Practical Tips from an Online Educator

"Keep Clam and Teach On" poster


"10 Tips from an Online Educator" (post) outlines "a helpful survival kit" of practical suggestions for "emergency remote teaching."

  • Each point is developed more fully in the post.

1. "Only post essential content."

  • "When you post content for students to study — whether that is documents, articles, videos, photographs or maps — make it clear exactly what they are responsible for knowing and let them know what they will do with this material."
  • "It will sound something like this: 'As you watch this video, pay attention to the point of view taken by the narrator. Take three or four notes as you do so. Hold onto these notes as you will use them to write your... assignment.'"
  • "Don’t tell students to just browse a website or watch a video expecting them to learn something. They won’t."

2. "Give clear instructions."

  • "Break your assignment down into discrete steps, phrasing everything in the second person: 'You will do this, then you will do that.'"
  • "Before posting it or sending it out, run it by someone who is completely unfamiliar with it."
  • "Have that person paraphrase it back to you one step at a time."

3. "Make your assignments ‘ungoogleable.’"

  • "Design your assignments so that they are specific in such a way that a student can’t just find a similar assignment online or copy from a website." 

4. "Use the simplest, workable tool."

  • "If a student can show understanding by creating an assignment in a word processor, or even right in their email program, don’t require them to create a web page."
  • "If they can draw a picture with pen and paper then photograph it with their phone, then they don’t need to learn an online drawing program."
  • "Don’t assume that all young people are technology wizards." 

5. "Learn one new skill at a time."

  • For example, you may choose "to us[e] Zoom or another type of videoconferencing software."
  • "If so, learn how to use as many of its features as you can before trying it with students."

6. "Know about fair dealing in the Canadian Copyright Act."

  • There are many forms of content you can send to students or post to D2L/mycourselink "without seeking permission." 
  • "You must know what you are doing though, as there are exceptions, so study Fair dealing."

7. "Be available when students need you."

  • "Determine which times you are not available and let them know." 

8. "Dole out feedback incrementally."

  • "Do not overwhelm students with detailed, personalized feedback"
  • Use a "rubric followed by a short comment. 'Here is what you are doing well. Here is what to do next.'" 

9. "Use communication tools effectively."

  • "[C]onsider what your students will have... to work out the most effective means of communicating with your students on a day-to-day basis."
  • With D2L/mycourselink, you can "use the internal messaging system constantly ... [which] is fast and convenient."
  • "Email works ..., but it is a little more time-demanding, and students don’t always check theirs."

10. "Guard student privacy."

11. "A few last words"

a. "[M]ake sure that you really know how to use your laptop ... Be sure ... you can ..." 

  • "[U]se the word processor on your laptop which includes adding and resizing images."
  • "[C]reate fillable forms and ... download documents as PDFs."
  • "[E]dit images with whichever program your computer came with."

b. "You will ... us[e] your phone more."

  • "Learn to use it to scan documents." 

c. "If you aren’t on Twitter yet, sign up."

  • "There are people there who will help you through every problem." 
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