Who doesn't love technology?
It’s safe to say it has made our lives much easier, at least for those who know how to use it and take advantage of it. In the case of learning for instance, the use of technology has opened up a whole new world. Students now have access to all kinds of material and to the lessons themselves through their computers. Online lessons are becoming an ever so popular way to learn and although this is great for teachers, it is also a challenge since teaching on line requires a different set of skills. As the saying goes, “where there is a will there is a way” and believe me, there is more than one way to make your virtual lessons a success.
Here are some great techniques that can help improve your virtual lessons
Use the Following Ideas to Improve Your Online Lessons
Let Them See It
In face to face lessons, students have more tangibles, more things to see and touch. There are books, whiteboards, cards, TVs and more. The use of tangible material in the classroom keeps students focused on what is at hand. Many teachers believe that in virtual lessons the use of a book is enough to solve this issue but, simply having your student follow along in a book will not give them the variety of visual material they may need to feel stimulated. There are other things you can do that will have a similar effect such as introducing digital material. Sharing worksheets, pictures, illustrations, videos and audio, among many other things will keep them busy and motivated. Also make sure to write down all corrections you make and to share them with the student, that way they can have a visual record of what needs to be improved.
It’s Not Only What You Say but How You Say It
Yet another challenge in online lessons is that even when using cameras, students often have difficulties seeing the teacher clearly during online lessons. The issue here is that teachers of English typically rely on body language when teaching. It is one of our biggest assets in the classroom. Although live video image is always an option, very often there are delays in the transmission of sound and image which may lead to problems in the lessons themselves. Students might get distracted and that might affect the whole learning process. So what can we do? The best answer is, camera or no camera, use your voice as your primary tool. After all, body language may not be an option. Change your tone of voice during the lesson, speak faster then slower, speak energetically.
Let Them Do It
As many of you know, people in general learn by doing. Tasks and activities used in the learning process help learners retain content. For this reason, I recommended you use lots of tasks in each lesson. Questions are great too and will certainly keep them on the edge of their seat since they promote critical thinking skills. This doesn’t only apply to online lessons but lessons in general. With online lessons the added bonus is that by keeping them busy they won’t have time to get distracted.
Let Them Know What to Expect
I’m sure you all agree that in teaching, planning is everything. Teachers have to know in advance what they are going to cover in each lesson in order to be prepared. Well, let me tell you, for students it’s not all that different. They should also know what will be covered at the beginning of each lesson. Otherwise, since they can’t see all the material you’ll be using in addition to the book or program you have chosen, they might get the feeling that everything is “up in the air”. By setting clear objectives, they’ll understand what the purpose of that lesson is. So, make a checklist; tell them what they will be able to “do” by the end of that lesson. This will help them realize what they are achieving and how this achievement will help them in real life. Remember, language goals are always related to real life needs.
Make Them Feel Comfortable
Why do students choose online lessons over face to face lessons? Maybe they have very little time to reach other locations to take their lessons or maybe they live and /or work in very remote locations and it is the only choice. The point is, it isn’t always because they want to, sometimes it’s because they have to. Not everyone feels comfortable learning with technology; not seeing the teacher in person can make many feel insecure. Keep in mind that teachers have a social role in the teaching/learning process. It is important for teachers to provide a nurturing and friendly environment where they can communicate and provide feedback. Ask them how they feel, check to see if they are learning everything as they should, perhaps you can use a task to make sure.
It doesn’t take much to be a successful online teacher, just make sure to be organized and put your heart and mind to it!
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