A teacher uses her student-less classrooms as the setting for her online lessons in Iowa. Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr.
Online classes have become a big trend over the past few years, accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Widespread school closures brought to light a newfound glory to remote learning and teaching, ushering in a new era of digital learning that people need to adapt to.
Teachers have had to find ways to support students through distance and online learning. However, there is always a learning curve. The struggle for teachers lies in reaching students outside the parameters of the traditional classroom setting.
How exactly do you continue to empower students from all walks of life without face-to-face interaction? The key is to effectively create and implement self-paced studies and digital instructions.
Thankfully, by utilizing remote teaching platforms such as Udemy and Preply, educators can effectively teach online. You simply register and apply to work for Preply.com to start offering tutoring courses online and empowering students remotely no matter where they are located.
Here are some useful steps and essential tips to help you succeed when moving to teach online.
Top Tips for Online Teaching and Tutoring
For a more rewarding and successful remote teaching profession, remember that...
1. Communication is key
The sudden shift to online learning saw the need to establish stronger connections with students. This is the first challenge when you are limited in the human touch aspect.
You can start with increasing your interactions with them through emails, announcements, background signals during a zoom class, or the way you organize the course itself. Use digital tools as extensions of your teaching tools.
Blur the lines between your physical and virtual persona. It is not your real-time presence that matters in this case, instead try to focus on asynchronous communications and lessons.
Establish clear rules and channels for communication with your students.
2. Keep everything simple
Design a distance learning experience that relies on clear instructions and utilize one or two resources only. If possible, be the one to provide the links or pdfs for the resources, so your students always have easy access.
Try to give specific instructions on every activity and label everything in the order that you want the students to approach. It could be based on difficulty or importance, for example.
Simple structures can still be rigorous work; however, with few instructions it can lead to a higher-order thinking. Students will be able to figure out what they can do within the parameters that were set.
Basically, as an online educator, you need to be concise in delivering new information.
3. Take advantage of the medium
The internet is a vast sea of tools you can easily grab at your disposal. Use the existing pool of resources at hand. Share instructional videos that are available and readable on every kind of device.
You can also use the online platform to make a digital home base, such as Google Classrooms, Canvas, or Blackboard where it is easier to have a learning management system. This way your students can always visit the most recent and up-to-date information and resources.
With these platforms, you can also easily plan activities and upload lectures and resources. This means, students can learn at their own pace, anytime and anywhere.
4. Make your presence larger
According to Charles Hodges, a professor of instructional technology at Georgia Southern University, research shows that effective online learning is the result of careful instructional planning and design.
Before beginning each lesson, practice moving through the online space until you feel familiar with the tools and logistics of toggling between windows or changing settings of your tools on the fly so that you will feel more confident teaching online. Showing your face occasionally is also more effective than just narrating a slideshow.
Lastly, be emotionally present for your students. Reassure them that both you and them are learning how to adjust to the new normal and you can help each other out. Encourage them that you are doing your best to support their learning as well.
5. Prioritize longer
Be efficient. Planning and learning the ropes of online teaching can be quite a grueling task. However, you cannot just press pause while you formulate your plan. Planning takes time and a high level of attention to detail. Unlike in classroom settings, you do not have the option to correct mistakes on the fly and pivot when students are not listening.
Be kind to yourself and manage your time and sanity. Prioritize longer with student-driven assignments and projects to buy you time as you keep planning future units.
Focus on building long-term projects where students can have autonomy and a clear set of checkpoints and deadlines to be met.
Include the element of building engagement by creating opportunities for students to discuss what they learn with families, friends, and classmates.
6. Give autonomy to students
Set up online group spaces for small groups of students so they can ask each other for support and consult one another before sending direct emails to you. You can post questions to help students break the ice and start the conversation.
Additionally, you can encourage your students to help shape the discussion requirements, ask your students for feedback, and allow them to contribute to what the class discussions will look like and what the requirements will be. Promote student engagement with the course material and allow them to build relationships with their classmates.
7. Create touchpoints
Keep communicating with your students individually. Make them feel less isolated and remain responsive. Be the one to reach out to them first when needed and, at the same time, establish an environment that makes it feel safe to reach out to you first. Creating touchpoints is equally important as building structures to your lesson plans.
Let them see that you invest and care about them. Focus on providing social support and checking if they have issues that need to be addressed immediately. This can also be a great way to collect student feedback on your online teaching as well.
Make these meetings more relaxed and optional. Do not be stressed if no one shows up, just make sure to let them know that this option is open and available whenever they need it.
Cultivating and engaging students through online platforms can be overwhelming and difficult for both parties; it takes an incredible amount of time and patience to plan and make it work. Being new to the experience can make you feel like a total newbie, however, tackling the challenge step by step with your students in mind can keep you on track.
Keep your communication lines open to the opinions and situations of your students. Like you, they also go through different things every day. Your presence is about connecting with them, to help them with their struggles academically and emotionally.