Learn about the top 10 Online Classes Principles & Best Practices and how to apply them when teaching online classes to make your online course effective.
We all know how much people are depending on online classes nowadays.
If you are not learning online, you are probably creating your online business out of it.
An easy way of making money out of the online learning craze is by teaching online.
Probably you are an experienced teacher, or you are an entrepreneur who knows your stuff and wants to teach others.
Teaching online is a great idea today.
There’s one challenge, though.
Many of us have an experience with traditional classroom learning.
And as the world is leading us to online teaching.
The question is how to marry tried and tested teaching practices used in traditional classrooms with the online teaching environment so that we can create effective online learning.
Table of Contents:
Top 10 Online Classes Principles & Best Practices:
- Attend Class and Teach
- Create an Active Learning Environment
- Receive and Give Feedback
- Provide Avenues for Constant Communication Between Teachers and Learners
- Encourage Collaboration Among Learners
- Manage The Course Proactively
- Communicate Expectations Beforehand
- Set High Standards But Offer Support
- Plan for The Unexpected
- Motivate Students to Learn
Let us have a look at the top 10 online principles and best practices for effective online learning:
#1 Attend Classes and Teach
We all know what is the basic key to teaching and learning – communication.
Whether these are online classes or regular, good & strategic communication is what makes the transfer of knowledge in the classes successful.
Well, there would be no classes if either the teacher or the students are missing.
The foremost expectation for learners is to always find a teacher in their class.
That’s why the teacher or instructor should show up and teach.
If teachers/instructors can manage answering their students’ queries successfully, the class will become productive and highly effective.
Besides, meeting the needs and queries of your students puts your class in demand.
Communicating with them properly satisfies their need for attending the class.
It’s important to note that many people are used to attending regular classes and face-to-face interaction.
In fact, sometimes, these seem better than online classes.
That is why online classes are more challenging.
But everyone still wants something easy and timesaving.
So, they’ll still find online classes enticing.
So, should online teachers/instructors be available online 24/7 for their students?
Teachers/instructors will become frustrated, resulting in the failure of their online classes.
What is more important than being available 24/7 for the online class is ‘quality’ of the content and classes which these teachers are offering.
Additionally, teachers should always show up on time for their classes.
And as a bonus, teachers should organize for and communicate “office hours” where they can respond to students’ questions.
#2 Create an Active Learning Environment
Learning is not passive and has never been.
Placing students behind desks and letting teachers speak constantly does not work for today’s students.
This is because teachers today are considered more of a coach & instructor rather than a giver of knowledge.
Today’s learning process is largely student-centered & student-driven.
There are a few principles which support an active online learning environment for students, such as:
- Students should be given plenty of options to choose their own projects and topics. Allowing students this means giving them more control over their learning. It motivates them to achieve their goal and move towards the goal successfully. This way they find out the learning styles which suit them the most.
- There should be an interactive web page for student use.
- There should be online debates.
- As teachers, you should create learning/study groups for them.
- Ask students to try to relate their learning to their real-life situations.
- There should be problem-solving activities assigned to pairs or small groups of students.
There are many students who prefer online courses and classes but their minds are still set on teacher-centered instructions.
So, it becomes hard for them to change their mindset if there are not enough opportunities and options for them.
Throwing such students in an environment where they are scared and don’t feel confident enough will never motivate them to learn anything new.
It can definitely increase the dropout rate.
#3 Receive and Give Feedback
Leaving students unattended is bad.
But not as worse than leaving students in curiosity about how they did in any project, paper or assignment.
Leaving students wondering about their progress does not result in good at all.
This is as much important for online classes as for regular ones.
It is even more important for online classes where there is no face-to-face interaction.
Quick feedback can boost up energy levels among all students and keep them engaged in their learning through whole coursework.
Online feedbacks are essential and can be given in many forms:
- Email and messaging are best venues for an instructor to give immediate feedback on anything a student submits. Surely, an instructor should define the time period he is going to take to assess a student’s work and give feedback within that time.
- Use online assessments which provide automatic & immediate feedback on student’s performance.
- Set up an automated response to inform the students about receiving their work. It turns out to be a time saver for teachers and stress reliever for the students.
- You could also post answers online once the exam is done. This way students can know what to expect for the feedback.
#4 Provide Avenues for Constant Communication Between Teachers and Learners
It is very important that students don’t feel alone during their class times.
Students always work successfully if they feel connected with their teacher/instructor.
They should feel they have an equal and open chance to communicate with the teacher.
A positive rapport between students and the teacher will result in better students’ performance.
There are many ways for a teacher or instructor to connect with their students, even students with each other, during online classes:
- Computer conferences are a great way for them to meet each other, either individually or in groups.
- Use lists to remind you of every member’s name and stay connected with all.
- You should have an email response policy, so students would always expect an email in response to their contact.
- Encourage the usage of discussion forums regularly.
- Have weekly ‘chat times’, scheduled regularly.
Technology, these days, provides us with so many options.
As an online teacher, you should be aware of your options.
Make sure you choose the best ones for you and your students.
#5 Encourage Collaboration Among Learners
There has been a lot of research and articles written over the past three decades on cooperative learning environments.
Research shows that an environment where students work together, distribute work equally among them and reciprocate, helps the students to attain better results.
Instructors/teachers should encourage collaboration among all learners and foster activities through which students start preferring collaborations rather than being alone.
Activities that let students work together on a project or task foster a more social environment and remove negative competitive attitudes.
Cooperative learning does not merely include group projects.
It also involves an environment where students reciprocally engage themselves in helping others.
Worry not because we have some helpful instructions for all online instructors/teachers to foster such growth-full environment:
- Having an ice-breaking session, at the beginning of online classes, may encourage the students to communicate with each other.
- Use discussion forums & chats especially to encourage students so they communicate with each other.
- Establish a ‘buddy system’, in which two students pair up for mutual help.
- You can use teleconferencing for the sharing of ideas.
- Assign group projects in which two-three students collaborate.
#6 Manage the Course Proactively
A wrong concept about an online class is assuming that once you create your class it will manage itself.
There are so many people who think like this but that is the wrong idea about online class.
You can never run an online business in this manner.
Your course and its progression are way more important than you may think.
It is always your course that stands unique and sells itself if it’s genuine and authentic.
A course full of genuine and fresh information sells itself and you should, as an instructor/teacher, keep on working on the betterment of your course from time to time.
Always try to keep it updated and unique.
As an online teacher, you can help generate a successful learning experience by practicing proactive course management strategies.
These strategies may include monitoring assignment submissions, communicating with students and reminding them of upcoming or missed deadlines, and of course, keep on creating your course to be more helpful for your learners.
Leaving students to their own attitudes towards attending the online class and the results they get from it is completely false behavior of an online instructor.
Thinking ‘if they fail, they fail, it is their own fault’ is a wrong attitude towards your students.
Online class teachers have more responsibility than their regular counterparts.
In online classes, teachers have to think of various ways in which they can help their students feel good about attending online classes, about the selected course, and about being present for all lessons.
This is all on instructors.
The goal is always to empower the online learner to take the responsibility of learning, take control over their results, and have the motivation to keep on moving.
Remember that good results and effective growth are always a great motivation for learners to learn more.
#7 Communicate Expectations Beforehand
Students should know from the beginning what they are going to achieve from the course.
They also need to know what is their learning process, what do they already know, and what will they have in their hand by the end of the course.
Just as learners know what to expect from the course, which is designed by their instructor, the same goes for the teacher.
The teacher should also know what to expect from learners.
If their expectations are already set it means their goals are already set in their mind.
The clearer the goals are, the clearer the results will be.
The achievement rate will also be high and results will automatically be good enough for both parties.
Have in mind that teachers should set an assessing criterion from the beginning of the course and tell it to the learners in the introductory online classes.
This way they will know how to prepare and attempt the projects or papers or whatever your assigned tasks will be.
Communicating expectations beforehand is important.
Both sides know how and what to expect, as well as how and what to work on.
Teachers should provide a grading criterion for students.
That is how their focus shifts towards their goals and mindsets toward achievements.
Make sure the criteria are available from the beginning of the course.
Even if a specific format is expected, indicate or provide that format to them.
#8 Set High Standards but Offer Support
Setting high standards for the outcome of your attended courses is paramount.
Keep this in mind that no matter how high you set your standards, you always have to offer help and support to learners.
Show them different ways to attempt the tasks, no matter how difficult they are.
They will appreciate your help if you will appreciate their efforts.
The closer you are with them, the closer you are going to monitor the tasks and control the high achievement rate for your online courses.
But always give them space too to let them understand their own learning techniques.
Guide them in a supporting way, give remarks in positive and nurturing criticism.
In short, you have to be present for them in their times of need, keeping it in a professional way.
Try to maintain high grading standards.
In graded assignments, provide students with assignment criteria along with grading guidelines.
As we have already discussed above, instructors should always be quick with feedback.
Feedback is very important in keeping students’ interest in the course.
As long as they keep the track of their achievements they stay on track towards the goals.
Defining course goals is as important as keeping students interested in the entire course.
It works even for average students.
When they see their achievement rate, their motivation boosts up.
They try to work harder and especially they work hard in finding their learning style and techniques which benefit them.
Once they all have a clear mind and set goals in their mind, you are ready to go for a high achievement rate.
#9 Plan for the Unexpected
In online classes, learners look to the instructors as their main source for the information and progress of the course.
Continuous guidance is necessary for all because when they are paying for the online course, they will be expecting constant support and guidance.
If an instructor will be unable to show up for the online class for more than four business days, it’s crucial to provide the students with one week notice in advance.
In emergency cases, teachers are asked to notify students as soon as possible.
Letting students hang or wait for days is not good.
We must say that the greatest benefit of online classes is the flexibility of hours and days.
Everyone likes this option; everyone gets to relax with this option in their mind during online classes.
All participants appreciate this freedom and it’s sometimes the requirement of those learners who travel a lot or have a desire to continue their educational journeys.
The main challenge here is the predictability of the conditions you may face in the future during online courses.
So, be prepared for those times when incidents happen that may hinder you from attending classes.
Changes in the class patterns may disturb both sides so the instructor has to be prepared beforehand for the sake of both sides.
Even in the best-designed courses, ‘life happens’.
Explain it to your learners.
#10 Motivate Students to Learn
Remember, a motivating environment encourages students to attend your online courses.
That is why their motivation should be kept up at all times.
Teachers should motivate their students by conveying the value of what they are going to be taught.
Make them believe that learning will help them achieve important goals too.
This course will teach them how to stay focused and goal-oriented.
Help them understand their abilities; let them see how much they are capable of learning and show them that you expect a great achievement from all of them.
Believing in them will raise their self-confidence level and hence move them closer to their good results.
A great strategy for keeping up their motivation high is by giving them examples from their lives and their hard work routines.
We really hope that we were helpful in making your next online class more effectively.
When you understand the top 10 basic and primary principles of online classes, you can rest assured your class cannot be the same again.
It goes without saying that if you give a good experience to learners, your course will start selling better.
We wish you Good Luck.
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Amber is a professional creative writer of articles, stories, essays, speeches, and all kinds of literary analyses. She’s been successfully working for magazines, newspapers and published an international English research article for David Publishing of NYC and China.
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