9 Best Practices to Become an Effective Online Teacher
E-learning is an industry that has been only growing recently. More and more people are looking for online courses that can help them to improve their skills or get a degree.
With a higher demand, it is expected that an increased number of teachers is considering becoming an online instructor. The industry is eager for talents, and the working conditions can be quite exciting.
Others might see it as an opportunity to fly solo, as there is nothing stopping anyone from creating their own course and offering it online. The tools are there for everyone.
However, it is also true that there are too many people already doing it, and that the competition is also rising. Meaning that, to stand out from the crowd, you must learn the best practices in the sector and become an effective online teacher from day one.
# 1 – Get prepared
First of all, make sure that you know what you are going to teach. It sounds obvious, but there are many people out there “teaching” about things that they can barely understand. And while they can get away with it for a while, it won’t be forever.
Students are getting smarter and demanding higher standards for what they are paying. Plus, there are plenty of reputable organizations offering courses so that they can choose from the best. So pick something that you can excel, and that you can explain well in front of a camera – as not all topics are suitable for online courses, as you know.
# 2 – Understand the differences from an offline course
If you think that you can just apply the same plan and materials from your classroom-based courses in your online classes, think again. The new medium you will be using will give you several new features and many other limitations, and you need to be aware of both.
Your students will also expect that you know that you aren’t in class as well. And the scenario will be very different – you won’t be able to interact with your class in the same way, for instance. So take your time considering what you still can use, and what you need to create from scratch.
# 3 – Get comfortable in front of the camera
Many people are not comfortable talking to themselves in front of a camera. And you don’t need to feel embarrassed if you feel like this. It is very common. However, you will need to overcome your fear if you want to become an online teacher.
The best way to stop being camera shy it is by simply ignoring the equipment as if it isn’t there. However, if you have no clue at all about how to do it, or if your fear is almost like a phobia, maybe you should consider working on your presentation skills first or look for a tutor to get prepared.
# 5 – Choose the best equipment and tools
Your equipment will make much difference when it comes to online classes. There isn’t much that you will need, but it is crucial that they be top class. Sometimes, the camera and microphone in your laptop are good enough, but you should test them first to ensure that they have the quality that you and your students expect.
Plus, you will need tools to create your presentations, edit your videos, and maybe for evaluation, feedback, and payments. So have a look around for the best services in the area, or offer your course through a well-established platform, such as Lynda or Udemy.
# 6 – Get to know your students
Another thing that you will need to do is get to know your students. Before your course starts, it is mandatory that you ask them to tell you a bit about themselves and their expectations. It will not only help you to adapt the course to live up to it, but you will also be aware if anyone has any special needs requirement, for instance.
In many cases, you should be aware that maybe not everyone will have English as their first language. They might also come from different cultural and academic backgrounds, leave alone their age groups. And the only way for you to be prepared for such diversity is by asking them for this type of information beforehand.
# 7 – Consider how you will keep your students motivated
One of the biggest challenges of anyone deciding to study online is to keep themselves motivated. With most of the courses being self-paced, it is easy to get distracted and not follow the schedule as planned in the beginning.
And even though it is more up to them to make it happen, it is your duty as a teacher to get them motivated and keep them interested. To achieve it, you will need to create milestones and other forms of continuity that will maintain everyone in the same workflow.
# 8 – Think evaluation out of the box
How you are going to evaluate your students is something that you need to consider very well. As you know, you will have very little control in the way that they will get their assignments done, except for asking an online writing service to help you to check them for plagiarism.
Meaning you should think out of the box about this matter, and not limit your evaluation process only to written assignments. Depending on the topic in question, you can ask them to create projects or their own presentations, using the same resources that you do, for instance.
# 9 – Make the most of the technology
There are several resources out there that can help you to deliver the best online classes ever. So do some research and make the most of what you can afford or get for free, as there is very little point in using just your voice and a whiteboard only as if you were in a classroom. The internet is there to help you, not to become an issue.
You can use Prezi, for instance, to make your presentations much more exciting. Or use Smartbuilder or Udutu, both online tools with several authoring features. And, depending on your target audience, you can even become more playful, and use Scratch to create games, stories, and animations. As you see, there is a lot that you can explore in this segment.
The bottom line
So there you got nine best practices of effective online teachers. They will help you to get started on the right foot, and make your students look forward to your course.
Yes, you will need to take some time to do research, get prepared, and test your ideas and tools. However, it will all pay off as e-learning is an industry that will only become stronger in the next years.