What Online Learning Looks Like From the Perspective of an Educational Technologist


I have been in the education field for a long time. I have worked in a variety of settings including public and private schools, community colleges, and universities. I started teaching online courses five years ago when I was working at a university. It was tough at first to get used to teaching online classes because it is different from face-to-face classes that you are used to. For example, there isn't any eye contact with your students (unless they choose to chat). There aren't any people sitting next to you who may be distracting you during class (you kind of miss this because it can be annoying sometimes). Some students may not do well on their assignments because they procrastinate or don't know how to research effectively online; however, the student has the opportunity later on to improve his/her grade by attending an office hour session with me. Online courses are unique in many ways, but I have learned to love them.

 To be an effective online instructor, you have to develop the skills needed to teach online. You have to prepare your course syllabus or video lecture ahead of time so that it is ready for your students when they enroll in the class. The syllabus should include information about how students are expected to complete their assignments, due dates for course assignments and exams, guidelines for asking questions outside of class time, etc. If you choose not to use a specific learning management system (LMS) that has all the features already built into it (such as Blackboard), then you will need a separate program on your computer where you can store important documents related to your course such as PowerPoint lectures and handouts/reading materials if applicable). If you do decide on using an LMS like Blackboard or Moodle there are still things that you will need besides simply uploading files online or setting up discussion boards where students discuss with each other within the classroom website interface. For example, if students are raising their hands in class asking questions during lecture which is recorded through audio/video recording software then how will they ask follow-up questions? It would be very inconvenient for them if they had no way of contacting me aside from emailing me directly from my university address because this involves going through several steps before I can get back with them which may take several days later depending on my schedule.


One of the main challenges in teaching online classes is making sure that students are able to successfully complete their assignments on time. If your students are continually late with their assignments, it may be a sign that they are not taking online courses seriously. I try to make sure that the due dates for assignments aren't too close together so that students can get an idea of when they should start working on them in order to avoid missing the deadline. Of course there will be some situations where something happens in your student's lives and they can't complete an assignment on time; however, it's important to inform you as soon as possible if this happens and give you a reason why (e.g., "I started working overtime at my job"). As long as students consistently give me a good reason for not submitting work on time then I won't mark points off their grade or make them take extra-credit assignments such as quizzes or tests which don't count towards the final grade (unless of course this has happened more than once).


As an online instructor, I like having everything organized and neat before class begins so I don't have any problems during class: my lesson plan is ready before class begins, my student discussions board is set up and all discussions posted by previous weeks' classes appear first so we know what we're going over today without browsing through old posts, etc.


If you are considering teaching online, I hope this helps. If you have any questions about online learning or teaching/assigning work to do outside of class time, feel free to comment below.