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When it comes to teaching, most people think of a classroom setting where an instructor does a lecture, and the students listen and take notes. Many instructors and schools have already been starting to move this structure fully or partially online. With the Covid-19 crisis, those who can do their job remotely are doing that, and teachers are no exception to that.

Generally, classes can fall into 3 categories: no online interactions, online communications, and full online instruction. In the younger students, more classes fall into the no online interactions, but most classes fall into the online communications area. The goal, during this crisis, is to move classes into a fully online structure; this is not always an easy thing to do.

You may already have a central location that the students receive class notifications or marks. If you’re in the “online communications” zone previously, many of these solutions may be one direction from the instructor to the student, but not student to student. Keep in mind that the students no longer have a classroom to exchange their contact information or just talk about the tests or assignments. If you don’t have this, set one up. The solutions for this are wide and varied, if you have WordPress you can add something like BuddyPress and BBPress, or you can get Google Classroom

Think about the accessibility side of your new setup. What is the minimum technology (Phone, Computer, high-speed internet at home) that a student may have? Are you going to have students who need subtitles on your lecture videos? Is how you’re presenting your lecture going to be easy to pause so the students can take notes? If they have a note-taker, how is that going to work? What if they require visual assistance for your slides, or your video, are you giving that in a format that will work? How accessible is your central communication location? Most universities have a office for special needs, perhaps you should engage them to find out if your online version of the course meets the standards. It’s not ideal if your non-neurotypical student has to hang out outside Starbucks watching your lecture on their 10-year-old iPhone.

Be available to your students. This goes no matter how you are having your classes, but, there are different ways of doing it when you are completely online.

  • Monitor and respond to questions/comments on your central communications system – even if it’s just students publicly talking to each other.
  • Keep office hours, you can do this via Zoom or other video conference solution, but there are a few things to watch out for on this format:
    • If you are giving out URLs to access this, make sure you have security on them. Many stories are out there where URLs for Zoom calls are published on a website and random internet people show up
    • Have a published structure: For example, keep everyone muted and call on people one-by-one, or have people sign up for specific times. You may also want to have questions submitted privately as not everyone is willing to ask questions in front of others.

Kiera is a software developer, instructor, and CTO at Wiley Solutions, the makers of DragonTeach