Whether you have previous experience in online teaching or not, chances are that you might not have enjoyed it as much as teaching in real. Researches show that only 9% of teachers prefer teaching in an online environment. This is because most academics don’t see much value in online teaching and believe in becoming the finest online tutor. Some lack the same depth and breadth experience in the online classroom as in a traditional classroom and some don’t know how to excel in online teaching.
All these are because you are not fully investing in online teaching practice and choosing a great eLearning platform. If you have got the grip and to do it in the right way, online teaching can be just as rewarding as teaching in a brick-and-moral virtual classroom, but only in a different way. Online teaching can open up unique and interesting opportunities along with keeping your full-time job. The convenient nature of virtual teaching gives the flexibility that allows you to teach anywhere. If you want to know how to become an online teacher and establish your career, this blog will be beneficial for you.
Essential principles and practices to become an excellent online teacher
Teachers often fail to establish a personal connection between how they take classes in a physical classroom and when teaching online. Unlike the real classroom, a virtual classroom brings in a range of unknown things, mostly in the area of its newness and limitations. Here are some of the essential principles and practices to take your online classes efficiently.
Be regular to the class
Fundamentally, as a good teacher, you must be online in your classroom along with the learners. When you are taking classes in a traditional classroom, you will never leave learners to their devices. You will be with them by engaging them in the learning experience. Likewise, you need to show up to online class as well as guiding, explaining, illustrating, and engaging your students. You need to spend quality time with your students to engage in a one-one conversation with learners who need extra attention and support. When taking an online class, you need to set a schedule for you to be in a class and teach your subject. Successful online teaching is no different. You need to create, set, and stick on to a consistent schedule for meaningful engagement in your online class.
Without the right planning, you might not be able to actively participate in teaching activities when teaching online. For example, you need to clearly define and plan how many hours you will spend teaching online every day for a 2-week course. It can be a couple of hours like 10 hours or even less than that. It is important to set the same time schedule every week to engage with your students in a virtual classroom.
Show your authentic side
Most teachers like taking real classes rather than online teaching due to the lack of opportunities to mingle with students and watch them in real-time. However, with access to modern technologies real-time and one-one communication with students is possible with online teaching as well. If you need the energy in the classroom to feed off your passion, don’t worry, it is possible in a virtual classroom too. The solution, by the way, is to capture your personality in different ways that are unique compared to what you might do in a traditional classroom.
Conduct mini-lectures, give test instructions, and plan short interactive sessions with your students to answer their questions. Creating content like these is an inevitable part of any online teaching, but ensure you keep a unique voice in your content. Make sure you infuse your content with warmth. This helps to convey your support to your students. Rather than delivering your classes in a detached manner, practice authenticity and focus on building a personal connection. The inherent distance between you and your students will be bridged by your authentic communication.
Recording yourself whenever possible is a great way to be your real self. Be it through podcasts or videos, make sure you capture your expertise and your empathic teacher persona in a way it creates more impact than in writing. These classes need not be professionally produced. It is good to start small and include one or two videos at the beginning. Many eLearning systems feature built-in modules to record audio and video directly. Or you can also shoot a quick video from your phone and upload it to your online training software. This is of great significance as your students appreciate seeing your face and hearing from you.
Organize courses intuitively and efficiently
When you organize the eLearning material, make sure you put yourself in the shoes of your students. Try thinking like your students. When accessing eLearning resources online, most students become confused and frustrated if it’s difficult to browse and view the courses and activities. The significance of LMS cannot be stressed enough in this situation.
When students find it difficult to figure out where and how to find your videos, discussions, group activities, learning games, etc. they will very likely lose interest in checking out those. The design and sequence of your courses and activities must be systematic, methodical, and purposeful. Not just finding the courses, it must be easy to navigate from one module to another as well. For example, if your student has to come out of a given module to watch videos or browse a lecture, it can be distracting and frustrating. Implement a course organization that is easy, clear, and intuitive. Help your students navigate through the learning resources effortlessly so as to capture their attention and interest.
Visual appeal is significant
Students would rather like to learn in an active environment than a boring one. That’s why you need to give importance to the way your virtual classroom and online courses look. Add a few small touches to improve your visual appeal and you might be surprised to see the huge impact.
When thinking about the visual appeal of your virtual classroom, take a look at your favorite eLearning websites. Study the layout and the interactive elements they use. Why not apply the same to your online classroom if it suits your platform and your audience?
You need not be a graphic designer to improve the appearance of your online courses. Try implementing small things like embedding appropriate images, including appealing thumbnails, organizing your text, etc. An online course that is visually appealing helps your students to engage more meaningfully with your resources. Work with the experts in the field to ensure your online classroom has good looks and accessibility.
Foster personal relationships
Building personal relationships with each student is as important as having group communications. In a virtual classroom, students can feel alone in the classroom so teachers need to make an effort and connect with students personally. You can leverage different communication techniques including personalized responses to students via emails and discussion boards. During the beginning of the course, you must set out the communication methods so that you can foster personal relationships with students.
Clearly define your expectations
When you are addressing your students and assigning a task or a project, you simply don’t hand out learning resources in text form. Instead, you detail about the projects to students so that they understand things clearly. The same applies to online classes as well. Even if your instructions are clearly written in the form of text, you need to explain it to the audience, maybe as a detailed instructional video.
Keep in mind, most online learners grasp the concept by themselves by viewing the courses materials. They don’t usually get the luxury to get an explanation about the lesson, task, project, or an assignment. This is why you need to post an explanatory video about the lesson or concept so that your students understand the concept in a deeper context. However, you need to make sure you don’t go overboard with lengthy content and instructions that your students won’t even read. You need to attain the right balance.
Here are some tips to implement the same.
- List down the directions about tasks as if you are having a one-one conversation with your students.
- Make informal explainer videos to clearly define the details of the task or project.
- Share the work of the best student as a real-time example you can demonstrate to your class
- Offer valuable support to your students without going to the extreme limit.
Scaffold educational activities
When you take online classes, you will perform modeling activities without much effort. However, in an online classroom, you need to make conscious efforts to explain the concept to your students. When you share real examples with your students, you also need to demonstrate you connect learning concepts for a deeper understanding. Explain the concepts systematically step-by-step to help your students grasp the concept and showcase their best performance in projects, assignments, and tests.
The ideal type of modeling doesn’t always happen naturally in a virtual classroom where real-time communication is limited. To help your students, it is important to be creative enough to simplify complex concepts so that your students’ understand it better. Also, offer your students unique opportunities to build as they would in a traditional classroom. Structure ways to make a smooth transition from one information to another. Allow your students to come up with examples that are beneficial to their peers. Students must be able to submit their work and explain how they grasped the concept taught by you.
Make your online classroom a pleasant place to be
To analyze your virtual classroom, ask yourself whether you enjoy attending your online classroom or not. While these questions are the toughest to answer, the answers can throw light on a significant aspect. Your classroom must be an inviting and pleasant place to be for not just your students, but also for other instructors, too.
If you don’t enjoy your virtual classroom as a teacher, the struggle will be real for students and other teachers in your platform. When you teach in a real classroom, you must make your presence felt by making your students comfortable by greeting and making eye contact occasionally. Although the traditional class setup is not attractive, you can do a lot of things effortlessly to make the class atmosphere better to make it more joyful and engaging. Apply the same thing to your virtual classroom as well. Take a deliberate effort from your side to make it more pleasing for your students.
Commit to consistent improvement
A simple tip to improve your online teaching is to commit to continuous improvement. Bring that enthusiasm and engagement to your virtual class the same way you do it in your traditional class. Put in Significant efforts and efforts into improvising your virtual classroom. Compare your teaching style in a traditional classroom set up and incorporate fresh ideas into your teaching strategy. Here are some of the tips to adopt.
- Take efforts to make your virtual classroom better in look, feel, and usability.
- Take part in workshops to make your teaching style better.
- Join in discussion groups where your peers engage to delve conversations about online teaching strategies.
- Sign up for newsletters and resources specially designed for online tutors.
When you are constantly trying to improve your teaching skills and becoming an online teacher, you might get overwhelmed. To avoid that, pick one thing and begin small. Take it further by taking each step at a time to strive to get better to make the learning process easy and successful for your students. With some serious efforts and creative thinking, you will be able to master the art of teaching in a virtual classroom. As the virtual classroom is still in its infant stages when compared to other teaching methods, the most effective principle will continue to evolve. Integrating these teaching strategies will not only ensure building a great community, but will also make your job easier as well.
I’m working as leading experts on building and implementing the learning strategies. I have led learning & performance improvement projects form last few years.
Currently marketing consultant at https://www.pinlearn.com/