Get to know the technology. Technology is the foundation for online education to be effective for all stakeholders. Thus, getting comfortable with the technology used in online classes is the first step in successful online teaching. Make sure you take the time to properly onboard everyone involved: Directors, Deans, Administrators, Instructors and Teaching Assistants must all be properly trained. In order to have an exceptional online program, properly utilizing online resources and tools to support student learning is essential.
Communicate frequently and consistently. Online education is the modern way of learning efficiently from the comfort of your own home. Because this method of education is not taught in a physical setting, it can be hard to connect and interact productively with students. Communicating frequently and consistently while trying to engage students throughout the course will motivate students and push them to be the best they can. It creates opportunities for course topic clarification, identifying and rewarding success, providing opportunities for improvement, and helps students to understand and monitor their own learning.
Ask for feedback from students. Student feedback is the most important aspect of improving online learning to create the highest quality of education possible. This feedback provides opportunities of improvement throughout the curriculum by identifying areas of strength and weakness from those who use the curriculum first-hand. It also builds critical relationships between a student and their instructor, path of study, and institution. Engaging students to receive both course and instructor feedback is key to creating the most effective classroom-- and can be accomplished easily via regularly scheduled, formal methods such as student surveys.
Engage students in discussions. Engaging students in online discussions helps them to have conversations about their education and allows them to clarify any questions they may have. Getting to know their instructor allows for real life conversations and connections to happen during their online education. In any discipline, students who are more engaged with their instructors and fellow students become more open to learning about new things and show higher success rates. This can all be accomplished in a number of ways: email, discussion boards, online chat functions, and even via live video conferencing.
Make instructions clear and easy to understand. Since students are active in a nontraditional classroom, being able to understand instructions and directions are critical to a thriving education and learning environment. Be sure to have multiple ways for students to understand what is expected of them: videos, podcasts, slide presentations, written descriptions and rubrics all work to clearly demonstrate what is expected. Making clear and easy to read instructions are vital to allowing students to truly engage in the coursework, achieve success, and further their education and career.
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