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As an online educator, you have a unique opportunity to teach pupils from around the globe.  No matter what subject matter you cover, keep in mind that certain challenges are inherent to online teaching. Working as an online teacher has some distinct differences from working as a teacher in a traditional classroom setting, including how you approach teaching and how you interact with students.

Even if you feel comfortable teaching online, you can always work on improving in certain areas. For example, you might need to brush up on your communication skills to effectively teach in a virtual environment. Knowing the best practices for online instruction can help you become a highly successful teacher.

1.     Strengthen Your Fundamental Teaching Skills

Fundamental teaching skills, such as communication, conflict resolution, creativity, and leadership, are important whether you teach online or in a classroom. Even though you might have developed these skills already, brushing up on them can help you thrive as an online teacher.

You can find opportunities in your everyday life to work on improving these skills, including as you teach in a virtual environment. For example, you might be able to focus on creativity when coming up with assignments or projects. A graduate certificate program in online teaching can also help you strengthen these skills and adapt them to online learning.

2.    Set Clear Expectations for Success in Your Online Class

Online learning can be convenient for many students, but it can also be challenging for some. You might have students who do not show up for virtual classes, submit assignments late, or do not submit assignments at all. This can be more difficult to manage compared to a traditional classroom where you are face-to-face with students.

Setting clear expectations right from the outset can help your online learners understand what is expected of them and what they need to do to succeed. You can approach this in different ways, such as providing a syllabus, explaining the strategies you use for online instruction, and posting an introductory or welcome video that clearly spells out class expectations.

3.    Prioritize Equity and Accessibility

In recent years, there has been more focus on ensuring that traditional and online classrooms improve accessibility and equity. This helps ensure that all students can learn, including those with difficulties due to economic, cultural, health, or social issues. Finding ways to make equity and accessibility a priority in your online classes can help all your students thrive academically. For example, you might make accommodations for students with slower internet speeds at home, such as more flexible deadlines or attendance requirements. You might also post videos with closed captioning for students with hearing impairments.

4.    Create a Presence with Multiple Communication Methods

Having a strong presence in your online classroom can help you build rapport with your students and encourage interaction. When you create a solid presence, your students will be more likely to provide feedback, ask questions, and participate in other ways. When you do not have a strong presence, students might do the bare minimum for class participation and avoid asking you to clarify materials or give you any feedback.

You can build your presence with different communication methods, such as email and chat. Email allows you to send longer messages about classwork or other tasks and provide updates. A group chat gives you and your students a faster way to communicate in real time to discuss aspects of the material or other school-related topics.

5.    Establish a Relationship with Each Individual Student

For online students, feeling disconnected from their teacher can easily happen, especially in bigger online classes. Taking time to build a relationship with every student in your class can help prevent this from happening. When your students feel connected to you, they will feel more comfortable interacting with you and actively participating in class. This can help ensure that your students learn the material you are teaching them and get the most out of your classes.

How can you establish a relationship with each student? This can be as simple as greeting them by name when they appear in your online classroom or more complex, such as giving them detailed feedback on their performance. You might also tell the students about yourself and ask them to do the same.

6.    Vary the Format of Lessons

Using the same format for all your lessons can lead to boredom in your online classes. Different students might prefer different modes of learning, depending on what their strengths are. Using different formats helps ensure that each student has a chance to excel at learning the material while decreasing the risk of boredom.

You can choose from a wide range of lesson formats for online instruction, such as video lessons for some material and infographics for other material. Other formats to consider using include slideshow presentations, live streams, and quizzes to help keep your students engaged and interested in what they are learning.

7.    Make Sure External Resources Are Easily Available

You might have specific digital tools and programs that you use in your online classroom, but external resources can enrich your students’ learning experience. These resources might include digital books to read, videos to watch on other platforms, or apps that can be downloaded on their devices. No matter which external resources you use, make sure that all your students can easily access them and avoid any that are difficult for students to find and use or that include an unplanned expense.

8.    Be Prepared but Flexible

Being prepared is essential to do well as an online teacher. Having a highly detailed syllabus planned out can help you stay organized and help your students understand your expectations. However, online learning can come with unexpected issues that require flexibility. For example, you might have internet issues that prevent you from getting online for a scheduled class, or you might run into technical problems with the software you use for your class.

Being flexible and prepared means having a backup plan for when these problems come up. Remember that you should also show flexibility when students encounter problems on their end. You might give grace periods for submitting assignments or extend due dates as needed.

9.    Encourage a Robust Online Community

One of the challenges of online learning is that students might barely interact or form any kind of community. In-person classes provide many opportunities for students to interact face-to-face, which helps build community. As an online teacher, you can take steps to encourage your classes to build a strong online community. This can help students get more out of your classes and connect with each other.

How can you promote community in your online classes? Providing multiple communication channels helps encourage this since students have more ways to connect. Other ways to encourage an online community include using collaborative learning methods, such as having students participate in group discussions about each other’s work and providing opportunities for expertise sharing among students.

10.  Ensure Appropriate Educational Technology for Your

Using the right technology for your class can help ensure that you have a positive online teaching experience. The rise in online learning has led to the development of many forms of technology that teachers and students can use. However, not all of these are appropriate for every class. Evaluate the educational technology tools you plan to implement in your classes to ensure they are appropriate for your students. For example, you might decide not to choose an online tool or program that is too advanced for younger students.

11.   Perfect Is the Enemy of Good

Wanting to teach as effectively as possible is a great goal, but do not let “perfect” get in the way of “good enough.” No matter how many best practices you use or how carefully you plan for each class, things can go wrong with online instruction. This is where being prepared yet flexible comes in handy. Striving for perfection can also negatively impact your students. You might get so caught up with making sure your online classes go perfectly that your students actually fall behind or experience other problems that affect learning.

Focusing on adaptability and developing relationships with each student can create a positive and inspiring online class environment. Instead of worrying about perfection, work on providing a solid educational experience for your students.

12. Take Time to Evaluate Success and Opportunities With Feedback

Your students will get the most out of your online class when you provide detailed feedback. Giving them feedback also helps them connect with you more and find out how they might improve. Set aside time to evaluate your students’ successes and develop opportunities for them to improve.

Evaluating success and opportunities also applies to you as the teacher. Ask your students for feedback on how the class is going, and encourage them to bring up any concerns or questions they have. This feedback can provide you with a valuable source of information on how to be more successful in your online classroom.

13. Learn From Other Professionals

Your fellow online teachers can help you learn how to teach more effectively in an online setting. Talking with other teachers might give you new ideas to try in your own virtual classroom. You can also gain more knowledge about effective online teaching from other professionals through a certificate program. These programs allow you to study online teaching methods and best practices in greater depth. You can also ask instructors to share advice with you on specific changes to make in your online classes.

Learning from other professionals might help you determine areas of improvement that can make your classes better. For example, you might learn more about using various formats for your lessons if you have been using the same format over and over.

If you are interested in studying teaching effectiveness, please contact Post University. Our Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching helps you gain an in-depth understanding of how to effectively teach online. This certificate program is for those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree and covers different areas of online instruction, such as technology integration and course creation. We offer this program in an online setting, allowing you to work at your own pace, providing a flexible way to fit into your current lifestyle.

Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!

Please note jobs and/or career outcomes highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs or career outcomes expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions advisor.