How to Teach Online Classes: 12 Tips to encourage active learning and captivate students

How to Teach Online Classes

Learn how to teach online classes to encourage active learning, improve your facilitation skills and get maximum results.

1. Summarize and Discuss

As well as giving a quick run-down of what you’ll cover at the start, and a conclusion at the end, include a quick summary after each section to briefly recap what you’ve covered. Then ask for questions. Don’t leave Q&A to the end, or people will have forgotten where they were confused.

2. Get Personal

Start your session with some personal information, or a quick story or anecdote to help your audience to feel comfortable and able to trust you. Then ask participants to share a small bit of personal information themselves, so that everyone gets to know each other and can be comfortable learning together.

3. Be Controversial

A difficult question or statement is a great way to get people to start talking. Even if it might not be your personal opinion, use something that you know will put the cat among the pigeons to inject emotion into the discussion.

4.  Do a Trial Run

Having a dress-rehearsal of your online course session with family or friends as your students is good practice for a number of reasons. It will help with any pre-sessions nerves you might have while giving you the opportunity to practice timing and anticipate questions. You can even do a pilot session with a small selection of your current clients or team members to get direct feedback first.

5. Be Clear with Your Goals

Let participants know exactly what it is you want to achieve with the session at the start to get them thinking immediately about how that goal relates to them. They’ll keep that in mind throughout.

6. Build in Social & Break Time

Don’t make everything about learning. Build in time for breaks in longer online sessions, where people can grab a snack and you can interact more casually. It’s a time to build relationships with your students, and it’s another opportunity for participants to interact with each other. This makes them more comfortable asking questions.

7. Know When to Move On

If you come across a participant who is only interested in their own experience of the session, and struggles to give others the opportunity to participate, it’s important that you know how to swiftly move the focus onto other people, or other topics.

If necessary, try setting a time limit on each person’s answers to a question. This is an ability that you’ll hone with experience.

8. Have Tools on Hand

Anticipate what tools might be required, for both yourself and your participants. Your session could benefit from screen sharing features and mind maps where you encourage participants to share their work and contribute ideas. Or they might need a notebook next to them to jot things down. Send a reminder before a live session of what they should have on hand

9. Make it Fun

Your audience will be much more likely to take in what you’re teaching if they’re learning it in an interesting and fun way. Try out some icebreakers or games to introduce a little excitement in activities and interactive sections to help cement learning.

10. Understand self determination and adult learning principles

There are well developed principles on how adults learn and retain information. Various factors and requirements trigger adult motivation. If you understand the needs and provide comfort, their engagement will be boosted

11. Profile the personality

There are several foundational personality tests you can administer to understand their basic personality type and serve the content. There are many free yet effective tools like Johari widow, 16 personality types, OCEAN, FIRO-B and the like. When you understand them more, you can build bonding and create long term win-win relationship.

12. Listen

Listen to what your participants have to say about your session throughout, not just at the end, to keep them involved by being responsive. Then take their feedback into account for future facilitation opportunities. 

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