Online classes can often feel overwhelming to both students and teachers. The online teaching and learning environment comes with a unique set of challenges that require good instructor performance. In this article, we’ll be discussing the top seven practices and expectations for online teaching that, according to research, are considered the best.
Several studies have shown that these practices significantly contribute to an effective and efficient learning and online teaching experience for both students and teachers. To maintain a quality environment in online teaching sessions, these tips are top tier as they help develop confidence and comfort during teaching sessions. Let’s dive in!
Make Your Presence Felt
Usage of the communication tools is the key to being ‘present’ – tools like announcements, discussion board postings, forums, etc., are great to communicate with the students and let them know that their opinions and concerns are heard. Building a healthy connection between faculty and students is challenging when it’s not happening in a physical classroom. However, once you make the most of these tools, you might eventually see better responses than physical classrooms.
The future of higher education is digital. According to students, the ‘best online faculty’ are the ones who show their presence several times a week, or best, a day. Setting clear expectations regarding course policies at the beginning of the course is crucial, and it can help you reduce the need for daily online presence if that is something you want to avoid. You can also set a particular time when you will be available to answer emails, texts, and calls.
Create Supportive Online Course Community
The key to developing a supportive course community online is to design a course that has a balanced set of dialogues – meaning that the three dialogues of faculty to student, student to student, and student to resources should be equal. In most courses, the dialogue to students by faculty is provided with mini-lectures in text, video, or podcasts, weekly coaching, reminder and announcements, and explanations.
To encourage student-to-student engagement and build the course community, you’ll need to follow some strategies. As an online instructor, you must develop three types of presence – social presence, content presence, and teaching presence.
- You can launch the class with a personal introduction posting to engage and get to know each other better. You can ask them to include personal information, photographs, pets, family, and so on.
- Encouraging the students to use a general open student forum to request help and offer assistance from each other is a great way to help them build unity among themselves.
- You can pair 3-4 students in groups so that they can study together and help each other grow. You can also assign group projects and class assignments to help them learn how to work as a team.
Remember, not all students learn at the same pace – what works well for one student may not work for another. Not all students will respond in your classes the same way, and that’s why challenging tasks and group projects are important so that they participate actively.
Share Clear Expectations for Your Students and Yourself
This practice cannot be overemphasized as this plays an important role in your and your students’ entire online course experience. So, before you start your course, do set clear expectations on how you will communicate with the students and how the students will communicate with each other in the class.
Online teaching takes a lot of effort and is just as intensive as teaching in a physical classroom. Thus, clearing any doubts regarding how much time and effort will be required on a weekly basis will save you and your students so much time.
Use Various Large Groups, Small Groups, as well as Individual Work Experiences
A community only shines when they upskill themselves regularly. And to keep the students on track, it’s a great idea to provide them with a variety of activities and experiences. Online courses can be more fun and interactive if the students get the opportunity to brainstorm and work through assignments alone or in groups. This helps improve student engagement and thus, their academic performance.
They will learn to tackle problems on their own and will also learn how to work with a team. Complex case studies will make them learn more about a certain topic on their own, and you will notice a big difference in their performance in class.
Use Both Synchronous and Asynchronous Activities
Back when online teaching was introduced, it used to be entirely asynchronous learning. It has gradually improved with time, and now we have virtual live classrooms with audio tools as well as course management systems. Students can now do almost everything they do in a physical classroom. They can engage in collaborative and reflective activities as well.
Nothing is better than a real-time discussion and interactive brainstorming. In courses like finance and statistics, real-time problem-solving sessions are great for effective learning for students. Even though working professionals choose asynchronous courses to learn anywhere, the same learners enjoy productive and interactive get-togethers.
Ask for Feedback
Not all students examine themselves and notice changes in their performance. This is why you need to keep track of your student’s progress over time and give them monthly or weekly feedback on how they are doing in the course. When you grade their assignments, let them know what they need to improve.
Just like giving your students feedback, you also must ask them for feedback on your online presence. You can ask for their opinions monthly or weekly and ask them about the areas they have difficulty understanding. You can also ask them for suggestions on improving your teaching. Understanding what is working well on students is something that will help them have a better course experience. You can modify and craft your online teaching based on their suggestions.
There is so much to learn about teaching and learning when it comes to online teaching, as it comes with bigger challenges. Traditional courses have focused on tools and techniques for presentations for so long. Their bigger focus is on covering the syllabus and getting through the book. Modern online teaching believes in the interactions and engagement of the students with the core concepts and skills included in the course. The new focus encourages the learners to be more present and ask any questions they have in mind.