COVID-19 & Online Teaching: A Primer on Teaching Online

Every day, there are new announcements that in-person classes are closed and teaching will shift online to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. This has thrust an unprecedented number of teachers into a format for which they may have little or no training.

We at Edureach101 have compiled some tips so we stay on our A-game:

The Simplest Way to Go Online is to Shift to a Video Conference Platform

Bonni Stachowiak, host of a long-running podcast called “Teaching in Higher Ed”, spoke to EdSurge about this. She says that just lecturing to a webcam instead of an in-person class isn’t the best way to teach online, but it is the easiest way to switch. Under the circumstances, it is better than nothing. “I’d rather that you do that for your students, for yourself than to cancel all the classes,” she argues.

So the first step is to pick a web conferencing tool, she adds, like Zoom or Skype. Often the college already pays for access to one of them.

Think Shorter

If it’s hard to hold students’ attention in person, it’s even harder online, says Stachowiak: “You’ll want to think about shortening that experience. The online environment tends to have shorter, more-compact opportunities and then other things to do that are more engaging than just sitting and listening.”

One reason, she adds, is that students may be logging on through their smartphones, or watching a recording later instead of tuning in live.

Make Sure to Record Online Sessions For Those Who Can’t Tune in Live

COVID-19 is currently changing the way students will be engaging with materials. We went from having our lessons in-class to online. But not everyone will be able to make it to each online session. So, press record on whatever tool you use to offer remote classes, and share the recording with students just as soon as a session is over.

It’s best to put the video on YouTube and share the link, or use a service that manages streaming.

Lighting is Key, and Think About Virtual Eye Contact

When you’re standing in front of a class via live video, make sure you aren’t standing in the shadows. “Think about your webcam and having your light source in the room come from in front of you so that the light is shining on your face as opposed to turning you into this shadowy figure that looks a little scary,” says Stachowiak.

“You should join the session early so you can look at yourself and ask, where’s the light coming from? Is it the right positioning for that camera? And the other thing to think about is that you can simulate eye contact by looking at the camera that for many of us is sitting on top of our monitor—so put your notes at the top of your screen so you look at the camera more.”

Use Polls to Keep Students Engaged

There are many tools available to pose multiple-choice questions to students remotely. Or teachers can just ask students to respond to a prompt in the text chat included in most video conference platforms. This doesn’t necessarily have to do with our COVID-19 fears, but it’s still a great tool to keep our students engaged and make things fun!

*Adapted from EdSurge: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2020-03-11-coronavirus-has-led-to-a-rush-of-online-teaching-here-s-some-advice-for-newly-remote-instructors

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