How can I improve my online classes?

How can I improve my online classes?

28 Apr 2021

CPD News Team

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Whether as a teacher or as a student, online teaching gives you the opportunity to impact lives, contribute to a growing industry, and share your expertise with others. Effective online teaching often requires more planning and more effort than in-person teaching, and keeping students engaged in their lessons can be one of the biggest challenges you face. Here are some top tips for teaching better online classes, and online teaching ideas to make sure you get the most value out of your next class.

5 tips for teaching better online classes

Some simple tips to help improve your online classes.

1. Creating Measurable Outcomes

Regardless of how a student learns—in a traditional setting or online,—a great first step to improve online classes is through learning outcomes. A learning outcome is a statement that describes what knowledge, skills and values learners should have acquired by the end of a lesson or course.

Clearly identifying the desired learning outcomes and corresponding activities and assessments can help both students and instructors understand the objectives of whatever they are learning and how they relate to the last lesson’s learning, the program they are following and the overall goal.

Note that the focus is on the student rather than the teacher. Be specific about the outcomes of the class. What will the student need to demonstrate in order to be successful in the class or program? If students know why they’re doing an activity and how it will impact them, they’re more likely to invest themselves in it and see the online course through to its completion.

2. Present accessible learning materials

Students should be able to easily navigate your online class or Learning Management System (LMS) to find course materials, discussions, assessments, and records. Everything they need should be right where they would naturally look for it. To keep a continuous flow of learning, make sure to offer different shortcuts and indexes to let learners navigate from one page to another without any hassle.

Creating accessible content means reducing barriers of comprehension, ensuring that content is accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities and who speak languages other than English.

3. Automate your online content

While there are some challenges to creating a virtual classroom, there are also many benefits when looking at how to be a good online teacher. Online learning means that teachers can upload and automate their lesson plans early, working out any problems or issues well before students will even see the content.

 Make sure that you prepare video content, readings, assignments, or discussion questions ahead of time so that you can save time for actual teaching and helping students to develop their skills.

4. Build an online learning community

If you are looking at how to be a good online teacher - help students get to know one another. Research has found that when an online class included an online community component, students were five times more engaged and 16 times more likely to finish the course.

When an online class requires community participation, students have more opportunities to connect with instructors and fellow students to discuss their work, help each other, share ideas, and, most importantly, become more engaged in what you are teaching and improve online classes. Discussion boards are another great place for further conversations as they allow participants to replicate the types of discussion they would expect to see in a face to face classroom environment.

5. Get learners to take action

Be sure to have learners cross the knowing-doing gap by having them immediately apply what they’ve learned. Each online lesson should consist of a piece of information and a student action. These actions could include:

  • Participating in an online forum
  • Providing real life examples or scenarios
  • Having a conversation (online or offline) with fellow students
  • Answering instructor-led questions
  • Solving a problem
  • Reviewing what’s been learned in notes or journaling

Put the information in context for students. Discuss how they can apply what they’ve learned by sharing relevant case studies. The sooner they act on the new information they’ve digested, the more likely it will stick in their long-term memory.

How to be a good online teacher

Other Tips for teaching online classes

More simple ideas and suggestions to help improve online classes for students.

Seek feedback from your students

Any chance learners have to leave feedback is a great opportunity to make online classes more interactive. If you’re looking at how to be a good online teacher, feedback will help to ensure you are meeting the needs of your audience and will help you to identify and address any concerns, make subtle changes, build your confidence, and improve online classes. How you gather this feedback is up to you. You could do it at the end of the classroom session, request that it’s put in an email, or send out an anonymous survey.

Choose how to host online classes

In general, all courses will feature a central hub where resources, discussions, and video conferencing either take place or are linked from. Beyond that, there’s quite a few different options on how to host online classes such as:

  1. An online teaching platform designed to meet all the needs of a course creator, from video hosting to marketing
  2. Self-hosting. Set up your own server with a hosting company to host and sell online classes from your own website. While it can be expensive and a bit technical, self-hosting gives you complete freedom and power over your material
  3. An online marketplace. The final option for hosting is to use an existing learning marketplace. Marketplace platforms host your course or class for you and let you customize your own branding. Note that these platforms tend to have restrictive rules and may charge higher fees.

As you can see, there are lots of different options available in the market when it comes to how to host online classes and that selecting the right one can be confusing. It's worth taking your time to research the different options available to you based on their features, your specific requirements, and your budget. Ultimately, you’ll want a system that makes the course easy to access, let’s you customize it with your own branding, and looks professional.

Keep in mind that the success of your online teaching activities depends far more on you spending your time and effort promoting it and engaging with your audience – not on lengthy indecision about which course platform to use or fiddling around with custom web design.

Make online classes fun for students

How to make online learning fun for students

Whilst online classrooms are limited in some ways, they also open a virtual doorway to new learning experiences that are more accessible, more interactive and - dare we say it - more fun than ever before. With this in mind, let’s jump into some ways for you to make online classes fun for students and some further tips for teaching online classes.

Use Visuals Instead of Text

Make content easier to digest and retain by delivering it in bite-sized chunks. Our attention span is about 10 minutes. After that, it starts to wane. Do not depend on a text-only approach for designing your classes. Keep students brains engaged by delivering content in different formats: videos, voice over slides, audio, text, and panel discussions.

Lessons taught through multimedia are shown to be easier to grasp and students retain the concepts and ideas for a longer time. Being able to pause and replay video content when needed makes it possible for students to process the learning material at their own pace.

Make online classes more interactive

We learn best when we’re an active participant in the learning experience. As such, you should seek to banish passivity and make online classes more interactive by incorporating numerous activities into your classroom. When deciding how to host online classes there are plenty of possibilities to make learning more interactive so students can better engage with the course material, with their peers, and with the teacher.

For example, you could incorporate apps or other tools such as Google Apps, Twitter to add depth to your online teaching activities and make online classes more fun for students. Other online teaching ideas include Drag and drop activities, Quizzes, Flashcards tasks, mind-mapping, SWOT analysis, themed discussion groups, or role playing and games.

Innovative online teaching ideas

Be sure to include online teaching activities and icebreakers within your induction material to help build engage students from the very beginning of the course and motivate them to participate in future activities. You could include several types of online teaching activities such as:

  • Brainstorming - Brainstorming is a great way to get students thinking and making connections between new knowledge and what they already know. You can usually carry out this activity to introduce a new topic, evaluate student understanding of a lesson, and help expand their existing knowledge by collaborating with others.
  • Q&A Sessions - Even in the online classroom, Q&A sessions are done frequently. They provide the platform for students to clarify areas in the lessons they are uncertain about and find solutions to any other problem they may have from the teacher or from peers. Online this can be carried out synchronously as well as asynchronously. Use video conferencing and live chatting to do this in real-time, as well as social media groups, online discussion boards, and chatting for asynchronous Q&A sessions
  • Online Debates and Presentations - Debates are a great way to enhance online classroom engagement and stimulate students’ critical thinking skills. They also contribute to developing students’ interpersonal and teamwork skills. Online team debates can take place over video conferencing or they can be conducted over a discussion board. Similarly, you can involve students in creating their own presentations and presenting them online, either individually or in groups.

Conclusion - How to improve your online classes

We hope this article was helpful. Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all solution to making online classes fun for students. There is no need to reinvent the wheel - keep things simple. If you are looking to improve your online classes, or want other online teaching ideas, please contact our team to discuss how to become a CPD accredited training provider.

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