Advice from 4 Online Educators for Hosting a Successful Course

We know that change can be hard, and a lot of educators are facing the sudden challenge of transitioning face-to-face classes into an online format in the middle of the semester. Our goal is to provide resources to help during this challenging time, so we’ve called in the experts. 

We asked instructors who have taught in an online format for some time to share their most valuable words of wisdom and advice for others that may be newer to the challenge of a distance learning environment. 

We hope that these tips will help ease the transition into a virtual classroom environment.

Peter McCandless – University of Nevada – Las Vegas

  • Make it as simple as possible for the students to comply with your instructions, to do assignments and exams, and to return documents to you.
  • Make yourself available by phone. Yes, there are video conferencing tools, like Skype, Zoom, Webex, etc., but the good ‘ol fashion telephone is a way to explain something quickly that could take many paragraphs in an email. I suspect at many colleges and universities, there is a way to forward calls from your office phone to your home or cell phone so that you don’t have to give those private numbers out. I believe students are less intimidated to talk on the phone then through video chat (but they certainly have their place).

Laura Roselli Insall – East Central College

  • My number 1 tip is to provide clear, consistent and frequent deadlines to students.

Kathie Lennertz – Fort Hays State University

  • [Follow] as closely as possible, the assignments and pacing to those of the in-person class.
  • Also, professors should be communicating with their students on a very frequent basis. I put weekly deadlines in announcements and then follow up by personally emailing any student who does not submit the assignment. I also have used Skype, Zoom and telephone calls to talk one-on one with struggling students.

Paul Rokicky – Cuyahoga Community College – Western Campus

  • #1 piece of advice: Make sure the students know that the step-by-step solution can be used to help explain problems.  Many students watch the video and read the learn on Hawkes and still do not understand how to do the problems.  Many students have told me they understand the examples when they use the step-by-step solution.
  • #1 tip for success: Keep in contact with your students.  I send a personal e-mail to each student at least every two weeks.  If they are doing well, I let them know this and to keep up the great work.  If they are falling behind, I give them encouragement and ask what I can do to help.

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