Online learning presents different challenges and experiences for the learner and the instructor. If you are considering the opportunity of becoming an online instructor, you will have many questions regarding your new role. Some of your questions might include:
How do I personalize the experience for my students?
How can I encourage interaction amongst the students?
How ill my students access and submit homework?
Where do I post grades for my students?
How often am I expected to access my course and check assignments?
Do the assignments have individual due dates or is there just a deadline for course completion?
How will I contact my students should that be necessary?
How do my students obtain information on grades and progress reports?
Having been an online instructor for five years as well as having been a virtual student who received my masters degree online, I will present tips that will make your experience and the experiences of the students, more positive.
o Communicate with your students regularly. Consider sending out a weekly or bi-weekly “newsletter” containing information about the course and personal information about what you enjoy and some of the fun activities in your life. This adds a personal touch for your students. Connecting virtually is essential and easier than you may think!
o Respond promptly to your students’ emails. They will appreciate your thoughtful responses to their questions and comments.
o Have a Discussion Item that is just a spot for student interaction. Although this should be carefully monitored, you should not be a participant.
o Have a Discussion Item that is for student questions. Students can access this similar to an “FAQ” posting so that you can answer common questions once for other students to access so they won’t need to ask the same questions.
o Be sure that instructions for accessing and submitting assignments are readily available.
o Provide navigation instructions that will help students find their way through the online classroom. Consider creating a Scavenger Hunt that will lead students through the site, and then ask questions about the navigation that will count as an assignment grade.
o Find where and how you post grades and how your students access that information.
o Find out how students obtain usernames and passwords. Is that your job, or does the student obtain that information from someone else? If it’s your job, get that information to the student ASAP!
o Make sure your students are maintaining a reasonable timeline, especially if the course does not contain weekly deadlines but only has an end date. If they begin to fall behind, contact them personally (an email is OK to start) to give them a “gentle nudge”.
Communicating and establishing a connection with your student is as important, if not more so, than in a face-to-face environment. Remember—-the 3 most important parts of becoming a successful online educator are: