Online teaching tools

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In large classes, it can often be difficult to encourage student participation and incorporate inquiry-based learning into the curriculum. Encouraging classroom interaction is much more difficult when there are 250+ students in a large lecture hall. A 2008 study (Iaria & Hubball, 2008) of two medical classes, one with 17 students and one with 150, found that the ratio of student participation in class discussions dropped significantly from 15/17 in the small class to only 3/150 in the large class, even though both classes gave students the same types of opportunities to be involved in active discussion. When class sizes are this large, online teaching modules can be an effective supplement to in-class lectures. Research (Nguyen & Trimarchi, 2010) has shown that using online modules to supplement large introductory microeconomics and macroeconomics lecture classes results in higher comprehension of material.


What is an Online Teaching Module?

Online teaching modules provide:

  • Supplementary discussion of topics covered in the lecture and textbooks
  • Review modules that allow students to self-test and assess their own progress on concept. This review process gives students individual attention and immediate feedback on their skills.
  • Communication modules which allow class discussion on online forums. This is particularly beneficial in large classes where in-class discussion is hard to facilitate.
  • Online experiments and games for students to apply the concepts they learn in class
  • Ability to use pre-made exercises or create your own exercises


Aplia and MyEconLab are examples of online teaching tools available to economics instructors. As described in Nguyen and Trimarchi's 2010 analysis of online modules: "The MyEconLab web site has separate work areas for students and instructors. For students, there are learning modules to explain course materials with computer graphics, multimedia content, and numerical calculations. There are also planning and review modules (calendar, study plan, homework, quizzes and tests) to coach students into the habit of active learning mode with regular practice exercises for tryouts as well as real quizzes and tests for marks. In particular, the result module provides instant feedback on student progress which is much faster than the traditional manual marking by instructors or teaching assistants."

Evidence

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