Things to consider when teaching online

Last changed: 18 September 2023

Now that we all have to teach online so that students do not need to come to campus, there are some things to consider.

Create a clear structure

When teaching is conducted online and students are mainly working from home, courses and course sections need to be very clearly organized. Often, experience shows that organization is very important in all online teaching.

Give clear instructions

Detailed syllabi with schedules, instructions, and dates for deadlines, synchronous video meetings, etc. are extremely valuable. When students are sitting in different locations, they may also need help setting up collaboration opportunities with other students. If students are expected to work in groups or give each other feedback on written or other work, they may need clear guidelines for how this is expected to occur.

Activate your students

When teaching online, it is more difficult to hold students’ attention for longer periods of time. Therefore, consider having shorter teaching sessions with planned pauses for questions or discussions among students. Another pedagogical concept that works well by distance is “flipped classroom”, where students can watch a filmed lecture, read texts, or write something that will be submitted for others to read. You can use the time during online meetings for whole-class discussions, group discussions, or other group work. It is easier for students to stay focused if they themselves are active.

Accommodate special needs

When making a sudden shift to online teaching—which is now the case for most—teachers need to pay extra attention to students with special needs. Which adaptations of teaching or which special solutions will be needed for these students? Structure can be especially important. It may even be useful to provide extra time for different tasks.

Another consideration is to not have online meetings that are very long. It can be difficult to stay concentrated online, as there are many things that can distract us when we sit at our computers. Avoid sudden changes, even if you wish to address current events or issues. Provide texts that should be read in advance so that those who need time to read do not need to do it during the lesson. Also, test your sound and video before your start teaching online.