Is there anybody out there? Eliminating online isolation.

Joseph Mold

Executive Director of

Online Learning

Bay College

Joseph Mold - Executive Director of Online Learning

Throughout my 18 years in online education, the most common complaint is, “Where is my teacher?” This session will identify best practices in online learning like a good introduction, active participation in the discussion board, using rubrics in the LMS and timely feedback to eliminate online isolation.

Participants will:

Identify Socratic questioning.

Share their best online practices.

Apply best practices in an example scenario.

Justify timely feedback.

Compare web 2.0 tools to engage students.

Construct 3 things they will do to improve their online course.


I am Joseph Mold

You can find me at



Online Learning =
Regular and Substantive Interaction -HLC

“All Title IV eligible programs, except correspondence programs, must be designed to ensure that there is regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors.”


Be an Active participant!

The instructor should be the most active participant in the course.


Tools in the LMS

  • Discussion Boards
  • Blogs
  • WIki
  • Assignment Tools

What tools do you use to engage students?


24 Hours

3 days


How long is to long?

Next Day Service


Next-Day Service

Feedback should be within 24 to 48 hours. This idea seems overwhelming for a teacher who sees 150 to 200 students in a day. But if students wait too long for feedback, they risk losing the context for the valued learning of the work. Strive to attain this response time as a goal, not a policy. With diligence, successes will happen when students need them most.



Timely Feedback is Critical






Discussion boards

Socratic Questioning

Use questions to engage students.

Joe, can you please expand on what Jill said?

Ice Breakers

Respond to every students ice breaking discussion during the first week.

Always have a “Course Questions“ discussion forum

Instead of answering 20 emails with the same questions answer one on this discussion forum.

Always use an LMS rubric to grade discussion forums

Rubrics define how students will be graded. Blackboard allows you to associate rubrics right to the discussion forum.

Model the behavior you want to see

Do you want your students to be active in the discussion board? Then you should be active with substantive posts.

Guide the discussion

And know when to post. You do not need to control the forum by posting first or to every student. But you should be active in every forum.


Ice Breakers


Types of Socratic Questions



  • Questions for clarification:
  • Questions that probe assumptions:
  • Questions that probe reasons and evidence:
  • Questions about Viewpoints and Perspectives:
  • Questions that probe implications and consequences:
  • Questions about the question:
  • Why would you say that?
  • What could we assume instead?
  • What do you think causes that to happen...? Why:?
  • What is another way to look at it?
  • What are the consequences of that assumption?
  • Why do you think I asked this question?



Honor Code

Have the students collaborate on an honor code for the course. If students feel engaged in making their own rules they’re more likely to follow them.

Guide the wiki via the comment section

Stay out of the wiki space and let your students know that it is their space to create an honor code. You can still encourage students by making comments.


Joe Smith

Joe is a new online student and has a lot of anxiety about his ENGL 101 online class. Name three things you can do to help him feel more comfortable as his online instructor.


Web 2.0


Discussion Boards



3 things

What 3 things will you do to make your online course more interactive?



Any questions?

You can find me at:




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