Solutions to common behavioral problems: Potential obstacles to effective online discussions and classroom management are a few students dominating the discussion forums, frequent posts irrelevant to course content, too many messages to read, even bullying (Rovai, 2007). The following chart presents some common behavioral problems experienced in the online classroom and recommended solutions (Horton, p. 489-490; Ko and Rosson, 2004, pp. 225-238; Rovai, pp. 79-88):
The preceding examples should help you identify and handle potential problems. Of course, each student is unique, and the correction given must be individualized (Ko et al. ). Ko (2004) suggests to use a soft, not an accusatory tone in a disciplinary email. Words like “might” and “perhaps” can often diffuse a potential conflict (p. 238). As issues arise, keep a record of the correspondence and quickly respond to diffuse the situation. Keep your department head apprised of the situation in the unfortunate circumstance the situation escalates.
Black, Greaser, and Dawson (2008) suggest “there is reason to believe that much of what is known about academic dishonesty in the brick and mortar classroom may also apply to online courses” (p. 23). This assumption is based on the “Media Equation” in which people behave in computer mediated situations in the same fashion as they do in “real world” situations (Black et al.). Upholding the academic honor code can be challenging in the online environment where tests are not proctored and the instructor cannot monitor the student as he or she progresses on a project.
The NACOL (2007) reports many online instructors can easily detect cheating “because teachers and students are in such close communication, teachers know when a student is not submitting his own work” (p. 17). Implementing a wide range of assignments and assessments can deter cheating and make cheating easier to identify.
Other methods of detecting academic honor code infractions are 1) TurnItIn.com, a tool to detect plagiarism, and 2) Blackboard offers a Respondus LockDown Browser which prevents a student from printing, copying, going to another URL, or accessing other applications during a Blackboard assessment. Creating tests through Blackboard and Respondus give the instructor the ability to require a password to access the test, limit the time to take a test, and randomize test questions and answers (Blackboard for Faculty Support site).
Online instructors often assume students in an online environment do not collaborate face-to-face (Anderson, 2008). Although online students have agreed to the terms of ASU’s Academic Honor Code, it is a good idea to remind students that they may not collaborate on quizzes and exams. For any infraction to the Angelo State University Honor Code, follow the same procedures in the online classroom as you would in a face-to-face classroom.
Provide a description and guideline reminders for each quiz and exam in Blackboard.
(Note: If you do not allow use of books, handouts, and online tutorials, having the test proctored is the only way to ensure compliance.)