14 Simple Tips for Teaching Online

"Keep Calm and Teach On" poster


"Coronavirus: 14 Simple Tips for Better Online Teaching" (post) provides "a simpl[e] formula ... 14 quick tips to make online teaching better, from an expert in online learning."

1. "Record your lectures – don’t stream them."

  • "If students are unwell or are struggling with internet access, they will miss a live streamed lecture" [unless you record the session -- an option in both Zoom and Virtual Classroom].
  • Recorded videos let students "watch in their own time."

2. "Show your face."

  • "[L]ecture videos that show instructors’ faces are more effective than simple narrated slideshows."
  • "Intersperse your slides with video of yourself."

3. "Keep videos short."

  • "If you have more to say, record two or three short videos."

4. "Test out slides."

  • "Many students may be using smartphones to access online learning."
  • "Make sure you test slides on a smartphone before shooting your lectures so all text is readable on small screens."
  • Check "[f]ont sizes, colours, template designs and screen ratios."

5. "Use existing resources …"

  • "It is unrealistic to expect that you, on your own, will produce a semester’s worth of high quality videos."
  • "You can use pre-developed resources available online and provide students with clickable links.:

6. "… and make sure they’re open access."

  • "If any of your suggested resources are not accessible, you will receive an inbox full of student emails and eventually waste all your time troubleshooting."
  • "Spending a few extra minutes carefully searching for fully open access materials will save you a headache later."

7. "Give specific instructions."

a. "When you suggest online media which runs for longer than 15 minutes, students will be put off watching."

  • "Instead, suggest the exact parts they need (e.g. 13:35 to 16:28)" [or use EdPuzzle or another tool to clip it].

b. "When you provide more than two resources, label them in the order you want students to approach them."

  • "Simple numbering, based on the level of difficulty or importance of each resource item, can be of great help for your students."

8. "Provide interactive activities."

  • D2L/mycourselink "include[s] a range of functions to create interactive learning activities such as quizzes," discussions, etc. [See mycourselink for instructions.].

9. "Set reasonable expectations."

  • For quizzes, "make sure all questions can be answered by referring to the given learning resources."
  • For written "summar[ies] of lecture videos, [articles, chapters, etc.], ... make it clear that this is not a serious report."
  • Using "mandatory assignment[s] but a[s] low-stakes task[s] will produce the best outcomes and responses from students."
  • For example, "[a] set of 15 quiz questions or a 300-word limit will be sufficient to engage students for 30 minutes."

10. "Use auto-checking to measure attendance."

  • "If you tell students that their attendance will be measured by their participation in a quiz, it will increase compliance."
  • "However, you won’t have time to check them all, so use the automatic checking and grading features on the learning management systems."

11. "Use group communication carefully."

  • "Group communication shouldn’t be used for direct teaching."
  • "Instead, set up virtual office hours on a video conferencing tool like Zoom."
    • "Simply log in at the appointed time and wait for students."
    • "[P]rovid[e] social support and chec[k] if any issues need to be addressed immediately."
    • "This can be a great way to collect student feedback on your online teaching as well."
    • "Make meetings optional and be relaxed."

    12. "Let students take control"

    a. "[S]et up online group spaces for small groups of students and ask them to support and consult with one another before sending emails to you directly." 

    b. "[P]ost a couple of questions to help students break the ice and start conversation."

    • "Some groups will click well and some will not, but this little tip can make students feel socially supported and reduce your inbox traffic."

    13. "Don’t hide your feelings."

    • "[E]motional openness is a great instructional strategy."
      • "Tell your students that it is your first time teaching online and you are learning while teaching."
      • "Explicitly ask them to help you, reassuring them that you will do your very best to support their learning as well."
      • "They will be sympathetic since they share the same emotions, and you will be set up for success."

    14. "Repeat."

    • "Online students do not like frequent changes in their learning style."
    • "They are happy to repeat the same structure and activities."
    • "Once you find a teaching style working for you, feel free to repeat it each week."
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