Surviving Teaching Your Online Courses
Teaching online courses is not the same as face to face instruction. Even though we have vast experience in the traditional classroom, we have to rethink how to accomplish many of those same positive results and interactions in a virtual environment. This article provides 7 strategies to help every instructor start off on the right virtual foot.
Strategy 1 It’s Personal. Just like classroom instruction is unique to your teaching style, so is online teaching. Do not feel pressured to teach online like everyone else because no one has the corner on TRUTH in this area. We are at an exciting time of continuing development. Therefore, find small and big a course in miracles ways to express your teaching style in the virtual environment.
Strategy 2 Develop A Learning Community. Invite students to post their photos or favorite slogans to create a composite class photo. This strategy goes a long way towards developing a feeling of online community. Remember, in this setting, unless you are using real-time video cameras, teachers and students do not see each other. Having a photo to reference reduces anonymity and builds a stronger sense of reality of the virtual community.
Strategy 3 Communicate. How many ways are there to communicate in an online class? Many more than we usually take advantage of. Plan to use at least 3 strategies each week with your students: blogging, virtual office hours, discussion board, email, audio comments, video comments, chat session, instant messaging (IM), telephone or voice over internet protocol (VOIP) (SKYPE, Gizmo, etc.), grade comments, etc.
Strategy 4 Grading Opportunities. When posting grades, there is an unrivaled opportunity for teachers to increase communication and feedback with students. Seldom input just a simple numerical grade. Make it a practice to usually include specific comments and encouragement about student work.
Strategy 5 Support and Encouragement. One of the issues we have to conquer as online instructors is the high dropout rate. Use every opportunity to build communication with the students and encourage them to continue their work and be responsible for their progress. Consider ways to develop a community of learners which is supportive and encouraging, teacher to student and student to student.
Strategy 6 Continuous Improvement. Online courses need constant improvement- each semester as students progress through a few sessions, return to the content and adjust it based on their feedback, stumbling blocks, and questions. For instance, make corrections, rearrange it, freshen the content, or add more dynamic media and interactivity to engage learning in meaningful learning and understanding of the content area.
Strategy 7 Lifelong Learning. Walk the Talk. As we as teachers model lifelong learning, we will be encouraging our students to do the same. In addition we will be better understanding their needs and discovering new ways to address them. The teacher who keeps growing has a vital message for her students every day.
In future articles we will continue to provide suggestions for success in online teaching, course development, and learning. In the meantime, enjoy this and Dr. King’s prior articles about distance learning.