This has been a busy week - hosted a conference midweek - but it gave me a chance to remove myself from the physicality of the course to think about it in a more abstract manner.
A few ideas that stuck with me from my reading and research: online courses probably should have their own format rather than just be the online component of a traditional course, we already have several models of wildly successful online delivery systems through the observance of social media. Reddit (while I'm not wild about it) provides a place for discourse, Facebook provides a method for sharing images and getting responses, as does Flickr, apps such as Instagram create virtual, searchable online image libraries. Maybe there's a way to integrate the places and behaviors my students already are doing with the types of engagement I would look for in a successful course. How to integrate this without compromising the educational / institutional integrity is key.
I'd like to explore Canvas since that looks like where we are heading. I especially like the instant feedback possibilities for grading, rather than my students having to wait a week for me to see them at the next class meeting. At George Washington University in Washington DC students can expect to use " software such as iTunes U to access podcasts, and Second Life to enter a virtual classroom environment. Blackboard and Embanet are the LMS favored by the school, while Skype, video conferencing and real-time chat rooms are also available to help online learners reach their potential: There's a great review on what the best practices are in terms of tech.