Planning your online teaching

Before you commence your online teaching, there are a few things that it may be wise to think about, and to be aware of – for example how you can get to know your students online and how to best plan an online session.

Getting to know your students

Knowing a little bit about your students can help you plan and facilitate your teaching. For example, this can include information about their ages, their professional backgrounds, their living situations, their expectations for the course, and their digital competency. Some sets of students are very diverse, while others are more homogenous.

You will probably only have a limited knowledge of your students when the course begins, but you can use your first seminar to get to know them – and let them get to know each other. You could, for example: let them introduce themselves to each other, make a poll where they can answer questions about the course and their professional experience, or add an option where they can write a little bit about themselves. Another option could also be to use the Location Map. With this, the students can input their locations. This is good to know when teaching a course in which the students are living in various different places around the country (or abroad!). NB: the map might not work that well if all of the students are living in the same place.

A few keywords worth remembering when you’re planning your online teaching:

  • active participation and problem solving for relevant cases/assignments
  • reflection around the students’ own learning and dialogue within process-orientated activities
  • commitment to their own knowledge-building, progression, collective understanding, and developing their own frameworks of understanding
  • a structured course, clear objectives and subsidiary objectives
  • experiencing relevancy
  • using experiences from their own careers (for further education students)

Sources: Fleksibel utdanning Norge (2017). Kvalitet i nettundervisning – en veileder (p. 14-15).

Planning an online session

Before you get started with your online teaching, you should think about how you’re going to structure the course and semester (Fleksibel Utdanning, 2017). Things to think about:

How can I divide the course content in meaningful modules, and in what order should the students work on these? How can I ensure their gradual and positive progression?

  • What type of learning resources will be required?
  • Will the course content be released gradually in a set order, or will everything be available from the start of the course?
  • What media, platforms and digital tools will be used in distributing the learning resources?
  • How much of the teaching and learning activities will be synchronous and how much will be asynchronous?
  • Will the programme include group activities and cooperative learning?
  • What tools will be used?

In an online seminar, the teaching takes place as one-to-many, and it’d therefore be a good idea to break up the session as you go – for example by using polls or breakout rooms.

Screen and document sharing

While teaching, you can choose whether you want to upload a pre-prepared document, or if you want to share your own screen with the students. The advantage of sharing your screen is that you can make live changes while the students watch (e.g. if you want to demonstrate an arithmetic problem) or if you want to show them a specific program. You can also choose to show them pre-made PowerPoint presentations and pdf files this way. 

Make polls

During your online seminars, you can make use of the Poll function in order to make your teaching interactive. You can make surveys with numerous answer options too, as well as surveys in which the students can type in their own short or long answers. Polls can be useful when you want feedback from the participants, or when you want the participants to answer questions throughout the session. It could also be useful if you want any feedback on the content, presentation and teaching at the end of one of the sessions.

Being a good online tutor requires practice! Here are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Practise beforehand: it may be wise to practise looking into the camera, making sure your volume of speech is steady and the tempo is varied enough. You can practise this before your first teaching session by recording a video of yourself doing a trial run video of the session.
  • Include just as many breaks as you would have done in a normal classroom, making sure they’re as long.
  • If you have a small group of students, you can give them the literature and short video clips in advance, and then use the synchronous sessions to discuss a particular case or assignments.

It may be wise to check this before you get started on your first online seminar

Lighting in the room: It’s a good idea to check the lighting in the room you will be teaching in. Make sure that the lighting in that room is suitable, such that your picture won’t be dark during the seminar.

Background: It is best to have a plain background while teaching. It may be distracting for your students if you have prints and band posters on the walls behind you while you’re teaching. You want the focus to be on you and your presentation.

Sound: Check your sound settings in Zoom before getting started. Even if you checked earlier, we advise that you do this before every session. If you use another computer, or turn the computer off and on again, your settings may have reset. You’re best off checking too many times than too few.