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6 Tips for Online Educators

August 11,2010 by: admin

As technology continues to thrive and becomes an important tool in almost every human endeavor, its functionality seems to change and improve the face of different fields of interest, one of which is the field of education. When the concept of online education, also called distance learning or distance education, was introduced, members of the education arena saw this as a major turnabout in rendering educational services. They saw its potential to further improve the ways of educating people without risking the quality of education rendered. Online education has, in the same way, also brought a major change for educators. Now, teachers can carry their professions even at home! Education on a classroom setting surely is effective, but that does not necessarily change when it comes to online-education setting.

In this light, we wish to help those who embark in this new trend in education, the online educators in particular. Here are 5 essential tips for online educators. These tips seek to help online educators  become  more effective in teaching at the virtual classroom.

1. Be proficient at using  different software programs.

As a distance learning educator, you need to be up to date with new technologies. Softwares such as Windows 7 and the latest Microsoft Office 2010 package are an essential tool in your internet work, hence you must be updated about them. Bob Barrett, an online teacher of the American Public Univeristy System, says that knowing more software packages will make you a better and more effective online instructor. Every distance learning student has a different software packages, and it would be very useful if you can help them with their own software packages.

2. Check your E-mail as often as possible and quickly respond to emails of students.

Obviously, this requires you to always be online. As an online educator, it doesn’t mean that you should only go online during normal school hours. Some online students are not able to attend to school works during the typical school hours on Monday to Friday. Award-winning online educator Susan Wegmann shares her habit of responding to her students within 24 hours during Mondays to Fridays, and in 48 hours during Saturdays and Sundays. Wegmann received the 2009 Sloan-C Excellence in Online Teaching Award, one of the most highly-regarded online teaching awards.

Accounts from students prove that online educators who respond to students quickly. Perla LaGuardia, a distance learning student of Masters in Nursing of the University of Central Florida (UCF), says she appreciates her online professors who send feedback  quickly and constantly. Leslie Shillington, an online undergraduate student majoring in athletic training at UFC, are grateful to the online educators of UFC for being available everytime she needs them. She says her online teachers even respond faster than her regular classroom professors.

3. Once you have acquired knowledge on new technologies, apply them in the course.

In order to do this, you must attend forums and trainings about your method of instruction. Try to attend live seminars and conferences, do not just resort to the forums and trainings conducted online. Moreover, you should take advantage with the interactive programs in the internet such as Skype, Second life, and AdobeConnect to render real-time instructions and discussions.

4. Be Flexible with Adult Online education learners

Actually, many of the online students are not your typical college students. They are adults who are balancing their time between their education and their responsibilities in the family. Some online learners are also those who have disabilities and are not able to attend to classroom education. Due to their specific needs, these types of online students may have different schedules hence you must be able to adjust for them.

5. Set clear expectations and instructions for students

Explicitly explain to your students what do you expect from them and what they should expect from you as well. Provide a clear schedule of the learning sessions and give a clear coursework instructions and requirements. Set agreements between you and your students.

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