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Tips for Online Teaching Success

Tips for Online Teaching Success 

Faculty can have a major impact on student success in the online environment. Here are some tips to make sure things go smoothly.

 

Access and Familiarity with Technology

  • Check the student bulletin to make sure your system meets the technical requirements for the class.
  • Be comfortable with your system, the internet, and basic digital literacy skills.
  • Complete any training necessary for your LMS, and explore tutorials and help pages to understand more advanced features and capabilities.
  • Know where to go for technical help for both software and hardware issues for your own system, and where to direct students for any campus systems.  
  • Back up your work. Explore cloud syncing options and save your work often.
  • Tech savvy students lose confidence in faculty that don’t seem to know what they are doing. If you aren’t comfortable or anticipate issues, ask if any support staff are available to assist.

 

Outline Clear and Specific Expectations from the Start

  • Create a detailed syllabus that outlines all assignments and due dates, and make it available before the course starts.
  • Be specific in all policies such as participation, late work, logging into the course shell, etc., and include them everywhere relevant. For example, include the discussion board participation policy in the syllabus, on the course welcome page, and along with every discussion board prompt in the course.
  • Write policies with distance students in mind, and that would include all situations.
  • Include a Resources section on your syllabus for anything that may benefit the students: technology help, American Honors advisors, LMS support, writing resources. If you show the students trusted places to look for help themselves, you will need to field less of these questions yourself.

 

Communication

  • Encourage open, yet professional, communication in your class.
  • Be sure the students have multiple ways to contact you and know which one is best. Include in your syllabus what your average turnaround time is on questions, any times you may be unreachable, and who to contact secondly, if necessary.
  • Any emails to the whole class should also be posted as an announcement on the LMS.
  • Utilize anonymous surveys to check in with students if not getting any feedback.

 

Community

  • Build a sense of community in the class with discussions, group work, polls and more. Many studies have found a greater sense of community leads to student success.
  • Have the students complete a meaningful exercise or questionnaire to introduce themselves or another classmate the first week of class.
  • Before the class meeting starts, start a discussion around something fun, but related, to get students talking.
  • Encourage students to bring their personal experiences and insights into the class.
  • Assign study partners or teams

 

Pedagogy

  • Remember to scaffold! Any reading, multimedia, or other resources should never just be linked to without guiding questions for the student to think about when reading/viewing and/or statement on how it relates to the other course material.
  • Groom discussion board periodically by pointing out exceptional answers, following up with deeper questions, or offering a summarization of replies so far and jumping off point for future replies. When grooming, remember to act as a facilitator and not dominate the conversation.
  • Video lectures should be chunked by topic into 5-10 minutes. This keeps students interest, allows for watching when time allows, and also for easy review of specific topics.
  • Offer short feedback videos to individual students when grading a major assignment. This allows an instructor to seem more honest and encouraging while providing notes and constructive criticism that may not have come across just from text.  
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