Online education: tips for teachers

Online education
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Nobody had foreseen such a situation but because of Covid-19 all schools around the world (primary schools, universities or continuing vocational training) have had to switch, if only partially, to online education. . The summer holidays are over and we are once again wondering how online learning can be done in a way that is as easy, efficient and safe as possible for students and teachers.

This article gives 10 tips for teachers to help them get the most out of online learning. We think these tips can also be useful for students so that they know as much as their teachers.

Learn about the tools you will be using

By choosing the tools you will use for your online courses (video conferencing platform, exam service, messaging application, etc.) you are much more flexible. However, it could be that the school where you teach has already chosen them for you.

Either way, you should try to get to know each tool’s capabilities and functions by reading the instructions, learning how to use the interface, and searching the internet for setup guides. For example, we offer you a guide to use Zoom .

If your school or university gives you access to Office 365 or G Suite, for example, ask your administrator for a full list of resources you have access to and can use in class. You may not know of a useful function. Try to get access to them as soon as possible and learn how to use these services.

Understand the rules (and analyze them with your students)

Chances are your school or university has published guidelines for using the services that teachers and other staff have available to them, whether you use them or not. Moreover, this document must also mention the prohibited services. For example, perhaps the school prohibits the use of a personal account for work, or insists that everyone must use a particular messaging application.

You must be fully aware of all these rules and requirements. In addition, you should keep yourself informed of the conditions relating to the use of school materials. You may or may not be allowed to take the laptop you use at school home. You may be able to play solitaire outside your working hours. It should be checked.

Last but not least, inform your students beforehand about the requirements and restrictions that apply to them. It is also advisable to communicate them in writing.

Limit the number of tools

The computer tools you have chosen for your lessons must be easy to use, whether for the teacher or his students. Just because you have more tools doesn’t mean the experience will be better. Before starting lessons, check that you have enough tools available and that all participants involved in the learning process know how to use them.

The school surely has access to a wide range of services. That doesn’t mean you have to use them all (unless your institution requires you to).

If someone manages to get the password for one of the services you use, such as the video conferencing platform, then you have a problem. If you use the same password for the platform where you enter the notes and your reports then your problem is much bigger.

The same rules apply in this case as with any other service. You must have a unique password for each account . Obviously, all your passwords must be complex (long enough and difficult to guess). We are not going to go into details since we wrote a whole article about it .

This is just one example, of course. Nevertheless, a certain code of conduct (preferably in writing) is necessary for virtual classes, just like for traditional classes. By following this code of conduct, the teacher can more easily direct his lesson and the students are less distracted.

If you teach at multiple levels, you may be able to set the rules in one session with all your students, which will save you time. During this session, actively test the code so that students and teachers have the same expectations for this school year.

Even the most reliable services can sometimes experience problems. They could be due to the service provider or your institution’s network. Either way, you need to have a backup plan.

To avoid having to make up for a lesson, check in advance which service the school will use if the default service isn’t working.

For example, if students can’t sign in to Teams at the start of class, should they sign in to Skype immediately or wait for your WhatsApp instructions?

For this system to work you need to know in advance which platform you are on.

E-learning, like telecommuting, has its pros and cons. Some people may not realize that they are expected and log in late.

If ten people are waiting for the missing person to log in to start the class it’s a waste of time. This is why you must absolutely maintain a certain punctuality. If a class is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. start at 10 a.m. sharp. It is best to connect to the video conferencing service a few minutes before the start of the course to check that everything is working well and that everyone has received all the necessary documents.

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