Here are a couple of easy best practices you can implement to help make your online teaching and distance learning programs a success.

  1. Prepare Your Students (As Best You Can) to Learn Online

  • Never assume:
    • That all students are digital natives and experts. For many students, this may be their first online class.
    • Learning to navigate the LMS (learning management system) and possibly multiple homework platforms can be overwhelming. Try simplifying your student’s experience by offering videos and tutorials on the programs you are using within your course.
  • Let students learn from one another:  
    • The good news is that you don’t have to be the sole person helping your students out. Often the strongest impressions students take away from the course come from their peers.
    • Establish a precedent where students can become the teacher. For example, rather than lecturing to students about McGraw Hill Connect® and online class best practices, create a discussion board post and ask your students if they have taken an online class before and/or used Connect. If so, have them share their suggestions and best practices with their peers. Simple, yet so impactful, and helps take the burden off your shoulders a little.
  1. Don’t Forget LMS Integration

If you are using Connect or ALEKS platforms alongside a school LMS, check with your LMS administrator to see if your institution has the McGraw Hill Education integration tool available. Pairing the two together creates a seamless single sign-on and for many LMS, offers a grade book synchronization. It can also save your students a ton of time and confusion by connecting your assignments and grades into one place.

  1. Vary Your Assignments

Doing the same thing over and over again, just like in a face-to-face classroom, gets boring. 

  • Look for opportunities to try something different:
    • Activities like drag & drops, highlighting, lab simulations, polling questions, and discussion boards can help make your course that much more engaging and the material interesting to learn.
    • Try and see if any (or all) of these assignments can be auto-graded. Adding variety doesn’t mean you have to add extra work to your plate.
  • Try peer review, online discussions, or group activities:
    • If you haven’t already done so in your class before, letting students peer-edit each other’s work or complete assignments as a group is a great way to provide new learning opportunities. Online engagement, in things like discussion boards, also has the bonus of letting students feel more connected to their (virtual) peers in the classroom.
  1. Create Consistent Due Dates

While assignment variety is a good thing, mixing up due dates is not.

  • Create a schedule:
    • To reduce confusion and eliminate surprises, create a consistent schedule, with recurring due dates for all assignments.
    • In doing so, students will become familiar with the routine of when your class’ assignments must be submitted and the volume will seem less overwhelming or confusing.  
  • Set clear expectations with students:
    • Be vocal about when things are due. You can’t overshare this information – shout it from the figurative rooftops.
    • Prominently post the schedule, nearing due dates, and any warning about late work in your online course.
    • Establish your policies about online submissions. If you don’t accept late work or do with reducing point value for late submissions, have that information prominently displayed in your online course shell.
  1. Try Lecture Capture or Virtual Meeting Software

Online learning is great, but sometimes it’s just not a good enough replacement for face-to-face classroom explanations. That’s why lecture capture or online meeting software can be an amazing way to connect with your students.

  • Another great option is to host virtual meetings with your students as a group or 1:1. Zoom is an awesome free online meeting software service that can let you speak to your students directly and answer questions or give more in-depth explanations of previous lessons.
  • Consider also hosting online office hours, where you’re available either by phone, chat, or video conference. This might help students feel more connected but also prevent them from trying to call you at all hours of the day for help.