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Teaching online: avoid these mistakes in 2021

In the past year, teachers and trainers were forced to find their way in the world of online education. Maybe it was a fun new experience for you, testing the latest teaching tools and experiencing the benefits of online teaching. Or maybe you got completely lost because you had no idea where to start or how to keep in touch with students and maintain the quality of your education.

No matter how you look at online education, you’ve probably had a lot to do with it already and in 2021 the online classroom will be used a lot as well. Over the past year, students have shown some understanding when online teaching has not been entirely didactic or technically smooth. After all, it was a period of trial and error for everyone. Now that you have been practicing online teaching for a while, there are a number of things you can’t really do wrong anymore in 2021. In this blog, Sophie Smit, LOL consultant at Learning Connected, explains the common mistakes in online teaching. And more importantly, she gives you tips on how to avoid them and how to increase the quality of your online lessons and the learning pleasure of your students.

Mistake 1: Enter the online classroom when the class starts

Make sure you are present in the online classroom 15 minutes before the class starts. This will give you plenty of time to prepare your lesson materials and set up the correct participant rights. You don’t want students to see how you’re struggling with sharing a PowerPoint presentation or a student to mute you while you’re talking, do you?

In order to create a safe learning environment, it is important to be the first one present in the online classroom. Make sure your camera is turned on when students come in and welcome them personally. This way the students feel welcome and at the same time, you keep an eye on how they are doing and if they are ready to start. Placing students in a waiting room, as offered in Zoom and some versions of Microsoft Teams, can be a solution. You decide when everyone enters the classroom. Now you can be sure that the students will not enter the class until you’re ready and not still sipping your cup of coffee πŸ˜‰.

Finally, make sure you are the last one leaving the online classroom so that all students have had the opportunity to ask questions.

Mistake 2: You are the only one who speaks

Do you also find it so tempting to speak the whole lesson? Or to put as much theory and information as possible in one lesson? It may sound easy, but it’s not effective. According to the learning model 70-20-10 (Jennings, 2011) 70% of what people learn is learned through experience and practice, 20% through interaction with others, and 10% through formal learning. So it is important that students get to work themselves! Especially in online education, where students wander off faster and it is more difficult to check whether they are following the lesson, playing games, or filling their online shopping cart.

You may be wondering: how to do this right? Interaction and a variety of teaching methods are the keywords for engaging students. Make sure you explain each lesson as little in class as possible and think about how you can incorporate the theory into a fun interactive assignment. Make a quiz, conduct a brainstorm in the chat, use a whiteboard, or let students present themselves. It may help to use external websites or programs such as Kahoot, Mentimeter, Padlet, Lesson Up, or Sendsteps.

Another fun way is to split up the group into subgroups or break out rooms. More and more programs offer this option. Give students clear instructions at the beginning of the lesson and let them work together in small groups on an assignment or project. Meet again at the end of the lesson to discuss the outcomes.

In short, make sure your students work harder than you do!

Mistake 3: Don’t know the buttons in the online classroom

Still can’t find your way around the online learning environment or the online classroom? Then it’s time to change that! Every online learning environment has different possibilities, often with a special focus on education. It’s a waste not to make use of them. So be an adventurer and explore the online classroom by pressing different buttons. Probably you will discover so many new features and possibilities that make online teaching easier and help to create interaction.

Many teachers work with Microsoft Teams. Did you already know that you can open a whiteboard in which you and/or your students can draw and write? That you can let your students control programs on your computer? And you can divide students into subgroups and you can control these groups? That the chat has many functions from gifs and bullet points to tables and markers? And that you have a pointer for your PowerPoint? That you can schedule assignments and quizzes and that students can work on one file at the same time? That you can integrate a lot of other apps into Microsoft Teams? That you can download a list of participants? And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Mistake 4: Don’t pay attention to your online presentation skills

Maybe you don’t really care how you sit behind the webcam, but you need to realize that your students look at you all the time. For them, it is distracting and not very pleasant to constantly see your double chin or a messy bed in the background πŸ˜‰. Check out your online presentation skills. Can you tick off all the points?

βœ“ Make sure the webcam is at or above eye level, not higher than the hairline.
βœ“ Don’t sit too close to the camera and make sure the camera can capture your shoulders and entire face.
βœ“ Check if there are no spots on your webcam.
βœ“ Be aware that the light needs to come from the front and not from the back.
βœ“ Use a neutral or contextual background, such as a wall
βœ“ Dress comfortably and wear something suitable for your audience, avoid clothes with heavy checks or stripes.
βœ“ Look into the camera as often as possible (and not at the video images on your screen).
βœ“ Make yourself comfortable. Sit up straight with a good posture and try to relax.

We wish you lots of luck with live online teaching in 2021!

Do you want to know more about effective Live Online Teaching? Take a look at our training. Or do you wonder what the added value of online teaching and the online classroom is? Then read this blog.

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