As a result of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many faculties find themselves thrust into conducting their typical face to face class in the online environment without any preparation or know-how. This experience can be overwhelming, scary, or a welcomed experience for others.
Here are some quick tips to help those that are new to online teaching to help you get started as you transition your class to online teaching. If you need more support, you can consider our mentors to help you navigate these turbulent times.
- Platforms: Zoom, GoToWebinar Skype, Webex, or Demio are some options for you to consider hosting your class. There are free options as well as paid. Your school may allow you to choose a platform or choose the platform for you. Make sure you are aware of the limitations especially if it is free.
- Learn first. Learn how to use the application before your first class especially if you are unfamiliar with using it. Learning prior to using any application or software will avoid unnecessary technical errors before you get started. This preparation will also reduce your stress if students are waiting for you as your ability to think logically under duress will be severely impacted. There are many tutorials available online including the vendor’s site and YouTube to help you learn how to use these applications.
- Design your lecture. Have an idea of how you will conduct your class using these platforms. While there are many similarities to the traditional learning environment, lecturing behind a computer for hours is not an effective means of teaching in the online environment. Put yourself in the student’s shoes and think of creative ways you can deliver your content.
- Don’t overdo it. As you transition into the online world, keep in mind, you do not have to cover everything in a synchronous learning session. Transitioning to online does not mean that all teachings and activities are done in each live session. You can design activities just as you would for assignments for the student to do in between sessions.
- Get your students familiar. Before you start class, provide instructions to students on how to access the platform you will be using. Include the requirements to include hardware specifications, the software recommendations, and equipment needed. If you plan to have interaction between students, you should tell students they will need a microphone. If you expect students to see each other, then a webcam and clothing are required 😉. Don’t forget to include the link for the meeting, any meeting IDs, passwords, and alternate means of accessing the platform.
- Prepare your students. Share any tutorials or files that will help students understand how to navigate various software or the platform you will be using before the first class. Remind students the importance of reviewing tutorials and becoming familiar with using technology before the first class.
- Quell fears and concerns. Send a written email or multimedia announcement that describes what online teaching is about, and how your class will be structured and delivered. This will help quell any fears especially if students have never experienced learning in an online environment.
- Practice. If you are uncomfortable being in front a camera especially close up, make sure you do a dry run so that you can test different camera angles, as well as lighting, your location (so backgrounds, pictures, or the glare are not distracting), and the software. You may need to restart your computer when a new webcam is installed. Install all external hardware options in advance to avoid any delays.
- Hardwire. Consider connecting your computer to ethernet so that there are no issues with streaming your class on Wi-Fi. Depending on your internet speed, bandwidth, or whether your Wi-Fi is shared with other people, relying on Wi-Fi may cause your stream to lag, sound choppy, and have poor video quality. This will result in a poor experience for your students.
- Brief. Spend at least 5-15 mins at the start of your class showing students various buttons, such as how to ask a question, mute themselves, turn camera off and on, screen share, and software that may be needed to draw, or write. You can allow them a few minutes to practice, so they can be comfortable as you start your class.
- Record. If the platform you are using to host your class has a record function, you can use this to record the session. When your class is completed, you can share the recording with your students.
Transitioning to the online environment can be overwhelming. However, these tips will help you get started with the least amount of stress. To learn more of how to transition to teaching online, you can review various articles to help you in your transition to online successfully. If you are enjoy this online teaching experience and want to transition into this role more, check out our how to guide guide.
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About the Author
Dr. Dhanraj received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from St Martin’s University and her Master’s in International Relations, graduating magna cum laude from Troy State University. She earned her doctorate with an emphasis in Organizational Management from Capella University.
Currently, when she is not saving the world one x-ray at a time, she spends her time as a researcher, writer, and an educator. She is dedicated to issues such poverty, entrepreneurship, environment sustainability, leadership, personal and business finance, women affairs and higher education growth. With her philosophy of knowledge is power, she seeks to empower others through her presentations and articles on topics related to these issues.