Online classes have gained a lot of popularity because of the Corona Virus Pandemic. While the pandemic has a negative effect on mental health, it sure has shown us new and better ways of doing things. Who knows, online classes may become the new normal after the Pandemic ends.
The question can be why? It saves time and it lets you learn and teach in a flexible pattern. Furthermore, it also tests you better.
So, how to teach online classes?
In order to make the online classes really useful, you will have to design it in a way that people actually attend it and learn from it. Or else, you may find students sleeping even when you are conducting a live class. Because the mute and turn off video buttons are not that hard to reach.
Therefore, you will have to plan a nice online class and also make sure that your students are actually learning from it. So, let us check out the best way to teach online classes. In fact, you will have to combine different things together to find one best way.
1. Choose your method
In a traditional classroom, you use a white or blackboard and yourself to get the lessons through to your student’s brains. You can study their face to see any signs of confusion or absent-mindedness. Furthermore, you can ask a question to them directly to see if they are actually getting what you say.
But, online classes are different. You cannot inspect the expression on every face and you cannot use a board to make them understand. So, what can you do? Multiple things and you see to have more options online!
Give the reading materials
The easiest way for you yet the most fruitless ways of teaching online is just giving your students an article or PDF book to read. You leave it up to them to understand and read a whole lesson and if they have any problems to come to you. If they believe a wrong concept, you do not get to change it. So, while it is an option, it should only act as a support method rather than the main one.
This is what you do in an actual class but you also explain the slides with your lecture. You can easily upload PowerPoint slides for your online class. However, it will not be a worthwhile method unless you attach audio to it explaining each of the slides. This, too, can only be a good option if it just accompanies your lessons but does not become the main thing.
Now, this is the best method according to me. The lockdown should be able to make you realize that there is nothing that can compare to human expressions and contact. If you make a video of yourself explaining a topic with slides or graphics or even just a book, you will be able to hold more attention. Furthermore, if your students want a flexible schedule then they can watch your saved videos whenever it is convenient for them. These free video editor could help you in initial stage.
Now, this is as close as it gets to a traditional classroom. You will present it and so will the students when the class is going on. Furthermore, the students will be able to ask and answer questions. The problem with live classes is the timing of it if your students reside in different time zones. Furthermore, the internet connectivity and quality of the connection also matters in the case of live classes.
It is up to you to decide on which method you impart education. Some methods that do not look great in general may still be enough for the subject you teach.
2. Make a plan and get things ready
If your students reside in various time zones or have trouble with internet connections, he or she would still want to know how your course will proceed. This is why it is you who has to be prepared with everything first and foremost. You have to prepare a course outline and also a timeline for completing the course.
This way the students will know perfectly well when and how your course will take place. Furthermore, if any problems occur, you can always have your materials ready. This will also give you an idea about whether you should change anything from the initial lessons or not.
3. Give tasks that engage the brain
You cannot conduct surprise tests or actively engage your students in interacting during the class through online classrooms. However, you can engage them in the studies and make their concept clear. You can give them interesting tasks that need experimentation and a lot of thinking, or at least a clear concept about the topics.
For example, if you are teaching them English Literature, you can ask them to read a chapter from their favorite book at home and give a review of it online. These are activities that students will find not just fun but also engaging.
Through it all, your students will be able to learn something right where they sleep. Finally, you won’t have to worry about whether your students are actually following you or just sleeping. Because whether they sleep or follow, they will get the lesson you were trying to give them.
4. Add variety
Traditional classes even with their active expressions and events can get boring. And, online classes? If the students have to listen to a lecturer lecturing for twenty whole minutes, they will clearly go elsewhere if they have the freedom to. And, they have that freedom online, not in the classroom. So, how will you keep them from using that freedom?
By not making them want to use it. You have to make the lesson so interesting and engaging that they will stay exactly where they are and listen to your words, and do every task. For example, modern students love to explore YouTube. They love learning in interesting ways.
If you have explained something theoretically, you can also refer them to the YouTube link which shows an interesting application of the theory. Or, you could make a different video in which you are not just talking but doing things to impart the lesson.
Other than videos, you can also give them an article to read. As mentioned earlier, these could be great support materials for your course but not the main material. They will be able to relate to the theory by seeing how it is connected to their lives.
You cannot always show your class a video or graphical representation of a theory in the traditional classroom. However, the elearning platforms has opened this benefit up for you.
5. Don’t walk away from exams
You may want to truly know that the class is actually learning from your course. Or, you may have to grade your class based on the online exams. In some places, it is obligatory to take exams and in others it is optional.
If you want to conduct an exam, you have many obstacles online. How do you know your students are not googling the answer from their phones? Will they be able to attend the exam on time?
You just do not know the answer to these questions so you have to make the exam pattern such that it does not need the answer to those questions.
How about you make the questions such that it won’t have a clear answer on the internet? You can make the question completely analytical so that the students will have to use their knowledge to solve it. Yes, it will be difficult to both create the question and grade the answer but it will be worth it.
Furthermore, you can set a time limit or give a deadline for the exam. It can start from the time the student has viewed the task. The blessing of online classrooms is that it reminds the students of impending deadlines.
Apart from that, online platforms make it very easy to conduct quizzes. You do not even have to check the answers, the platform does it for you.
6. Be available
Another great thing about the online platform is that your students can reach out to you anytime. Thus, you can play a better role as a teacher. In traditional classrooms, your student can reach you within fixed hours. With everything going on, you will also be in a hurry to help them and sometimes leave things unfinished.
However, you can be always there for them online. You can fix certain hours of the day when you check your online classroom. So, you can reply to your students and their questions will stay. As a result, if a student consults you on a very important topic, you can easily communicate it to the rest of the students as well.
It can very as well be such a sentence that starts your communication, “One of you asked a very important question and I think you should all check this out”.
It is you who is in charge of your class online. So, you will have to find the energy within you to be always active in the classroom, teaching. On the way, your students will get motivated to learn from you as well.
7. Take Feedback
After you are done taking a course, you can ask your students about what they liked about the course and what they did not. Moreover, you can ask them to leave advice for you. Only your students will know what mistakes you are making and what may be taking their attention away.
If the course methods are too hard or if the students find it difficult to attend your exams, you will have to make changes. This is because your main purpose is not to throw everything you know at their faces whether they receive it or not but to make them receive it.
Therefore, be open to receiving negative reviews, value them, and work on them to get better.
8. Follow the general psychological findings
You have seen the big picture and decided on how to impart your lessons and what to include in it. But, on a micro-level, you will also have to think about how you are presenting the content. You may think, have I not already? No. It goes beyond a course outline and method of teaching.
For example, you will have to put your attention on each of the slides you upload. What will keep the attention of the student on that particular slide? Are you giving them enough to read, to hear? Or, are you giving them too much?
There are psychological factors like a human being who cannot keep attention on a particular study for more than twenty minutes at a stretch. So, make your videos shorter than that. Again, you should not include so much information in your slides that the student loses interest. The information should also be arranged in such a way that the student can understand straight away what they are learning about.
For example, you can arrange the facts in bullet points but not include more than six points in one slide. It makes the lesson easier for the student to learn and retain.
Likewise, you should keep researching how you can retain the student’s attention. It can be something you actively do or it can something passive like making the students teach through a video themselves.
The online teaching platform has brought with it many challenges. But, if you learn to beat these challenges, you will find that it comes with many benefits as well. Know about these benefits and master them so that you can use them to teach your subject.
The design of your course online and the way you impart the lessons themselves will motivate the students to take your course and never lose their attention while learning. You might end up attracting millions of students around the world just with how you conduct your classes online.