Key Tips for Teaching an Online Courses
1. If possible…kick the first session (class) off with a synchronous BB Collaborate, Google Hangouts or Skype orientation that addresses exactly how you are going to teach the class and be specific in your expectations for the course participants. Sharing your screen and guiding them through your Moodle/Blackboard courses is an effective way to do this. You will also have to demonstrate how the Moodle (BB / LMS) tools (assignment upload and discussion forum) they will use for submitting work for you to evaluate / critique. If your course is totally asynchronous then create a video orientationto the class. I do one for every online course I teach.
2. Eliminate all gray area from your weekly assignment directions (course expectations) and make it very clear as to exactly what you want your students to do each week and how the students will submit work and engage you and each other in discussions and/or critiques.
3. KISS RULE!!! Keep it Simple as to class assignments and the instructional design plan you implement in your online courses. The more complex your online course the harder it is for you and the students to manage. You want visual continuity in your course design scheme as well as content continuity as far as how you lay out your assignments, lectures, videos, discussions, etc.
4. Less is More! Remember don’t overload your students with too many assignments / activities. I rather do one or two task each week and do them well than 3 or more activities that may be difficult to manage for you and the students.
5. Be Present and Proactive! This is probably the best advice I can give you. Respond back to student questions and discussion posts in a timely fashion. Essentially follow through on your part as to when you are going to give students feedback on their work. I use the discussion forum as a place for students to submit works in progress and as they post images I go in daily and give them feedback. You set the parameters as to when you will respond back to students and just follow through with the course guidelines that you set.
6. Be Flexible! Students are going to run into technical or personal issues so to keep the stress level down It’s important to be flexible with due dates if a student is running into a problem due to unforeseen circumstances.
7. Synchronous vs. Asynchronous instruction. Use the synchronous approach (if possible) to kick off each weeks lesson and to explain exactly what you want your students to do and how you are going to engage them about their work. This can be in the form of a Power Point presentation or taking them through your Moodle or Blackboard Module step by step. Approximately 80% – 90% of you instruction will most likely be asynchronous in most cases.
8. Be aware of Online Learning Limitations. Its important to design learning activities that are conducive for the online environment. You may find that critiques are best for your class in synchronous mode (BB Collaborate, Google hangouts, or Skype with Join Me Screen Sharing for example). Do what works best for you and your teaching style.
9. Practice makes perfect. There is no doubt the more you teach online the easier it gets and the more proficient (and comfortable) you get engaging students in the online environment. Be prepared to change course if certain learning activities are not working effectively for you.
10. Above all else…Have Fun! Share in the learning journey with your online students! If they see you are passionate and engaged about your course material and giving them constructive feedback on their work in a timely fashion the course will be a success.