How do we prepare for the shift to online teaching? 

As schools navigate how to teach during a pandemic and we become increasingly aware that there isn’t a clear break in sight, remote learning has moved from an exception to the rule. This change requires teachers to invent new ways to hold students’ attention online while parents similarly scramble to fill the social void children face with social distancing. Tutors and educators are adapting their position and accessibility to their students, while institutions are forced to mitigate financial cutbacks in the education sector.  The demand for digital education has outpaced educators’ expertise.


Although online education served a small percentage of American children prior to March 2020, ‘distance learning’ in higher education had gained legitimacy in major universities (Washington Post – ‘After gaining legitimacy, can online higher education replace traditional college?’). As online learning becomes not just possible but necessary for all levels of education, new streams of income and career advancement are surfacing. The ‘brick to the click’ shift in teaching means that our traditional “knowledge providers” — teachers, tutors, therapists, coaches, etc. — need to develop a new set of tools to maximize their effectiveness in the digital classroom.  Here are 5 power tips on how to prepare for teaching online:


  1. Simplify Your Curriculum. Online lesson plans are much more focused on self-directed assignments and learning, therefore, proper planning upfront is critical to the success of distance learning. Your student/clients will assess your course materials, deadlines, and online support flexibility against their schedule before committing to your course.  Be sure to have your syllabus prepared with very clear instructions and require a minimum of paid support resources, ideally one or two.


2. Prepare and Master Your Technology. Invest in the right hardware and software to give your clients a seamless digital experience. You will need a strong internet connection (check, a portable device like a phone or tablet, and the best platform to suit your needs. There are many available options. Ourglass, for example, is a mobile app that enables regular social interaction often lacking from many online lesson plans with the ability of pro-rated charging for 1:1 sessions that run overtime. Whichever one you choose, you will need a single digital platform that keeps things simple. 


3. Prioritize Stimulation In Your Assignments. Digital courses are run differently than classroom courses. Digital requires a higher level of detail with more time to plan, and failing to do so can leave your course feeling cold and mechanical. So prioritize engaging your students and clients in discussion and participation around your course material. Don’t be shy asking for perspective and opinions to actively pull your clients into engagement. 


4. Motivate Your Clients With Regular Communication. In the digital space communication is paramount, so it’s important to maintain a healthy and consistent online presence. Be sure to introduce yourself and give your students and clients the opportunity to introduce themselves to each other. Each student and client should know how best to contact you outside of online sessions. Your students and clients will miss the human connection the most when reflecting back on their standard educational experience. So in being proactive with this steady communication, you you are creating  personalized touchpoints with your clients. You can create these through social network groups, comments on shared documents, emails, video messages, etc. Once you have established your best channels of communication, follow through with a consistent frequency and your clients will greatly appreciate it. 


5.   Actively Request Client Feedback. The feedback given from your client base is some of the most valuable feedback you can receive. A student or client who has attended your course most likely has attended online courses before, and that experience can help inform the quality of your material forward. They can inform you of the positives and negatives of the overall experience. Also requesting their feedback also shows an additional level of respect in valuing their opinion. Education is a field of “sharing” so these connections can turn out to be priceless in your development as a knowledge provider. 


Are you ready to take the online teaching plunge? 

The reality is online education is quickly becoming the global standard in this realm in the digital age. Some people may choose to ride the wave surfs up, while others may be swallowed by it. In either case there is clear evidence that it is a growing market for knowledge providers on an international scale, thanks to the accessibility of modern technology. The potential is there to influence a volume of students that you would never have the opportunity to reach in a traditional class or business setting. While it may not be the simplest platform to digest, it is a fairly new platform  meaning there are multiple lanes to success. Do your due diligence with continued research and you just may find yourself ahead of the class and the curve. For more insights on navigating through these tough times, check out  [ Forbes: Why 2020 Will Be Online Educations Biggest Year ].


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