As an instructor in an online environment self-reflection is needed in order to improve your teaching style. Here are some ideas that will help you in this process.
As an online instructor you have probably been wondering about your teaching style and technique. In this article we will focus on teacher self-reflection in the virtual environment.
Self-reflection is the process of observing and analyzing your own teaching style in order to improve it. It gives you the opportunity to think about what works and what doesn’t in your online course. Self-reflection is both a collective and dialogic practice.
That is why as you go through this self-assessment process we recommend that you pay attention to three major questions:
- What do you think about your teaching?
- How do your students perceive your teaching?
- What do your peers think about your behavior in the virtual classroom?
Let’s talk about self-assessment.
Make your own evaluation ladder. Think about the areas that you want to analyze and make improvements in. Create your own questions related to the teaching material and objectives, the understanding of your students, virtual classroom management, and your personal behavior during your online course. Always ask yourself what your objectives were, whether you succeeded in achieving them, and what could have been done better or in a different way.
Create a self-reflective journal – Write down and describe all your thoughts about things that happened during your class. This information will give you important insight into how you can improve your teaching style.
Make it a habit to watch recordings of your live sessions and videos and to analyze them. VEDAMO gives you the opportunity to watch playback of every virtual classroom session.
Organize your own teaching portfolio in which you can gather ideas and objectives related to your teaching. You can assemble your thoughts about teaching, all the documentation related to your teaching career, information about your teaching effectiveness, materials that demonstrate the progress of your students, and assessment results and activities. Having all of this information in one place should assist you in improving your teaching.
What do your students think about your teaching?
One of the most important measures of your teaching ability is the feedback that you get from your students. If they don’t understand your material and receive bad grades during your assessments, this shows that something in your work is not up to standard.
Your students would love to give you feedback. Create a quiz or initiate a discussion on the online whiteboard about questions that you would like to ask. Encourage them to comment and discuss without holding anything back. For example, they can use emoticons to demonstrate how they feel about your teaching style and whether or not they understand you. Ask them specific questions.
Ask them to imagine that at the end of your lesson they will have a backpack in which they can add the three most important things that they learned. What will they be?
Another option is to ask a smaller group of your students (ideally, 3-5) to voluntarily give you feedback on your teaching style after each class. You could provide them with a template containing specific questions.
The opinion of your students will also give you feedback on your “social presence,” which measures your ability to project yourself, both socially and emotionally, as a real person in the virtual classroom.
What is the opinion of your peers?
Ask some of your colleagues to join your online course as a hidden observer or invite them to be guest lecturers. Through their professional eye and know-how you will receive qualitative feedback about what needs to be improved and how to go about making these changes. As you did for your students, you can create a discussion on the online whiteboard or launch a quiz with specific questions to assist in the feedback generating process.
After receiving all of this useful information, it is time for you to think and analyze:
- Discuss your findings with your peers and examine solutions together.
- Search the web for useful information on how to improve your teaching style.
- Join an online community and social media groups in order to exchange ideas and to gain new knowledge.
As an instructor in a virtual classroom you have four major roles:
- Pedagogical – You are the person who will lead the students through the material and you will act as an educational facilitator.
- Social – You will encourage and create a friendly and social environment in which your students feel good and are motivated to learn. You will also maintain your group as a unit, facilitate teamwork, and promote successful human relationships.
- Managerial – You are the leader in your virtual classroom and your role is to manage the agenda for learning.
- Technical – You will make your participants feel comfortable with the course’s system and software. The technology used should be invisible and fluent so that the students can focus solely on the learning process solely on the learning process.
As the teacher in an online environment you should encourage student-centered instruction.
As an online instructor you are a real innovator. The virtual environment offers you many opportunities, while also asking you to overcome many challenges. It is time for you to look at your teaching style, to examine your strengths and weaknesses, and to measure your effectiveness as a teacher.
After reading this, what do you now think about your teaching style and how do you think you can improve your online course?