One of the hardest things to do is to take yourself to the global level. It's a risk that every classroom teacher needs to take, but because of time and content restraints are to "time strapped" to do. So what is the best way to get the done? 

Let's hear your ideas! 

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Taking an inquiry/project-based learning approach is key to a great online learning experience! Especially when it is done globally. After doing projects with India, Australia, Mexico, the UN, EU, and Canada here are some tips to do effective online projects.

What is the most effective way to get the student to grapple with the subject matter? How can the student be held accountable for their work? How can the synchronous and asynchronous technologies best be used to help a student understand the different levels of learning? What does it take to make the student accountable for their ideas and the information they are required to learn too? One of the best methods of teaching using online learning is for a student to do inquiry or project based learning that empowers them to come up with their own conclusions, facts and ideas. By making the classroom a curricular place or cross-curricular event the student learns many of the practical skills they will need to have in education or business.

When you take the material, the use of experts, the ability of the student to post/defend/expand on their ideas, to present these ideas in a real world context and then go back and reevaluate their efforts that is one of the most powerful learning adventures in any classroom. The online world gives the student an access they have never had before to do this. Think of taking the material a student must learn and asking them to apply it by using technology to critically think and then apply that thinking to a real world situation.


To develop inquiry online lessons you may create a theme or allow the students to choose a topic. There are a number of wonderful tools that are great guides for online inquiry or problem-based lessons, The key to doing these activities is how you do them so that you end up with a quality product. If the student knows the essentials of critical thinking, how to research, what the grading rubric will be before undertaking the it helps facilitate a good project.


Here is one example of how to integrate synchronous, asynchronous, and real-time activities in an online lesson. The program I like to use is called the 10 Steps to Action: (

  1. Define the problem & identify the information needed.
  2. Information Seeking Strategies find the most appropriate source(s).
  3. Locate and access information
  4. Extract the relevant information.
  5. Synthesis of all information.
  6. Evaluate the results of research.
  7. Communicate the information.
  8. Take appropriate action.
  9. Find collaborative partners.
  10.       Assessment of action taken.


To use each of these steps in the online world students must be evaluated by the instructor, other students, and subject area experts each step of the way.


In these types of projects, start by introducing the information in the synchronous world and/or recording something for students to listen to (i.e. podcast) before they start the project. Post the information ahead of time in your asynchronous content manager (i.e. WebCT, Blackboard.)  I prefer to use the synchronous world to introduce the topic so that the students can ask questions. Each of the following steps is worth different points and have a due date:

Step 1

  • Define the problem & identify the information needed. (Choosing a topic and subtopic)
    • What is the topic I have chosen? (Find a topic that interest you personally)

Email Instructor, discussion in synchronous tool 

Step 2

  • Information Seeking Strategies

o   What is my hypothesis? (Set up a hypothesis, choose a topic, and develop some resources.)

o   What steps do I see as a part of my investigation? (Personally gain background information on your topic through independent research.)

o   Keep a careful log of your research? (Dates, observations, results)

o   What outside resources do I need to use? Which ones have I added during the investigation? (Choose at least 3 legitimate outside sources.)

asynchronous Discussion Area, 

Breakout evaluations from teacher in synchronous tool 

Step 3

  • Locate and access information
    • Identify and meet with experts on your topic.
    • Writing your analysis of the topic What effects and impact do I see as a result of this investigation or activity? (Choose a few subtopics, questions about your topic and its effects, and use that as a framework of what to research.)

asynchronous Discussion Area, email and synchronous 

Step 4

  • Extract Relevant information
    • Write a 3-4-paragraph summary off your work for the Project-Based learning newsletter.
    • Prepare the general information for a web-based newsletter – techno-summary, video, audio, web-file, or PowerPoint.



Email your instructor- to be posted on the website.




  • Prepare the general information for a web, podcast, or PowerPoint presentation



Web page or PowerPoint-Email to Instructor- synchronous Presentation


Step 5

  • Synthesis of information
    • Determine what course of action you need to take based on your research. (Seek out {through this class} and contact a professional in your field of study.)

·         For example:

  • What laws/legislation impact your work?
  • What laws/legislation is needed to support my findings?
  •  What is the appropriate public information/awareness campaign I need to take on my topic?
  • Are there any agencies, organizations or businesses that you need to contact for information or action on your topic? Contact and meet with these organizations

asynchronous Discussion Area

Step 6

  • Evaluate the results of research
    • Finish the organization of your information/research so that you can finalize your presentation/activity

asynchronous Discussion Area

Step 7

  • Communicate the information.
    • Present your program to your peers for initial review


Step 8

  • Take appropriate action
    • Create an action plan that includes a timeline for executing your action plan.

WebCt Discussion Area

Step 9

  • Finalize your information/presentation for the final presentation with your teacher


Step 10

  • Present your final program/activity to the class.

    Face-to-face or synchronous  presentation

Step 11

  • Assess your course of action, presentation, and the need for possible further action on your topic.

Online in asynchronous  - Survey


This type of project can take from two to five weeks to do in the online world. However, they are well worth the time and energy that they require of the student and teacher.


A friend of mine once said to me that online education should be down and dirty, give the students the essentials, make sure they understand it, and then move on to the next bit of information. It is not a bad way to teach and learn, and most students in high level classes appreciate you not “wasting their time.” But is this “down and dirty” academic atmosphere the best way to train students for the skills that they will need in the 21st Century.



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