Book by: Magy Martin, Ed. D & Don Martin, Ph.D
Review by: Lindsay Gigous, M.Ed
Instructor & Advisor, Education Department
Delaware Technical Community College
To some instructors, the idea of teaching a course in which they will never meet the students in person sounds a little daunting. They fret over how to monitor student progress in a course when they won’t see the students face-to-face. As online education becomes more popular in undergraduate and graduate education, instructors in the education, health, and human services struggle to make sure that their classes are still teaching the interpersonal skills necessary to be competent in their respective fields. Magy and Don Martin present an honest instructional guide for how to create and facilitate these classes in their book Online Teaching in Education, Health, and Human Services: Helping Faculty Transition to Online Instruction and Providing Tools for Attaining Instructional Excellence.
The title is almost misleading, as most of the book has universal guidelines that instructors of disciplines other than education, health, and human services can use as well. Among the book’s contents are instructions for how to plan an online course, ways to engage students in a collaborative environment, and tips for keeping communication open. Any institution that delivers online content should consider recommending this book to their faculty when assigning them an online course to instruct as a how-to guide that can help them troubleshoot common thoughts when planning for an online course. This book is also ideal for review before implementing workshops or professional development classes about teaching online courses because its practical tips and suggestions allow instructors to feel as though they don’t have to be a “techie” to teach a class online.
Perhaps the highlight of the book is its refreshing honesty. Martin & Martin provide tips about what has worked and what has not worked, as well as templates of comments that advisors can use to encourage students throughout the course and keep them motivated and educated on resources that they have available to them. Readers might find themselves wondering whether or not they are still reading or simply listening to advice from a colleague who has taught this same course many times.
In its honesty, the book highlights both pros and cons of the suggestions they made, allowing the reader to decide the best fit for them, their students, and the field that the reader is in. The book suggests various synchronous and asynchronous formats for online classes that allow students to think through situations that they might encounter in the field, highlighting student-centered learning and ways to develop this type of atmosphere in the classroom when instructors don’t ever get to see or meet their students face-to-face.
The tips for eliciting participation from students are particularly helpful, as collaboration is often a struggle that instructors in online learning environments face, allowing instructors to learn the differences between learner-content participation, learner-instruction participation, learner-learner participation, and learner-interface participation. In addition to the tips for how to engage students, the book also offers suggestions on how to allocate time as an online instructor, including strategies for time management, ways to keep organized, and timelines for responses. Both instructors who are new to teaching online and seasoned online instructors can benefit from the expert advice in this book from Magy Martin, Ed.D and Don Martin, Ph.D and might want to consider adding it to their bookshelf.
Online Teaching in Education, Health, and Human Services: Helping Faculty Transition to Online Instruction and Providing Tools for Attaining Instructional Excellence. (2015). Book by Magy Martin, Ed.D & Don Martin, Ph.D. Review by Lindsay Gigous, M.Ed. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas. 190 pp., $29.95, (Paperback). ISBN 978-0-398-08130-0