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How to Effectively Facilitate Your Online Course to Drive Student Engagement | Frank Sorokach

We interviewed Penn State lecturer, Frank Sorokach, about driving student engagement within an online Computer and Information Technology course.

How would you recommend a new faculty member get started?

“Consider multiple assessment methodologies to drive student engagement. Students engage when they are challenged. The more dynamic the challenge, the more students will be engaged. And the more approaches, the more dynamic the environment will be. In SIMnet, this means using all of the tools available, especially exams and projects. Additionally, having assessments that include badges helps. Employers increasingly want verification that students know what they say they know when applying for a job.  The progressive credentialing in SIMnet is a good way for my students to verify the skills they learn while in the classroom.  SIMnet allows students to verify the skills that they have learned through several increasingly difficult methodologies while completing their assignments. This is an effective way of motivating those students that want to show proficiency to their future prospective employers.”

What are some of the standards you need to keep in mind?

“The most important standard is that students understand the learning objectives. At times in the past, I have been too restrictive in my assessments. However, SIMnet allows you to easily give students multiple attempts to learn the objectives. This is not a matter of making it easy for students to obtain a good grade, but instead allows students to hone their proficiency through multiple attempts on an assessment.”

What specific SIMnet tools would you recommend using?

“I think both the exams and projects are effective tools in SIMnet. However, the SIMpaths allow for the unique opportunity to pre-test students and deliver only the content where students skills are lacking.  This is SIMnet’s adaptive tool that has a more prescribed approach.  An approach that allows the student more control in a self-directed approach.  A student can be assigned a pre-test, see how they have done, and then take a lesson to practice before doing the post-test.  Instructors can also have students opt-out of the pre-test if they feel comfortable enough with their skills on the topic subject.  This is also a powerful tool especially when wanting to utilize more of an adaptive piece in your course.”

What is your favorite tool in SIMnet to drive student engagement?

“My personal favorite tool is using the yellow and black belt assessments as both significant exams and as opportunities for students to obtain a credential at the same time. These badges motivate student and prepare them for the real world as part of the career readiness theme that SIMnet provides. Students can add badging credentials to their resume, LinkedIn, and social media outlet pages. Students can promote fluency of various MS Office application skills to prospect employers via LinkedIn.  It also provides them a sense of friendly competition amongst other students.”

About the Author

Frank M. Sorokach is a leadership and management expert with both practical and academic experience. His general focus is on organizational improvement through the development of systems and personnel. He has almost thirty years of applied management experience in varied disciplines and has been a faculty member at Penn State University since 2012, where he is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Economics and Business. He has taught in resident instruction at the Scranton Campus, asynchronously at the World Campus, and delivers training to corporate clients. He has held leadership roles at the Penn State Scranton Campus and the Penn State World Campus. Frank’s primary expertise includes economics, technology, project management, business strategy, risk management, marketing, future trends, and personal efficiency topics. His research is specifically focused on the application of new concepts and systems to improve efficiency. This includes the integration of not only technology, but also new management theory. Additionally, he has been a leading digital faculty consultant for McGraw-Hill Education since 2017.

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