What takes an online class from good to great?

As our society continues to move towards a digital world, online courses have become the norm and offer many benefits that have become increasingly apparent, particularly after the Covid-19 pandemic. But that’s not to say that all online courses are created the same. The interactive nature of online platforms can encourage collaboration and communication, facilitating meaningful interactions between students and instructors when done correctly.  

The MSU StratCom Online M.A. program is lucky enough to have instructors who aim for the ideal of impactful content delivered in a way that connects students to each other and to the faculty. A trailblazer in this area is Dr. Saleem Alhabash. 

Alhabash is a core faculty member of the StratCom program and teaches CAS 827: Digital Media Strategies. His research focuses on the processes and effects of new and social media within the context of persuasion. More specifically, his research investigates the cognitive, emotional, and psychological effects associated with using social media. His focus is geared toward understanding how new communication technologies can be used as persuasive tools, most recently in relation to marketing of alcohol, digital aggression across the lifespan, and consumer behavior of buying counterfeits online.  

Alhabash explains his main intent for teaching online is to try and bring learners to somewhat of a simulation, or something that is as close as it gets to an in-class experience. 

High quality and engaging video lessons are how he does this.  

“When I started teaching online, I wanted to have a personal touch for my videos,” said Alhabash. “I think giving students a narrative that is both visual and auditory enhances the learning experience.” 

Alhabash utilizes Camtasia, a software suite created and published by TechSmith. Camtasia is an enterprise level video production suite intended for the creation and production of video tutorials and presentations. Camtasia makes editing video easy with drag-and-drop transitions, callouts, and more, as well as improved workflows and Al editing. 

Saleem says compared to a lot of other video editing software it is much more user friendly, so anyone, professor and students alike, can create engaging video. 

StratCom alumnus Luke Meehan agrees that utilizing Camtasia in his class projects really helped his work to stand out. 

“CAS 827’s lessons were always presented in a way where I was usually engaged from the start, and wanted to pay attention and learn,” said Meehan. 

Digital Media Strategy course lessons feature Alhabash in front of the camera lecturing to you in front of animated backgrounds and slides that move with the content. Camtasia is helping to break down technical barriers to make video editing more accessible and less intimidating. The online course format promotes a more inclusive learning environment, breaking down geographical barriers and accommodating students with various accessibility needs.  

As the educational landscape continues to evolve, the benefits of online classes, when done well, remain a driving force in shaping the future of learning.