5 Challenges and Opportunities of e-Teaching
I’m going to draw on my personal experience for this one and the challenges and opportunities will certainly vary by industry and the type of course you teach. My experience is also based on what I call hybrid e-Teaching, which is that online class is conducted during the same hours as real-life class would be. So we are synchronous in real-time, but students can still complete work outside of class time.
1.) Engage Your Students!
To many instructors this will seem to be the obvious course of action but what does it mean? It means to engage them in learning, conversation and Active Learning techniques. And more importantly to be an excellent facilitator and support. One of the most frustrating things many students report is “being ghosted” by absentee faculty and instructors. Make sure you are present during your online class, respond promptly to queries whether in chat or by e-mail. It makes a huge difference in students knowing you are truly there for their benefit and support.
2.) LMS (Learning Management System)
The Learning Management is either the heart of your success, or heart of student frustration. Understand that tools like Microsoft Teams are not purpose built Learning Management tools. Trust me, I know from the student side that it just doesn’t work.
What you need is a fully integrated solution like Moodle, that makes it easy for students to learn. This means that it’s easy to figure out what’s going on. There are specific sections to see content, assignments, quizzes and to check your grades.
If your system doesn’t have that and you are using Zoom or Teams, you are causing your students distress and frustration. If you don’t have an LMS make sure you get your institution to set one up or even consider hosting your own.
3.) Digitize Your Content
I have seen this from the student end, just how difficult it is with poor quality cameras and low resolution video conferencing over services like Teams that it is impossible to learn if an instructor is showing you a book or paper on the screen. Do not do this! You will nauseate and frustrate your learners no matter what level they are at and this also contributes to students not learning anything.
Many instructors who are using printouts don’t need to do much. Find the digital copy and go over it by using screenshare. If you have important content that is in paper form then you need to get it into digital format such as PowerPoint. In the worst case you could also consider scanning it and doing it that way.
So make sure your content is being taught digitally whether it is a Word Document, a website, a PDF, a PPT that you go over with your students rather than a physical paper or book.
4.) Student Motivation
Motivation can come from many areas, but a big factor is what you as the instructor do to motivate students. Do you tell them engaging and interesting stories that directly related to the content and learning outcomes? Do you use fun and engaging tools to keep the students interested?
It’s up to you as an instructor to build a strong, healthy online community of learners. Make sure you engage the class, individuals and have them engage each other in discussion and class exercises.