Today, we continue to focus on practical advice that you can use to run your online classroom effectively by listing off our recommended best online teaching practices for 2021.
Read on to find some tips that have become standard practice in the online education industry, and others that aren’t as popular yet – but you will be glad you heard about them first! To be successful online you need to practice the best online teaching practices.
Ask for Feedback Early
Feedback from your students is incredibly valuable, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to come by. You will only have a few opportunities to collect honest, impactful feedback (asking too frequently leads to diminishing returns), so you need to be strategic about when you are putting your plan into action.
Final course evaluations have earned the dubious nickname of “postmortem evaluations” in teaching circles because there is nothing that can be done to improve the satisfaction of the student.
Scheduling feedback earlier in the course (anywhere from 25 – 50% completion seems to be the sweet spot), so that you can capture your student’s impressions while they are still fresh, and immediately make changes to improve their course experience. This is important for the best online teaching practices.
Part of asking for feedback is doing it informally using surveys or discussion forums. This allows students to feel relaxed and unpressured, leading to honest results. You will find much different feedback this way than if you were speaking to students face to face.
Build a Supportive Online Community
Online community-building is extremely important for overall course satisfaction right now. Isolation and loneliness are issues that most if not all students are facing, and providing them with a platform to connect with each other can help them retain concepts better and become more intrinsically motivated to learn.
To encourage your students to get to know each other better, there are many strategies that you can use. We recommend starting off your online class with personal introductions in the form of a blog post or “speed dating”, where students can share their interests and hobbies outside of the classroom, and bond over what they have in common.
Later on, divide your students into study groups that are organized by time zone, or anything else that allows them to communicate easily. Use the breakout rooms function in DaDesktop to give students opportunities to meet, and promote a “coffee shop” or “study hall” feel.
Try to include exercises and games that aren’t strictly course-related to give your students a better chance of bonding. Finding common ground will help them collaborate and solve problems together.
Write for Clarity
This is a tip that is useful for students and teachers since both will be posting a lot of material to online message boards or emails. The important thing to remember is that written text is subjective and can be left up to interpretation.
Since you and your students will send many messages every day, it is best to put some standards in place so that problems don’t arise to misunderstood posts and responses. Dadesktop.us has everything you need for the best online teaching practices.
Communicate to your students that a direct and polite term should be used, and that disagreements should be handled with an in-person video call. As an instructor, you should be prepared to give some feedback in person as well, especially when it comes to complex concepts.
Above all, adopt a zero-tolerance stance for negative or demeaning messages, since this will damage the supportive online community that you are building in your classroom.
Use A Range of Content Types
Online education has a particularly tough side effect. Students and teachers spend more hours in front of a computer screen than ever before. This additional blue light exposure can lead to “Zoom Fatigue”, which makes it difficult to stay engaged during a lesson.
Even though you will need to run your lectures through a video conferencing app, your students shouldn’t need to review course content on the computer.
Mix in different forms of media like podcasts, video, or print. This works best if students can complete their course prep from anywhere, like listening to a podcast while taking a walk or driving to get groceries. This grants more flexibility to students who have unique schedules or home life situations, which ultimately makes it easier for them to learn.
This is especially common in blended learning environments where students are given material to review outside of class, so that in-class learning is fully devoted to problem-solving and discussion.
Finishing your Online Course Strong
For anyone teaching online through a university or other educational institution, outgoing students have a lot of power. They will likely be evaluating your performance with the school’s administrative wing, in addition to talking with their peers about whether they enjoyed your class or not.
If you are teaching online courses as a business, these students have even more importance. They can refer new students to your business, write reviews, and join your professional network where they may be clients or business partners down the road.
In either case, the final few lessons of your class are important. This is where you can offer an easy option for direct course feedback, and allow students to reflect on what they have learned. In normal times this might look like a pizza party or other classroom activity, but you will need to be creative when figuring out an online-friendly alternative.
We recommend a “video conferencing social hour” or self-directed final presentation where students can share their learnings and what they intend to do with it. It is interesting to see how your students will apply this knowledge, especially if you have a classroom with multiple nationalities and backgrounds represented.
Run Your Online Classroom the Right Way
Bringing these best practices into the classroom is meant to be beneficial for you and your students. Online learning is still a fluid and fast-moving concept, so there are constantly new developments and strategies being put into place.
Keep an eye on the DaDesktop blog for more useful online teaching tips. Looking for a new virtual teaching platform for your course? We’ve got you covered.