The benefits of teaching online? Simple: Flexible hours; work from almost anywhere; greater student diversity; growth industry; more control over what you teach; global network of colleagues; personalized instruction; larger pool of students; easier and cheaper to share content; small investment to get started.
But what factors are most important to consider when teaching an online course? While more and more teachers are discovering the benefits of hosting such courses (in addition to teaching in traditional classrooms), many lack experience in online education and aren’t sure how to get the ball rolling.
A Top 10 list of tips requires careful thought – and a little help from your friends.The list below includes input from myself and from online teaching experts presenting in the MOOC “Teachers Teaching Online (TTO),” a free and open course I am currently running on the online learning platform WizIQ.
Teaching Online: Things to Consider
Be Open to Your Students’ Suggestions: What do they like? Not like? Don’t be afraid to ask. Give them autonomy to shape their own learning and adapt your style, approach, and content accordingly.
Offer Both Synchronous and Asynchronous Activities
Schedule face-to-face time in a virtual classroom and assign inspiring activities to be done between sessions – especially work in which your students can collaborate.
“Be sure to build in tasks that generate peer-to-peer interaction and sharing; those where participants create something their peers can use and benefit from tend to be most successful.” – Nik Peachey, educational consultant and course designer
Provide Prompt Feedback at Frequent Intervals
The Internet makes this possible like never before. Go for it!
“Consistent feedback is a great reflection tool for online teachers and students; it keeps motivation high and helps students monitor their progress.” – Vicky Loras, online instructor
Build and Grow Your PLN
Respect and connect; our intellects intersect!
“When you are challenged by the excellence of others, you become more daring, professional and creative.” – Sylvia Guinan, online ESL teacher
“Every teacher has something to learn, and every teacher has something to share.” — Chuck Sandy, online instructor
Go with the Most Convenient (and Inviting) Online Spaces
Low-tech or high. Free or paid. Make sure it’s a good fit for you and your learners.
“Choose your online learning space well”.” – Marisa Constantinides
“We have to continually create adaptive, relative, and meaningful lessons with media rich content for online learners.” — Rich Kiker
Stay Connected with Your Students Outside of Class
“Students want to know their teacher is there; so make sure you’re present in their lives. Get typing, posting and responding to them. – Vicki Hollett, online instructor
“Successful online teaching means being accessible. Many students fear their instructor won’t be available. Use email or social media to stay in touch.” – Mark Barnes, education writer
Use Tools That Facilitate Learning
Select apps and other tools based on how well your students respond to them.
“Focus on the learning, not the technology.” — Shelly Sanchez Terrell, online instructor
Engage Your Students in the Virtual Classroom
Stay lively. Be funny. Use lots of visual stimuli. Get them communicating with you and with one another.
Find Your Niche
“Think about what you want to teach and who you want to target, and get specific. Become an expert in your chosen niche and dedicate yourself to providing as much value as possible”.” – Jack Askew, online instructor