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Online Teaching: 5 Keys for Effectiveness

As schools and communities work together to provide learning opportunities to students amid the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers are adapting their tried-and-true instructional strategies to the new learning environment. Here are five keys to teaching effectively in an online course environment.

Communicate Frequently

Instructors should communicate frequently with each student in an online environment, so that students feel like they’re part of a learning community. This communication should start at the very beginning of the course, with teachers setting clear expectations and getting to know their students.

Teachers should also communicate consistently throughout the course and should check in with students often—providing substantive feedback on an assignment at least once a week—to keep students engaged and on track. Frequent communication is a key way to make sure students have the support they need to succeed.

Choose words carefully

 Everyone has had an experience in which something they communicated in writing came across in a way that wasn’t intended.

Online communications should be clear and unambiguous. One way to do this is to use a consistent format for all messages: Begin with a greeting, state your message plainly and carefully, and end with a closing. Do this for every communication; otherwise, what you think is a simple reply to a question might seem to the student as abrupt.

Give Students Structure

Online learning offers more flexibility than a traditional classroom setting, but students still need structure to ensure that they’re successful. Because students don’t have daily homework assignments and don’t see their teacher every day in an online course, it can be easy for them to mismanage their time and fall behind.

Online teachers who are involved in class discussions throughout the week and who encourage students to keep up with their assignments provide just enough structure to keep students on a successful path. Designing plans for students who need extra help with time management or prioritization is a good idea, as is giving students checklists or target dates to keep them on track.

Be Quick to Offer Support

When you don’t see students in person every day, it’s important to pick up on signs they might be struggling—and act immediately to help them succeed. This is why an online teacher’s partnership with an adult invested in the student’s success is critical. This could be a school-based counselor or a parent who is able to help monitor student progress.

Be flexible

Extenuating circumstances that prevent students from completing their work frequently arise in any course environment, and teachers must be flexible whether they’re teaching online or in a traditional classroom. However, an online course brings additional challenges that require teachers to be flexible. While many students globally are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience will vary from student-to-student based on their parent involvement and support, social-emotional wellness, internet and computer access, and learning preferences. A little flexibility can allow students to be successful in the online classroom.

Tech tips provided by Stacy Young, Associate Dean of Faculty for VHS Learning, a nonprofit provider of online courses for middle and high schools.

Excerpted from “Online Teaching: 5 Keys for Effectiveness,” in Smart Brief. For additional details, see the full article.

Source: Smart Brief | Online teaching: 5 keys for effectiveness, https://www.smartbrief.com/original/2020/04/online-teaching-5-keys-effectiveness | © 2020 SmartBrief

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