by Dr. Shanthi Thomas
Covid-19 has introduced several changes into our daily lives. One of the main changes is in the way education is carried out. Online education has become the norm in many parts of the world now. However, as students and teachers of online classes know, there are many difficulties involved in online education. How do we conduct effective online lessons? Read on to understand the top tips for hassle-free online lessons.
First and foremost, get hold of the best possible hardware and software. A good computer and a reliable, high speed internet connection is one of the basic needs for online classes. You have to be ready with a backup internet solution also in case there is an unexpected issue from your internet provider. Another crucial thing to consider is the Learning Management System (LMS) or the video conferencing tool you are going to use. Options include Google classroom, Google Meet, Microsoft teams, Zoom, Webex and Adobe Connect. Although many of these offer a free option, you may require a paid subscription to use all the features available. No matter which tool you select, you have to spend time and energy to learn how to use it properly. View the tutorial videos and read the instructions before testing the functionality by yourself.
One of the biggest problems during online lessons is the attendance. There should be a system to record attendance at the beginning of the lesson, end of the lesson and sometime during the lesson. It is best recorded online onto google forms because all teachers of the same educational institution should be able to view it and see if a student who was present in another class was absent in his own class. This is important because attendance is a huge issue when it comes to unmotivated students. Some of these unmotivated students may be present at the beginning of the lesson, and then disappear after the lesson begins. This is why it is important to take attendance some time during the lesson and at the end of the lesson.
In case some of your students missed your online class, they should be able to catch up with what was taught. The best way to do this is to record your lessons and send to them. They can watch the recorded lecture and learn in their own time. You should record not just for the sake of students who are absent, but also for those students who are slow learners. They should be able to watch your class again and again if they do not understand the first time.
In order to teach confidently, you need to have a sense of security and privacy. Many platforms such as Zoom have had issues with privacy, which have been successfully dealt with. Even so, you need to foolproof your lessons by all means of security such as employing a password and locking your classroom. Also, always make sure that your students’ camera is switched on and they are seen. You don’t want another person taking your student’s place for not-so-good reasons. Most importantly, ask your students to not share your lectures with anyone on social media or otherwise. You should also not share meeting invitations on public forums.
The teacher’s face should not be hidden. A disembodied voice does not command attention. Talk directly to your camera to stimulate a personal connection with students. You should not sit too close to or too far away from the camera. Make sure that the lighting in the room is optimal and the acoustics is good. You should teach from a neat and pleasant background, so remove all distractions from the room from which you are operating.
One of the challenges of online teaching is to hold the students’ attention for an extended span of time. It is unrealistic to expect students to be as attentive during an online class as they are in a physical classroom. To maximize attention, vary your teaching methods: You may start with a ten minute lecture, and then continue with a video on the same topic. This can be followed by a breakout group session and a quiz. Even virtual field trips can be organized for your students.
There are certain ground rules that should be set before online classes start. They include rules on what to do when a student wants to ask a doubt and whether students can mute or unmute their microphone etc. Also, you can ensure a certain degree of discipline and respect by insisting that the language used in the chat window should be appropriate and of accepted standards.
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