You know that walking into a classroom poised, prepared, and confident may make all the difference for your students. The same applies to the digital classroom. But the online world has its own characteristics that can either help or hinder your teaching experience. If you curate your lessons for the digital classroom, you may be able to educate and engage your students online.
How can you do that?
Below are some of our top tips on how to teach online. If you are a student looking to enroll in a program, educate yourself on the different areas of study Alliant International University offers by clicking here.
11 Tips for Teaching Online
Here are a few tips for online teaching that can help you master the digital classroom1.
- Overprepare the tech – Make sure you have all the equipment (digital and otherwise) you need at your fingertips for each online class. That means double-checking your WiFi strength, webcam, classroom sharing software, and the location of your digital slide decks. The more comfortable you are with handling your technology, the more seamless the teaching experience.
- Do a test run – You may not be a drama teacher, but you know the value of practice and rehearsal, especially when it comes to remote learning. Test out your classes, screen-sharing capabilities, and lighting. Expand your mirrored image window to see what your students will be seeing as you do a run-through of your classes.
- Be aware of your background – A cluttered video background can be distracting to your students’ eyes. Try to keep your background tidy, but don’t be afraid to show your personality. Place posters, plants, or decorations neatly around your teaching area.
- Get used to speaking into the web-camera – It can be difficult to feel connected to your students when you’re communicating through technology. So practice teaching to your webcam. It will create the illusion that you’re looking right at your students and impart a sense of professionalism and confidence. This makes a huge difference in student attention since students will subconsciously feel like you’re speaking directly to them.
- Ask follow-up questions – Allow plenty of time in your classes for asking follow-up questions. Skip the general “Is that clear to everyone?” variety and instead ask questions that force students to prove their absorption of the information:
- How do you think that connects to our previous lesson?
- Can someone paraphrase what I just said?
- Can you think of examples of this theme from our last class?
- Create a culture of engagement and information retention – It’s far too easy for students to coast on the mute-button through class when it comes to online learning. Set up an environment for understanding and engagement in your virtual classroom with these tips for teaching online2:
- Call on specific students – Let your students know that you will be calling on individuals randomly throughout the course. Keep track of who you have or haven’t called on and constantly switch up the order of people you call on.
- Camera on, sound off – If possible, require your students to leave their cameras on with their mute on. This will encourage student engagement and attentiveness.
- Utilize the chat window – Sometimes, students’ web cameras don’t work, or their WiFi is too weak to facilitate video streaming. That’s okay. Instead, have students ask questions in the chat window.
- Require scheduled office hour appointments – Make one of your course requirements a designated amount of time in “office hours” with you. Have students schedule time on your calendar to check in on a regular basis, even if it’s just fifteen minutes every other week. If you have a larger virtual classroom, have your students email their updates to you.
- Be ready for the content of your teaching to move slower – It’s natural for technical difficulties to come up during your online teaching. If that happens, information may take a bit more time to disseminate. Create digital copies of your material for students to access later just in case a WiFi issue comes up during the lecture.
- Improve your oration skills – The online classroom is a true challenge of charisma and instruction. Take this opportunity to polish your public speaking abilities in a way that will enhance student learning through the screen.
- Practice enunciating
- Find dynamic ways (digitally and otherwise) to present the information
- Repeat the key points of your material succinctly and frequently
- Share the digital podium – You probably know that teaching information is one of the best ways to learn information. Give your students the opportunity to teach their coursemates and lead discussions with your online course. You can even send them this guide for tips and tricks.
- Be kind – By showing genuine care and interest in a student’s wellbeing, you can encourage the student to invest even more in their online learning experience.
- Respond to emails quickly – A quick reply to an email can make a student feel more heard by his or her teacher.
- Be flexible and understanding – Technology (and life) hiccups happen. Try to accommodate students as much as you can and be open to after-class one-on-ones to clarify material they might have missed.
- Give your students plenty of learning tools – Offer students copies of your slide decks after the lesson, encourage study groups, and point them to reputable online resources.
- Bring your passion to every class – The more excitement and passion you bring to each class, the more enriching the experience will be for your students. Share your excitement for your subject matter, and don’t forget to go over the top in the digital classroom. If you’re not afraid to go big on your love of the topic, your students won’t be afraid to love it, too.
Great Teachers Know How To Learn for Their Students
Just like every subject you’ve mastered, the digital classroom has its own unique quirks and attributes to understand and embrace. By continuously learning, adapting, and improving your teaching style even after the teacher intern experience, you’ll grow more skilled at creating an enriching learning environment for every student3.
Another way to ensure you’ll always be the best possible educator for your students is by elevating your own education. Alliant University offers myriad advanced teaching and education degrees online and in-person. The path to becoming the best in your educational field may start back in the classroom, digital or otherwise.
- Bill Schiano and Espen Anderson, Harvard Business Publishing Education, https://hbsp.harvard.edu/inspiring-minds/8-tips-for-teaching-online, accessed Nov. 29, 2021
- Jacqueline Zweig and Erin Stafford, Education Development Center, 7 Tips for Teaching Online, https://www.edc.org/blog/7-tips-teaching-online, Accessed Nov. 29, 2021
- Flower Darby, The Chronicle of Higher Education, How to be a Better Online Teacher, https://www.chronicle.com/article/how-to-be-a-better-online-teacher/, Accessed Nov. 29, 2021