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New to the World of Online Teaching: List of Pitfalls to Avoid

written by: Om Thoke•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 7/11/2010

Those who are new to the online teaching arena may have to face several pitfalls if they don’t avoid the most common mistakes committed by many new instructors in the field. So, here are the top pitfalls to avoid for a new online instructor.

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    As an online instructor, you need to take care of several things due to the sheer fact that online classes are far different from a classroom atmosphere. By avoiding the common pitfalls mentioned below, you can increase the effectiveness of your online classes and achieve wonderful results. So, let us go through these pitfalls that a new online instructor should avoid.

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    Clearly Communicate Online Class Expectations

    If you’re new to the world of online teaching, you may be in a hurry to start off your lessons, but your students may not be ready yet to grasp and learn from what you are about to deliver. Therefore, it is essential that you post an announcement before your students enter your first lesson.

    You may want to prepare a brief document listing out the details of the class and even the course as a whole. Furthermore, you may want to advise the students to make a print out of the document and keep it handy for future reference. This will not leave any margins for the students to complain that they were not aware of the expectations clearly (although this is not the main intention of getting the document printed).

    Remember, the first few lessons will determine the level of success and effectiveness of your online course. So, don't rush through. Move steadily, even if it requires you to make adjustments in your schedule.

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    Motivate the Learners and Help Them Cope with the Course

    Finishing off the topic and course as a whole should not be your only intention as a teacher. An online course with the best of information and compilation of the toughest questions pertaining to the course may be of simply no use unless the students really grasp most of the things out of it. Therefore, at various points throughout the course, you, as an online instructor, should try to assess the level of motivation of students to cope with the course.

    If you feel they’re stressed out, confused, disinterested, or unable to cope with the course, you may want to have a few Q&A sessions, quizzes, and classe sessions on hand just to motivate the students, help them understand the course better, clear their basic doubts, and help them grasp the topics to a greater extent.

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    Try to Get the Students Involved with the Class

    If you realize that the students are losing interest, you may want to pause a bit, crack a joke (doesn’t matter how silly it may be), rejuvenate their spirits, and then continue. If you feel that they’re still not too keen to listen, you may want to break the session and continue things next time around!

    You may want to organize occasional quizzes and other interesting events to grab the attention of the attendees and keep them focussed on class all the time.

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    Make Sure that Your Students Digest Whatever You Teach

    It doesn’t matter how much you really know about the topic and how much experience you possess as a teacher: it’s all about how much your students grasp from your online lessons. In a traditional classroom atmosphere, you may be able to closely monitor the activities of each and every student, but, even in the best settings, it may not be possible to do so in the case of an online class.

    Therefore, it is a tough task to ensure that each and every student is paying attention to your lecture. But, as a whole, you should make sure that your lesson is effective, and most of the students will follow whatever you teach.

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    Use Real Life Examples: Avoid Complicated Language

    Some online instructors try to showcase their knowledge and command of language by using complicated words and giving out too many details about a topic. This is one of the biggest pitfalls to avoid as a new online instructor.

    As an online teacher, it should be your intention to ensure that you deliver only the things that everyone in the class can follow. You should try to simplify things rather than complicating them.

    Moreover, after covering a topic, if you feel it went miles above the understanding of your students, you may want to use practical examples to help them understand things better. Citing an example is one of the best ideas because students may relate to a real life scenario much better and faster than analyzing a theoretical example.

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    Don’t Drag Things: Keep it Crisp, Sweet, and Short!

    Remember: students never enjoy lengthy sessions whether it is a live board classroom or an online lesson. Therefore, it is never a good idea to extend the session just to cover up an extra topic.

    Plan your sessions such that you can keep them sweet and short! Try to provide crisp information specifically to the point that you’re trying to make. Don’t try to teach too much about a specific topic first time around. This may confuse the students and divert their interest off the topic!

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    In a Nutshell

    The most common pitfalls to avoid for a new online instructor are listed above. Apart from all these, an online teacher may need to avoid several other things, which will be covered in a separate article later.

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    • How to Save Time Teaching an Online Class:
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