Remember that you are already an instructor: you can apply everything that you know about the in-classroom setting to this digital platform. You’re facilitating learning in a new environment which needs to be comfortable for students. Recognize that this might be new for them as well as for you.
In the face-to-face classroom, an instructor strives to create a comfortable learning environment. While doing so online might demand different—or additional—skills, it is equally important.
“Own your message and deliver it authentically”, says one seasoned instructor in the digital realm. Here are some tips for managing students and activity in digital learning environment.
Managing Group Work
- Managing Diverse Groups Online: PDF Version
- How Dimensions of Culture Influence Teaching and Working in Groups – PDF Version
- Tips for Designing and Assessing Multicultural Group Work – PDF Version
Set expectations: In the first few classes or communications, spend time reviewing how the teaching and learning will happen. Setting clear ground rules and expectations create shared understanding and avoid problems that might arise later. Involving students in the development of expectations is a good way to get them on-board and understand what matters to them.
- If you are new to digital learning, tell your students. Whereas you are an expert in the subject, it’s ok to admit you don’t know everything!
- Go through the course outline carefully. Answer questions. Ensure everyone understands.
- Talk about how you will deliver the content, and what the students can expect in terms of communication.
- Set office hours.
- Talk about ‘Digital Citizenship’ (the norms of appropriate, responsible behaviour with regard to use of technology) and students’ rights and responsibilities [link] (see separate info. Sheet).
- Explore the technology with the students. Is it working for everyone? What should they do if the technology isn’t working properly?
Communicate clearly & frequently: Implement early and regular check ups to see how your students are doing.
Build community: Build community. Students won’t interact if they don’t know each other. Think of this step as proactive classroom management. Build community right from the get-go and encourage it throughout the course.
- Engaging with students, rather than just presenting information, can help. Encourage learners to ask questions and solicit participation through frequent engagement—ask poll questions or ask learners to type a response in chat.
- Find ways for participants to learn about each other, to learn about you, and to find commonalities in their experiences
Be Flexible: Focus on the learning. Deadlines are important, but there are situations where we can use our judgement and offer some flexibility.