Welcome New Online Faculty,
Many campuses have mandated that students socially isolate to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, and more teachers than ever are moving their classrooms online. If you are recently displaced from your physical environment, welcome to the Online Teacher’s Lounge! We are your virtual water cooler to catch up on best practices and casually talk about how our online classrooms are going. Learning and teaching online represent a marvelous modality that some have been reticent to embrace. Let our seasoned professors help you prepare a classroom where all learners thrive!
Learning to teach online is an awesome skill set that is portable to multiple applications including faculty development and training. I have been teaching adults composition online for over a decade. Teaching adults how to write well is my passion, and my goal in life is to empower teachers to creatively leverage the amazing virtual classroom to help new student authors thrive. If you are moving your classroom off the ground, here’s some tips and pointers to help you out teaching online in the time of Coronavirus.
Online classrooms have the reputation of being cold or sterile environments. Make sure to use “Ice Breaker” activities in the Class Cafe to enhance classroom cohesion and engagement. Start by answering the questions yourself! Favorite meal, pets (types and names, pictures too!), dream vacation, last book read, worst job you ever had (and why), and one fun fact that no one could guess about you.
Teachers can display social presence and move past “approachable” and attempt intrusive instruction. By intrusive, I mean that you read and react to each student discussion board with a question that probes and pushes them to think critically and creatively about the topic. Make sure to request that students with learning differences share their “optimal learning” environment. Welcome auditory, visual, and tactile learners with applied opportunities to prepare for assessments. Be brave and kind, and ask your students for feedback in a private journal that only the two of you have access to (standard journal function in most learning management systems).
Each student must feel that they have been both seen and heard by the teacher. Make sure to monitor the “Ask the Instructor” area of your classroom and provide a response within 24 hours. Offer virtual office hours where you will be in the online classroom environment to engage with students, answer questions, and interact in real time. Make sure to use a tool with a map function to find out the time zones of your learners.
Using captions to capture all presentations that are offered in the classroom to ensure that your videos are ADA compliant. When possible, provide dynamic material such as podcasts, videos, and other engaging content with transcripts for inclusion. Hyperlink to additional resources, templates, library search strategies, google scholar and other items that you provide to students to help them do well on course papers.
Whether you are teaching adults be it in community college, undergraduate, or graduate courses in traditional environments, moving your academic curriculum from paper syllabus to asynchronous delivery will require tweaks and adjustments to content delivery and resources. Develop your own handy pointers as you create an online classroom that is as warm and welcoming as the physical space you share with your students. Share those tips in the comments, and welcome to the Online Teacher’s Lounge!