“When it comes to eLearning, content means everything. If eLearning content is not masterfully designed, all the rest will just go down the drain.” – Christopher Pappas
“One of the most important areas we can develop as professionals is competence in accessing and sharing knowledge.” – Connie Malamed
“Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.” – Heidi-Hayes Jacobs
Let us face it: online learning is here to stay. Although online education has been around for some quite time, we can say that it was during the COVID pandemic that its role and popularity significantly increased. Forced to stay at home to curb the spread of the treacherous infection, teachers and students had to find a way of carrying on with teaching and learning. An effective solution was quickly found online classes.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many people doubted that online education could be as effective as face-to-face classes. But as time went by and teachers with students were getting into the habit of being engaged in online learning, it became clear that online classes offer a variety of benefits.
Although the pandemic has finally eased its grip on our lives and everyone is returning to face-to-face classes, online classes are still popular. They are still in demand.
Benefits of On-Line Learning
So, what are the benefits of online education and learning? Let us have a look at some of them.
1. Online education offers you flexibility. Indeed, with the help of online learning, you do not need to worry about where you are. You do not have to commute to school or university – instead, you can study at home.
2. Online education gives you a wide range of courses and subjects to study. Since online learning allows you to enrol in any school or university around the world, you have access to a variety of subjects and educational programs. Without online learning, your choices would be limited only to programs and subjects offered by local universities and schools.
3. Online education is more affordable and can cost less than face-to-face classes. Of course, online programs’ prices vary depending on many factors, but given that there are many offers, you can find something that suits your needs and will not break the bank.
4. Online education allows people to become more tech-savvy. Online education is impossible without the use of technology. So, as you learn online, you also gain invaluable technical skills that will benefit you in and out of the classroom. You will get acquainted with Zoom and Google Hangouts. You will also be more familiar with different learning management systems and learning materials,
How to Teach a Perfect Class Online
There are many benefits of online learning. But we are not going to cover all of them in this article. Instead, we are going to focus on teachers – how you can deliver a good online class and improve the experience of your students.
Get familiar with the technology.
This advice is one of the most important ones. As I have mentioned above, online learning is impossible without technology. So, if you are not on friendly terms with your computer and Internet browser, it is time to remedy this situation! Your understanding of how technology works will directly affect your confidence in the class. It will also affect the quality of the class.
One important strategy could also be testing things before teaching your online class. If you teach your classes via zoom, fumble around with break-out rooms, chat, annotating functions, and sharing screen. Enter the classroom ten or fifteen minutes before the class. And yes, make sure that your Internet connection is stable. You do not want the Internet to drop while you teach.
Also, make sure that you have all the necessary equipment for your classes. Invest in a good online teaching headset. This will help your students hear you and will help your classes go smoother.
Record your lessons.
There are numerous reasons why recording your lessons can be worthwhile. For instance, when some of your students are unable to attend classes for some reason, they can always watch recorded classes and catch up with the rest of the class. Yes, it is not ideal, but at least they will not fall behind.
Recorded classes can also be invaluable for your professional development. For example, if you are not happy with your teaching online, you can always watch these recordings and observe your behaviour, identifying the aspects of teaching that you need to work on.
Do not forget about the importance of incorporating
interactive activities in your classes. Online classes can sometimes seem daunting, but they do not have to be. Just as in face-to-face classes, for learning to be active students must be actively involved in the process. So do not hesitate to use different icebreakers, presentations, brainstorming sessions, and games.
Talk to your colleagues especially those who have been teaching online for some time. Ask them for tips and suggestions. Seek advice from them on what classroom activities worked and what classroom activities did not work well. Your colleague’s advice and support will help you hone your skills and improve your online learning skills.
Allow your students to have sufficient breaks.
Online learning can be more taxing on your eyes. It is true. Having sufficient breaks will allow students to rest their eyes, have a glass of water and even go to the bathroom. It will also help you get a breather from speaking and worrying.
Be open-minded when it comes to receiving feedback from your students.
Ask them for feedback. It is crucial that you seek from your students as often as possible. Not only will it help you to meet the needs and expectations of your students, but it will also create a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Feedback from students is especially invaluable if you are only making the first steps in online teaching. It will help you tweak your approach and use more interesting materials. Finally, it will boost your confidence.
It is up to you how to solicit feedback. You can do that either before the class or after the class. You can ask your students to email you, or you can send them surveys where they could give their anonymous feedback. Treat students’ feedback seriously and make sure you make corresponding adjustments to your classes.
Be patient with your students.
Online education may take some getting used to. If your students have never taken online classes before, they could be unfamiliar with technology and how the whole thing works. Also, remember that many children do not have high attention spans – it may be difficult for them to sit still or be focused on the class all the time. Remember it is completely fine especially when it comes to learning online.
Prepare your classes.
Good and thorough planning is crucial. Do not try to “wing it” thinking that online classes are easier to teach than face-to-face classes. Think through how you are going to present your class materials. Will you be showing pictures? Will you be playing videos? Will you give a PowerPoint presentation? Think about how to use engaging materials and how you will maintain a consistent online presence.
The more prepared you are, the more likely it is that you will be able to deliver an effective and successful class. It will also make your students content and satisfied with their learning experience.
Also, think about giving your students an outline of what they are going to learn. This will give them a sense of direction and show them that they are not just going to stare at their screen but learn something new.
The COVID pandemic has changed the world in many important ways. It has affected the way education works. Schools and universities all over the world opted for online education to continue the educational process despite the raging pandemic. Transitioning from face-to-face to online classes was not that easy, but fortunately, more teachers are more comfortable with it.
In this article, we have discussed why online education is beneficial and what you can do as a teacher to improve the learning experience of your students. In Our Shiminly Blog, we have many other articles devoted to online learning and containing valuable information. Look at them and learn more!
Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.