“Just move your courses and lectures online,” is a phrase heard more often than not in today’s uncertain environment. Within the past week alone, more than 10,600 schools, colleges, and universities across the country have ended in-person classes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And more than 1,000,000 workers have been advised to work remotely for the same reason. The outbreak has proved a major disruption in everyday life around the globe and it is forcing instructors in both the education and workforce to upend traditional methods of teaching in the name of public health.
And while many organizations thought they were prepared to move online, many did not consider that instructing or training while in the classroom isn’t the same thing as instructing or training a class remotely, whether in the education or corporate learning environment. Engaging students who are in a virtual environment necessitates a new set of teaching and training strategies. Following are 5 key strategies that should assist you in not only moving your materials online quickly but also instructing and engaging students during your lectures:
1. Determine whether your delivery tool has the capability to facilitate authoring. Chances are, your organization has an LMS (Learning Management System) such as Canvas, D2L/Brightspace, Learn Amp, Knowledge Anywhere, Unboxed, or Dokeos. But those systems may not be optimized for taking your current classroom or training materials online. Items to look for in facilitating the move to online:
- MS Word. Can you cut-and-paste your MS Word text into the tool?
- PPT. Can you attach PPT files or include them in your course?
- Video. Is it possible to record video?
- Quizzing. Can you quickly create multiple-choice, true-false, and other types of quizzes?
- Gamification. Can you integrate games into your courses? (TIP: One of our favorite gaming generators is The Game Agency!)
2. Use online resources. There are so many online resources available that it might be daunting at first to determine where to start. We suggest that you begin with reaching out to your district or authoring tool provider for guidance. We’ve included a few of our favorite sources here:
- Resources – CVC-OEI
- Tips to Level-Up Your Virtual Learning Game
- Practical advice for instructors faced with an abrupt move to online teaching (opinion)
- 7 Tips On How To Prepare For Teaching Online
- 4 Lessons From Moving a Face-to-Face Course Online
- JumpStart: A Technology Course for Thoughtful Educators
3. Establish your presence right away. Start the first session with a fun welcome activity that engages online participants. Not only are you testing out the tools but also giving everyone a chance to practice. We suggest including a polling question or quick quiz.
4. Make your assignments clear. Provide examples and include rubrics whenever possible to give the remote learner a better idea of what their deliverables should be.
5. Be available. Establish online “office hours” where you’ll be available to answer queries from students. Outside of office hours, be prompt with responses to questions and assignments. Make the students feel a connection despite the distance between you.
Applying eLearning Strategies to the Traditional Classroom
Choosing what you want to teach before choosing your technology is not always possible when you need to move online quickly. But changing how you present the material is. In a traditional classroom, an instructor may lecture with PowerPoints and successfully engage learners. Online, it’s advisable to interweave stories, videos, and pictures into personal anecdotes so that the learners understand more about who you are as an instructor. Make it personal and relatable. Adults learn best when the topic is relevant and of immediate value.
Combining the Traditional Learning Theory of Connectivism with Adult Learning Theory, replicate in-class discussions with Online Message Board threads. Remember, adults need to be involved in the instruction process and prefer to learn experientially.
- Task the students with identifying a problem that needs to be solved. “Can anyone think of an example... ?”
- Students must research commonalities, connections, and distinctions of possible solutions.
- Students must create their own resource from information gleaned from their research.
- Students then post their research along with their own synthesized opinion.
Engaging Students through Content Is Key
When instructors can’t look at student’s faces or read their body language, it’s tempting to get lost in reading through the content rather than engaging students in the content through virtual role play; gamification; and polling. Take the move to online instruction as an opportunity to provide engagement that may not be possible in the in-person classroom.
- Consider enhancing your existing slide presentations with audio narration to provide a similar experience to your traditional face-to-face teaching, but also allowing the student to have the freedom of choice to absorb the information by listening or by reading.
- Enhance existing lecture recordings with Annotated Video or Video Assessment widgets. You know best which part of the lecture may have needed a little more explanation. Insert an elaboration on one of these points using text, imagery, audio, video at the point in the video where the explanation is needed. Insert quiz questions within the timeline of the video to make sure students are grasping a concept before moving on to the next one.
- Let the students drive. Are there processes that you have to explain in a series of steps? Convert them to a linear step-by-step interactive. Illustrations/maps/graphs that require detailed analysis? Allow the students to explore with the use of hot spots.
- Research Digital Whiteboard applications such as ShowMe that allow you to record live whiteboarding sessions. This brings you one step closer to the students, and allows you to “show” instead of simply explaining.
- Research existing scenario-based instruction, as well as developing your own scenario-based material. Students can be immersed in the learning material in a first-person style that may be more effective than passively absorbing the same concept in a different medium.
- Make use of interactives that allow students to practice before being assessed, such as Flashcards. There are plenty of providers that offer user-created Flashcard sets (Knowbly, Quizlet, Cram, etc.).
The above is not a comprehensive listing by any means but it should help you get started on the road to producing a successful online learning experience for your students. If we’ve left anything out or you want to share your best tips, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need to move your ILT training into a virtual setting, but don’t have the time and bandwidth to do so, Knowbly can help! We take your ILT curriculum and convert it into an engaging virtual program. And, if you are already working with one of our Partners, you are eligible for several additional services! Contact us now!