Online courses have become an incredibly popular way for students and employees to advance their education or professional development. Teaching an online course requires different methods from the traditional classroom, so it’s important that teachers adapt or develop their skills to the online learning environment, to make their materials effective and engaging for learners. Let’s look at 5 strategies you can implement to improve your online teaching and make your eLearning course a successful experience for both you and your learners.
Without your physical presence in the classroom, it’s vital that you establish a virtual presence at the very beginning of the eLearning course. Online teachers need to be engaging and supporting students right from the start and for the duration of the course, to maintain an effective learning community.
By establishing your teacher presence, you’ll show students that you’re both visible and available. You’ll also be welcoming them to their new learning community – just as you would in any traditional classroom.
Let your students know what days or timeframes you will be online and how they can contact you outside of those hours.
Engage with your learning community through online posts, forums or social media – when people see teachers putting time into discussions and engagement, they’ll be more encouraged to participate themselves. Through this engagement, you’ll also develop professional relationships with your students and make their experience far more personal and memorable.
As an online teacher, you have an opportunity to create a supportive online community for your learners.
The best way to achieve this is through encouraging both teacher-to-student engagement and student-to-student interaction. Dr Judith V. Boettcher, PhD and author of A Faculty Guide for Moving Teaching and Learning to the Web, suggests the following strategies:
These strategies will encourage learners to work together as an active learning community, which brings benefits to all individuals involved.
These days, we’re fortunate to have the technology to create virtual learning environments that allow us to collaborate and engage just as well as if we were in the classroom.
As Dr Boettche says, “the variety of activities that are now possible online makes it possible to create many types of effective learning environments.”
The best online teachers use a combination of both synchronous and asynchronous activities, creating a blend of traditional online learning styles with newer, more collaborative audio and visual tools. Working with a mix of activities makes the content more interesting and exciting, increasing student engagement with both the teacher and other learners.
You can learn more about blended learning models in Teaching Online, a short 2-hour course that looks at the differences between online and face-to-face classroom teaching, as well as ways to introduce collaborative learning into your online program.
Feedback is an essential component of all effective learning environments – including online.
As an online teacher, your feedback will help to create an eLearning experience that is informative, engaging, and motivational for the learner. Your feedback should be continuous during the eLearning process, with constructive feedback offered as soon as possible so that students can clearly identify which behaviors or skills need to be improved.
You can encourage group feedback through collaborative exercises, which also helps to promote peer engagement.
It’s wise to acknowledge the importance of mobile learning for online teachers, with students and employees now accustomed to using their mobile devices for learning.
Mobile learning holds key advantages for learners, allowing them to access up-to-date course materials and relevant content anywhere, anytime. With bite-sized pieces of information available to be digested quickly and easily, learners can work through course materials at their own pace, assisting both performance and productivity.
Make sure your eLearning content can be easily accessed via smartphones, laptops, and iPads to maximize your teaching methods. You’ll also be demonstrating to your learners that you’re in touch with the needs of today’s modern workforce and its relevant technology.
With these strategies in place you can feel more confident about your online teaching skills and eLearning materials. You’ll also know that you’re working to create a more positive and collaborative learning environment for your students.