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Tips for Teaching Online Courses

written by: Kathy Foust•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 3/9/2010

If you have taught in a classroom and now you are going to teach online, you can see the difference even as you develop your curriculum. These tips for teaching online courses will help you convey key points while combining your teaching methods with the technology of today.

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    The Difference in Online Teaching

    As a college student, I have had a variety of teachers both online and off. One of the major differences in online classes is that while the teacher is lecturing, she cannot see eyes glaze over or total confusion registering on the faces of her students. What this means for online teaching is that the teacher has one chance to convey the point and convey it so that it is memorable to the student.

    Now, in any classroom a teacher who sees the confusion or the glazed over looks might be inclined to throw some humor into the situation followed by a change in tactics. Not so in online classrooms. Students must find their own way through the information and seek out the teacher if there are questions. A teacher who did not make their point clear and memorable will often learn this by the amount of emails she has stacked in her in-box at the end of the week! Don't let this happen to you. Utilize the tips below to learn how to make your online courses as rewarding as possible.

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    Online Teaching Tips

    • Remember that each student has their own method of learning. Use this to your advantage by adding visual and oral cues to stimulate their memories.
    • It has been said that anyone who hears the same information seven times is going to remember it. Be sure to use this rule, but in a creative manner. If you are explaining the parts of the plant and this is vital to the class, then explain it in the lecture, place visual cues and oral cues in the powerpoint presentation, ask discussion board questions etc.
    • Use your discussion boards to stimulate interest. If you require your students to post on there once a week, make it interesting. Ask questions that can arouse debate among students. They will inadvertently learn from each other and develop interest in the topic.
    • Questions in your email are the same as a student raising their hand with a question. Don't let these questions go unanswered. Let your students know you are there for them. Even if you can't answer the question right away. let your students know you are listening by responding to their email.
    • Make use of blogs. Make one discussion board available for students to ask questions about homework assignments. Then, if more than one student has a question about them, they can all be answered at once.
    • Use powerpoints to convey key details. You may even want to slip in information on the powerpoints that can only be found on there, even if it just the name of your dog. Let students know you are doing this to ensure that they actually read the powerpoints.
    • Post rubrics and examples in your resource box. In this manner your students will be able to see exactly what you expect from them when it comes time to turn in papers or homework assignments.
    • Make due dates very clear. There is nothing worse than being a student and being unsure of just what is expected and when it is due.
    • Keep a schedule of responses. Try to respond or comment on the same day every week. Let the students know what day that may be and try not to veer from it. This can save your students a lot of time in checking for information from you.
    • Have some fun with your class. Find interesting sites where your class can get information pertaining to the subject matter. This is a great way to increase interest and understanding in your class.
    • Encourage your students to get personally involved in class. Due this by encouraging debates over a topic or asking thought provoking questions.
    • Most importantly, make yourself available. While it's not necessary to post personal contact information, make sure that you have an open door approach and that students know the best ways to contact you for questions.
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    Read On...

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