The DePaul University Technology Entrepreneurship course has three completed terms. As discussed in my Coleman Fellowship interim report, since opening up the class to online students, I have not been satisfied that the online students received an educational outcome on par with what the in-class students received. So, for my Coleman Fellowship project I decided to focus on specific enhancements to the course to improve the online experience for students in my Winter 2012 term. The primary issue with the old format that I observed was the extensive use of in-class discussion as a pedagogical approach.
Unfortunately for the online students, they can not participate in class discussions in real time because of limitations in the DePaul technology I've used in the class (primarily COLWeb). So, instead of real time discussions I instituted a weekly online directed discussion in the class's online discussion forum tool. My hypothesis is that this will provide an adequate level of discussion amongst the students, even if it is not in real-time.
After using this approach in my Winter 2012 class, it appears that the quality of the student responses did improve when presented with a weekly directed question instead of a more general directive (for instance, "Please give me your thoughts on the weeks readings.").
The secondary issue with the old class format was that the class required a final presentation by each team on the business opportunity that they researched and developed during the class. This was a 10 minute "investor pitch" that used an very strict 11 slide format. Each team member was required to speak during at least 1 slide of the presentation. For online teams, I did allow them to record their presentation and send me the file as an slideshow with an audio overlay. Unfortunately, real time, in-person presentations convey more information and provide more opportunities for me and other students to critique the presentation and provide meaningful feedback. So, the online students and the in-class students (who were presenting live) ended up delivering much different pitches. In my Winter 2012 classI required all teams, both in-class and remote, to deliver the presentation in the same format, namely a video slideshow with an audio overlay. Through this standardization, I was able to judge all the students on equal footing. A side benefit is that they have the slideshow recording with feedback that they can review at any time in the future, if they want to refresh their memory.