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Online Courses for Connecticut High School Students
June 27, 2017 6:23 AM

Teaching Online


While content is already provided, online teachers get to facilitate the best activities and pacing for students. What has already been done for you is the lecture; it's the online teacher's job to help individual students understand concepts that they don't understand, just as you would help individuals during class work time.

Online teachers answer students'questions via the LMS message system, phone, or live chat. It's a good policy if the teacher sets aside or is appointed time to work on this class to establish at least one office hour per week in which the teacher be available live time online� in which students can communicate with them. It is also important to establish an email response time. A good response time is this: 8 hours for the first week (checking email several times each day), 24 hours thereafter. It is a good idea to create some leeway on the weekends, as well. Make sure the students know what the boundaries are!

For phone calls, let them know when it is appropriate to call you (if at all). If you don't want them calling you at home, don't give them your home number. Do, however, give them your office phone number or a cell number with a good time to call. Some students have a really hard time communicating online. They need to know they can talk with a live human being. Again, give them the boundaries: when can they reach you?

The Online Instructor role is very personalized. You watch for trends in class errors or successes and encourage or re-teach as necessary. You might find it advisable to schedule a class tutoring session (you can archive this session for students who can't make it or you can use a discussion board). Or you might want to start an asynchronous online discussion to help students articulate their understanding of a concept that they seem to be missing. Perhaps you'll want to bring in an activity you've used in the classroom that has helped you teach a particularly difficult concept. For example, the Algebra teachers we worked with when we were deliberating on what content to use for the Algebra class all had different metaphors for teaching the distributive method of multiplication. Please bring your expertise into the online classroom! Don't feel restricted by the content - it's there to take a lot of the burden of instruction off your shoulders, not to stop you from teaching.

Another aspect of being an online instructor is making sure that students overcome obstacles of online learning. Students taking online courses should be at ease with the technology before they are enrolled in an online course, but there are bound to be some psychological and technological hurdles that will need to be overcome in order for certain students to have a successful learning experience. If a student is not turning in assignments or hasn't logged in for over a week, it's a good idea to be proactive -contact them and their onsite facilitator/mentor. Find out what's happened. In many instances, the student has become frustrated by some aspect of the class and has, for one reason or another, simply failed to ask the right questions. If you ask probing questions, there's a good chance you'll be able to find the reason and help the student get back on track.

Just as in a face-to-face environment, your students thrive on the verbal and non-verbal cues of encouragement and support; online students need to feel that you support them and are on their side. Given the environment, these evidences need to be overt. They can range from positive comments on assignments, to email reports (this is how you're doing, good job on this, you can improve on that), emails or phone calls commending them for specific achievements (it's also nice to copy these praise messages to the onsite coordinator/mentor).

Student Support System

Though you may be your students' first point of contact, you are not alone in helping the students in your online courses to succeed. Other resources include the onsite facilitator/mentors for counseling, advising, encouragement, mentoring, and helping to bridge communication gaps between you and the students. Ideally, you'll keep in contact with the onsite facilitator/mentor -report progress, problems, and successes on a regular basis. If you lose track of a student, ask the onsite facilitator/mentor to help you track him/her down and find out what is going on.

In addition, you do not need to know all the answers to your students (or your own!) technical questions. The CTDLC tech support can be accessed by both teachers and students (860-515-3711) or log a ticket here.

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