Teaching, and indeed learning, online isn’t the easiest thing in the world. This system has many shortcomings. For one, it lacks the personal touch of an in-person experience, and it’s near impossible to track and enforce learning participation. These disadvantages translate into a less robust learning experience for students and a less fulfilling teaching experience for teachers.
However, these seemingly insurmountable challenges can be surmounted. Relatively green teachers have managed to surmount them. This article coalesces the tips that some of the most successful new online teachers have to offer into three broad and workable tips for you. If you follow these three tips religiously, you’re sure to encounter success with online teaching as well.
Speaking Isn’t Enough
In physical classes, teachers aren’t limited to only speaking. They can use nonverbal cues, like facial expressions and tone of voice, to control the classroom and even pass necessary information. According to Lisa Gurney in a 2018 study, these nonverbal communication methods are extremely important, as they help students learn faster and quicker. However, in the study, Gurney also explains that this is near impossible in an online setting.
So how can teachers fix this handicap that online learning has placed on them? We don’t know yet. But we do know that one of the reasons this medium isn’t too useful in online classes is because students don’t put a premium on them. Most students generally don’t care too much about being able to hear the teacher or see the teacher. Instead, they cared more about announcements, emails, and the general arrangement of the course in question.
It follows that for teachers to be successful in online classes, they have to place a premium on asynchronous communication as well. For one, there should be clear channels of communication between teachers and students. Teachers should also respond quickly to student queries, as these are more important metrics in the world of online learning.
It’s Not Just Video Conferencing
When many teachers think of online learning, they mostly think of zoom and Skype sessions. But that isn’t the essence of the online learning experience. The work of a teacher begins long before the first class, and more teachers should act that way if they want to record online teaching success.
The most successful online teachers aren’t successful just because they have clear video and great audio that every student can hear. They are successful because they are the best at planning the course, assignments, and other class activities. For example, you can’t have academic files, links, or important browser tabs all disorganized and expect to have a successful online learning experience.
Students are more likely to take you seriously if you can prove that you have mastered the online interface for the lecture and generally know what you’re doing. If you keep having to ask for instructions on how to run the class from your students, they will abandon the class eventually and may become focused on other things.
According to Annie O’Shaughnessy, a community college teacher in Vermont, “Struggling to find files, links, or browser tabs can cause your stress level to rise, which students will feel and mirror. Close any programs that you won’t be using, and print out your agenda so that you don’t need to frantically search for it on your screen”. It’s difficult to disagree with her. One way to easily make sure that this won’t happen to you is to make use of class organizing systems like DaDesktop that are easy to use.
Be Very Clear
Whether online or offline, students rate clarity highly. Most students prefer when their instructor speaks in clear and easily understandable language, to when they speak in complex language that puzzles them. And when teachers talk about clarity, they don’t just mean clarity when it comes to explaining a topic. They also mean process clarity, which refers to clarity when they try to explain the process of doing and submitting an assignment. For most students, it’s important to know, generally speaking, what’s expected of them.
That need is even more important during online classes where distractions are aplenty. Sadly, when classes become more asynchronous, it gets even more difficult to establish this kind of clarity. That doesn’t mean it can’t be. By being a lot more organized, and making an effort to be as clear and as detailed as possible during classes, you will have broken this barrier down brick by brick.
Of course, these three tips aren’t the only ones you might need to have a great online teaching experience. But it’s certainly a decent place to start. If you apply these tips, you’ll see a difference in your class.