To some people, teaching online courses seems like a fairly straightforward task if you’ve got the expertise. What many fail to understand is the complexities that come with it – creating courses, engaging students and simply teaching your students the tools to help them succeed. Below is a collection of tips that you can follow to increase your likelihood of success in the online learning industry.
Regular and Timely Communication is Appreciated
Being there for your students when they need you is key in alleviating their anxiety around the course. If a course is difficult and they feel as though they are not being supported, their interest and motivation will dwindle quickly. If you’re giving your students timelines to work from and deadlines to meet, you need to be there to help them meet those deadlines and ensure they don’t fall behind. Make an effort to set a deadline for responding to your students questions and concerns – perhaps within 24 hours. This way, you will be creating an open and supportive line of communication with your students, demonstrating your dedication to their success.
Engagement is key
In order for your online class to really be effective, you need to incorporate a variety of tools and techniques to keep your classes fresh and engaging. Unlike real life classes where your physical presence demands the attention of your audience, virtual classes require much more to engage an audience because there’s more there to distract them (social media is often only a click away.) Often, the only tool you’re going to have to add that engagement is going to be your visuals. You want your visuals to be visually attractive and brain friendly – small amounts of text, predominantly images and link to other necessary information.
Provide Structure through Deadlines
Everyone will have their own approach to learning and each incorporate different levels of ‘flexibility.’ One of the great aspects of completing online courses is that flexibility that allows students decide when they will allocate time to complete their study. The issue is having so much flexibility that you lose structure. Self paced and individual study can be suited to certain topics, sure. But for most subjects, students require the consistency and discipline that comes with deadlines. Otherwise, students can become unmotivated to complete tasks and miss out on getting the most they can out of a course. Having deadlines simply ensures that everyone maintains the same pace throughout the course, that students are staying on top of their work and that they feel as though the course is legitimate. Take this discipline a step further and split assessment into weekly blocks, that way students don’t go weeks without having to complete any assessment because that’s when they will get off track.
Let Them Have Wins Regularly
What motivates students is ultimately that feeling of success; that all of the hard work they are putting in is really working and that they’re getting somewhere. No one is going to feel motivated to remain in a course if they feel like they’re not getting anywhere with it – it’s only too easy to quit. Students want to feel like capable and confident learners with a strong belief in their abilities. That’s what drives anyone to continue learn, especially when it gets tough. You as a teacher can do a lot to help that.
Help students identify their strengths and remind them of them when they need it. Break up difficult pieces of assessment with less difficult pieces of assessment or tasks in between to rebuild confidence.
Beware of introducing too many online tools
While many incredible online tools exist to help you teach your online courses, they aren’t always a good idea. There are hundreds of online tools that you can use to add interest to your courses and help your students produce better, more sophisticated content. Sometimes this content can be really useful too – and are really worth incorporating if you want to step-up your online courses. However, you should be wary when doing so. Sometimes introducing new technology can create a real divide with your students; between ones that are technologically capable and ones that might not be technologically inclined. This way, if you’re introducing content, some students may struggle with it and it creates a real disadvantage.
Other times, you might have a class of students eager to learn new technologies in which case it would be a real benefit for your course. You just have to be vigilant about the kinds of technologies you’re introducing and why you’re introducing them.