Nowadays, many people are moving towards online teaching. Why more and more people are showing interest is because of different administrative and accessibility reasons. For school and program administrators, facilitating online education can be a lot easier than traditional teaching.
Teaching may not be among the most dangerous jobs in the world, but it can be demanding, challenging as well as rewarding.
Why? First, both online teaching and online learning materials are easily accessible and can be easily updated. Access to certain files can be restricted by using passwords, time and date access. This means that learning can still take place over a specific time frame; as it would be done in a traditional classroom setting. Aside from that, teachers can also facilitate large classes easily and subject and course materials can be easily distributed to these large classes simply and electronically. Gone are the days of having to photocopy hundreds (at times thousands) of pieces of paper!
It is also more flexible, since online teaching can encompass different limitations like time zones, geographic locations and physical limitations. Technology can also help in enhancing learning and knowledge among students. Technology can also allow your students to collaborate with other students and can enable peer-to-peer teaching. Teachers can also explore different teaching methods, techniques, and best practices.
To make online teaching a great experience for both teachers and students, there are things that you can do.
Firstly, set clear time frames at the beginning of your course. Use these time frames to respond or reply to your students' comments and questions. This practice will help you develop discipline among your students and at the same time set a routine for them. Make sure that students are well informed about the time frames, and expectations within the time frames, that you have set.
If, at any time, you need to change your scheduling then make sure that your students are informed well in advance; taking into consideration the time zones of your students and the impact your re-scheduling may have on them. So, give them adequate time to make adjustments based on the announced changes.
"Online learning is not the next big thing, it is the now big thing.”- Donna J. Abernathy
“Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.”- Heidi-Hayes Jacobs
If you have assignments and discussions, then using the classroom online forum, you can provide general feedback to the entire class. This will allow all students to get exposed to your feedback at the same time. You can also ask students to respond back to your comments; hence, enabling students to learn from others, read about their ideas, and at the same time see how their peers interpreted the topic or assignment.
Avoid over-facilitating when online teaching. As a teacher, you do not have to answer all the questions. If you having online discussions, let your students answer to each other. For example, if somebody asked about a certain topic do not respond immediately. After a few days you will notice that some of your students will be giving feedback or answers on their own.
To make sure that the online participation or discussion is continuous, regularly post acknowledgment to student comments or post an idea that will encourage students to answer or post messages. In addition, avoid having long lulls in the online discussion boards or forums. There may be times when students will not be posting anything and go quiet, at these times think about throwing out a teaser question, starting an online quiz or creating a competition to ensure that you re-engage your students and get them communicating both with you and each other. Afterall, ongoing communication means ongoing learning; which is exactly what you want.
As in a traditional classroom setting, online there may also be a tendency for students to stray away from the assigned topics and discuss whatever was on tv last night, the latest fashions, or some other non-related topic. So, as you would do in a traditional classroom setting, online you will need to guide your students back into discussing your assigned topic. Simply, redirect the discussion back on track but do not appear to be too harsh. Preferably use humor, jokes or graphics to redirect the discussion away from the Kardashians!
Before you move on to a new topic, make sure to summarize or having a closing online session about the topic. Make sure that students are united in their understanding about the concepts. You could also create an online mini quiz for them to take. It could be scored automatically and let you and each of your students know what they have or have not learned about the topic. This is the time to level-off with your students so that they will not get lost when you move onto the next topic.
Online teaching has many benefits, it is flexible and technology can be explored in different ways so that you, the teacher, and your students can benefit immensely.
If you are interested in becoming a teacher, sign up for our FREE workshop: "How to Rapidly Get that International Teaching Job WITHOUT any hassle in as little as 90 Days" to learn more HEREand also check out our 140-hour, internationally-accredited TEFL Tycoon course HERE. PLUS, if you would like to become an international teacher but, you are a bit strapped for cash (because, let's be honest, TEFL courses and traveling overseas are great things to do, but they do cost money!) then check out our Teach & Travel crowdfunding page HERE.