7 Tips for Teaching Online

With many schools keeping their doors shut until at least the beginning of March, many of them have resorted to holding classes online. Given the country’s drive for education, this should not come as a surprise. However, for many teachers, this is an entirely new experience, as the techniques for effective teaching vary greatly in the in-class and online teaching experience. So, in order to assist in the transition, here are a few helpful tips for holding an online class for someone new to the experience.

1. Preparation is Everything

Proper preparation is essential for a well-run class in any situation, but even more so when teaching online. There is very little room for error, and a poorly prepped lesson will result in a lot of dead air. So, when preparing your lesson make sure to take an extra step and think through the lesson from the student’s point of view.You will definitely need to prepare a PPT or some similar variety of visual aid to help them follow along. But even then, you will need to keep it simple. Many will be viewing from mobile phones, meaning that their screen real estate will be limited. Tiny fonts or text walls will not be very useful in aiding them. Limit the number of words per slide to enable better understanding.You are also going to need a headset with a microphone in order to teach. Trying to teach through the standard microphone on your computer or laptop is going to lead to a lot of echo, making you harder to understand.

2. Learn the Software

While there are a great number of platforms for online teaching, they generally will fall into two varieties; Screen-Sharing and Meeting Platforms.Screen-Sharing is exactly what it sound like. A copy of your screen is broadcast to the students, so they can see everything on your screen. Everything. It might be a good idea when running these types of classes to close out any non-essential software. No one wants to see what you were browsing for before class. In addition, it might be good to check whether or not your computer’s audio is being fed through the broadcast as well, in case you are wanting to share and audio or video in class. Classes that are being run through QQ will most likely use screen-shares as do several other platforms.Meeting platforms were originally designed for hosting meetings (Go figure). These tend to be more robust than the screen-sharing software and offer up tools such as digital blackboard, file sharing, and group and direct chat. These can be useful for teaching, but they may have certain downsides. Some file formats may not work on these platforms, and sometimes the user interface can be quite clunky. Platforms such as Go-To-Meeting, Webex, and Zoom are some examples. In either case, you will want to familiarize yourself with the software before you try to teach your first class, learning what they can and can’t do. Some platforms will allow you to record the class, which may be required by your employer. Check with them for instructions on how to do that.

3.Rely on Visuals and Discussions

One of the greatest differences between teaching online and teaching face-to-face is that group activities are basically impossible online. This means that a lot of your go-to activities will have to be restructured to accommodate this reality. Discussions and talking activities will be essential for having student participation in class. Regardless of the subject you teach, you will need to engineer a way to get the students involved. If you try to simply lecture your way through an online class, you are going to lose them.Another thing that may help you during your class is to provide ample visual aids to help communicate your ideas. Searching for or creating diagrams before the class will help you do this, as you will be unable to draw on a board, and live drawing an example on a digital blackboard is harder than you think.Speaking of visuals, remember that you will most likely be on video for these classes. It is good to be aware of what is behind you when you are broadcasting, to avoid any potential embarrassment or distraction.

4. Control the Volume

As each student will most likely be in their home during your class, be prepared for a bit of environmental noise. Most people are not aware of how noisy their environment may be, and with everyone working from home these days, the likelihood of some ambient noise is highly likely. Most of the software platforms have an option for muting students, and that should be the default setting. This will eliminate most but not all of the excess noise. Likewise, you should mute yourself when you are not talking, to prevent your own environment from leaking into the class.

5. Call Them Out

You would think that teaching online, when there is less visual pressure from other students, would allow some of your more shy students to thrive. But typically, the opposite is true. Many students will retreat into the anonymity of the screen and will not participate during your class.You are going to have to call them out. Make sure that you have everyone’s name and that you can match it to their ID listed on the computer. This can be challenging, especially on QQ, as ‘BTSLOVER2012’ does not really give you a good idea of who you are talking to. If you are unsure, ask each person to check in with their name at the beginning of class, and keep a note of it on a piece of paper or your phone.

6. Keep It Moving

Online classes tend to be a bit more intensive for a students listening skills, due to a lack of other sensory input. With the lack other ways of keeping track of people’s answers, it can be quite difficult and exhausting for students to keep up. As a result, you should not linger for too long on a single item, but try to keep the pace moving.In addition, many people are more easily distracted in a home environment, and you will not be able to easily read whether or not someone is paying attention or not. A quick pace will require a student to focus more intently if they are going to keep up.

7. Slow Yourself Down

It’s not only the students that will have a lack of visual input. In many situations, you will not be able to see the students either, as they may not have video feeds up and running which would slow down the connection. As a result, you will be unable to see whether or not they are picking up what you are saying.Speak more slowly than you normally would in a class. Take your time to check understanding. Check in with the students from time to time as well, making sure that they can hear you and that they can speak as well. This means that the typical amount of material that you might cover in a class will have to be adjusted. If you are teaching a course, this may mean adjusting your time frame for completing units and lessons.

We hope that these tips will help you with your transition to online teaching. If you have any questions or comments, you can send them to us on our official WeChat Account or by emailing us at info@xianease.com

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