Driving across the Midwestern states of Nebraska and Iowa this week led me to some interesting conclusions about modern farming. First, farms and crops come in all shapes and sizes. Second, there are farms that are clearly more equipped for the fast-paced lifestyle of modern America. Third, there are efficient ways to farm, and with modern equipment, there are very efficient ways to farm.


I am no expert when it comes to farming equipment, but I know a new tractor or baler when I see one. To adhere to the growing numbers of agricultural goods consumption, agricultural machinery has taken a leap forward in the last 20-30 years to increase production. This is one of the best examples of the correlation between new machinery/technology and increased consumption.


In education, there is also a correlation between new online education technology and the volume of students that can be taught. Although it has been decades since the first online course was taught, we still need to learn a lot about the education resources we have at our disposal.


In a recent blog post by Clive Shepherd on his “Clive on Learning” blog, he shares ten suggestions on how to increase online course productivity with interaction-rich virtual classroom sessions:


  1. Very short presentations by engaging experts, followed up with extensive Q&A/peer-to-peer interaction in the text chat.
  2. Interviews and panel discussions with lots of audience participation
  3. Software demos with plenty of Q&A
  4. Group activities in breakout rooms
  5. Debriefs of group activities whether these were undertaken in the virtual classroom
  6. Teams presenting the outputs from their assignment
  7. Welcome sessions at the start of major blended programs to allow participants to get to know each other and ask questions
  8. Role plays in 2s and 3s using webcams
  9. Quizzes in teams
  10. Group discussions and debates

If anything, these suggestions could leave instructors asking questions like, “How can the increase in student interaction help the productivity of my students? Do I think these suggestions can be beneficial to my student’s exam scores if implemented?”


Much like a farm is more productive with new equipment, a classroom (online or in person) will be more productive with the use of all the new equipment and tools available to create more effective learning spaces.


At Ascend education, we want to hear what you have found to be effective in your online classrooms. Share with us your insights and suggestions. Together we can help each other become better educators.


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