Published on 2013/07/24

Three Steps to Prepare to Teach Synchronously Online

Three Steps to Prepare to Teach Synchronously Online
Synchronous online instruction can be very different from face-to-face instruction, but with a few simple strategies, educators can make the transition much easier on themselves.

As more courses and programs are moving to the online environment, adapting to this medium becomes more challenging when adding synchronous sessions or courses to the mix. In some cases, full programs are offered synchronously online.

Here are a few things to consider when the opportunity to teach in this environment comes your way.

1. Reconceptualize parts of your course

Think about flipping some (or all) of your course content so you have discussion during your session instead of presenting content, for example. This will help students engage in more depth with the material being taught and will allow the classroom session to be more thought-provoking and interesting.

2. The importance of building community

Research suggests building community in an online course is one way to increase motivation. Since synchronous sessions or courses are also online, allowing learners to interact with each other as well as the instructor in real time can help build community. Learners have the opportunity to get to know their peers, which can provide them with internal supports to learning as well as motivation. Motivation can lead to increased engagement with the session or course material. Building community can be done through icebreaker activities as well as small group discussions.

3. Be prepared

You may be a seasoned instructor, but teaching in a synchronous environment is very different. Being prepared can include scripting your session from start to finish, but still being flexible to student needs.  Practice is also part of preparation, especially if you are new to this environment. Ask one or two of your colleagues to sit in on a practice session. This option is really helpful if you know someone who has presented in this environment. But even if they haven’t, your colleagues can still provide great feedback on what they thought worked and didn’t work.

Of course there are other challenges when teaching synchronously online, and there are a number of different resources available on the web that provide insights into how to teach synchronous web sessions.

However, by taking these simple steps to heart, it can lessen some of the challenges a first-time instructor may face in a synchronous session. Experience is a great help when teaching online and, like all forms of teaching, you improve as you teach more classes.

Theresa Gilliard-Cook will be discussing synchronous online instruction in more detail this September at the annual NUTN Network conference in Albuquerque. To learn more about the NUTN Network conference, please click here

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Readers Comments

Anthony Day 2013/07/24 at 2:07 pm

Many of these elements, I think, could be successfully integrated into face-to-face courses as well.

Francis Beyer 2013/07/25 at 9:20 am

You can’t overstate the importance of being prepared when teaching online. The Internet has given students unprecedented access to various viewpoints and a multitude of resources, meaning they are likely verifying all of the content you present through third-party sources — often times, as you’re presenting it! It’s important, then, to be prepared for a greater level of scrutiny of your ideas and your teaching than what you might be used to in a more traditional class setting.

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