The Ultimate Guide To Becoming A Better Online Teacher

There is always room for improvement when teaching. By investing in your own development you will build reflective skills and improve your practice in the virtual classroom. Growing as an online teacher can be hard unless you have a plan and clear goals.

The Importance Of Being A Lifelong Learner

Learning does not end when you become a teacher. On the contrary, it is just the beginning of the journey. Teaching is a job that requires lifelong learning, which is just as important for your students as it is for yourself.

David Kolb developed a lifelong learning model in 1984. Kolb’s theory works on two levels: a four-stage cycle of learning and four learning styles. Learning involves the acquisition of abstract concepts that can be flexibly applied to a range of situations. Furthermore, the will to develop new concepts is provided by new experiences. Kolb’s 4 learning styles include:

  1. Concrete Experience – a new experience or situation is encountered
  2. Reflective Observation – connects the experience with understanding
  3. Abstract Conceptualization – a modification of an existing concept
  4. Active Experimentation – new ideas are applied to see the results

In other words, incorporate the learning pattern of Kolb to ensure you stay on top of your teaching possibilities.

Find Your Areas For Professional Development

Learning is a continuous process that involves interactions between people and their environment. Furthermore, learning creates knowledge based on the union of social and personal knowledge.

In order to continue your professional development, it will be good to figure out your areas of expertise. For example, to develop yourself as a lecturer you may consider going through the following:

Concrete experience – find a coach to guide you in your teaching adventure
Active experimentation – use other people’s methods until you find your own teaching style
Reflective observation – learn from the best practitioners
Abstract conceptualization – read a lot and compare different methodologies

Discover The Use Of Communities

An online learning community can be either a public or private organization. It serves to meet the needs of e-learning professionals. Moreover, it facilitates peer-to-peer learning. These communities are a great place to maintain your educational level, to share ideas, and to discuss common educational objectives and teaching practices. Some of the categories in e-learning communities include social networking, online universities, blogs, etc. Three of the top Google+ e-learning communities are:

  1. Instructional Design & E-Learning Professionals’ Group
  2. Technology in Education
  3. EdTech

Create a plan for development

The professional development plan (PDP) includes goals, strategies, and outcomes of learning and training. It is useful in order to position yourself as an online teacher. Plus, it focuses on certain developmental perspectives.

Plans will vary between individuals. Different learning activities include formal or informal training, reading, meetings, practice, etc. Furthermore, it is good to include the development of new skills. In the end it will result in meeting your ultimate career goal.

The professional development plan is a process. It includes defining what is important to you, your goals, strengths you already have, and the desired action to develop.

When creating your plan consider the following steps:

  • Review – Think about where you want to be? What do you want to develop? Also, what are your goals? Finally, what are your areas for development?
  • Plan – For your area of development try to answer these questions: What are your learning and development needs? What resources do you need? Who can help you? What is the time schedule?
  • Action – Improve the performance of your current organization or progress on your own.

Tips for becoming a better online teacher

Here are some tips to incorporate in your online course. These exercises will help both you and your students improve. Consider the following practices in the virtual classroom, all of which are ways of incorporating fun into the learning process.

  • Discussions
    It can be about a picture, video, or even a text. The main point is to illustrate the main concept. Ask questions and don’t settle on one correct answer.
  • Games
    Plan a game (try Hangman or Wheel of Fortune) for the end of a section and demand different skills from your students. You may also benefit from using role-playing techniques.
  • Polls
    Polls are useful when you want a point to be remembered or as an introduction to your online activity. Stick to either facts or the opinion of the audience. Later you can reveal the content.
  • Chats
    Depending on the technology you use you can post multiple chat pods on the screen. The idea is to place a question for a discussion. This is useful when you want to stimulate the activity levels of the students.

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Tanya Ilieva has strong experience in journalism, advertising, creative copywriting and digital marketing. She has a PhD in Graphic design from Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication in Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Some of her creative works in advertising has been rewarded both in Bulgaria and abroad. Her fields of interest include: philosophy of language, semiotics, visual metaphors, linguistic.
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