This document provides key strategies that can help you to teach successfully online. Links to resources for further information are also provided.
1. Organise the unit Blackboard site
Go through the entire BB site well before the session starts.
- Make sure:
- it is easy to navigate
- you understand it, including any learning technologies you need to use
- all the links to work, including quizzes and links to upload assessments
- the organisation of assessment information is logical; separate folders for each assessment and all relevant information in that folder.
- Get a colleague to check the site and ensure the navigation is simple and clear.
- It is worthwhile checking the site on a mobile device as well.
2. Provide meaningful content
- Ensure alignment of content with learning outcomes and assessment tasks.
- Link content to what students need to know for industry (where applicable).
- Contextualise and highlight key concepts/important understandings.
- Connect the content – make sure it flows logically.
- Ensure content is up to date
- Be adaptive, as needed, to support students’ understanding.
- If it is not immediately relevant to the topic, take it out.
- Anything extra, put in a folder called ‘Useful Extra Resources’.
3. Create a teacher presence
- Provide online office hours and let students know when you will be available for online chat.
- Engage/interact with students via live chats, discussion boards or emails.
- Respond in a timely manner.
- Check the discussion board daily, more as needed, monitor and respond to the conversations.
- Refer to students by name
- If children, animals, bird calls and the like are in the online chat briefly and by accident, don’t worry, it shows your humanity and encourages a feeling of connection.
4. Avoid cognitive overload
- Keep your lectures and presentations short.
- Chunk content into digestible pieces.
- Present the information in a way that flows and engages your students.
- Use short sentences and active verbs.
- Remove extraneous information.
5. Use a variety of instructional methods
There are a variety of delivery styles that provides students with content. A lecture is only one of them. Be creative. For example, you could create a story that links ideas together using short videos and text. You can use scenarios or case studies. Mix it up.
- Design engaging and interactive learning activities, where students actively participate in their learning.
- Provide opportunities for students to practise what they are learning.
[SCU version] ABC design cards (Coming soon)
6. Guide student learning
- Provide clear instructions around activities and learnings.
- Set clear expectations around what students should do to engage.
- Have opportunities for feedback so students know how they are going.
- Scaffold difficult tasks and assessments, including models, exemplars and templates.
- Identify academic skills required for assessments and provide just in-time learning opportunities, embedded in the curriculum.
- Direct students to technical and learning support, particularly at the point where they may be needed (Learning Zone, Technical Services).
7. Foster interaction and communication among students and teachers
- Give students a voice – empower them to be able to contribute and share their ideas.
- Ask questions of students to check their understanding and adapt/ review content as needed:
- Provide synchronous sessions so students can just ask questions and get clarification when they are confused.
- Also have asynchronous information that they can access anytime so students can study when it’s convenient for them.
- Provide opportunities for students to actively engage with the content and each other:
- Use discussion boards effectively.
- Provide live discussion opportunities.
- Set up online study groups.
8. Provide clear expectations for assessments
- Provide a rationale for the task – let students understand the logic of your assessment.
- Give clear instructions on what needs to be completed and explain your expectations (this will include a clear rubric).
- Helpful hints, including templates and exemplars, are be useful.
- Terminology needs to be clear and consistent. Give students explanations of assessment terms they might misunderstand (e.g. ‘critically analyse’, ‘reflect’, ‘evaluate’).
- Make explicit connections between unit content and assessments.
- Inexperienced students need assistance in how to approach the task. It may help to have an online pre-assessment class or a discussion board forum for Q & A around the task.
9. Provide meaningful feedback
Feedback supports students to identify gaps in their learning, what needs to be done and how to improve their performance. Ideally, feedback should be quick, positive and constructive.
- Provide opportunities for formative feedback. This can include:
- informal – ask students question to check understandings
- formative assessments.
- Link feedback to examples and resources.
- Feedback on summative assessments should be personalised and encouraging, easily understood, identify students’ strengths and areas for improvement, and provide learning opportunities.
- Build in learning activities for students to review and reflect on summative feedback.
10. Use strategies for continuous improvement with your teaching
- Seek peer review before and during delivery.
- Seek informal and formal student feedback, during and after delivery.
- Reflect on feedback and make changes.
- Seek support from experienced colleagues to improve your online teaching practice.
If you need help with any aspect of your online teaching practice please contact the Centre for Teaching and Learning at email@example.com, and with technological aspects of your teaching contact Digital Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org