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Your guide to teaching and grading students online for the first time

This year has brought changes to every industry around the world, even education. We adapt and alter everything to accommodate the “new normal,” however, calling it normal doesn’t mean everyone has acclimated yet.

With midterms in full effect and a new semester around the corner, students and teachers alike are anxious. By creating a practical teaching guideline, we at Crowdmark hope that instructors will connect to their students through the course material and our interactive grading platform.

Tips for teaching online

Distance learning has been a common practice for years, but mandatory online education is entirely new. Students using distance learning in the past did so as a choice.

Unfortunately, in the post-COVID-19 world, many students aren’t given a choice, and online learning has become essential to protect our students, instructors, and communities. Now, it’s up to teachers, professors, and instructors to uphold education standards in the new age of remote learning.

Start with understanding

The first tip to teaching online might sound cliche, but it’s crucial for a successful school year. While this may be your first time teaching an online course, it is also likely the first time your students have experienced remote learning. Understanding that your students are just as anxious as you are, maybe even more so, is the first step to building positive teacher-student relationships.

Student talking to a teacher in a video call

Plan for your class

Be prepared! Plan your lesson ahead of time and make sure you have an exact curriculum in place. Teaching online is still a new modality, so being organized in your lesson plans will be vital to teaching online.

Write out each lesson plan before your session starts, and be prepared to work through every section. Remember that these sections could take longer than expected. So, be sure to leave a few minutes of room between each chapter for questions, delays, etc. The more organized you are as an instructor, the more successful your class will be.

Be prepared for technical difficulties

Regardless of how prepared your lesson plan may be, technical difficulties are bound to happen. There are too many variables to predict precisely when or who technical problems will affect. Having a backup plan can alleviate some of the headaches.

Student writing at a desk

Fortunately, there are ways to prepare for these issues and plans you can put in place to solve them if they arise quickly:

  • Hardwire your internet: Use a direct ethernet connection instead of relying on your Wi-Fi. Unreliable Wi-Fi is deadly to any online instruction.
  • Charge your laptop: Keep your computer plugged into the charger during your class to prevent it from running out of battery.
  • Be early: Log on 10-15 minutes before your lesson to load your programs and applications.
  • Restart your computer: Restart your computer every morning to avoid lag or surprise lengthy updates.
  • Record your lessons and session notes: If a student disconnects and misses part of your class, you can send them a copy of the recording rather than re-teaching the entire section. It’s also good practice to provide session notes at the end of each class.

Monitor chat for questions and take Q&A breaks

Encourage your class to communicate during the lesson. Whether that means ensuring students raise their hands or ask questions in the chat.

As the instructor, you can choose when you’d like to respond to these questions. Reading a chat log may be a new experience for you as an instructor. We recommend taking a moment to read through the items every 10 minutes or at each chapter’s end.

Students may ask for clarification on a topic you’ve covered, or you may be able to answer their questions in the next chapter. The chat log shouldn’t distract from your lesson plan. We suggest having a discussion with your students ahead of time about which method you prefer.

Student studying with a textbook outdoors

Tips for grading online school

Grading students’ work can take up more than half of your workweek.

Most instructors find themselves overwhelmed with papers, projects, and exams to grade and give back to their students. If this is your first experience with online grading, we have some simple tips that can drastically improve your grading methods.

  • Make a rubric and stick to it: Use a grading rubric to streamline the evaluation process. Try to stay within the boundaries of the rubric you’ve created to avoid bias or wasting time on something that should be simple decision-making.
  • Organize your TAs: If you’re fortunate enough to have TAs to help with online grading, organizing and setting up a proper grading system will make a world of difference.
  • Divide and conquer: Divide your grading into manageable sections, rather than trying to tackle the whole proverbial pile at once.
  • Give meaningful feedback: Giving meaningful feedback might take longer, but this will help your remote teaching experience. If you provide clear feedback, your students will improve their work for the future.
  • Use a grading tool or grading app: Using a grading tool or app will not only organize your online grading but speed up the process immensely. Keep reading for more information about how online grading apps can transform your teaching experience.
Student reading on a tablet

How grading apps can help online teachers

In this new age of remote learning, online tools have become crucial to both instructors’ and students’ success. Grading apps, like Crowdmark, offer a simple solution to the ongoing issues of traditional education.

One of the chief complaints instructors, and even TAs, have is that the grading process is tedious, especially during exam time. Each year, thousands of exams are distributed, collected, graded, and then either given back or destroyed.

The examination process can be a lengthy process that is frustrating for instructors and TAs. Grading apps, like Crowdmark, allow instructors to upload the exams online and grade them digitally. Instructors can also give access to their TAs and collaborate on the grading process.

Once the instructor grades the exam, students can access detailed feedback and see their exam results without waiting for a physical copy. Crowdmark saves TAs and instructors from carting around hundreds of papers.

Here are some additional ways an online grading app could help you teach online:

  • Improved turn-over time: Students get their results faster, including meaningful feedback.
  • Automatic calculations: Students’ grades get calculated automatically, preventing human error when adding scores together.
  • Capture and export data: Analysis of your students and their successes are captured and exported for easy viewing. Instructors can see a quick snapshot of their class and which students need more assistance than others.
  • LMS integration: Crowdmark is compatible with Canvas, Brightspace, Blackboard, Moodle, and Sakai.

Using a grading app streamlines the grading process and makes each step easier for the instructors, their assistants, and their students. Online grading tools can also be accessed anytime from anywhere, as long as you have smartphones and internet connections.

Crowdmark is essential to any instructor’s arsenal. Get started with us today.