Despite the whole world moving to increasingly-virtual learning experiences, it can be hard to adjust to teaching online. Even for those who have had experience with online learning, there is always room to improve. Drawing on our experience and research, we have compiled tips from a variety of subject experts on how to best capture your student’s attention through a virtual medium.
Feel free to refer to EvolvEd’s User Guide page for more instructions and information on teaching and learning online with our community platform.
1. Familiarize yourself with the platform
Familiarizing yourself with the platform you are using to deliver your lessons is key to flawless transitions between lesson topics. There is nothing worse than wasting precious teaching time trying to understand the basics of how to use a platform, while live in front of your audience! Make sure you understand how you’ll leverage the features of the platform in order to best deliver the content. In most cases, this requires practicing with the tools you plan to use and making sure you know how to troubleshoot when issues do arise.
2. Make a lesson plan
Similar to familiarizing yourself with the platform, coming into each lesson with a plan is important. Start by making a list of topics you wish to cover throughout the lesson. Ask yourself: what do you want your students to get out of the lesson? What are the takeaways?
Once you determine these objectives, you can center your talking points around the learning skills that you want your students to know and understand. After making this plan, it is essential to practice what you are going to say and be prepared for various questions that might come up or ideas that might need to be clarified further.
3. Break content into chunks
Given that learning is largely being practiced virtually due to COVID circumstances, the somewhat new concept of screen fatigue should be kept in mind. Too much time in front of a screen can be exhausting for teachers and students alike. In order to mitigate this issue, breaking content into chunks and giving five-to-ten-minute breaks in between is a good way to keep students attentive.
The University of Michigan conducted research attempting to understand how long students can pay attention at a time. After careful investigation from studies done by the Harvard Business Review and Standford University, they found that for a two-hour class, breaks should be taken every thirty minutes in order to maximize the content absorbed and understood by the students. This same rule of thumb can be applied to more than just university lectures and will benefit students of all ages and interests.
4. Be engaging
People generally retain information better when they are interested in the subject. The best way to keep your students engaged is to be engaging yourself. Your students will feed off of your positive energy and good attitude and will reflect that energy back to you. The best way to achieve this is simply being excited about your content.
Additionally, checking frequently for understanding is another way to be engaging. Checking for this understanding gives your students more opportunities to ask questions and clarify points that may be unclear.
5. Be present
An important part of being a teacher means helping your students inside and outside of structured class time. Being present means sending updates to your students, responding to emails and messages in a timely manner, and giving feedback to your students promptly. It takes a lot more than just class time to adequately prepare your students for success in your class.
6. Be flexible
This is arguably the most important component of being a successful teacher in an online format. Changing to this format offers a plethora of challenges that you most likely have never dealt with before. It is important to recognize that even if you follow all of the five steps listed above, something will still go wrong. It always does. So, be comfortable with adapting to changes and making the most of your class time with what you know. If you adapt and improve by a small amount each time, those improvements will compound and you’ll soon see significant progress.
In the end, the most important thing to remember is that you are inspiring young and old minds through sharing your unique knowledge. Find comfort in knowing that doing your best is the best you can do, and most will be appreciative of that alone!
We hope that these tips are helpful and encourage you to succeed through a virtual format!