Teaching
in a Virtual Classroom:
Some Lessons Learned
A special presentation for
2006 Conclave and Professional Conference
June 23-24, 2006, Minneapolis, MN
Steve LeShay, Ph.D.

“Hybrid teaching seeks to end the divide
between traditional and online
instruction….(hybrids) promise the best of
both worlds, offering some of the
convenience of all-online courses without
the complete loss of face-to-face contact.”
--Jeffrey Young, Professor, Fairleigh Dickenson,
Chronicle of Higher Education, Mar. 22, 2002.

“Face-to-face is not the gold standard that
it’s held up to be.”
--Chris Dede, Professor of Learning
Technologies, Harvard University Graduate School of Education

“Distance learning online affords greater
opportunities for spontaneous, interactive,
empathic, constructive learning-teaching
conversations.”
--Professor Borje Holmberg,
Oldenburg University, Germany
Survey Used to Assess Wilmington College Hybrid Courses
01-Name (optional):_____________________________02-Major__________________________
03-Have you taken any distance learning (DL) or hybrid (combination DL and face-to-face)
classes at Wilmington College before this course?
___Yes; ___No
IF YOUR ANSWER TO QUESTION 03 ABOVE WAS ‘YES,’ PLEASE ANSWER BOTH PARTS (A
& B) OF QUESTIONS 4-8.
IF YOUR ANSWER TO QUESTION 03 ABOVE WAS ‘NO,’ THEN ANSWER ONLY PART ‘A’ OF
QUESTIONS 4-8.
04a-How would you rate YOUR ABILITY TO LEARN in this format as compared to other face-toface (f2f) courses you’ve taken at Wilmington College?
___Much better; ___Somewhat better; ___About the same; ___Somewhat worse; ___Terrible
04b-Same question as above, but compared to distance learning (DL).
___Much better; ___Somewhat better; ___About the same; ___Somewhat worse; ___Terrible
05a-How would you rate your ENJOYMENT of this format as compared to other f2f courses?
___Much better; ___Somewhat better; ___About the same; ___Somewhat worse; ___Terrible
05b- Same question as above; but compared to distance learning (DL)
___Much better; ___Somewhat better; ___About the same; ___Somewhat worse; ___Terrible
Continued next slide
Survey Used to Assess Wilmington College Hybrid Courses, p. 2
06a-How would you rate the QUANTITY (amount) of your PARTICIPATION (e.g., class discussion,
interaction with other students, etc.) in this format as compared to other f2f courses?
___Much better; ___Somewhat better; ___About the same; ___Somewhat worse; ___Terrible
06b-Same question as above, but compared to distance learning (DL)
___Much better; ___Somewhat better; ___About the same; ___Somewhat worse; ___Terrible
07a-How would you rate the QUALITY of your PARTICIPATION in this format as compared to othe
f2f courses?
___Much better; ___Somewhat better; ___About the same; ___Somewhat worse; ___Terrible
07b-Same question as above, but compared to distance learning (DL)
___Much better; ___Somewhat better; ___About the same; ___Somewhat worse; ___Terrible
08a-How would you rate this course format OVERALL compared to other face-to-face courses?
___Much better; ___Somewhat better; ___About the same; ___Somewhat worse; ___Terrible
08b-Same question as above, but compared to distance learning (DL)
___Much better; ___Somewhat better; ___About the same; ___Somewhat worse; ___Terrible
Continued next slide
Survey Used to Assess Wilmington College Hybrid Courses, p. 3
09-Which part of the course did you like best?
___Blackboard distance learning; ___face-to-face; ___Liked both equally well
10-How likely would you be to take another hybrid course?
___Very likely; ___Somewhat likely; ___Unsure; ___Probably not; ___Most definitely not
11-How likely would you be to recommend this particular hybrid course to another student?
___Very likely; ___Somewhat likely; ___Unsure; ___Probably not; ___Most definitely not
12-What do you feel was the most positive aspect of this course? Why?
13-What do you feel was the least positive aspect of this course? Why?
14-If you could change one thing about this course what would it be?
15-What grade do you think you are going to earn in this course?
Thank you for completing this survey. Your responses will be kept confidential but will be added
to other responses to obtain an overall impression of students’ reactions.
FINDINGS
Note: small + and – numbers after mean scores
indicate gain or loss (trend) since previous survey.
Small numbers in parenthesis = n for that question.
Q-1: Ability to Learn?
How would you rate YOUR ABILITY TO LEARN
in this format as compared to other face-to-face
(f2f) courses you’ve taken at Wilmington
College?
6% - Much better (3)
29% - Somewhat better (14)
56% - About the same (27)
8% - Somewhat worse (4)
0% - Terrible (0)
Mean score = 3.3 (Slightly better than average) +.1
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Q-2: Enjoyment?
How would you rate your ENJOYMENT of this
format as compared to other f2f courses?
33% - Much better (16)
25% - Somewhat better (12)
17% - About the same (8)
19% - Somewhat worse (9)
6% - Terrible (3)
Mean score = 3.6 (Better than average) +.2
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Q-3: QUANTITY of Participation?
How would you rate the QUANTITY (amount) of
your PARTICIPATION (e.g., class discussion,
interaction with other students, etc.) in this
format compared to other f2f courses?
33% - Much better (16)
23% - Somewhat better (11)
27% - About the same (13)
15% - Somewhat worse (7)
2% -Terrible (1)
Mean score = 3.7 (better than average) -.1

Q-4: QUALITY of Participation?
How would you rate the QUALITY of your
PARTICIPATION in this format as compared to
other f2f courses?
33% - Much better (16)
25% - Somewhat better (12)
25% - About the same (12)
13% - Somewhat worse (6)
4% - Terrible (2)
 Mean score = 3.7 (better than average) +.1

Q-5: OVERALL Evaluation?
How would you rate this course format
OVERALL compared to other face-to-face
courses?
27% - Much better (13)
25% - Somewhat better (12)
25% - About the same (12)
17% - Somewhat worse (8)
6% - Terrible (3)
 Mean score = 3.5 (better than average) +.3

Q-6: What Was Best Part?

Which part of the course did you like the
best?
63% - Blackboard distance learning (30)
8% - Face-to-face (4)
29% - Like both equally well (14)
Q-7: Take a Hybrid Again?

How likely would you be to take another
hybrid course?
46% - Very likely (22)
13% - Somewhat likely (6)
15% - Unsure (7)
10% - Probably not (5)
17% - Most definitely not (8)
Q-8: What do you feel was the most
positive aspect of this course?
(Not necessarily in order of importance)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
Internet class interaction (learning from others)
Discussion boards
Access to class documents and websites
Ability to use time as I see fit
Not having to meet every week (i.e., family, work)
Ability to work on my own
Face-to-face classroom experience
Low stress, flexibility
Lots of opportunities to participate
Attendance (f2f) not graded heavily
Q-9: What do you feel was the least
positive aspect of this course?
(Not necessarily in order of importance)
Face-to-face meetings (too many)
 Points for attendance
 On-line discussions (sometimes
overwhelming if I didn’t check them often)
 Too much unrelated chatter on Blackboard
(answers with no substance or thought)
 Too much work; too many deadlines

Q-10: If you could change one thing
about this course what would it be?
(Not necessarily in order of importance)
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Make total class duration shorter
Less face-to-face time (1st night, midterm, final)
Start later (6 p.m., instead of 5 p.m.)
Better direction on how to respond to internet
discussions
More lectures about course material
More in-class f2f participation
More on-line assignments, less discussion
More Blackboard (non-graded) quizzes to see how we
are doing
Better technical support of Blackboard (too slow,
inconvenient)
25% replied “Nothing.”
Five Themes To Consider
for a Hybrid/Distance Learning Class
1. A hybrid, distance learning (virtual classroom)
course has the potential to provoke an essential
change in education.
 One of the reasons for this is convenience and the
practicality of studying at home.
 However, the deeper importance of on-line education
lies in the fact that it lays the foundation for a change in
all the conventional, traditional "relationships" that have
evolved in the world of education over many centuries.
 In any type of distance learning (DL), the role of the
instructor changes; the role of the individual students
change; the role of the "class" changes; finally, the
presentation of the intellectual content of the course
changes.
 Everything becomes more active, more complex, and
more open, particularly “classroom” discussions!
2. The role of the instructor in a virtual classroom is
much more complex and personal than in the
traditional classroom.
 Because the instructor is not working against the normal
time constraints of a regularly scheduled day/time
session, it is not necessary to compress the exposition of
ideas into a fairly short time-frame.
 Ideas in a DL/hybrid context can be presented carefully,
clearly, and from many different perspectives.
 Discussion can either be strictly organized or completely
spontaneous, depending on the educational needs of the
students.
 Also, in a virtual classroom, all the students (usually)
have direct access to the instructor and to one another.
The result: teaching/learning changes. Because of this,
it is crucial that hybrid and DL instructors rethink their
teaching practices.
3. The "electronic" contact between instructor and
student creates complex learning relationships.
 Teachers in a hybrid context have to handle a multitude
of kinds of questions from their students: brief
administrative questions, obvious intellectual
misunderstandings, confusion, irritation,
guesses/speculations, requests for research assistance,
requests about background information and ideas, and,
of course, essay/paper evaluation.
 Some of this is public and requires a public response.
 Some of this is private and is best handled by private
email.
 On top of this, hybrid teachers often work with groups of
students in different kinds of tasks. None of this can be
accomplished without advance preparation and
planning. Students immediately know when a DL or
hybrid teacher is just going through the motions of
teaching and "knocking out" rapid responses. Nothing
can die more quickly than a poorly planned hybrid/DL
course.
4. One of the most intriguing aspects of the
virtual classroom is its openness.
 Integrating URLs into one's presentations and
discussion questions can be nothing short of
inspiring for the students.
 The immediate access to on-line databases can
energize your presentations and discussions
with the students.
 The use of guest moderators can introduce a
plurality of perspective and devil's advocate
approaches.
 Student participation in forums outside their own
classroom can deepen their understanding of
the subject.
5. A DL/hybrid class, properly planned and
conscientiously executed, permits a degree of
personal interaction with every single student in the
classroom.
 “Personal” means a close, continuing, academic
question/answer process that spans the whole course.
 Students don't have to be numbers or writing heads
anymore; they can be what they always were--important
human beings who want to improve their understanding
of one's academic area.
The Complexity of Online Discussions

One of the most challenging aspects of teaching
a distance learning or hybrid class, especially for
the first-time DL/hybrid teacher, is the complexity
of communication that occurs in the virtual
classroom. Once you get used to this, the rich,
intricate student-teacher and student-student
relationships can be used to deepen your
teaching. But, in the beginning, this can be
disorienting and frustrating.
The Tradition: Two Models
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We are all experienced teachers, and most of us have
great fondness for the traditional classroom. However,
the dynamics of the f2f classroom are for the most part
quite simple.
Our educational system inherits two basic models, the
lecture model and the discussion model.
In the lecture model, a teacher presents an organized
body of themes to a group of students. Discussion is
limited.
In the discussion model, for the most part, a single
teacher leads a group of students in Q/A through the
academic material. Occasionally, one experiences great
lecture situations and energetic discussions, but mostly
these are pretty tame. Often, they fail.
The dynamics in a hybrid classroom are much more
complex and involve several levels….
Level I: The Hybrid On-line
Classroom: "Daily" Duties

Because of the facility of email interaction, the hybrid
teacher has to respond on a daily basis to many
situations that do not often arise in a f2f class. Some of
these “duties” include:
1. Policy clarifications. Things about your policies
that students are hesitant to ask in class are readily
requested online.
2. Correction of prose in emails.
3. Content questions and clarifications.
4. Dialogue with students about misunderstandings
or limited understandings of material.
Level I: The Hybrid On-line
Classroom: "Daily" Duties, cont’d
5. Suggestions about "avenues" that students might
take within one's course. "Should I do a paper on ...?."
6. Motivation/encouragement work with individual
students.
7. Discussion about papers, quizzes etc. "Why
didn't you like this part of my paper....?" All the student
has to do is cut, paste, and send and he/she initiates a
thirty minute discussion/reply.
8. Other?
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Is it any wonder that some instructors try a DL or hybrid
once or twice and then decide against teaching it? It
takes a combination of empathy and dedication to be a
good on-line teacher.
But these daily duties are just the first level of the on-line
interaction.
Level II: Teacher-Groups of
Students (Informal)
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Spending five minutes in a DL or hybrid class
makes one realize that the energy in an on-line
class comes from the Discussion Boards, and
that students group themselves within these
discussion "conferences."
Some are skeptical, some are enthusiastic,
some are hostile, some play games.
A good DL/hybrid teacher has to learn to
harness this energy and this interaction. This
isn't easy and takes practice and patience.
Level III: Teacher-Groups of
Students (Formal)
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In addition to the loose, fluid groupings of students, one of
the main strengths of a hybrid is the use of collaborative
group projects.
Blackboard is one of several interfaces organized to
promote group work. However, there are all sorts of
problems here.
-- How do we integrate group work into our
courses? There is nothing worse than busy work and our
students will immediately react against a group project with
no valuable educational goal.
-- How do we delegate responsibility within a group
project?
-- How do we use multimedia?
-- How do we handle problems--students who don't want
to be involved? Students who don't meet deadlines?
-- How do we motivate students to go to the trouble or
being committed to their group project?
Level IV: Student-Student
Interaction
The online environment (particularly the
Discussion Board) is perfect for free,
spontaneous student interaction about the
course.
 How do we foster and encourage this
without controlling it?
 How do we turn the learning experience
from one of dependence to independence
and interdependence?
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Of course, one can just do the minimum in a
DL/hybrid course and keep the levels of
participation low.
On the other hand, this is a betrayal of the
strong potential of the virtual classroom. There
are no guaranteed recipes for success; every
one of you has to adapt to the online
environment according to your personalities,
your academic backgrounds, and your personal
involvement in your teaching.
Today, in the remaining time, I will try to ask
a few probing questions and allow you to
reflect on how complex and how powerful
on-line discussions, e-mail, and
communication can be. The rest is up to
you.
Everything
You’ve Ever
Wanted to Know About
Hybrid Discussion Boards
But Were
Afraid to Ask!
Important Considerations For
Complexities of Online Discussions
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1. Will you require student participation or leave it
voluntary? Will you set up a point system to grade
student participation?
2. What strategies will you use to get your students
involved in the course? (i.e., asynchronous groups?)
3. How will you confront the question of On-line Writing?
Will you insist on formal English? Will you grade/correct
grammar and punctuation in the daily messages?
4. Will you have to make any personal adjustments in
your own writing to teach the on-line classes?
5. How important will interaction be for the intellectual
evolution of your course? Is your course basically a
lecture course with Q/A or is it more of a Socratic
process?

How will you evaluate discussions? How
will you balance
Quantity
versus
Quality?
One Way To Evaluate QUANTITY
Re: What do you think Revlon markets?
Brown Mon Jan 5, 2004 3:10 pm
Brown Mon Jan 5, 2004 3:13 pm
Brown Thu Jan 8, 2004 7:43 pm
Brown Thu Jan 8, 2004 7:46 pm
Brown Thu Jan 8, 2004 7:53 pm
Brown Thu Jan 8, 2004 7:56 pm
Brown Sun Jan 11, 2004 9:21 pm
Carlisle Sat Jan 10, 2004 9:44 pm
Dobbins Tue Jan 13, 2004 7:33 pm
Durham Wed Jan 7, 2004 8:35 pm
Durham Sat Jan 10, 2004 1:31 pm
Hall Thu Jan 8, 2004 8:18 am
Hall Thu Jan 8, 2004 9:57 am
Hall Sat Jan 10, 2004 8:10 pm
Hall Sat Jan 10, 2004 8:22 pm
7 x 3 = 21
Seven postings over
three different days
1x1=1
1x1=1
2x2=4
4x2=8
Possible Rubric to Measure
QUALITY of Participation
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Critical Thinking
5 = Ideas well developed, new ones introduced; strong
evidence of critical thinking (and research).
4 = Ideas well developed, some evidence of critical thinking.
3 = Some new ideas; minimal evidence of critical thinking.
2 = Poorly developed ideas; none or minimal evidence of
critical thinking
Postings
0 = Deadlines met (within 72 hours for initial post; at least two
responses to other posts within next 72 hours).
-1 = One deadline not met.
-3 = Two or more deadlines not met.
Formula for Grade = total points for critical thinking x 2 minus
postings score. (i.e., 4 x 2 – 0 = 8 out of 10, but 5 x 2 – 3 for
missing two deadlines = 7 out of 10).
How Will You Ask Questions?
Will you use open-ended questions?
 Will you avoid leading questions?
 How often will you probe?
 Are you willing to backtrack if necessary?
 Will you allow “relevant” tangents?
 Will you stop or re-direct comments?

Will You Regularly Use These Important
Questions In Your Discussion?
Who?
 What?
 When?
 Where?
 Why?
 How?

….do you think?
Will You Use Other Stimuli?
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Links to web sites?
Charts, pictures, sketches, games, and fun
activities?
Case studies?
Guest speakers?
Brief questionnaires: discussion starters?
Third person and role-playing?
Word association, completion tests, Thematic
Apperception Tests, etc.?
Example of Projective Technique:
Thematic Apperception Test
Will You Motivate Your Learners to
Participate; Give Them Roles?
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FACILITATOR: Initiates the discussion with one or
two questions from readings.
As class members respond, the facilitator moderates and
extends the discussion by posing new questions on
issues that arise from the dialogue.
Responsible for keeping an active and involved
discussion going throughout the specified discussion
time frame.
From 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups, Hanna et al, Atwood Publishing, 2000, p. 62
Will You Motivate Your Learners to
Participate; Give Them Roles? cont’d
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PROCESS OBSERVER: Monitors the group’s
dynamics, acts as a “parliamentarian”
Responsible for making sure that everyone
participates in the discussion, that there is an
“evenness” of participation; and that discussion
maintains a collegial and helpful tone.
At end of discussion, provides feedback to the
group with a short paragraph that synthesizes
the dynamics of the discussion.
From 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups, Hanna et al, Atwood Publishing, 2000, p. 63
Will You Motivate Your Learners to
Participate; Give Them Roles? cont’d
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NETWORKER/SUMMARIZER: Looks for key themes
that emerge in the discussions.
Keeps track of of areas of consensus and disagreement
among group members
At end of discussion, provides feedback to the group
with a short paragraph that summarizes the content of
the discussion (i.e., main ideas, key points made, any
conclusions).
From 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Online Groups, Hanna et al, Atwood Publishing, 2000, p. 63
Some Final Thoughts About Discussions:
Will You…
Think about your tone of voice?
 Include a minimum posting requirement?
 Encourage participation throughout the
week?
 Keep discussions within the course but
have emergency avenues?
 Create topical threads with seeded
questions?

The First Discussion Question(s)
for a Global Marketing Course

What do you think the biggest challenge is to global
marketers today? Why? How do you think global
marketing, as a field, will relate to your future career in
business? How do you expect to come into contact with
global marketing activities?
Be specific. Post your thoughtful responses to these
questions by Monday, May 16. Then read, comment on,
and/or ask questions about at least one other person's
comments no later than 6 p.m., next Wednesday, May
18.
Each week, one or more discussion questions will be
posted here. It's important that you keep up with this
important part of our "virtual classroom" discussion.
Week #2 Discussion: Researching Research

After reading chapter 6 in your text (and my accompanying
lecture notes), think about the types of research you will need
to do for your Product/Country project.
-- How difficult (or easy) is it to get information about your
country?
-- What are some of the problems you are having?
-- Do you have any solutions or tips for finding out
"environmental (especially cultural) facts" that might impact on
your marketing efforts?
-- What are some of your country's cultural imperatives,
exclusives and/or adiaphora that you have already
discovered? (If you don't understand these terms, read my
lecture notes, chapter 3, slide #12)
-- Have you found a favorite website or other source to get
the country information you are going to need? If so, tell us
about it. What's working for you?
You don't have to answer all of the above questions. There are
no right or wrong answers. Just tell us what you think, read and
comment on what others have to say, and share between now and
next Wednesday, May 25th.
Discussion #3: When is “Puff” Too Much Puff?

Examples of exaggeration can be found in almost any
advertising medium. Do you feel that the superlative is
altogether too prevalent? Are there too many claims
promising "the finest," "the best," "the purest," being
thrown at you everyday, everywhere?
Do you really know the difference between two-ounces
and a BIG two-ounces? Do Giant and Jumbo mean the
same to you? Is a full quart better than just a quart? Do
you really think that all products in the same category
can be the "greatest" or the "best?"
Have advertising exaggerations become so common
that you take them with a grain of salt? Do you excuse
them as nothing more than the result of the advertiser's
license to be arrogant or self-assertive?
What do you think? Post your thoughts under this
Main Topic before the end of this week.
Some More Final Thoughts
About Discussions: Will You…
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Ask for opinions?
Encourage peer feedback?
Moderate well?
Communicate appropriately?
Reflect student ideas?
Respond quickly to questions?
Remove yourself from the middle of the discussions?
Not comment on every posting?
Assure students you are reading all posts?
And, finally….
Will You….

Remain patient? Will you be willing to wait it out?
Remember:
If You Ask It,
They Will Answer
(or Discuss) It
(eventually)!
Steven V. LeShay, Ph.D.
Professor
Marketing Program Coordinator
Wilmington College
320 N. DuPont Highway
New Castle, Delaware 19720
(302) 328-9401 ext. 267
Fax (302) 322-7021
[email protected]
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