As face-to-face teaching is suspended at universities across the UK in response to the coronavirus pandemic, teaching staff are being asked to change the way they work. University Business has asked experienced online educators for the best piece of advice they would give their peers about online teaching – here are their top 12 tips for success.
1. As your university’s position will likely evolve from day to day, refer all enquiries about its overall coronavirus policy to the official website; that way you avoid accidentally giving out outdated info
2. Create a Frequently Asked Questions template to address common student queries (eg how often will you communicate with them; what they should do if their wifi signal is unreliable)
3. Work out what contingency plans can be put into place if you become ill yourself – and relay these to students
4. Be flexible when it comes to students with caring responsibilities – they may not be able to join in learning activities in real time
5. Don’t be tempted to pile on supplementary work – more time at home doesn’t mean more time for work
6. Follow the relevant Twitter hashtags for tips and support from peers around the world facing the same issues as you: #LTHEchat #digped #covidcampus #PivotToOnline and #onlinepivot are all recommended
Engage emotionally as well as pedagogically
7. Don’t use multiple communication platforms in addition to your VLE or students will feel overwhelmed and risk missing important messages – pick one, or two (eg email and Zoom) and stick to them
8. Work office hours – this lets students know when they can/can’t get hold of you, and ensures you don’t burn out
9. Engage emotionally as well as pedagogically – be mindful of students’ anxiety levels regarding the coronavirus risk to themselves and their loved ones, and the possible impact of this on their achievement. Emojis can help you strike the right tone
10. Check what your institution’s plans are regarding assessments and exams during this period of national crisis – will there be extensions, and will assessment criteria be relaxed?
11. Allow more time for everything – there will be students who have connection issues, have muted their mics, or just need time to get used to remote learning
12. Be kind to your technical support staff – you need them more than ever; and they probably need another coffee
Do you have some advice for your peers on how to shift learning online during the coronavirus outbreak? Tweet/DM us on @UB_UK or email firstname.lastname@example.org