The recent shift towards digital classrooms has brought educators worldwide a host of new challenges. And the reason why these uncharted waters seem so daunting in is part due to unfamiliarity and because most teachers are accustomed to traditional teaching methods for most of their lives. Therefore to establish a sound teaching base moving forward, teachers need some best practices as guidance. For that purpose, the following article will mention some effective strategies for putting your best foot forward while teaching online. Distance learning might be relatively new, but it becomes easier when supplemented with structured course plans and the appropriate resources.
Ensure easy accessibility and presence
By far, the most significant disadvantage of teaching online is the breakdown of communication between learners and instructors. Most online learning follows an asynchronous approach, meaning a learning management system (LMS) mediating most class activities and student-teacher interactions via email.
Often, teachers need reminders that online teaching is relatively easy to comprehend and navigate. However, unlike traditional classrooms where a teacher’s presence depends on their tone and body language, one’s classroom structure, organization, and clarity define their online teaching presence. An excellent way to build a solid online presence is to properly set up the student LMS, making it the go-to place for all necessary resources materials. It’s also a good idea to guide students about the time and method of assignment submissions, give tutorials about using standard tech tools, and explain how to use the discussion forums.
Some teachers might feel they lack the expertise to continue with the online mode of teaching. Fortunately, most colleges now offer their major programs online as well. Therefore, if you’re struggling with similar feelings, perhaps adding additional credentials, such as a mat online (Master of Arts in Teaching), to your name might benefit you. This way, you can upskill your teaching abilities while working simultaneously.
Foster connections for a virtual community
One perk of physical learning is that it can cultivate life-long connections. Yet, it also restricts effective grasping of concepts. In the past, teachers avoided using instructions and instead used their physical presence to control their classrooms for better engagement. Since online classrooms aren’t bound by four walls and instructional limitations, teachers must reevaluate some things. Firstly, they need to obtain student feedback about attending online classes and being part of a virtual community. Secondly, figure out ways to balance/share the different power dynamics, so students can feel like they belong somewhere without compromising their independence.
Teachers must nurture close relationships with students in online classes just as they would in physical ones. More importantly, ensure that students have opportunities to develop peer connections. Personally check in with your pupils to provide necessary feedback.
Leverage the available technology and other resources
Another indispensable aspect of the online mode of teaching is technological know-how. Knowing helpful tech tools can supplement online education in several ways, for instance, online trivia/quiz platforms like Kahoot! Besides, your students will undoubtedly require digital options for a better learning experience and developing market-competitive skills. So, remember to utilize plenty of easily accessible educational apps, online tools, and software to enhance your teaching abilities.
Lower expectations and flexibility
Most teachers are brimming with new teaching techniques to apply to their classrooms. However, the fear of reduced student engagement and lack of time hold them back. Plus, planning and circulating physical learning material can get exhausting, especially when the teachers have to keep up with the pace of a time-bound curriculum and the neighboring classrooms. Consequently, teachers speed-run through their lectures without considering the student’s ability to adjust to their instructions or grasp the concepts.
Luckily, online learning has lesser time constraints and the need to manage physical class materials. Hence, teachers have greater agility and confidence. It’s almost impossible to reach every student with a single teaching approach. Yet, being flexible about time zones and the student’s ability to grasp concepts can do wonders for overall class success.
Increase student engagement through autonomy
Another valuable online teaching practice would be to allow students to lead class discussions. Divide each week’s topics among your students so they know that you’re relying on them to explain and deliver. That way, you’ll guarantee they put in the effort to learn the class content thoroughly.
You can also help students interact with the content and their peers by asking them to look up additional study resources to discuss during class. What’s more, teachers can create online discussion forums for further engagement or introduce peer or self-assessments for specific assignments.
Employ a creative, out-of-the-box approach
It’s a proven fact that when teachers promote creative, critical thinking in their classes, it leads to better class scores and engagement. And digital classrooms provide countless opportunities for teachers to innovate their methods and improve their student’s learning experiences. Reject the idea that any online class and curriculum are too challenging to teach, whether STEM-related or humanities. All it requires is a bit of creativity.
Online teachers are free to use a combination of virtual instructional classes, group projects, and individual assessments. In turn, these versatile techniques will allow students to explore different ways they can learn. Plus, taking a creative approach to teaching results in better information retention in students.
Creating a fulfilling and engaging learning experience when teaching online is tricky. It requires immense patience and practice to get used to. And for first-timers, these experiences might put them off their profession altogether. However, some valuable tips might help you better tackle digital learning without feeling bogged down. These comprise ensuring presence through communications, letting students lead, and being flexible.