How can you make online classes effective?

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the education industry to change rapidly and adapt to the new methods of online teaching. A lot of recent research has shown that most of the student population has not found the online learning experience engaging so far.

This is primarily because the current model of remote teaching uses little of what constitutes good online learning practices.

Online classes will not be as effective as regular F2F classes unless a conscious effort is made to ensure the sessions are engaging. It will require effort, innovative thinking, and digital literacy on the part of the educators while learners will have to be ready to embrace the digital learning experience.

Here, we discuss some strategies that can be adopted:

Educators/teachers need to be trained in online learning.

Educators are the primary facilitators in live online sessions. They perform the role of a subject matter experts who conduct virtual classes to enhance the knowledge and skills of the participating student group. It is therefore crucial that they need to have the ability to engage remote learners and a good grasp of technology along with the knowledge and experience of the subject they are teaching.

They could be pushed to follow an instructor guide initially that could help them with managing online discussions, presentations, and other activities.

Learners should be allowed to have some control and feel at ease.

Because of a lack of F2F interaction, it will be harder to get students to participate in online classes/sessions. Encouraging active participation is therefore important and the best way to do this as an educator is by maintaining a calm, relaxed tone during the session and ensuring as much interaction as possible.

Students should be given multiple choices with regards to quizzes, assignments, topics of discussion etc. thereby motivating them to play a greater role in the whole process.

Learning objectives should be defined in a clear, concise manner.

Since educators do not have the same level of control over the teaching-learning process in an online session as compared to a regular classroom session, it is essential that the learning objectives for the sessions are clearly defined so that the learner is made aware of the goals to be accomplished by the end of the session. To prevent ambiguity of any sort, these objectives need to be specific, measurable, and achievable in the allotted time frame.

Pre-Session Learning should be included in the syllabus.

There should be some amount of pre-session learning such as exercises, puzzles, case studies, videos assigned to students to help mentally stimulate them before the session. This will lead to a higher degree of participation and interaction among students in the live online session scheduled later. This also helps build focus before the actual session resulting in better outcomes.

There should be an element of fun included in the learning process.

We are living in highly stressful times; the ongoing pandemic situation is unprecedented and therefore, it would help young learners if educators were to inculcate some fun elements in live online sessions. This could be in the form of interesting icebreakers, trivia games, encouraging interaction among fellow students etc. This will put students at ease and in a better position to focus on the more important aspects of the learning process.

Educators need to ensure that the delivery of online sessions includes diversity of content and teaching styles.

To engage learners’ brains, educators must ensure they use a wide mix of content types- audio, video, text- and teaching styles during the delivery of online sessions. Educators must include impactful visuals in their teaching slides for greater impact while keeping the number of slides to a minimum. This will keep the sessions fresh, interesting and encourage greater participation by the students. Use of case studies, practical examples will also make the sessions more compelling.

Apart from the points discussed above, there are some other simple measures that can be adopted by educators to ensure that the online sessions are engaging and effective: Here, we discuss some pointers:

  • Virtual sessions should be conducted from a comfortable spot in the house/office with good internet connectivity preferably with a hands-free headset
  • The teaching-learning platform should be assessed in detail to make sure that it is suitable for the classroom size and offers robust technology that is easy to use and has a simple interface
  • Sessions should be limited to 60 minutes or less depending on the nature of the topic being discussed. Longer sessions can quickly turn monotonous and the students may switch off Shorter sessions allow for more effective content delivery.
  • Short breaks should be included in between sessions and group activities should be encouraged to keep students fresh and
  • Sessions should be recorded so they can be viewed later by students in case they need to review some
  • All participating members in the session should be instructed to turn off phones and any other distractions during the entirety of the Students should be pushed to log in early so that the session starts on time.

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