There are certain challenges inherent in online education. Many instructors find themselves wondering how to teach online classes, and what they should do differently to ensure that their students learn the material as well as they would in a traditional educational environment. Of course, there are also many potential benefits from online education as well. When instructors are determining how to teach online classes, one of the most important things to consider is communication. It is important that everyone in the course is able to easily communicate with each other, including the students and the instructor, and develop positive relationships.
As you determine how to teach online classes, one of the first issues is the length of the class. A class that is only a few weeks long, or even just a few days, requires different methods than a class that is the traditional 15-week semester length. Shorter classes require less of an introductory period than longer classes. For longer courses, it is generally a good idea to encourage students to post a short introductory blurb on discussion forums so they can get to know each other, as they would in a regular class. This can help to develop the feeling of a learning community.
There are some certain considerations that are somewhat unique to online courses. The first is the amount of time you spend online each week; it is generally important for instructors to log on most days of the week, just to check in and answer questions. Making good use of multimedia also helps students to stay more engaged and interested in the class, rather than simply providing pages and pages of reading, which might make up the bulk of any other traditional class. In addition, is important to be very clear about expectations for students in the course, and specify how grades will be determined.
If you are unclear how to teach online classes, or how successful your methods are, it might be helpful to give students surveys to fill out. This may be done anonymously to ensure honest answers; in a long course, it might be a good idea to do it halfway through the course, or in shorter classes at the end. This may then inspire different methods as you determine how to teach online classes, from different readings, assignments, or rephrased discussion questions to new projects or activities such as group projects.