session explores the challenges faced while redesigning online and blended courses for large enrollment and explores ideas for scaling up activities and assessments.

Archivist Notes


Mayuko is a Team Leader for Instructional Media and Technology at the Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology at Illinois State University. At her current position, she oversees faculty support for learning management system and other instructional technology, offer consultations on course design and LMS & instructional technology integration to faculty who is interested in teaching face-to-face, online or blended courses. She has worked in higher education for 20+ years at various administrative and teaching positions. She has taught educational psychology, adolescent development, educational technology, and Japanese language courses at university level and has been incorporating technology in her teaching. Additionally, she is a big campus advocate for diversity and inclusion and internationalization of curriculum.
Having served in a range of instructional and administrative roles throughout my career, I currently serve as Coordinator of Blended and Online Learning in the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology at Illinois State University, where I'm responsible for designing and delivering a full program of professional development opportunities for faculty interested in incorporating research-based, best practices of online and blended learning into their curriculum. I also serve as Instructional Assistant Professor in the Department of English. I compliment these positions at Illinois State by serving as Professional Development Facilitator, Master Reviewer, and Coordinator for the Quality Matters Program.

Extended Abstract

Distance education expands opportunity to an increasingly complex demographic of learners. But given the fiscal realities of contemporary education, the increase in opportunity and diversity that distance education provides is sometimes not matched with an optimum increase in resources. 
Best practice literature suggests the best online course size is 20 students (Keeton, 2004), but empirical research on effective class size for online learning is still limited and inconclusive (Orellana, 2006). Regardless of the research on the optimum enrollment cap for effective online learning, there is a growing trend among many higher education institutions to increase enrollment caps in online courses due to resource constraints and student graduation needs. Given this trend of increasing class size, instructors must address the challenges of teaching large online courses (Elison-Bowers, Sand, Barlow & Wing, 2011).  
In this session, we will identify and address the challenges of maintaining an effective learning environment in large online courses (50+ student enrollment).  We will then explore possible solutions through a guided discussion in which participants collaboratively brainstorm ideas for effective ways to address these challenges of teaching large online courses – focusing on but not limiting to course design, communication, interaction, assessment and the expanded roles of teaching assistants. 
By the end of the session, participants will have a list of ideas for teaching large online courses and will feel confident in their ability to scale up to large online courses. 
Learning Objectives:
* Identify the challenges instructors face in maintaining an effective learning environment in large enrollment online classes (50+ students).
* Examine various types of challenges including class communication, scalability of assessments, and learner engagement and interactions.
* Collaboratively brainstorm potential solutions for the challenges for instructional design and teaching strategies.
Take away that the participants can expect:
* A list of literature review on the topic
* Ideas in instructional design and teaching strategies that benefit large online courses (generated in brainstorm process above)
* Expanded network of supporting colleagues who can help address the challenges of large online courses
* Confidence in your ability to scale up to and effectively facilitate large online courses 
Elison-Bowers, P., Sand, J., Rose Barlow, M., & Wing, T. (2011). Strategies for managing large online classes. International Journal of Learning, 18, 57-66.
Keeton, M.T. (2004). Best online instructional practices: Report of phase I of an ongoing study. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8, 75-100.
Orellana, A. (2006). Class size and interaction in online courses. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 7, 229-248.