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Successful Online Learning - Beyond the Pandemic Part 1

As in-person instruction returns around the world, there are continuing questions about what normal will look like in the Fall of 2021. In Canada, the US and the UK most certainly, the university experience will include more face-to-face interaction, but many educators and students are left waiting to hear the extent to which in-person and hybrid options will be available.

Whether in class or online, successful instructors are likely to apply the lessons from the past year to their future courses. While there are many takeaways from the past 12-14 months, some of the most notable experiences show how face-to-face and online teaching methods can complement each other.

In this blog series, we explore a few crossover techniques for enhanced learning. We share foundational online teaching techniques and look to the future of technology in higher education. We begin in this first post by discussing teaching techniques for remote learning.

Foundations for successful online learning

Technical issues and lack of engagement present challenges in an online educational environment. Strong attention to these two areas is key to developing online teaching skills.

Three major teaching practices for the virtual classroom set the foundation for a successful online learning experience:

  • Plan – decide, in advance, how to facilitate discussion and how to handle technical difficulties.
  • Facilitate – instruct in an environment you feel comfortable in, be cognizant of time, and engage students in participatory activities.
  • Archive – share recorded class materials in a way that is easily accessible.

Remember that remote learning can require extra effort to encourage students to engage in conversation. Technology can help. In-app chats and discussion boards can be utilized to keep the conversation going, even when cameras and microphones are off.

In-person strategies for online learning

Though online courses offer a different experience than traditional face-to-face learning, there are strategies for in-person learning that can be applied to online engagement.

Effective in-person strategies that instructors can use online are outlined below:

  • Discuss concepts – begin class with a student-led discussion of concepts previously covered in class.
  • Poll students – pose a question via polling software to spur engagement with course material.
  • Encourage reflection – conclude class with a brief reflection exercise conducted in small groups.

Make learning the focus of every online experience. Reinforce concepts and involve students in conversation with thought-provoking questions and group conversation.

Methods for efficient online grading

Even after you master the online teaching foundations, online assessments for students can be cumbersome. These strategies for online grading will help you increase your marking speed:

  • Segment work – plan to mark only a small portion of assessments in one sitting. Do not expect to grade all assessments at once.
  • Focus feedback – give feedback that focuses on the issue underlying a student’s academic challenge, and be succinct.
  • Digitize grading – use grading tools, like Crowdmark, to create a bank of comments and annotations that can be reused.

When you develop and follow strategies for efficient marking, you can reduce the time you spend on grading and spend more time on facilitating learning. These methods for efficient grading can also be used in the in-person environment.

As with the use of efficient grading methods, other online teaching techniques can be transitioned into the in-person classroom. In the next part of this series on transitioning education beyond the pandemic, we will explore lessons that online teaching provides for the in-person classroom.

Continue exploring education beyond the pandemic: read Successful In-person Learning, part two of this four-part Beyond the Pandemic series.