The Chronicle of Higher Education has published an useful guide on online teaching. The teaching suggestions in this guide are not revolutionary. Once you read them, they’ll probably seem like common sense. But that’s just the point.
Professors often fail to make the connection between what we do in a physical classroom and what we do online. This guide aims to make that connection explicit — to help you think about what you do well in person so that you can do those things in your online classes, too. If you already employ some of these practices, the intent here is to help you think more comprehensively about what else you can do to be an excellent online teacher. With that goal in mind, let’s get to work.
10 Essential Principles and Practices
- Show Up to Class
When you are regularly present and engaged in the online classroom, your students are more likely to be, too.
- Be Yourself
Students need to know you in order to engage with you online. So look for ways to be yourself via technology, just as you do in person.
- Put Yourself in Their Shoes
students should know exactly what you are teaching and what they are supposed to do as a result.
- Organize Course Content Intuitively
Try to think like a student when you organize course materials.
- Add Visual Appeal
When thinking about the visuals of an online class, look to your favorite websites. Why not apply this philosophy to an online class?
- Explain Your Expectations
provide as much meaningful support as you can — without going overboard — so that students don’t have to guess what you want them to do.
- Scaffold Learning Activities
Look for ways to break down complex tasks so that students make timely progress and receive feedback on their work while there is still time to adjust their approach if needed.
- Provide Examples
Online learners benefit from multiple explanations of difficult concepts and multiple examples of the kind of work you want to see.
- Make Class an Inviting, Pleasant Place to Be
When you teach in person, you do a lot of things to help students feel welcome and comfortable in the classroom. Apply that same principle to your online classes.
- Commit to Continuous Improvement
A hallmark of good teaching is the desire to keep getting better at it. Even small efforts can have a big impact.
Unfortunately there are many common misperceptions. In the guide they list four of them:
- Online classes are like slow cookers: Set and forget.
- Online students are lazy/disengaged/(insert negative adjective here).
- Online classes don’t work.
- Teaching online is not as enjoyable as teaching in person.
These misperceptions are still alive in the academic world. I still encounter them quiet often.
This guide is an excellent read to lear more about how to be an excellent online teacher. It isn't rocket science, just common sense!