With the closure of schools around the world, online learning has become the viable modality of maintaining instructional continuity through enabling students to continue learning outside of the confines of the in-person classroom. The following tips offer starting points for transitioning your classroom online.
1. Maintain Clear Communication – Especially in times of uncertainty, it is important to maintain consistent contact with your students. Let them know how they can get in touch with you, how often they can expect to receive course updates, and where they can go to find course info. A sample email or announcement may look like this- Sample Announcement
2. Make Your Course Engaging – Online learning presents a vastly different learning environment than a physical classroom, and this presents an opportunity for you to get creative with your instruction. Digital technologies such as Padlet (a visual discussion board tool), Flipgrid (a pre-recorded video response tool), and Quizlet (a flashcard system with live team game settings) all have free options that can easily be incorporated into your online course.
3. Use New Technologies to Stay on Schedule – Now is a the time to brush up on those technical skills. As an instructor you have the opportunity to expand your reach to students by mastering new digital learning tools. Use Zoom to present content and share related information. Upload your course materials to the institution’s learning management system (LMS), such as Blackboard and Canvas, so that students can access them. Communicate with your students digitally through the use of LMS features, such as Announcements or email. Use technology to stay in touch and on schedule during this critical time. Contact your local IT for support or assistance with gaining access and using these technologies.
4. Group Activities Promote a Sense of Community – Although your class may have shifted online, the social aspect of learning still remains vital to your student’s academic success. Use LMS and other technology tool features to encourage interaction among you and your students.
- Discussion boards – be sure to be an active participant yourself, and encourage your students to post thoughtful and nuanced answers to other students responses.
- Zoom- Zoom breakout rooms, which allow you to split your Zoom meeting into separate rooms, each with different participants.
- The groups function in your LMS, which enables you to assign students to different groups to work on an assignment.
5. Be Flexible – Think objectively about the assignments you have planned for this semester, and decide which ones can most effectively be translated to online learning. If an assignment or assessment does not easily translate online, perhaps it should be replaced with an alternative. For example, an in-person test might be replaced with a semester long project or essay assignment. A live lecture might become a pre-recorded asynchronous lecture using a screencasting technology. Consider how learning can best be accomplished with the tools and resources available to you and your students.
6. Remain Positive and Supportive – You probably were not planning to teach online this semester, but that does not mean you won’t learn something new from this experience. Be open-minded and willingly to adapt to this new way of learning in a challenging time. Remain positive and supportive of your students and be sure to make time for you own self-care.
7. Ask for Support and Collaborate – Remember to ask for support when you need it. Your institution’s local IT, online education department is ready to support you during this time of need. Reach out to them, attend trainings, and be cognizant of your own wellness in making this transition to online. Also reach out and collaborate with your fellow faculty members, they are going through a similar situation and may be able to share insight about what they are doing to make this transition successful.
Got any tips to share for faculty members transitioning classes online? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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