Teaching online requires rethinking your teaching methods to achieve your instructional objectives in a new environment. The technology involved in teaching online will also present you with new options, as well as new limitations.

you’re transitioning from a brick and mortar classroom to online, here are five tips to make that transition a little smoother.

 
  1. You can now address your students as individuals! This is a major change in thinking when transitioning from a face to face environment to an online course. You are no longer addressing an entire room of students at once. Each student is accessing your course and reading the material as an individual. In announcements and directions, avoid addressing your students as ‘class’ or ‘all.’ You can use a singular ‘you’ instead. When grading and emailing, address the student by name to add personalization.
  2. Remember that tone and humor doesn’t always come across as intended in text. Something that might be perceived as funny in a face to face interaction can be perceived much differently in writing. When in doubt, leave it out. Before hitting send on an email or submitting feedback for an assignment, reread your comments. Your correspondence is a reflection of you, and in an online setting it can add to or detract from your reputation. In an online setting, your students and colleagues will know you primarily through your text-based correspondence. Be professional and remember to proofread!
  3. Understand that students do not all have the same technology background. Many of your students might be taking an online course for the first time. Don’t assume your students will know how to navigate your course or know what is expected of them. Set your course up for success by providing detailed expectations, rubrics, and instructions. Be clear about what they should do and where they should navigate to, and use precise, consistent terminology when referring to the pages and documents they should be accessing. If the syllabus is located under the Course Information tab, direct them to the Course Information tab. If the syllabus is named Econ101 Syllabus, direct your students to read the Econ101 Syllabus.
  4. Let students know, clearly, what they can expect from you. Students will want to know: “How do I contact my teacher? When will I hear back from them? Do they have office hours? When and how will my assignments be graded?” These are all reasonable questions! Outline these expectations from the beginning, and stick to them. Teaching online doesn’t mean you have to be available 24/7, but you should let students know how to reach you and when they should expect to receive a reply. When grading, use rubrics and provide detailed feedback as to why the student did (or didn’t) earn points on an assignment. Grade assignments in a timely manner.
  5. Engage your students! The students are not sitting in the same room together, so you must create the opportunities for interaction in your course, not only with other students, but with the instructor and with the content. A higher quantity and quality of interaction boosts student satisfaction in the course, as well as their perception of learning. Build a sense of community with introductions, discussions, and interaction with the instructor. Model desired communication and interaction, scaffolding the discussions until they are running smoothly without your assistance. Use technology to your advantage, creating engaging and interactive content.

Above all, keep in mind the ultimate goal – student learning. What do your students need from you to be successful?


About the Author

Mary Strehl has taught online and worked with curriculum in a K-12 environment since 2008. She is certified in 4 subject areas, and earned her MS in Curriculum Design and Instructional Technology from SUNY Albany.

Mary’s professional interests include designing online curriculum and online assessment methods.

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