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5 Key Components of Successful Online Courses

An abrupt shift to online courses doesn’t have to be overwhelming – there are some essential steps to having a positive online teaching experience.  Two months ago, nobody would have predicted that education at every level, from kindergarten through graduate programs, would either shut down or move online.

Synchronous over asynchronous

Online education is fairly synonymous with asynchronous learning. Most people assume the move to online courses means students are logging on to the learning management system to take reading quizzes tied to their assigned textbook chapters and posting in the discussion board in line with weekly modules as their schedules allow.  Synchronous courses, on the other hand, mean that the teachers and students are active and online at the same time.

Effective and engaging delivery methods

Delivery needs to be more than a teacher lecturing over a PowerPoint on screenshare, even for a synchronous course. Students learn in different ways, and slides tend to be text-heavy. Consider adding videos or interactive activities to help students grasp the content through various delivery methods.

Opportunities for community engagement

Outside of content delivery, you need to engage the class as a community. In in-person courses, teachers typically pause to take questions from students and encourage them to interrupt if they have questions. Teachers get to do temperature checks and ask for volunteers to solve problems or poll through hand raises to see who feels like they’re following along.  In online courses, it’s easier for students to feel isolated and harder for them to feel comfortable asking for help without a sense of community with classmates or mutual respect with their teacher.

Record your class sessions

If students only have the live lecture to get the information, they’ll become so focused on taking notes that they’ll miss out on the value and context of the content. On the other hand, when students can focus on consuming the lecture and know they can review the recording later, they’ll be able to pay better attention and only worry about taking notes on the vital content points in the moment.

Rethink the way you communicate

The ways we communicate verbally and in writing are usually very different. When communicating with your students digitally, keep your tone in mind and make sure you’re considering how the student might take your communications.  With online courses, you lose one-on-one conversations with students before and after class, in the hallways, and during office hours.

The information for this post was taken from an article by Luke Sophinos in eSchool News, follow this link for the complete article and more details.