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Take your teaching online
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1 Principles of effective online teaching

Week 2 introduced some of the ways in which online and blended learning can create new opportunities and benefits for educators and learners. In order to realise those benefits, certain principles need to be followed to optimise the experience for learners.

Activity 1 Challenging preconceptions about online teaching

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

In response to the quote from Professor Ferguson below, make a note of any concerns you had not already considered for the teaching context at your institution.

Professor Ferguson

I work with a lot of people who are taking their teaching online for the first time and they share certain worries. First of all, they usually enjoy classroom teaching and they don’t want to lose that relationship with and responsiveness to their students. They are worried that students might have an impoverished learning experience when they move online. They also worry that their own role will be reduced – that they’ll become a forum moderator rather than a teacher. Also – if they had to move their teaching online quickly and without support during the pandemic, they may have had a bad experience that reduced their confidence.

However, when they are well prepared and then make the move to online or blended teaching, they have the opportunity to explore the things that can be done online that are difficult or impossible in the classroom. It is possible for students to work through resources at their own pace, rather than at the pace of everyone in the class. They can have deep, reflective conversations, referring back to contributions that were made earlier. They can take time to think about their responses rather than being pressured to come up with an instant answer. And students who had previously struggled to fit regular study in around their family commitments are able to join in fully because there are more opportunities to develop personalised schedules.

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Often educators have preconceptions about teaching online and what they or their learners may lose if they take their teaching online. This week’s material and activities are designed to help you to separate perceived advantages and disadvantages of teaching online from the real ones, as applied to you in your own context.

Rather than being a simple binary choice, there are many options and ways of tailoring online learning to any context. It is important to be aware of key concepts and types of tools, consider what is known about these, and to have an approach that allows you to trial ways of facilitating online learning and to understand the results. The course will help you to develop in each of these areas.

Searching the web for ‘principles of effective online teaching’ brings up many different takes on the topic, each slightly different. The text includes a summary of some of the key principles that almost always feature in these lists. They have been gathered from a range of sources, but have been inspired in particular by Cooper (2016) and Hill (2015).