The digital classroom can be an unknown territory for both the instructor and the students. Delivering a course online can be very different from teaching in a traditional classroom setting. Many teachers have had to hastily adapt to online teaching without having a lot of time to learn the process in the first place. Here are some ways using which you can better prepare before facing your virtual classroom full of students:
Define your objectives
The first step to teaching effectively is identifying what you want to accomplish through your course and structuring the course accordingly. You need to be clear about what the end goal of the course is and what they can expect from you as their teacher. Map out the learning journey and also point out what the students’ role is in it. This provides more clarity to your students about what they will ultimately achieve through your course.
Take things slowly
Online teaching may be new to you so do not aim for perfection from the very beginning. Take your time and familiarize yourself with the technology. Start small and give both you and your students a chance to use digital tools that they might not be familiar with. Believe in trial and error. Most platforms offer manuals and technical support. Make contact details for technical support readily available to students and also learn basic troubleshooting that you can help students with yourself.
It is advisable to pick a platform that is easy to navigate such as BitClass and have a trial session to get a grasp of the platform before going forward. Preview your course once as a student to see how it would look like to them.
Establish rules of interaction
Online learning can be new to a lot of the students as well. Let the students know what is expected of them and make how the subject will be graded clear to them. Outline due dates for assignments, quizzes, and tests, your response time, how much participation you require of them, and rules of interaction within the class. Moderate discussion forums and discussions on chat as well.
Involve your students
In an online class that involves one sitting in front of a screen with no peers around, you may lose your students’ attention unless you involve them in the learning process in a way that it is not one-way communication. Create opportunities for your students to engage. The more they engage with the content, within themselves and with you, the more they are likely to grasp what they are being taught. Encourage discussions and group activities. Instead of having them submit all their assignments to you to evaluate, try peer grading, or allow them to present to the class for everyone to see and comment. Let your students express themselves and create an active learning environment.
Listen and adapt
Be responsive to your students. Ask them for direct and honest feedback about your teaching through formal or informal methods. It can be through a candid conversation or forms that they can fill anonymously. This feedback should cover content, teaching methods, and anything that requires improvement. Change up your course accordingly to best suit the needs of your students. Assist students who are having difficulty and may require special attention. Remember that you are learning along with them and take feedback like a sport.
Be an accommodating host
Be it online or offline, you as a teacher must have a social presence and make the students feel welcome and comfortable learning with you. Set the tone of your classroom. Radiate enthusiasm and get your students excited to learn. Don’t just dive into your subject immediately, let your students get to know you as well as encourage them to share about themselves so the class can get acquainted with each other.
Be responsive and treat your students with respect.
These methods will not only make the learning experience more enjoyable and effective for students but your job a lot easier as well. Imparting education and earning a few extra bucks from the comfort of your own home has never been easier.