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Tips for Teaching Online

In order to keep teaching at a distance, you will need to use alternative methods and tools to continue class activities. Your class activities may vary depending on the subject you are teaching and the kinds of teaching methods you use.  Class activities that you will need to continue include communicating with students, delivering course content, encouraging student participation, administering assignments and tests, and providing feedback and grades.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has created a collection of free resources for moving online. We highly encourage you to read the entire collection located at Moving Online Now

Here are six quick tips adapted from the Chronicle of Higher Education to keep teaching online: 

1. Begin by going over your course assignments for the coming weeks.

Are they accessible online, so that students can find the instructions and materials that they need? Is it clear how students will be turn­ing in their work? Have deadlines changed, and are all of those deadlines prominently posted? 

2. Think about how you will give feedback on students’ progress.

Consider how students will be able to practice the key skills and objec­tives you want them to get out of the course — things they would normally do in class. How will you give them opportunities for practice and feedback, for both small-stakes and high-stakes assignments? Undoubted­ly those opportunities will be different from what they were before you moved the class online. Just be sure that it’s very clear how students can access those opportunities.

And if you don’t spend much class time having students practice and get feedback, now is a good time to increase that aspect of your course — given that you won’t be pre­senting content in person. For example:

  • If students would have been developing their skills in analyzing and synthesizing assigned readings via in-class discussion, perhaps they could do that online using collaborative annotation of the text. 
  • If you’d normally have students prac­tice by attempting to answer questions in an interactive in-person lecture, pres­ent a version of those questions in online discussion forums or quizzes, and offer feedback on their responses. 

3. Begin thinking about how you can adapt the in-class experience for an online environment.

What do you normally use your in-class time for? Try to define what you do in class at a higher, more goal-oriented level (e.g., presentation of content, checking for understanding, collaborative project work — instead of just saying “lecture,” “quiz,” “discussion”). If you keep those goals in mind, you will have a better idea of how to achieve them online, as well as what aspects of the in-class experience you ought to focus on simulating. In particular, this mini-reflection should help you decide whether to go with a syn­chronous means of engagement (e.g., a re­al-time Zoom meeting), an asynchronous one, or some combination of the two. 

4. Consider the course materials.

In all likelihood, your readings and other materi­als exist in digital form, and you may have posted them already. But you’ll need to dou­ble-check that any readings, videos, prob­lem sets, quizzes, and the like are accessi­ble, along with key documents such as the course syllabus and calendar. 

5. Once you’ve dealt with those things, the name of the game is communication.

In the face of all this uncertainty, you need to explain — as clearly as you can and in a va­riety of places — what students can expect about the course in the next few weeks. Be sure to cover what it is that students are re­sponsible for doing, how they can find the things they need to meet those responsibil­ities, and what they should do first. Make sure the lines of communication are two-way, as well. 

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