How to conduct an online learning session
How to teach online via video? Are you confused about how to conduct a live online class? Here is a simple guide on how to conduct an online learning session. Read this article to discover the important tips and necessary tools required to take an online class effectively.
With the advent of technology, the traditional teaching methodologies have started to fade out and the new culture of online education has popped up. The online education has its own pros and cons. As a part of smart learning, many schools, colleges and universities conduct special lecture sessions online with the help of Information and Communication Technology. Some distance education universities also regularly conduct live seminars or classes online. The need for online education and live online classes has increased in recent times as it has a lot of flexibility. The online teaching may become the future of education because it has the power to lift the education to an advanced level. Also, it will be very helpful for the teachers to conduct classes from home especially during any pandemic situation or at times of any other natural crisis.
So, how to conduct an online class? Follow this article and learn about online teaching, the tools required for online teaching and the important tips on how to take an online class effectively.
How to teach onlineInternet is the key to open the door of online education. But to conduct an online class there are many ways available. Here is a list of possible ways to conduct online class
You can prepare notes for a course in the form of a PDF or a slide and upload it directly in a Google Drive, Dropbox or any other cloud platform for the students to access it. Learn how to create a PowerPoint presentation effectively. PDF handouts and PPT slides may explain a subject or a topic in a detailed way but it lacks the live interaction between a teacher and the students. Here, the only advantage is that all the well-prepared notes can be used for future references.
Not every student will have the patience to read the learning materials. So, instead of directly sharing the learning materials like PDF and slides, you can conduct a class via video and share the learning materials later. Video learning is more helpful as it partially gives a feel of sitting inside a classroom and hearing the voice of a teacher. You can either conduct a live online class or record a video and upload it on any online learning platform with transcripts. But when compared to prerecorded video, live classroom session is more powerful as it has many options for the students to interact with the instructor.
How to conduct an online course via recorded videos The best way to conduct online education is through e-learning platforms. The e-learning platform bridges the gap between Subject Matter Experts(SME) and the learners. In general, the e-learning platforms will provide a space for the instructors to upload their course materials. The quality content uploaded by the SMEs or instructors on any topic in any of the e-learning platforms can be accessed by everyone from anywhere in the world. Each e-learning platforms has its own terms and conditions with specific features. Some e-learning websites offer online courses for free and some will request the learners to pay. Through e-learning platforms, you can create and sell courses. The popular e-learning platforms are Udemy, Skillshare, Coursera, Teachable and Coursecraft.
To take classes online, technical skills are required for the instructors as they have to use some hardware and software to record videos and publish it in on the online platform for the students to access it. If you are a teacher who wishes to conduct classes only to your batch of students, then you can use any Learning Management System(LMS).
What is an LMS? LMS is a software that helps you to organize lessons, enrol learners, deliver training and track learner progress. The LMS software can be used for academic training and corporate training. In the academic field, LMS serves as an important tool to offer online learning and distance learning to the students. The academic settings of e-learning system help the instructors to set up a virtual classroom and deliver course materials like text, PDF, videos, multimedia lessons, quizzes, homework and other assignments. Some popular LMS software for academic training are Moodle, Adobe Captivate Prime, Google Classroom, Blackboard, TalentLMS and WizIQ.
If you have decided to conduct an online class through prerecorded videos, then first prepare a course material as per the curriculum using any one of the LMS software. Divide the course into modules, lessons or units. For each module, create a separate video. You can include slides and images to explain the concepts. For creating slides, you can use software like Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple's Keynote. Make sure the recorded video is available in the proper format with good resolution and audio. Try to create a video with minimum duration covering all the necessary points. Students will find it boring if you extend the duration of a video and may skip if it is too lengthy.
The recorded videos can be hosted on the web video platforms like Youtube, GoToWebinar, Amazon S3 or Vimeo. The LMS software also has the option to upload the recorded videos. The hosted videos in other platforms can also be embedded into LMS. Once the video is hosted in any e-learning platforms, then it is available for the students to access the course materials from anywhere at any time with the help of the internet.
How to conduct a live online classConducting a live online class need some technical skills along with the basic teaching skills. The students will be virtually available and you can teach in a regular way like your classroom session. The biggest advantage of live streaming is that you can interact with your students easily and can clarify the doubts then and there. The Learning Management System(LMS) also helps the instructors to live-stream their online class or learning session. Installing LMS API and Plugins in your school or college website will help you to deliver live classes through LMS or Content Management System(CMS) like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc. Using a single ID and password, the users can access the e-learning system and attend the live session.
To conduct live online class, a lot of options are also available. It is not necessary that you need to use LMS or CMS. You can either use video-conferencing tools or live streaming platforms to go live. With the help of the chat options available in the live streaming websites, you can interact with the learners and clarify their doubts immediately. After the end of the session, you can also use Whatsapp or any other group messaging platforms to have an active discussion about the subject topics. Some popular tools and websites that support features like live streaming and video conferencing are mentioned below
Before you live-stream your online class, follow the important steps and the tips mentioned below.
1. Plan and prepare the content
A lesson plan is more important to conduct a class. So, first, create engaging course material. While preparing the content, give importance to the time duration. Try to complete a session within one or one and a half hours. You can split the topic into multiple modules and teach one module per day. Avoid one-way lecture session, try to add interactive activities in between the content and encourage the students to participate. Online class may lead to a lot of distractions, so having interactive activities and QA sessions in the middle of the session will refresh the mind of the students and will also improve their attention. While conducting the session, you can use PPT for an explanation. A live demo on the subject of discussion can also be done to explain the concepts in a more in-depth way. Plan the flow of content in advance and prepare the materials needed for the lecture.
2. Send an invitation for your online class
Time management is much-needed to conduct a learning session. You can use Google Calendar to schedule the class. E-mail notification about the online lecture session will be helpful for the students to join on-time. Sending an invitation e-mail one or two days prior to the session is the best practice. Try to send a reminder e-mail on the day of the session. Sending the invite alone is not enough. As an instructor, you should maintain punctuality. Avoid delays, join the live streaming at the scheduled time.
3. Set up the learning environment
Once the lecture content is prepared and the classes are scheduled, give utmost concentration to the learning environment. Set up a workspace for you to deliver the content. The environment should be friendly and free from external distractions like the noise of Television, Radio, etc.Give importance to the lighting inside the room from where you are going to deliver the content. You can also set up a whiteboard in your workspace and teach in a way similar to the regular classroom session using the board and a marker or you can also use virtual whiteboard like Bitpaper, Miro, Ziteboard, LearnCube, etc. The backdrop of your online lecture session should not be clumsy. Set up a pleasant learning environment which encourages your work behaviour.
4. Check your equipment and internet connection
To live stream online class, a few live streaming devices like high-quality video camera, microphone and high-speed internet connection is necessary. The students will lose interest if your streaming quality is poor or if any technical glitches arise in the middle of the session. So, before going live, check the equipment and the internet connection. Also, remember to set the camera in a proper way. If you are using a board to teach, make sure the board is visible and your voice is audible. It is not necessary that you need to present yourself in front of the camera while conducting a live online class. You can also conduct live online class using slideshow presentations and live audio-commentary, without showing your face. In such cases, you only need good audio equipment. To make the lecture session visually pleasing and to explain the concepts in the form of a demo, you can use any plug-in that facilitates live audio streaming with screen sharing features. Make sure your devices are fully charged and the internet upload speed is twice as fast as the speed at which you want to live stream to avoid interruptions while conducting a live online class.
5. Start the live streaming
If your equipment and internet connection is perfect, then it is a green signal for you to go live. As mentioned earlier you can use any live streaming platforms or video conferencing tools to conduct your live online class. While streaming online, use the chat features and other necessary features available in the streaming platforms to have an interactive classroom session. It is always advisable to record your live streaming videos so that your students can refer to the session in the future. While conducting an online class, speak clearly, use discussion boards and communicate with your students regularly. At the end of the session, ask for feedback from your students so that you can improve your online teaching style and the online education plan to provide the best learning experience to the students.
Final words Both the synchronous and asynchronous method of online learning is effective and has its own advantages and disadvantages. For a student, a computer with internet access is enough to learn an online course from anywhere. The online teaching is different from the real-time teaching environment and it has a lot of challenges. Most importantly, online teaching needs a lot of special skills to make a session more interactive. To conduct an online learning session effectively, it is necessary for the instructors to have computer skills, internet knowledge, time management skills and the ability to use the Learning Management System and other e-learning tools. A traditional teacher may find it difficult to adapt to the online teaching style but once you start practising, you may easily overcome the challenges and adapt to the online teaching culture. Continuous efforts and practice will definitely help you to deliver quality online classes effectively with the help of information and communication technology.
Online learning has become more important amid COVID 19 when it has devastated the world, and the education of students is also badly affected. So, the only choice for students is to continue their studies through an online learning process which unfortunately is not available to every student in the country.
You have written a nice writeup on teaching students online. But there is a huge disparity between urban and rural students as far as the gadgets and internet connectivity are concerned. These are prerequisites for online learning. Without these, students can't access any online education portals. So, I think we need to improve the whole system for providing education to students. Just improving the text or keeping zoom app ready can't help unless and until we provide equal facilities to all students.