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Teach Beyond Your Reach: An Instructor’s Guide to Developing and Running Successful Distance Learning Classes, Workshops, Training Sessions and More.. The role of the instructor in a distance-learning environment can be neither “sage on the stage” nor “guide on the side.” Depending on the degree of comfort your students have with distance learning, your own pedagogical style, the tools you have at hand, and the objectives of the course, you may find yourself taking on any combination of many different roles: Mentor, coach, instructor, facilitator, referee, trainer, and even shoulder to cry on.

Robin Neidorf


Teach Beyond Your Reach



(An Instructor’s Guide to Developing and Running Successful DISTANCE LEARNING Classes, Workshops, Training Sessions and More)




The usual cast of thousands has contributed to the ideas in this book. I’m grateful to many individuals and organizations for their trust in me and their willingness to co-create learning experiences with me.


The following people generously gave of their time and shared expertise by granting interviews, sharing resources, pointing me in the right direction, and providing assistance and support of many kinds: Michael Allen, Jim Austin, Monique Cuvelier, Kim Dority, Linda MacCauley Freeman, Christine Hamilton-Pennell, Jean Hanson, Rabbi Hayim Herring, Andrea Jarrell, Jennifer Kaplan, Jan Knight, William Males, Heather Martin, Serena Pelowski, Heidi Pliam, Mark Rossman, Karen Steinhilber, Wendy Weiner, the workshop presenters of Sloan-C, my terrific colleagues on the discussion list for the Association for Independent Information Professionals (AIIP), and my writing e-buddies in the Bennington Collective.


The following organizations and people have helped me become a better instructor, writer, thinker, and mensch by giving me opportunities to test ideas and to stumble as well as succeed: The Bennington Writing Seminars; Compleat Scholar at the University of Minnesota; JSkyway; Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal (STAR); University of Phoenix; University of Gävle; And my writing instructors and mentors, particularly Sven Birkerts, Susan Cheever, and Morgan Grayce Willow.


I could not have completed this book—or really much of anything in my life—without the support of my husband, Andrew Sullivan, and our daughter, Talia Sullivan Neidorf.


To the countless students who have allowed me to work with them and change their thinking and sometimes their lives—my gratitude. To my colleagues in the field of instruction—my best wishes.


Introduction: Those Who Can, Teach


Becoming a Teacher


My first teaching opportunity came when I was still in high school. I was a math tutor, working with junior high students struggling with algebra. In a one-on-one setting, often lounging with my students on their bedroom floors, I explained polynomial functions and abstract numbers.


I also answered questions about life beyond eighth grade graduation. From the lofty distance of three years, I could reflect on how I had risen to the challenge of high school. My willingness to talk and to respond to their questions helped several of them express and then ease their fears about moving into the next stage of their education.


From that first experience in that most intimate setting, I’ve expanded my teaching to classrooms, virtual and traditional. I’ve taught a few hundred students of varying skills and interests, covering topics including college composition, Web-based business research techniques, nonprofit marketing and branding, creative writing, and more. My writing and composition students in particular seem to thrive under my watch. Together we untangle the mysteries of English grammar while shaping ideas through the power of written words.


I never see most of my students and only rarely speak to any of them on the telephone. We communicate primarily through asynchronous discussion, e-mail, and the occasional instant messenger session; They send assignments via Web depository or e-mail, and I respond digitally with detailed feedback. Yet I find that in many ways the relationships we have are not altogether different from those I had as a math tutor. I am doing much more than serving as a conduit to the mastery of a specific subject or skill. Rather, I am changing the way they think about themselves and interact with their entire world. I am helping them build confidence, agree to take risks, and believe in themselves and their ability to perform in a quickly changing world.


When I am teaching, whether face to face or on opposite sides of the world, I am engaged in one of the most rewarding, challenging, and connected roles I take on in my busy life.


Why Write This Book?


I came to distance learning initially with some skepticism. Despite earning my own master’s degree in creative writing through a lowresidency program (a hybrid form of distance education involving brief on-campus periods followed by six-month stretches of work through the mail with a mentor), I wasn’t convinced that distance methods could adequately serve the needs of a dynamic classroom. From my comic-bookreading days, I remembered the “Draw me!” ads offering to train me to be an artist although I could barely draw a 3-D cube with any degree of accuracy. Was it really possible to deliver high-quality learning experiences if I couldn’t see and immediately respond to my students?


When I first explored the possibilities of distance learning early in 2002, my experience included teaching in a live classroom as well as years of experience (naturally) On the other side of the gradebook. I was comfortable with traditional classrooms, and so I took them as the norm against which distance learning would have to be measured.


When teaching in front of a class, I knew (more or less) What to expect and how to prepare. I knew how to read expressions, think on my feet, adapt, take a little more time with a challenging topic, or allow an unexpectedly profound discussion to run long. How could an online classroom ever compare?


Since then, I’ve taught dozens of courses through a variety of distancelearning formats. I’ve learned how to adapt both what I teach and how I teach so that I maximize the features and benefits of different learning environments. I’ve learned more about learning styles, as well as my own strengths and weaknesses as an instructor. Most important, I’ve become more conscious of what I need to do to deliver an engaging, educational course—a development that has had a deep, positive impact on all my teaching, no matter what the venue. My Experiences with Distance Learning In 1996, I graduated with a master’s degree in creative writing with the inaugural class of the Bennington Writing Seminars (BWS) At Bennington College in Vermont. As mentioned earlier, BWS is based on a lowresidency format: Four semesters of one-on-one work through the mail with writing mentors, interspersed with “residencies” in January and June, when we participated in workshops, lectures, and graduation for the outgoing class. At the time, there were only half a dozen low-residency master’s programs in writing in the country; Today there are more than 30, with new ones being established each year.


Following graduation, I began teaching occasionally in traditional classrooms, primarily through the adult enrichment program at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. A couple of years later, I started my research and communications business, which enabled me to start developing and conducting customized training programs for clients in business research, public relations basics, audience-focused communication, and more. When I couldn’t travel to a client site, we would naturally move to a teleconference format. I began to become more interested in finding other ways to reach geographically remote audiences.


In 1999, I joined an online writer’s group for BWS alumni. Although I’ve never met the majority of the writers in the group, our exchanges of both writing and the woes of the artistic struggle have allowed us to develop very close relationships. One of my dear colleagues in this group is William Males, a lecturer at the University of Gävle in Sweden, where he lives. Before we ever met face to face, William invited me to become a coteacher in his Creative Writing in English course, taught online under the auspices of his university.


Late in 2001 and early in 2002, my business (and many others) Was in a slow mode. Seeking additional income sources, I responded to an online faculty recruitment advertisement from the University of Phoenix Online.


I was accepted into the intensive one-month training program, and I successfully taught my first class—Essentials of College Writing—at the University of Phoenix in August 2002.


By the middle of 2003, I was eagerly looking for more ways to incorporate distance-learning principles into my consulting practice. I found the perfect opportunity in my relationship with a national nonprofit, Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal (STAR). STAR provides training, education, and capacity building for synagogues and their leaders.


Introduction: Those Who Can, Teach 3through its programs. As STAR’s communications consultant, I’ve been charged with the exciting and challenging task of creating and reviewing distance-learning opportunities for rabbis, synagogue professionals, and volunteers in a variety of key areas—including synagogue marketing, which I not only develop but teach as well.


There are other elements of my professional and personal life that make distance learning a perfect arena in which to play, but these primary touch points in my history will help you understand the basis for my approach to distance instruction.


Teaching through distance learning is just as rewarding as teaching in a traditional classroom setting (or even more so). I teach through distance learning in part because flexible formats enable me to work with students.


I wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach and to add classes to an already busy schedule. The students I encounter through distance learning have widely diverse backgrounds, abilities, and needs, bringing a new richness to my own experiences as an instructor.


Still, these benefits weren’t achieved simply through migrating to a distance-learning platform. Making distance learning such a positive experience for my students and me has taken focus, attention, training, and a willingness to experiment. Taking advantage of distance learning has made me take a critical look at every element of my formal and informal teaching and to think differently about exactly what I’m offering students.


When I was first invited to teach a seminar in a traditional classroom setting, I had only one decision to make: What was I going to present, based on the requested topic and the knowledge level of the students?


Now that I’mdeveloping distance-learning offerings, I have an entire host of additional decisions to make, including which platform to use, how to format materials, which ways to integrate technology to enhance the learning experience, and how to manage and guide a student’s “classroom” experience.


The biggest surprise for me in the shift from classroom to distance has been the relationships I have with my distance students. From the moment.


I conceive an idea for a possible distance-learning program, the students are present. As I craft objectives, activities, lesson plans, the arc of a learning experience, the integration of technology, and even the content of assignments, I am in silent dialogue with the students who live in my head—asking questions, pointing out inconsistencies in the classroom experience, Reachgiving me the deer-in-the-headlights stare because I’ve failed to provide the background information they need to complete an assignment. In distance learning, ironically, the students are always present.


I love that connection with students and the potential for creating meaningful change (in them) And exchange (between us). So many talented instructors and potential instructors dismiss the idea of distance learning because the traditional classroom is their norm, as it was for me before I started teaching at a distance. They assume, as I did, that it’s too difficult or even impossible to craft those connections without being in a face-to-face environment. My hope is that this book will help you expand your ideas about creative possibilities in distance learning and give you the practical knowledge you need to make it happen at the same time.


But What Exactly Is Distance Learning?


Does distance learning mean Web-based education? Correspondence courses? Self-paced activities? Virtual teams? Teleconferences? Satellite courses? Interactive video? Short, easy answer: Any and all of the above.


Distance learning is more visible today than ever before because of the way the Internet has become embedded in corporate, academic, and consumer life. But it has existed longer than the Web, and if, as some doomand-gloomers predict, the Web one day collapses under the monstrous weight of its unsupportable growth, distance learning will continue to be a viable option for education of all kinds.


But it’ s true that Web-based education dominates the current development in the field because of its many advantages for instructors, developers, and students. Even within the category of Web-based classrooms, we can find plenty of variation in learning platforms and instructional approaches. A “Webinar” usually refers to a real-time Web-based presentation, with or without viewer interaction. Web-based classrooms can be synchronous (e. G., real-time chat rooms) Or asynchronous (e. G., threaded discussions in a dedicated space or forum). Instructional models have even been built around downloadable e-books, with interaction provided through e-mail.


Introduction: Those Who Can, Teach 5In other words, you have options. By uncoupling instruction from the traditional classroom restrictions of time and place, you have an opportunity to focus on the following questions:


• What information and knowledge do you want to share with students?


• What outcomes do you want your students to achieve (what should they be able to say, think, or do as a result of the learning experience)?


• What is the best combination of instructor resources, student resources, materials, technology, and expense to achieve a successful outcome?


This book will help you answer these questions and develop the materials, resources, tools, and processes you need to act on your answers. And unlike other resources on distance education, this book does not assume you will choose a Web-based platform, or even a technology-driven platform, on which to teach. You may find that printed materials and snail mail work just as well to accomplish your goals and create a satisfying experience for you and your students.


Who Should Read This Book?


This book is written by an instructor for instructors. It is intended primarily for those who are interested in enhancing their teaching skills, broadening their student pool, or challenging their own assumptions about what goes into a functional classroom, and for those who are just plain intrigued by the possibilities of distance learning but want a guided approach to make it work for them.


The pressure on institutions and instructors to find ways to develop and deliver effective distance learning is intensifying. Hardly a university exists that isn’t asking instructors to incorporate an online component into their courses, as well as create online-only offerings to maximize the reach of the institution. Consultants, trainers, and topic experts are exploring distance learning as a way to expand their reach (and potential revenue sources) While minimizing airport time. Associations, facing increasing competition for their members’ time, dues, and loyalty, are turning to distance learning

Introduction: Those Who Can, Teach 7 as a way to add value to their memberships; They can offer training, professional development, and networking opportunities that members can access at their convenience, without the expense and hassle of attending an on-site meeting or conference. And all of these institutions need instructors who are creative, confident in their choice of distance-learning tools, and ready to meet the needs of a wide range of students.


Different Types of Readers: How to Use This Book


This information will help you understand how to incorporate this book into your planning and development, based on your particular situation and needs.


If you are


• Teaching at a college or university


Then you probably


• Are required to use a specific platform (e. G., WebCT, Blackboard, proprietary, or other)


• Have access to instructional design support


• Have access to technical support


• Have experience teaching in traditional classrooms


And you can use this book to


• Learn to adapt your teaching style to a distance format


• Learn what questions to ask and how to present your ideas and “wish list” to design and technical specialists


• Get fresh ideas on teaching and how to best help students of all kinds


If you are


• Part of a small or midsize businessThen you probably


• Have a limited budget


• Do not have access to a high-cost, feature-rich platform


• Are also responsible at some level for marketing your courses


And you can use this book to


• Understand how to apply the concepts of distance learning in course design


• Identify, select, and implement low-cost and low-tech options effectively


• Gain perspective on audiences and learners and understand how to deliver (and market) Something they want and need


If you are


• An independent consultant, freelance instructor, or other solo practitioner


Then you probably


• Have a minuscule budget


• Have deep topic expertise but limited (if any) Access to other kinds of expertise


• Need to market your course to survive


And you can use this book to


• Learn how to package your knowledge in course content


• Learn how to instruct students rather than simply talk about what you know


• Get a sense of what your market might look like and need in an instructional setting


• Understand the partnerships you may need to teach a course effectively


• Identify low-cost options for launching and testing a course “product”


• Make decisions about which tools and methods to use to deliver distance education


If you are


• Supporting instructors in their distance education endeavors (e. G., you are a training company or department, college dean, technical expert, instructional designer, student support services provider, or platform provider)


Then you probably


• Work with others who will be instructing students


• Need to convince instructors at times to move out of their comfort zone and think differently about instruction


• Mentor or coach instructors to be successful in new areas and with new skill sets


And you can use this book to


• Create shared knowledge with your instructors about scope of work, creative possibilities, content development, audience, and more


• Provide instructors with step-by-step guidance in moving to a distance-learning environment


• Help instructors develop better skills in working with students, organizing their courses, and being effective teachers


Introduction: Those Who Can, Teach


If you are


• A decision maker for an association, business, organization, or other entity


Then you probably


• Need to find effective ways to enhance the value of your entity to your audiences (members, employees, beneficiaries, etc.)


And you can use this book to


• Understand the ways distance education offerings may enhance your overall structure by offering highquality, high-touch, user-focused experiences on more flexible and cost-effective terms than traditional classrooms, conferences, publications, or other methods can


How This Book Is Organized


This book is not designed to be a “soup to nuts” compendium of steps in implementing a distance-learning program. You will not learn how to develop Web pages, install or troubleshoot software, provide student support services, or fulfill other critical needs in developing and delivering an effective distance-learning program. There are many other books and resources you can turn to for that kind of assistance (although in my opinion, you have enough to do to teach without needing to learn to create a Web page, too). The supplementary reading list in Appendix A provides sources of additional practical guidance beyond the scope of planning and instruction, and other resources can be found at the companion Web site for this book: Electric-muse. Com/tbyr. Asp. But go only as deeply as you feel compelled to go in these other areas. Learn enough to be a good partner to those who have the passion for software or support services that you have for instruction.


One of the underlying themes of this book is that distance learning is best created in collaboration with others. I do not believe it is even possibleto excel at performing all of the roles that go into a successful distancelearning program. So you need to know going into it that this book focuses strictly on the requirements for instruction and points out where you need to partner with others to create the best possible educational environment for you and your students.


Content Overview: It’s All About Interaction


The core of learning is interaction.


In traditional classrooms, interaction takes place primarily in a face-toface setting—a classroom usually, or perhaps team meetings or instructor conferences. It’s what most of us are used to and, at some unconscious level, expect.


In distance learning, interaction is still the beating heart of the educational experience. The interaction, however, occurs at a temporal and spatial disconnect. Learners, instructor, content, and social community are no longer contained within the same four walls at the same time. Yet learning occurs. The job of the instructor is to create the right conditions for interaction with the instructor, content, and learning peers, regardless of the distance between the elements.


Ultimately, the instructor does not create learning (whew!); The instructor can create only the environment, distant or not, in which learning can be co-created through the interaction with content, peers, and instructor (see Figure I. 1).


The tools of distance learning are the media through which these interactions are enabled. Chapter 1 discusses the tools available for distance learning and suggests how they may be used, individually and in concert with one another.


Best practices in instruction focus on the learner rather than on the content. Chapter 2 describes what the distance population looks like and how it behaves. By focusing on adult students, this chapter lays out different learning styles, generational differences, and attitudes toward education that can make a difference in how students enter your class, work with you and the material, and communicate their educational goals.


Chapters 3 and 4 focus on creating content for distance learning that encourages interaction while achieving learning objectives. Chapter 3 guides you through the questions and processes that will help you create Introduction: Those Who Can, Teach 11the overall course design, while Chapter 4 offers detailed information on the actual craft and implementation of course content elements such as lectures, presentations, assignments, and so on.


The role of the instructor in a distance-learning environment can be neither “sage on the stage”  nor “guide on the side.”  Depending on the degree of comfort your students have with distance learning, your own pedagogical style, the tools you have at hand, and the objectives of the course, you may find yourself taking on any combination of many different roles: Mentor, coach, instructor, facilitator, referee, trainer, and even shoulder to cry on.


.................................. This Book has 250 pages, in 8 chapters (Nội dung cuốn sách gồm 8 chương, 250 trang):





Figures, Tables, and Worksheets


Introduction: Those Who Can, Teach

Becoming a Teacher

Why Write This Book?

My Experiences with Distance Learning

But What Exactly Is Distance Learning?

Who Should Read This Book?

Sidebar: Different Types of Readers: How to

Use This Book

How This Book Is Organized

Content Overview: It’s All About Interaction

Those Who Can, Teach

Chapter 1: New Tools of the Trade

Least-Complex Tools

Sidebar: A Quick View of Snail Mail

Sidebar: A Quick View of E-mail

Sidebar: A Quick View of Teleconferencing

Sidebar: A Quick View of Synchronous Chat (IM) Midrange Tools

Sidebar: A Quick View of Asynchronous Discussion

Sidebar: A Quick View of Videoconferencing

Most-Complex Tools

Sidebar: A Quick View of Multimedia

Sidebar: A Quick View of Proprietary Web Course

Management System

Sidebar: A Quick View of Open-Source Web-Based Course Management System

Sidebar: A Quick View of Collaborative Online Workspace

Flexible Combinations—Blended Learning

Right Tool, Right Place—A Few Sample Approaches

Sidebar: Distance-Learning Tools—Do’s and Don’ts

What If You Don’t Have a Choice?

A View into the Future

Chapter 2: What to Expect When

You’re Expecting Students

Understanding Adult Learners

Attitudes Toward Education

Sidebar: Confidence Strength Training

Learning Styles

Sidebar: Three’s the Charm

Generational Differences

The Endgame: Motivation and Learner-Centered


Adult Learners Need

Sidebar: Not Working with Adults?

Now Let’s Build a Course

Chapter 3: Content, Part I

Instructional Design

What Is Instructional Design?

Sidebar: Getting the Most Benefit from an

Instructional Designer

General Instructional Design Principles

Sidebar: Words to Use in Learning Objectives

Sidebar: How Many Objectives?

Distance-Learning Design Particulars

Putting the “Process” in the Design Process

Crafting a Topic Syllabus

Chapter 4: Content, Part II: Development

Get It in Writing

Where to Begin?

A Quick Peek at the End Result

Activities First

Sidebar: Back to Those Learning Objectives

Sidebar: Got Tech?

Core Content Development

Build on Core Content with Discussion and Activities

Sidebar: Lessons from the Copywriter

Instructional Events

Waiting for the Movie Release?

Challenges Unique to Distance Instruction

Sidebar: Course Content RLOs

Special Considerations for E-Learning

Sidebar: High Time for Collaboration

Take a Deep Breath and Jump

Beta Testing

Budgeting Time

Chapter 5: Time to Go to Class


Sidebar: Life Happens

Be Prepared

Plan for the Inevitable

Train the Students to Your Expectations

Be Responsive

Sidebar: Points for Participation

Hold Office Hours

Foster Dialogue

Repeat Yourself

Provide Timely Feedback

Sidebar: Some Are More Equal than Others

Contents vModel Your Expectations

Manage Conflict

Be Resourceful

Create Culture

Best Practices for Asynchronous Classrooms

Best Practices for Synchronous Classrooms

Beyond the Classroom: Accept Feedback

Easy Does It—And Enjoy!

Chapter 6: Individual Learners

It’s All About Them

Getting to Know You

Sidebar: Tip for Managing Introductions

Being Proactive and Reactive

Enabling Customization

Sidebar: Pairing Up


Be Resourceful

Sidebar: Do You Know What You Know?



Keep It Private

It’ s Not Easy to Have Relationships

Chapter 7: Creating a Community of Learners

Logistics and Psychology

Sidebar: Creating Positive Peer Energy

Face to Face?

Building on the Classroom Environment

Group Work

Get Them Talking: Stages of the Teaming Process

Peer Evaluation

Making Magic Counterforces to Black Magic

Communication x Time x Outcomes = Community

Chapter 8: Distance Learning as a  Collaborative Enterprise

Roles and Responsibilities

Sidebar: How to Use This Chapter

Shared Understanding of Goals

The Big Picture

Distance Learning Is in Beta-Testing


Appendix A: Resources and Further Reading

Appendix B: Sample Introductory Materialsfor Distance Learning

Appendix C: Sample Lecture

Appendix D: Copyright Considerations

About the Author





teach beyond your reach



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