We are now three weeks into this crazy world when we were all forced into “online education.” I think for many of us, when we heard that we would have to deliver our lessons to our student in an online format, there was a bit of panic. How can I do that? I don’t know anything about online education. I’m so stressed! And I get it. It has been a crazy and stressful three weeks.
But as the chaos begins to settle and you are getting into a routine of online teaching, I hope you are beginning to see that distance learning is simply another delivery method for teaching.
You are still the educator. Your job is still to share knowledge with your students. You still have an opportunity to lecture to your students through videoconferencing systems like Zoom. Students are still present in your class. Students can still ask questions.
Everything we know about being a teacher is still in place. We must create a student-centered environment. We must create and deliver engaging content. We simply have to be a little more creative in how we deliver it and learn how to use the tools at our disposal.
When delivering a class to your students online, the basic concept of teaching still applies. A powerful presentation regardless of whether it is delivered in person or online has the same components.
Let’s look at what goes into a powerful presentation.
All we know about opening a class is the same for our online class. We must start on time, be prepared, be enthusiastic, be sincere and focus on the students. You should even strive to maintain eye contact by looking in the camera as you teach. In the opening, we should let the students know what we will be covering in our time together, share a motivational quote, incorporate a learning motivation that gives them a reason to want to stay and listen, and incorporate an opening activity. Yes, activities are still possible.
You might ask an engaging question and have them all respond in the chat feature of the videoconferencing program you are using. If it is a smaller group, you can go around the virtual room and ask them questions to start the day. In some of the software, such as Zoom, you can divide students into smaller chat rooms. Give them a discussion question to start the day, put them in their rooms, and give them a few minutes to discuss. Another idea would be to incorporate an icebreaker using the polling feature. You might create a poll asking fun questions about the weather where they are or what’s for lunch.
Remember, the opening of a class is to inform and excite the learners, gain their attention to increase retention, and build a rapport with the students. This can and should be accomplished in your online classes.
The next part of a class is to have solid content. You have solid content already. Hopefully you all have our Instructor Support Slides (PowerPoint presentations), and you can share them on the screen with your students and follow the content of the lesson. Part of your preparation will be deciding how to divide the support slides up so they fit the time frame of your online session. I encourage you to break the content up into smaller bite-sized lectures. It is hard to sit and look at a computer screen for hours. I suggest you give your students short physical breaks once every hour. Let’s say, every 50 minutes you stop for a 10-minute break, then start back up on time.
Now this doesn’t mean that you lecture for 50 minutes straight. Remember, all of the basic concepts of teaching still apply. You break up the content by engaging your students.
Incorporate discussion questions, just like I suggested in the opening. Use Q&A or polling features that are found in the videoconferencing software. Have a video that you share, or send them to a specific link to watch a short video and then have students discuss what they watched. You can still incorporate visual aids by sharing your screen. You can use your Instructor Support Slides, share images you have found, or take them to a website for reference. Don’t forget to use engaging activities. There are a lot of activities inside of MindTap that you can use to engage the students during your lecture You simply have to be a little more creative with online activities you can do together.
Don’t forget to ask questions. Questions should have a purpose and be content related. Keep them simple and to the point. Ask both simple recall questions and questions that require more discussion. Take full advantage of chat and breakout room features in your videoconferencing software.
And finally, don’t forget to close your class with impact. The closing of your class should summarize the lesson and restate key points. You can close the class with a challenge, use humor or quotes, or tell a story. You can even incorporate games if you want.
Just think outside of the box. What do you normally do in class and how can you bring that to an online format? Trust me, you can do it!