6 Critical Best Practices For Online Teaching: Be Prepared

At least for the time being, higher education is being disrupted by the move of traditional classes online. For now, we don’t know how long this will continue for. As many for-profit schools have shut down and the growth of new online schools has slowed, this has come at an interesting time for the field of distance learning. Competition from traditional schools that offer online classes is limiting the number of growing online schools.

Many educators are finding it difficult to make the transition from a physical classroom to an online one. Educators who already work in this setting, like myself, are used to the idea of having a web presence. There are many demands for instruction in this environment, and while online teaching can be rewarding for those who adapt, it can also be quite challenging at times. Even if you’ve been teaching online for years, the end-of-course student evaluation is one of the most important metrics. Additionally, your performance as a facilitator will be assessed, and this includes things like participating in class discussions and providing feedback on learning activities.
When teaching online, there are some critical best practises that you can implement to ensure that you are effectively and substantively involved in your class. These are the result of my work as an online educator, as well as my work in faculty development, which has been reviewed by the strictest of standards and applied to faculty I’ve reviewed. Regardless of how long you’ve been teaching online, these best practises can serve as a guide for you as you refine your own style.

Essentials for Online Instructors

Whether or not you are a successful online educator comes down to how well you manage your time and create a weekly schedule. Class discussions and feedback are the two most time-consuming tasks. In the event that you don’t plan ahead and end up behind schedule, you’ll have to scramble to complete the tasks at hand. The end result will either be a lack of participation or a lack of feedback. Anxiety may also show up in your demeanour if deadlines are approaching and you are unable to complete all of the tasks you need to do. Even in an online setting, your students will pick up on this because the word choices used in online posts and messages leave subtle cues.

The contract you sign when you accept a faculty position and teach a class is another factor to consider. The most important thing you can do when you’re starting out at a new school is to thoroughly review the expectations of your professors and make sure you understand them. Your department chair or supervisor should be contacted if you have any questions. Responding to learners’ questions, no matter how they’re posted or sent, is the most important part of meeting deadlines. Audits and/or performance reviews are likely to be given to you, so take advantage of them as a means of self-improvement.

How to Make the Switch from Classroom to Online Learning

Those who have previously taught in a traditional classroom but are now required to do so online will face a steep learning curve. The first step in adapting to a new technology platform or learning management system (LMS) is to familiarise yourself with the available technological resources. Traditional educators who aren’t used to teaching online face the most difficult challenge: interacting with students who aren’t physically present. The lack of visual cues can be compensated for by incorporating a webinar into the class schedule. The majority of the class, on the other hand, is able to get by without a live class or any other visual or verbal cues. For students who have difficulty with academic writing, the words they post become their primary means of communication, making it more difficult to determine the intent or meaning of what they say.

In the end, an online educator must realise that he or she, not the course materials, is responsible for keeping students engaged. It is the instructor’s responsibility to re-engage a disengaged learner, and to do so quickly, as a disengaged learner may soon be dropped from the course. They expect their instructors to be actively participating in the course as well as being attentive to their needs. You can’t just log in once or twice a week and hope that’s enough for your students. If you want to keep a class going online and work on the needs of all of your students, you need to be actively involved all the time.