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Teach Online…Who, Me?

Submitted by on April 2, 2013 – 2:16 pmNo Comment

Okay. The day has arrived that you have been asked to teach an online class.

Often times, the idea of converting a traditional course to an online course is met with resistance. eLearning has grown leaps and bounds in recent years. At this rate, the future of eLearning is very promising. Many universities now offer online programs that attract students, and the university will continue to offer their education programs, expand their enrollment, and build student retention.

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But what about the professor?

People often mistakenly think teaching an online course requires more work than teaching conventional classes. Many professors fear that an online course is not as rigorous and feel compelled to overcompensate by adding a bunch more work into the curriculum. Instead, I prefer to look at the situation differently.

Students change, and it’s time that the education field begins to shift its paradigm and embrace eLearning. Teaching online does have benefits. For starters,

  • you have the convenience and flexibility of when and where you teach.
  • there are more opportunities for individual interactions with students.
  • students often become less inhibited online than in traditional classes.
  • you have the opportunity to try something new.
  • you will begin to discover all of the online resources available for your subject and topics. (For example, you can integrate videos, online articles, blogs, and tutorials into your online curriculum. Many publishers have become privy to this and are developing online resources for higher education.)

Where do you begin?

Start thinking about student-centered activities to engage your learners. You will find yourself doing more facilitation and moderation in online courses due to the nature of the learning environment. Problem-based learning and collaborative learning get students interacting and engaging with each other.

Incorporate peer evaluation, which has become an effective teaching strategy in online courses. The opportunity for students to evaluate each other has been a successful model, especially when they can develop their own rubrics.

Understand that online teaching requires certain behaviors—the number one behavior is the ability to communicate effectively. It’s important to realize that you don’t get to see your students for those impromptu conferences in the hallway when teaching an online class. By providing meaningful feedback in a timely fashion, you will lessen the anxieties of the students and your own.

Assess your teaching behaviors in the course evaluation. Students need the opportunity to let the teacher know what worked and what didn’t. As you reflect on your feedback, you will begin to grow as an online educator.

Engage students, and keep them motivated. This is crucial to the success of an online course. To ensure interaction, create learning activities that are interesting to students. As the facilitator, it is important to encourage your students to respond in a critical and reflective way when interacting and collaborating. Simple responses like “I agree” do not promote engagement. Have students explain why they agree or disagree and the reasons behind it in their response.

Many professors have utilized these strategies in their traditional courses, and it’s just a matter of implementing them in an online course. It doesn’t just stop with these strategies. Teachers are the reason the students will learn; the online environment is just the platform in which they will be learning now. You are irreplaceable.
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