7-Step Guide For Efficient Online Teaching

Read on for some quick easy tips and an extensive executable lesson plan at the end
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Any social scientist worth their salt is going to give you the same analysis on the future of education - online and connected. The pandemic has created a new version of reality for us. And history is witness, every time a society develops, one of its foremost questions is on how it's going to handle the education of its youth.

Well, the world leaders are going to take their time to develop the best approach for that. But as a new teacher looking to navigate this time with panache and ease, we got you covered!

Read on for some easy tips and an extensive executable lesson plan to maximize your efficiency while teaching online: 

1. Identify and establish your Core 4

Educator Jeff Utech has coined this the “Core 4.” This includes the following:  

  • A learning management system (LMS) such as Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Schoology, or Brightspace. 
  • A backbone to your LMS such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or One Drive, in which all the content is created and resides. 
  • A tool for synchronous teaching and learning such as Google Meets, Microsoft Teams Meeting, or Zoom. 
  • A tool for asynchronous teaching and learning such as Screencastify, Screencast-O-Matic, or Microsoft Stream. 

2. Engage personally with your students

Online teaching is a great opportunity for educators to reinvent the wheel, and reclaim the learning from education. The most important step to take in this direction is personal engagement with your students.

Make an emphatic effort to accommodate different personalities and learning needs. In a culturally diverse country like India, a good teacher should be aware of the digital divide and go out of her way to excuse and include students who cannot be online 24x7. This understanding can come only if individualized relationships are fostered and nourished. 

3. Take charge, make plans, but don't micromanage

If you are reading this, you already belong to the limited few who go out of their way to read up on how to make learning fruitful for their students. The mean alternative is expecting compromises from everyone and creating a classroom system that is chaotic and anxiety-inducing.

Don't do that. Take charge. And think of ideas that empower your students instead of leaving them distressed and confused. Be an enabler. The pandemic has been enough of a destroyer.

4. Communicate with the students

This includes communication with the students and with their guardians too in the case of children and teenagers. Make them the part of the plan you have for them, but don't divulge too many details so that they are not overwhelmed. Be aware that yours is not the only course/class they are dealing with.

5. Exploit the vastness of technology

The scope for this has expanded massively during the pandemic. Museums and art galleries all around the world offer virtual tours you can take with your students. Presentations, online videos, interactive games, and projects - the possibilities are immense!

As a teacher, don't try too hard to emulate the physical classrooms and learning methodologies of old. Embrace the power of technology and compensate for the physical distance by personal engagement as much as possible (point 2 above).

6. Human engagement beyond the classroom by call experts

It doesn't have to remain between your students and you anymore. You can invite industry experts from miles away to give insights to your students. You can also tap into the expertise of students' families. For example, inviting the author of a book you've been reading in class or the mother of a student who is a literature professor to comment on it.

7. Be Creative

This essentially sums up what I have been trying to emphasize in the entire article. Move beyond whatever you know and prioritize the needs of your students over any traditional idea you have about education. Here is a lesson plan along with some interesting online tips and tools to get you started:

Common video lecture

  • Use any video calling application like Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams for the main lecture series that forms the backbone of your schedule. Plan these lectures well and as a teacher, know exactly what you are looking to cover in them.
  • Before starting, give your students a break of about 5-10 minutes to socialize and share with each other and you. Try to keep this conversation as far from your course and syllabus as possible.
  • Don't be strict and rigid about obtaining responses in a video lecture. Excuse students for not wanting to turn their videos and audios on at ALL times. Give leave for issues like connectivity, intrusive family, etc. 
  • Almost the entire onus to obtain maximum productivity at this step lies on you. Make lectures as engaging as possible. Being entitled and hoping that students listen to you just because you are a teacher and hierarchically above them won't work.
  • Diversify. Use presentations, online videos, images, and photographs, interactive games, and quizzes to be engaged in during the lecture and of course, the chat option. Zoom allows you to display and screen-share a whiteboard, so make diagrams and charts, whatever keeps the students hooked.

Feedback in the online mode

  • Here is when you transfer the baton to the students. Fuller and more active responses can and should be expected now.
  • Use pre and post-lecture quizzes. Try to keep them upgraded as much as possible. You can use testing features on Google Classroom for this purpose. The short-answer template and the MCQ features are especially useful. Google Forms remains another interesting option. Apps like Edmodo are also sufficiently helpful.
  • Be open for individual engagement via phone calls, voice notes, texts, emails, and comments as much as you can be. In a physical space, students find it easier to stop the teacher in the corridor and ask a really silly doubt, which sometimes turns out to be really important. Be accessible enough for the students to feel comfortable doing that in the online world as well.
  • All this is not to say that you, as a person, should not create your boundaries (by, for example, using separate contact details for work and personal purposes) wherever it is needed. Take care of yourself, so that you can take care of your students better :)

Assessment in the online teaching mode

This is where maximum innovation is required. In times of constant digital presence, we need to rethink our ideas of 'cheating' and 'discipline'. For example, a school conducted its half-yearly examination by asking the students to turn on their webcams to prevent them from looking at their books.

This is so inefficient since anyone can easily position their camera in a way that still allows them to 'cheat'. Instead, a home assignment with application-based questions that are not answered in any book would have been a better attempt at assessing a student's caliber. 

Here are some other ideas for new kinds of assessment that don't rely on rote learning and constant vigilance:

  • Group projects
  • Watch a YouTube video relevant to the topic of class discussion and compile a report on various kinds of opinions expressed in the comment section.
  • Write an Instagram post explaining to your followers what you learned today in class.
  • Quizzes that rely on a thorough reading of a chapter rather than those that can be answered by a quick Google search. 
online class

The nuances of this lesson plan can be tweaked according to individual course needs. But in terms of getting maximum productivity while preserving the mental health of yourself and your students, this is exhaustive. This is a time for the world to reinvent itself, and like most big changes, it will start with the teachers. 

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