Online classes have been increasing in popularity every year. For teachers, they represent an opportunity that can’t be overlooked. Unlike traditional, in-person classes, online classes allow teachers to connect directly with students from all over the world.
Despite the convenience of internet-based learning, even the most seasoned teachers may initially feel intimidated by moving their classes online. Fortunately, they typically discover that the transition goes smoother than expected. If you’re considering moving your own teaching online, there are a few tips that you can keep in mind to ensure that you and your students have the best experience possible.
Provide Interactive Opportunities to Your Students
Even though they aren’t in a physical classroom, online classes should still have plenty of opportunities for student interaction. Every teacher is likely familiar with how quickly a student’s attention can drift during a lecture. With online classes, the risk is even greater because students have the entire internet available to distract them.
To keep each student’s attention, provide them with ample chances to participate. If your students are appearing on webcam, call on them just as you would in a traditional class. If the students are not using webcams, try using chat boxes or polls instead.
Even recorded classes can have interactive components. Something as simple as including workable problems will be enough to keep most students engaged. You can also consider having students submit work at the end of classes.
Use Slides and Graphics
Another great way to improve your online classes is to incorporate visual aids. Most online teaching platforms allow you to easily broadcast slide presentations, images, and even videos to your students. These can be a great way to keep attention and to illustrate your points.
Just like in traditional classrooms, a well-prepared deck of slides can help students understand the structure of the material and aid in their visual learning. This can become particularly important in long classes, in order to break up the monotony of students staring at you talking for hours on end.
As you grow more comfortable with visual aids, you can also start to mark up the slides and graphics as you go, using them as a virtual chalkboard.
Talk to Students as If They Were in the Room
As you’re making the switch to online classes, it’s more important than ever to maintain a strong connection with your students. If you don’t see your students, it can be easy to forget they are on the other end. As a result, your teaching will feel bland and dry, and students are likely to have difficulty maintaining focus.
To prevent this, pretend your students are right there in the room with you. Stay animated, as if you could see someone responding to you. You can even continue to throw in jokes, even if you won’t hear anybody laughing.
Just as if you were in a traditional classroom, make sure not to simply read off your notes. Even in online classes, eye contact is important. The difference is that instead of really looking into your students’ eyes, you’ll have to look at the webcam. This will give your students the illusion of eye contact.
Online teaching shouldn’t be intimidating. The same skills that make great teachers in traditional classrooms also make great teachers in online classrooms. The best online teachers find ways to build on the traditional classroom experience by providing opportunities for students to participate, incorporating plenty of visual aids, and maintaining connections with their students.