Designing Effective Online Education

A following to the NCIEC Webinar
Responding to Questions

NCIEC logo

On June 13, 2016, the MARIE Center, with support from the NCIEC, hosted a webinar focused on “Designing Effective Online Education Programs.”  Moderated by Mary Darragh MacLean, the webinar featured Carolyn Ball, Lisa Bolding, and Doug Bowen-Bailey, with a cameo appearance by Richard Laurion.

During the 90 minute session, there wasn’t enough time to answer all the questions raised, so we are following up as best we are able.

Do you have a typical process to support folks as they work to build courses to ensure they will fit within the format, design and technology you work with?

Doug’s Response

Because it is a longer answer, I created a post that describes the process that my work with the CATIE Center and other organizations.   You can check it out here.

I struggled with creation of videos in my previous experiences with online education. Any thoughts?

Doug’s Response

This is a challenge.  In online education focused on interpreting, the use of video is a critical component of being able to address higher order skills.  So, for interpreters wanting to take part in online education, learning how to record, upload, and post video is a critical skill.  We have found that YouTube is the easiest platform to use – both in terms of cost, the ability to control privacy settings, and the least limitations on length.    YouTube also has good step by step tutorials for how to use YouTube.

I have found that recommending people use their phones for recording is often the easiest.  If you have a smart phone or tablet, most of the video apps give an option for uploading to YouTube.    (Know that once you upload the video, you can delete it from your phone so it doesn’t take up storage space. )

Online education is so helpful! It allows the participants to focus more on the actual information. Versus an in person workshop which uses more time for travel, meals, parking, etc. Thank your for all the great information.

Doug’s Response:

It does have its advantages and for someone who is focused (as it sounds like you are) it really can be a great experience.  I think the challenge for CMP sponsors and course developers is how to assess that people are really engaged and learning. (Though this is as much an issue in an in-person workshop.)  So, I think that is really the growing edge for online education to figure out how to effectively ensure that people are actually doing meaningful learning activities online.

Please share how to access "Just What the Doctor Ordered" as suggested by Doug Bowen Bailey when you send out information. Thank you.

Doug’s Response:

I shared the heart of the article in my post “A Framework for Online Education for Interpreters , but if you would like to see more of it, please e-mail me and I’ll connect with you directly:

It is sometimes difficult for us to predict user issues, since we are so invested in the program that we understand and know how to use it. You recommended a sort of live support. How do you do that? How do you lead people to ask for help when they encounter problems?

Doug’s Response:

I am not sure if I used the term “live” support.  What I meant to convey is that you need a responsive system, so that people’s frustration levels don’t build up too quickly.  We try to respond within 24 hours to a request for help.  Depending on what is happening within my life, that can sometimes be a challenge.  But sometimes, I am able to respond within the hour.

We use three levels of support.   The first is a dedicated Help Forum that I subscribe to – so when someone posts in that forum, I get an e-mail notification right away.  This allows the whole cohort to benefit from an answer to the question.

Second level is to e-mail me directly – and for me to e-mail back and forth.

Third level is for me to arrange a phone/video connection to have more dynamic interaction.  I use this when I sense that people have become too emotionally overwrought in dealing with the technology that they need more of a human connection to walk them back off the ledge.

I can’t stress how importance the human factor is.  A line I use in the Help Forum is that “We can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to answer your question, but we can promise you that you won’t be alone in the search for a solution.”   I think that is a really important part of the responsiveness… not only answering the technical questions, but also paying attention to the emotional dimensions of how isolating it can be to be attempting online education – and not have the technology working for you the way you think it should.

Is there a free video recording program, useful in providing feedback at certain points of a video, that is similar to GoReact?

Doug’s Response

I haven’t worked with GoReact because I am not connected to an interpreter education program.  (And individually, I am a cheapskate – so I always try to find the free programs.)  Though, I want to stress that sometimes, you get what you pay for.  So there are some free options, but I don’t know that they are really as a effective – and take a little more skill on the part of the user.

Viddler:  I used to use  This used to be like YouTube, a free service, that you could insert video comments into videos.  However, it has now become a paid service and I don’t know what the cost comparison is.

ELAN:  A tool that is used for Linguistic Analysis might be useful.  It allows you to create all sorts of streams to analyze language behavior, but  I don’t believe that video comments are possible in this.  Again, it is free – but is really designed more for linguistic analysis.  Della Goswell, an interpreter educator from Australia, wrote an article in the International Journal of Interpreter Education discussing how this tool can be used by sign language students for self-reflection and analysis. 

What I use:  My technique is Mac specific.  It might work on a PC, but I am not sure of the software.  The key component is to have QuickTime Player.  Usually, I am working with a YouTube video from my student.


  1. Open student/mentee video. Re-size browser or video window so that there is room for another video window either to the side of it or below it.
  2. Open a New Movie Recording in QuickTime Player.  (File > New Movie Recording.)  This opens up a window on the screen that uses my web cam – and allows me to sign – or make comments in spoken English – depending on the purpose of the comments.  Position this video window next to the Student Video window so you can see both of them simultaneously. Important:  Don’t actually start this recording.   
  3. Open a New Screen Recording in QuickTime Player (File > New Screen Recording)  This is what you will use to record both of the video streams.  Start the Screen Recording.  I generally do the click and drag option to only focus in on the two video windows.
  4. Start the Student video.  You can either make comments while it is running, or pause the video and make comments during the process.
  5. When you are done, stop the screen recording.  You can then upload that to YouTube or other video service to share with the student.

Again, this is more work, I believe, than GoReact.  And probably harder to navigate, but it is free… so what do you expect?

Do any of you have experience with Google classroom? Is it available for non-edu entities?

Doug’s Response:

I have looked into Google Classroom, but have not been able to use it because I don’t work with a school that has Google Apps for Education – which is required to get access.  I have used GoogleSites for some online education experiences – incorporating the interaction part with Google+.  It is possible – and found that the GoogleSites was feasible for the site design, but found the interaction in Google+ discussion forums to be a bit awkward.

What is appropriate for documentation of learning with online programs? It's possible to go to a live workshop and not really pay attention and get nothing out of it and still get CEUs. Who's responsibility is it to make sure that learning is happening?

Lisa’s Response:

My take is when we approve CEUs for traditional workshops, we are making sure the instructor clearly defines how to prove knowledge transfer.  Instructors of broadcast/recorded workshops must be held to the same standard.  How it’s verified may look different (i.e. the presenter eyeballing it in a traditional format vs. the participants taking a pre/post test in a remote format) but the instructor should be clear on that either way.  (Of course, we also have the larger question of whether our methods of proof in traditional venues are really effective too.)

Doug’s Response:

I think this is really the challenging question that we need to address moving forward.  In some ways, I have found online educational experiences to have been more demanding than traditional face-to-face workshops.  (In some ways, compensating for the skepticism we have about trusting that people will actually do the work when they are in their own home.)

To me, I think a really helpful way to do it is to have people video their own work – both pre- and post- and then do self-analysis.  This allows the facilitators of the online workshop to do a review of the self-analysis and check to make sure the video is completed, but it gives better insight to what is learned without taking up an abundance of time. Or at least that is the hope… there is no question that really effective evaluation takes time… and so building time into the online education program for evaluation is critical.

Do you have any specific examples of activities for the online learning environment that align with higher order objectives?

Doug’s Response:

In the programs I have worked with, the way we have tried to achieve the higher order objectives is by having participants create either ASL translations or interpretations and analyze their work to look for patterns.  The goal is to help participants develop those important skills of being a reflective practitioner, which is in many ways, an integration of the higher order skills.

We also use a process for peer dialogue that we hope develops some of those skills.  You can see Patty Gordon’s description of that process here.

You can also view the sample module of the Body Language series from the CATIE Center.  This gives very specific ideas of how these activities work.

Without the live-interactive component, what are some tools you use to maintain a feeling of engagement and responsibility...maybe even community?

Lisa’s Response:

For most of our programs, a big part of the appeal is that the training happens independently and on one’s own schedule and pace.  Some newer/less confident interpreters even appreciate the opportunity to work on their skills while intrapersonal stressors are reduced because no one is “watching” or “judging”.   (Our program Introduction to Mental Health Interpreting with Dr. Robyn Dean does have the four 2.5 hour video discussion groups and the class is expected to focus on one unit at a time instead of completely working at one’s own pace.)

As I mentioned on the panel, I do encourage people to consider this as one tool in their toolbox and they still need to get to workshops, go to conferences, etc.  And in my other role as an RID chapter officer, I think not only online training but also remote meetings unfortunately do have a negative impact on our community.

Why does the VRSii program only accept recent ITP grads? There are many working interpreters stuck in the gap between working interpreters and gaining certification in the profession? Where and what program would you suggest for this specific population/demographic of the interpreting profession?

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What kind of interpreter peer feedback guidelines or instructions do you use that have been most effective?

Doug’s Response:

Patty Gordon articulated the framework that we use.  You can see this framework here.