Whether you are an adjunct instructor facilitating courses at multiple institutions or a full-time instructor with a heavy course load, management of an online classroom can be daunting. Below are a few tips to help you make the most of the online experience.
Creating an Online Presence
When you’re preparing what medium it is that you’re trying to use to communicate, really ask yourself, how do you decide what method to communicate a message to your students? A lot of us—we have to be honest—we just simply choose convenience. But don’t always choose convenience. Choose what it is, what’s the objective of the message that it is that you’re trying to send.
As you’re developing your courses, try to increase a sense of community and communicate to the students that you’re a real person and their classmates are real people. In doing this, we try to decrease the lack of communication and lack of participation by increasing the social presence.
Social Presence gauges the degree to which a person is perceived as a real person, a real human being in mediated communication. So, why is it important to increase and enhance social presence in online course design? Well, we know that online communication can often seem so misleading in understanding, and it creates poor relationships, and there’s a lack of participation in online course classes. All this can often be characterized by a lack of social presence, which leads to less effective learning, which leads to just a downfall of the online course or online program.
Develop a routine
A routine is integral in maintaining organization and motivation. Rather than simply relying on memory and the assumption that you will know what to do and when, determine a specific working routine that you will follow every day. For example, develop a routine to begin and end work at the same time each day. A routine will enable you to effectively utilize your time, as well as serve as a signal to students that you are not available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
Determine order of importance
Online classrooms typically consist of discussions, assignments, and quizzes. As a result, there can be a lot of posts and assignments to sift through upon logging in each day. Therefore, it is important to determine which tasks need your attention first.
For example, begin each day answering all student questions. After all student questions are answered, move on to reading and participating in the course discussions, and finally begin grading assignment submissions. Following a specific order of importance in the classroom will ensure all tasks are completed timely and efficiently.
It is quite possible that you are teaching more than one course, or perhaps at more than one institution. As a result, it is important to create to-do lists to ensure all tasks and requirements are completed on time. These lists can be constructed daily, weekly, or monthly, and can be constructed using pen and paper, a whiteboard, or an electronic notepad. Adhering to a list provides structure, clarity, and focus. Additionally, a list will assist with ensuring your time is productive and eliminate idle moments in which you are trying to remember which task needs to be completed next.
Remote Office Hours
Host Class or Office Hours Remotely with Zoom: Instructors in the traditional brick and mortar setting hold office hours to carve out a specific time each day to assist students with questions or review feedback on assignments. Unfortunately, too often students assume online instructors are present 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As a result, holding office hours, much like sticking to a specific routine, allows online instructors the freedom to direct student questions and concerns to a specific allotment of time. Rather than getting disrupted from posting or grading, office hours provide an uninterrupted window for direct student-teacher interaction.
To host scheduled or synchronous office hours, you can use Zoom. Everyone at WesternU, including students, has a Zoom license that can be used on personal computers, mobile devices, in classrooms, and conference rooms.