With the number of students enrolled in online classes growing each year, the instructors are having to build their online classroom quickly, post assignments quickly, and look over each discussion, project, assignment, etc. that the students turn in. But with the quicker pace comes neglect in some areas of provision of interesting and engaging assignments to the students. There are some difficulties when attending online courses and no matter the difficulties, instructors need to learn how to build an interesting and comfortable environment for their students. Some instructors do not even realize the wealth of interesting and available tools that are at their disposal. There are many places that students can go to online that help augment the lesson or assignment at hand.
Keeping that in mind, it is important for instructors to plan and deliver engaging assignments that students will feel connected to and want to take part in. With the right online teaching strategies, students can become more interested in the work and not just feel that they have to complete something and just get it turned in.
- One of the most important tools for an online instructor is community. The instructor needs to build and maintain a community feel within the online classroom environment, whether it be having an open discussion once a week or taking personal emails to answer questions and help with assignments. This creates a definite boundary between an impersonal online course which students will try to skate through and that in which students will place meaning in their work and their own education.
- Another great tool for an online instructor is YouTube. Believe it or not, there are millions of videos available for viewing through YouTube. Some are not educational but purely for entertainment, but there are mass amounts of videos that are educational and can be directly connected to specific assignments or projects. Online instructors can utilize this tool for an example to help students better understand a topic or to help link a concept to a project. Instructors can also use this online tool to help students learn a process as well.
- There are also some great Discussion Forums ripe for picking. Instructors who build their classroom environment sometimes are already able to pose discussions through the given school site’s discussion forum, but there are a host of other sites that are available at no cost to start intellectual discussions. And there is even hosting available to create your own discussion forum.
- Another great tool that every online instructor should implement once is Webinars. These could be a great tool to use once a week, much like online discussions. The difference being video conferencing or voice can be used. Instructors can use webinars to track attendance, discuss (live) topics covered, present new topics, pose questions that elicit student involvement, and basically just check on the overall progress of the online class.
- Online chat is available for use as well. Instructors should utilize either the chat service provided by the school’s website or a well-known service such as AIM, Messenger, etc. With using these public chat services, however, it is difficult to maintain an element of professionalism, as these are not, well, private. There are some chat services that can be privatized for use in a professional and educational setting. This article describes the many uses for chats in the online classroom.
While planning and delivering effective lessons, projects, assignments, and assessments can be a big undertaking, there are great strategies out there for the instructor’s use to engage their students. With more care taken to ensure student interest and connection, the instructor can make the online classroom environment a friendly and open one—and interesting as well!