Communication – The Achilles Heel of Online Learning

MacBook Pro

Blogging on LinkedIn has been an amazing experience. Each time I have posted on LinkedIn, my website has seen an unusual amount of traffic. Below is a post I originally shared on my blog in 2013. Looking back on older posts makes me realize how far I’ve come as a writer.

Online Education

 you ever contemplated teaching online? While teaching in an online environment may appear to be difficult, transitioning to the virtual classroom does not have to be as cumbersome as you might thinkUsing a systematic approach, I transitioned into teaching online without feeling overwhelmedand I think you can too!

Keep it simple stupid!

After months of honing my craft, I decided to reassess my entire approach to online instructionThe allure of the emerging educational technologies hindered my growth as an online instructorand something needed to changeAttempting to learn the ins and outs of each new technology were overwhelmingand the excitement was distracting me from the bigger picture.

Throughout my transition into the world of online education, I failed to solidify a technology adoption plan. Without clearly defining my pedagogical approach to adopting new technology, I began adding new tools to my teaching repertoire without identifying meaningful ways to use them. Not only was I deploying new technology haphazardly, I wasn’t properly training my students how to use the technology. This approach caused my students unnecessary stressand I ended up creating more work for myself.

Educational technologies are constantly changingand it does our students a disservice when we deploy teaching tools just because they are the next best thingInstead of focusing on the toolsteachers should be focusing on what knowledge they are relaying to their students

Communicate Expectations

When teachingespecially online coursesit is imperative that educators clearly communicate their expectations. Course expectations are usually in the syllabusbut regularly scheduled reminders are important in keeping students on task. Online learning does produce some barriersand students should be made aware of these potential stumbling blocks on the front end. At the beginning of each term, I share this EDUCAUSE article with my students and have them reflect on the reportIt is importantespecially for first-time online learners, to have a clear understanding of the course expectations.

Create Dynamic Content

Uploading a static document is not enough to engage students in an online learning environmentStudents want to consume engaging content throughout their online learning experience. There are various tools teachers can use to create engaging videos, two of my favorite involve my MacBook Pro and iPad.  You can find examples of both technologies here. Not only do I create content for each week‘s lessonand I often make short tutorial videos based on the feedback I receive from my students.

Communicate via Social Media

Students may not contact their instructor for a variety of reasonsbut we can overcome this phenomena by using several different communication (social mediachannelsIt is not uncommon for my online student to send me a textmessage me via Google Messenger, Facebook, Twitter, or Voxer. I’m not suggesting that online teachers must use all of these communication tools in order to teach successfully online. Standard email correspondence might not adequately engage the studentand as educatorswe have a responsibility to meet students where they are.  Meeting students where they are, will help build meaningful relationships with our students.  Establishing strong relationships will have a huge impact on student success.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of the competencies that online teachers must possessNor are these suggestions limited to the online learning environmentFace to face instructors can adopt these tools and integrate them into their classroom pedagogy.

What do you think? I’d love to get your feedback.



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