With enrollments increasing year after year, we know for a fact that online classes are here to stay. And those of you who have taught online will agree that it was not as enjoyable or interactive as teaching face to face in a classroom.
Teachers encounter differences among the circumstances of online students as some will be well-equipped tech-wise with a good computer and fast, reliable internet access whereas others might be at remote locations with connectivity issues.
Even with such variations, the fact remains that the flexibility of online learning makes it a more convenient option than traditional learning methods for many students.
So here are certain tips for you to adapt to online teaching :
- Communication :
As you already know online teaching is a completely different ballgame when compared to traditional classroom teaching. Due to this, online teachers need to up their communication skills to educate a group of students. In a physical classroom, it is easy to see how engaged the students are and how they react to discussion questions. But unfortunately in an online classroom, it is difficult to gauge their reactions. Because of this, it is necessary that you ask questions that are engaging and can spark complex conversations. Some of the Learning Management Systems (LMS) have built-in tools to assist you in communicating with your students online.
- Technology :
When it comes to the technology you have to be a step ahead of your tech-savvy students. Fumbling while teaching, battling with a bad net connection, and poor video quality among others will hamper your credentials as a teacher. So it is better to keep it simple and lean by using technology that you and your students know. You can use the in-built functionality of your LMS to share your screen, chat with your students, etc. You can also record videos, show documentaries, and presentations to make the session more interesting and interactive for the students.
- Session duration :
Getting the right session duration can be tricky. If it is too long your students can get easily distracted due to the lack of educational stimuli like a classroom and classmates. You also need to keep in mind that you cannot convert a 60-minute traditional lecture into a 60-minute virtual classroom lecture as it would yield an adverse effect. The key here is to make the session as interactive as possible because there are certain topics that cannot be effectively compressed into a 15 – 20-minute session. If your session is going to last longer than 50 minutes be prepared to have some really interactive and engaging content for your students to keep them involved with the topic. You can do so with spontaneous quizzes, storytelling, short videos of science.
- Workspace and camera :
One of the first and most obvious things you’ll have to adapt to while starting to teach online is the change in space. With the move to teaching online, you are suddenly restricted to a two-dimensional square space on your student’s computer screen. Many teachers when they first make the shift to online teaching rely only on their voice and forget that they can still be seen by their students and they can use this for visual communication. So, before getting your session started you need to set up your workspace in a position with optimal lighting. The light will have a big impact on how well you are seen by students. When you position yourself, you also need to think about what the students can see behind you.
Positioning your camera also has a big impact on how you are perceived by your students. Ideally, you should have it directly in front of you and slightly above eye level. When you are teaching, try to look at the camera rather than the screen when you speak, this will help in maintaining eye contact with your students.