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How To Best Prepare Yourself For Teaching Online

March 13, 2017
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How To Best Prepare Yourself For Teaching Online

Internet education has been around for a few years, but the typical online coursework thus far has placed teachers in a passive role. Now that online classes are becoming more prevalent, educators can expect to be assigned to teach in either virtual or traditional classrooms.

The difference between traditional and online course delivery can be significant insofar as teaching and classroom management. Here are some aspects to consider when preparing to teach online:

Lesson Planning

Teachers around the world know that their success in the classroom is highly dependent on the quality and diligence of their lesson planning.

For the purpose of online education, effective lesson planning is more important when compared to teaching in traditional classrooms. Teachers who are tasked with adapting their own materials for internet delivery will find that quite a few traditional classroom activities do not fit well for online delivery.

Of equal importance is the online course description and planning, which should include all details, including: lesson plans, workflow, assignments, expectations, syllabus, and communications. Teachers must keep in mind that online education has not fully replaced the classroom; for this reason, students should be given as much information as possible about internet classes so that they can have an opportunity to preview it and decide whether to apply.

Technology Platform

Just like a major aspect of traditional teaching involves classroom management, online educators should master the technology platform used to deliver course materials.

Teachers employed by public or private schools can significantly make their resumes more attractive if they can include mastery of popular learning management systems such as Blackboard (WebCT), Moodle or Coursera. Tutors and self-employed teachers can choose their favorite Massive Open Online Course (MOOC); to this end, some platforms include Udemy and P2PU.

Workplace for Course Delivery

As more schools and universities gravitate towards online education, some classrooms are being converted into internet media production and broadcasting facilities. Not all teachers will have the benefit of their schools providing adequate workspaces for online education; educators who will work from home will need reliable broadcast connections and modern computers equipped with quality microphones and cameras.

Online education requires more one-on-one interaction than the classroom; for this reason, teachers should choose workspaces that are comfortable and devoid of distractions.

Encouraging Participation and Discussion

Millennial students are particularly fond of online classes that feature forums, messaging boards and other modern elements of communications. Older students, however, may need some encouragement to participate.

A good idea to promote engagement among students is to build a collection of media related to the course; the goal is to test various items to see how the class responds to them. A course requirement for each student to answer a question about the item, submit an opinion and comment on the opinion of a classmate.

Class Communications

After lesson planning, establishing effective communications with students is the second most important aspect of online education. The open question-and-answer sessions of the traditional classroom are not easy to replicate online; this requires teachers to be more accessible and to quickly respond to questions, comments and feedback. Any type of electronic communication is essentially made in writing, which means that it should convey clear messages without creating ambiguity.

Motivating Online Students

When the first online classes were taught a couple of decades ago, educators were surprised to find a lack of motivation among students. Over time, academicians have determined that internet classes imply a certain impersonal connotation, particularly with Blackboard courses that lack live lectures, interactive sessions, or in-person meetings.

Imparting motivation in online classes requires educators to come up with the right solutions. One way this can be accomplished is to manage communications in a style reminiscent of a social network; some examples include: praising students in group messages that include emoticons, emoji and memes, announcing surprise extra credit assignments, encouraging students to meet deadlines, and asking them for input that they think could make the course better and more enjoyable.

Asking for Help and Feedback

Online educators are never short on resources related to their craft. There are thriving internet communities of teachers and learners who discuss the minutiae of online courses; in fact, some of these communities focus on rating the performance, acumen and personality of teachers. Course evaluations tend to be easier to gather online, particularly if they are made anonymous. Allowing students to make a parting statement about the course in a public forum is always a good idea.

Final Thoughts

The jury is still out on the advantages of a future in which education will be completely delivered on the internet. At this time, online education is mostly an augmentation of distance learning and a means to help students who either cannot or do not want to learn in a classroom.

Not all teachers will be able to easily transition to the online world. For many educators, Internet classes lack the dynamic of the classroom and the field; nonetheless, technologies are moving towards the direction of incorporating some of these aspects. All it takes for teachers is to accept the online education challenge so that they can enjoy the satisfaction of helping improve lives through education.

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