Teachers teaching online courses often find that their students have a hard time connecting to their courses, learning in the detached setting of their home as they do. You need to anticipate these difficulties and creatively offer your students ways to feel a better connection to their courses.
Use video to help your students
Recorded films and video are considered an important part of effective teaching. This is why schools routinely invested in video and projection equipment long before these items became affordable. The only reason tight school budgets are allowed to make room for such equipment is that there is considerable scientific evidence supporting the contribution that video can make to many teaching situations. Here are a few video ideas that you can try with your online class.
You can use copyright-free videos from the Web: YouTube and TED are just two of the many destinations available online for educational content that can help in a classroom setting. Dozens of universities across the country put their lectures on various video sharing sites. You can suggest links to the best videos and lectures online to your students. Your students can download these videos with software like YouTube Downloader (http://youtubedownload.altervista.org) and learn from them.
You can create video tutorials of your own: You can try creating PowerPoint presentations, video lectures and instructional screencasts to help students learn better. Many teachers break up their videos and screencasts into five-minute sections. This can help students quickly zero in on the exact part of the lecture that they need.
You can conduct regular videoconferencing chats with your entire class: Classes can be held through real-time videoconferencing arrangements. Since such real-time video classes show student interactions, they can be valuable learning resources for all participants.
Understand the problems involved in making use of the online medium
Students are usually able to concentrate better when they are taught in a classroom setting. With an online course at home, a teacher droning on with a lecture can be difficult to concentrate on when the pull of entertaining destinations on the Internet is strong.
Students can have a hard time connecting with an online course when they are cut off from fellow classmates. It's important for online teachers to think of various ways to help students connect with their online course to help them overcome these problems.
Creative solutions to the specific problems seen in online teaching
Video lectures can be an efficient way of helping your students learn their lessons. Regular, planned sessions, though, have a way of getting students to tune out. Several studies find that unplanned, unscheduled learning sessions can help students feel more connected with their course. It's important, then, for you to be available on services like Skype or Google Hangouts after-hours. Students don't usually hog their teachers' time when they are available in this way. They just approach them for a couple of one-on-one question-and-answer sessions once in a while. They take away a lot more than just an answer, though. They walk away feeling more connected to the course.
Answers to student emails should go out within 24 hours. You should also do your best to provide as much feedback as possible. The more students hear their teachers' views on how they are doing, the more grounded in the course they will feel.
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