Tips for Teaching Online
by Logan Smith
As technology continues to advance and better our society, it also changes the way we operate; how we work, interact with one another and how we learn. In the past decade alone, education has evolved from one-on-one or professor directed learning to now having the option of online, interactive and self-directed learning.
Not only do students need to adapt to the learning changes, but so do their teachers. In a 2005 study of 27 teachers and 6 administrators performed by the Institute of Technology, an alarming 30% of teachers showed no interest in using computers in their curriculum. Another 40% of the teachers studied had expressed concerns of their personal ability to teach effectively online. Fortunately, a subsequent study showed that most teachers’ attitudes changed about the integration of technology after they participated as students in an online course for themselves.
It seems like one of the major misconceptions of online teaching is that it’s completely hands-off, when in reality, the best online courses are very interactive, include plenty of feedback, and are paced out for optimum learning. To make your online class the best it can be, here are a few tips.
1. Make your classes interactive- Online learning isn’t just reading a book online or watching a lecture, your role as a professor is still very important. Constant communication, especially one-on-one communication is important to keep your students on-track. Most LMSs will have a communication tool built into it, and a good rule to follow is to speak with your students at least every other day. Think of how you would interact with students in a classroom, if they are missing assignments or constantly late, ask if they are having difficulties with the material.
2. Make feedback a mandatory- Just like in a classroom, you will have shy or unresponsive students. Make sure you incorporate a forum or open discussion for students. Make weekly responses and feedback a mandatory part of your curriculum. Also, the feedback should be a two-way street. If a student is doing great work, or could improve in certain areas offer them feedback. Students like knowing what they’re doing right or how to improve, so offering your guidance will keep them on the right track.
3. Pace your classes- This is very important for new online teachers to understand. It may be easier or quicker to upload your whole course schedule then tell students where to begin, but if your classes aren’t organized, you will overwhelm them with work. Projects that have yet to be explained or assigned have no place on your dashboard. This rule also applies to your lectures; try to understand that your students can digest smaller chunks of information better than one all-day lecture. Breaking down your lectures into 20 or 30-minute fragments can also be helpful for your students around exam time. If there is a certain part of the material they don’t understand, they can easily go back and re-watch the lectures, instead of trying to find a 5-minute segment in a 4-hour clip.