Technological advancements are rapidly changing the way we live. Education is one of the fields where technology has made a tremendous impact, allowing teachers to use different modalities such as videos, podcasts and digital transcription to conduct e-learning courses and engage students. Today, online teaching has become more significant than ever before as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced educational institutions to bring their courses and classes online. The World Economic Forum notes that while traditional institutions once viewed online education as a threat, it has now come to their rescue.
As billions of students in countries across the world are unable to physically attend school or university, online teaching is crucial to help them get the higher education they want. This calls for teachers to improve and hone their online teaching methods and skills.
E-learning courses require different teaching methods from the traditional classroom. Here are six ways to improve online teaching:
- Create an engaging atmosphere: To keep students engaged, create an engaging environment by using visual aids like podcasts and videos. Technology is a great option to create a meaningful learning environment. A www.wgu.edu suggests the following solutions:
- Video options like Zoom and Google Classrooms can be used to record online lectures or hold live lessons with their students. Lessons can be pre-recorded so that students can watch at their convenience.
- Screen recordings can help students learn. Teachers use a screen recording to make a presentation, demonstrate steps on a website, or show students how to use a program on their own computer.
- Various digital text options can also be used to engage students.
- Making eLearning content easily accessible on smartphones, laptops, and iPads can maximize teaching methods. This will allow students to access up-to-date course materials and relevant content anywhere, anytime.
Using the right tools will help make e-learning a fun experience and keep students connected to the session.
Teachers should also tell stories – a narrative approach is one of the best ways to rouse and sustain students’ attention. Hosting live class sessions or one-on-one conversations will make students to feel connected to their teacher. This is crucial to build trust.
- Organize course content systematically: The design and sequence of content and learning activities in both realms should be organized intuitively and systematically, notes an article in the Chronicle. It should be easy for students to find what they need. The learning management system (LMS) should be designed so that users can find content, assessments, and learning activities quickly and easily. In fact, online students become confused, frustrated, and disengaged if menus, modules, and folders are poorly organized.
- Reverse roles: Make students act as teachers. Assign each student a topic and ask them to present it using appropriate digital tool such as a podcast or video, suggests a Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) blog. This will help them develop research skills, assess various online materials, and learn how to sound clips and images. Importantly, it will also help them learn presentation skills as well as understand copyright and open source usage. When students are given the opportunity to teach, it will help them gain insight into the teacher’s role and build empathy.
- Establish a virtual presence and create a supportive learning environment: Teachers need to be visible and available to their students – just as in the traditional physical setting. Students should know the time frames and days can contact their teacher online as well as outside of those hours. Teachers should work on creating a supportive learning environment outside of the classroom. For instance, group forums are a great platform to hold or continue discussions that began in the virtual classroom. Creating an online presence through blog posts, social media and forums will help teachers engage with their learning community to get creative ideas about specific lesson plans and activities for online students. This will also encourage students to participate in educational forums.
- Implement a classroom response system: Apps can be used to create polls, quizzes and synchronous discussions to encourage student comprehension and participation. Getting students to use their mobile devices to participate in-class polls and quizzes at once in real-time can create an effective classroom response system, says a DMI blog. This method will provide teachers with instant feedback on students’ understanding of concepts.
- Provide continuous feedback: Just as in the traditional learning environment, providing continuous feedback is an essential component of e-learning. Feedback can address three areas: what students did well, what they need to improve on, and how they can make the improvement. To benefit students, feedback should be timely and frequent.
Finally, support students with disabilities. As DMI points out, students with disabilities are the earliest to adopt technology for educational purposes. Among other things, this also means that e-learning videos must include transcripts. Providing interactive transcripts inserting captions in e-learning videos will make the content accessible to learners with hearing impairments and also non-native speakers. Moreover, people generally tend to learn better with both visuals and audio, rather than with just audio. Teachers can use transcripts to develop tests as well as lesson notes. Companies that specialize in academic transcription can ensure fully interactive transcripts that will improve the teaching experience for both students and teachers.